Tag Archives: Toronto art exhibitions



On Saturday Dec. 6th,  Toronto artist ERIK CHONG launches his one-man show, SHIFTING BORDERS: SEEN AND UNSEEN, at URBAN GALLERY (400 Queen St East) with a special reception, greeting friends, family, art fans and local art media. His abstract paintings have hidden images, somewhat resembling architectural blueprints which experiment with geometric and chromatic patterns. The artist’s intention is to force the viewer to question perspective as well as the creative process itself.

20141206_150037(0)The ancient practice of Chinese calligraphy continues to inspire me to push the boundaries into new forms. I use a repetitive brushstroke technique that sometimes carries my paintings to the verge of abstraction. Unlike many of my contemporaries, my appropriation of calligraphy does not simply romanticize the past – rather my creative process explores past, present and future by addressing subject matter both old and new. The purpose of my work is to offer a unique take on the evolution of cultural histories, narratives and identities -and to question these ideas both in a private, personal way and on a public scale.     -Erik Chong, November 2014

20141206_141636 20141206_142225 20141206_142312 20141206_142334 20141206_142352Artist and poet, Brenda Clews, dropped in to wish Erik well (pictured below)

20141206_142250Gallery curator Allen Shugar and gallery coordinator Kaspara Albertsen worked hard on presenting Erik’s work and were very happy with the spectacular results (below)

20141206_142453Gallery manager Calvin Hambrook (below left) readies the camera for taking pics of Erik and his special guests

20141206_142538…and here are Erik’s family and close friends who were first thru the door to celebrate his show.



20141206_142514 20141206_14235220141206_142324If you would like to enjoy Erik’s work in person, please drop by the gallery (http://www.urbangallery.ca) or view his work on his own website http://www.erikchongfineart.com.  The show runs thru January 10th, 2015.

Gallery hours:
Monday-Saturday 11 AM to 5 PM
Thursdays 11 AM to 8 PM
Closed Sundays & Holidays
Viewings outside gallery hours by appointment
*For Private Receptions & Venue Inquiries please call 647.460-1278*



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Although this year’s exciting World Pride Toronto is now in the history books, URBAN GALLERY proudly continues to present “PRIDE OF PLACE”, their celebratory show of LGBT art, until the end of this month – July 30th.


In case you haven’t yet had a chance to check out some unique, provocative works from Canadian LGBT artists, you still have 2 1/2 weeks left so drop into http://www.urbangallery.ca located at 400 Queen St East in downtown Toronto and say hi to the folks at Urban.  Here are some great photos from the opening reception, courtesy of official Pride photographer João Pedro Zuccolotto

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One of my favourite annual events is the big outdoor art show at Nathan Philips Square in downtown Toronto each summer. This weekend, the artists gathered there this year will not disappoint – lots of new and emerging artists enjoying their first time at the rodeo, many of my favourite painters have returned and loads of stunningly beautiful, unique and provocative works of art with price tags to suit every budget. it runs until Sunday evening and it’s FREE! http://www.torontooutdoorart.org

Here are some of the featured artists, many of whom have become friends over the years – please drop by their tents and say hi if you visit.

20140704_120504Anna Clarey (above) was the first tent that caught my eye upon entering the Square – beautiful landscapes, vibrant colours and Anna’s big smile welcomed me in. http://www.AnnaClarey.com

Then just across the aisle was Becca Wallace (below), a long-time favourite of mine whose work is proudly displayed on my office wall. I LOVE her robots, toy trucks and now wee beasties doing crazy gymnastics! http://www.beccawallace.com

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Brock Irwin (below) was a new discovery for me. I was drawn to his large format red seating picture (actually inspired by seats in Union Station). Brock also has an art-for-home-staging biz, too, so all you interior decorators, home stagers and realtors – give this man a call! http://www.brockirwin.com

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I was amazed by the beauty and delicacy of Charles Paul Savoie‘s glasswork. He’s up from the States (Happy 4th July, Charles) with his handblown art glass. http://www.savoieglass.com

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Jessica Lin showcased some lovely whimsical pieces, many with horses and sheep – lots of great miniatures that would look great on my wall! http://www.jessicalin.ca

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Beverley Hawksley is a mixed media artist who incorporates copper into many of her pieces. She’s also a wicked equine artist, too, and the 2 horse paintings below are large format drew quite a crowd. http://www.beverleyhawksley.com

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Laura Elliott featured some cool posters and painting, many of which she completed during her visit to Japan. I found a number of them very manga-inspired (which I love) and I hope to see more of her work at other Toronto shows. http://www.lauralikesart.com

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Lovely to see Nancy Farrell (pictured below in blue, with her daughter Alana) one of my favourite regulars at the TOAE. Last year, I was lucky enough to snag one of her canvases and it’s now pride of place over my desk…where I write this blog! Nancy has developed an even bolder colour palette and I found two more pieces I would like to have (already on Santa’s list)  http://www.NancyFarrell.com

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Susi Walters is a new discovery this year. I love chickens and I’m always attracted to rustic farmyard subjects. Susi’s photos and paintings are multi-layered on metal and I hope to add one of her chick pics to my home gallery really soon…or maybe the gorgeous Lipizzaner (I also love horses). Susi’s adorable daughter helped out looking after the $$s for mum.  http://www.waltersphotography.ca.

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Jewellery designer Pamela Lauz had a fabulous tent displaying gorgeous girly bling. Here she is helping a new customer try on one of her stunning necklaces….hope she bought it, she looked great in it.  http://www.pamelalauz.com

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Rob Croxford (below) had tons of eye-catching mixed-media pieces, including some Scrabble tile paintings and fifties-inspired space boxes…I gotta go back and get me one!  http://www.robcroxford.com

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Another new discovery for me was Gordon Stamper whose bold colourful canvases drew me into his tent. A very humble and charming artist whose work really stood out for me today. http://www.gordonstamper.com

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Next to Gordon was the always cheery Emily Millar whose work I remembered from last year – so light &  airy – and I caught her mid set-up. This girl can handle a power drill as well as a paint brush!  www.emilymillar.com

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And here’s my friend, Pamela Mingo, who has a loyal following and I’m happy she had lots of art to showcase…her pieces don’t last long so if you see something you like, buy it now!  http://www.pamelamingo.com

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I LOOOOVE this lady’s work – Thelia Sanders Shelton featured work obviously inspired by Picasso but very much of her own imagination.  There were several big canvases I want…must have…NEED… so hopefully I can pull in a few new clients in the next month then I can afford one. http://www.theliashelton.com

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Tommy Cudmore creates some of the cutest glass robots ever! I’ve seen his work at Liss Gallery in Yorkville and have long wanted to add one of these to my robot art collection (from Becca Wallace). Hello, Santa, can you stick one of these in my stocking this year?!  http://www.tommycudmore.com

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One of the best art photographers in town, Tanja-Tiziana showcased her B&W photos of unique architectural scenes – sadly, her Facebook notes that her dad got a massive parking ticket when dropping off her work early this morning so let’s all go buy something so Tanja’s weekend isn’t a complete write-off. Damn those parking vultures!  https://www.facebook.com/tanjatiziana

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Jodi Shuster’s work was so full of joy and fun…great watercolours and oils of beach scenes populated with “real” people – hello, Cabana Lady!! Jodi was a blast to hang out with…great sense of humour which can be seen in her work. http://www.jodishuster.com

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Now here’s a bold statement! I’d never met Robert Kamnatnik before but his work will bring me back for sure. I found the simplicity, his use of 2 or 3 colours and geometric shapes quite hypnotic. Another one to add to my wish list. http://www.robertkamnatnik.com

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LilyButterLand.com intrigued me with her provocative, edgy, eerie portraits, illustrations and designs.  Don’t be afraid…come on in. And I did and I loved her work. Again, another artist added to  my list for future collection. Will definitely go with my Playdead Cult pieces.

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Kate Taylor (below) featured some of her unique botanicals – floating petals over stained birch panels – presented in unusual shapes and while I was standing in her booth several other ladies commented on exactly where they would hang her work. Lovely to hear how much her work is appreciated. The colours bounce off the surface making each piece come alive. http://www.KateTaylorStudio.com

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Stewart Jones Stewart Jones Stewart Jones (below). LOVE this guy’s work (can you tell?)  Since moving up to Wellington County (just the other side of Belleville), Stewart has been hard at work setting up his home studio and creating quite the name for himself in his new community (great article in the local arts magazine). Moody urban street and alley scapes with a bold palette, memorializing Toronto’s  great old buildings…before developers bulldoze ’em down.  http://www.stewartjones.ca

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Tori Smith is another brilliant local artist with a deft touch – I gotta get me one of her big grader/excavator paintings as they’re so powerful yet so simply executed on canvas. Had a nice chat with her about dogs in cars and why you shouldn’t bring your pooch to the art show – the concrete surface there is so bloody hot it will burn their paws. And yet we saw so many doggies being dragged around by their owners…sad. http://www.torismitherart.com

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Peterborough-based Lisa Martin-Dunk uses the scratch technique to create her elaborate pieces. Lots of butterflies…who doesn’t love butterflies…and each piece will keep you intrigued with the intricacy of each tiny detail.  http://www.limmaginaria.com

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Last year, I captured some cool photos of uber hipster artist Richard Ahnert’s humanized beasties, and this year, he’s brought lots more new works including regal portraits of foxes, dogs, goats…a veritable barnyard who’s who of critters, all turned out in their tailored finery. Very cool paintings. http://www.mycanvas.ca

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Carol Nesbitt of the Glen Williams Glass Studios brought along the most beautiful art glass – colourful vases and these cute wee birdies on branches.  http://www.glenwilliamsglass.com/carol-nesbitt.html

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And then there was Kelly Grace. Another long-time favourite of mine, and I was pleased to walk-in on a sale. A young girl was starting her art collection with a KG original, a cute pic of a girl getting ready for a date! Mother was helping with the finances and the young lady proudly handed over the $s as Kelly wrapped the art up. So nice to see youngsters getting into art  and bravo, Kelly, for treating her in such a grown-up way.   http://www.kellective.com

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Judi Meyers was an inspiration – she showcased a series called “Fragments” made up of …fragments of previous works, cut down and presented beautifully in gallery-quality frames. I broke down and purchased one in a gold frame and it’s now propped up on my desk to the right of my laptop. I love it, thank you Judi.  http://www.JMyersPaintings.ca

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Here’s Catherine Mills, contemporary still life, old master copies and figurative paintings. We had quite a nice chat, especially about English 19th century master, JMW Turner and the fact we both watched a TVO show about Turner and 3 potential new art discoveries of his. Intrigue upon intrigue! http://www.catherinemillsartist.com

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I found another fabulous young painter, Lorette C. Luzajic, I had not seen before. Her bold use of colour and large canvases were quite spectacular and my photos don’t do them justice. Fun, light and happy images that would fit into any trendy hipster loft. http://www.ideafountain.ca

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And finally, I ran into another old friend, W. Stephen Cooper, whose fine art photography of rusted out old cars and trucks are not only stunning but an incredible statement on our disposable attitude towards vehicles…even those which are works of art themselves. Stephen leads photographic tours across the south western US and has an upcoming Bio Photo Experience Tour of the SW deserts coming up in September. www.wstephencooper.com  and www.biophotoexperience.com

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Overall, I must admit the heat was quite exhausting so by the time I met up with Coop, I was dragging my sorry ass around Nathan Philips Square but I refused to pay $5 for bottled water – I suggest you take your own supply.

What did disturb me even more, tho, was one young artist whose work I wanted to include here (and promote for FREE!) who was extremely rude when I approached to photograph her in her booth. She screamed at me “no photos, no photos..” which I found ridiculous as all the tourists were busy snapping away and here I am, in a position to get her name and her work out to my thousands of readers and she decides to insult and humiliate me in public. I always ask an artist if I may include them in my blog but as she was busy with a potential sale, I did not interrupt with my usual personal introduction. When I asked her to calm down as I wanted to add her to my media blog, she launched into a tirade about asking permission and how dare I approach her…huh? I guess even psycho bitches can rent a space there….LOL  What a pity as her work was quite different to most of the work on show and I would have liked to include her here. Perhaps this young lady will learn a little humility and understand that not everybody is there to exploit her or steal her images, but perhaps they are willing to promote and support her as an emerging Canadian artist.




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I was recently introduced to the wonderful folks at Urban Source Catering and their adjoining Urban Gallery, the awesome event space and art gallery located at 400 Queen St East in downtown Toronto. I’ve had the pleasure of attending a number of artist receptions and salons at Urban Gallery over the past couple of months and wanted to share their story and promote their business to my readers.  I asked Gallery Manager Calvin Hambrook and Event Coordinator Kaspara Albertsen to share the story of Urban Gallery and how artists can participate with shows and exhibitions.

20140403_184402What inspired the Urban  Source Catering team to expand into an event space/gallery?  We had always planned on having an event space and Calvin wanted an art gallery, too, so when the space at 400 Queen Street East became available, we jumped at the chance to have both combined in one…and right next door, too!

Do you have any specific criteria for artists considering a show at Urban Gallery?  We’re a new gallery so we are open to artists in various media, working in a wide variety of subjects.


Allen Shugar is your curator – how did Allen join the team and what is his function as far as choosing artists/curating the pieces that are hung in Urban Gallery?  Allen is Calvin’s life partner and a talented artist. He studied design at the Bauhaus School in Chicago and has a broad knowledge of the arts and art history. He also has a keen eye for the specialized task of curating art, group shows being more difficult and time-consuming than most but Allen always pleases the artists and the public with his curating. [Pictured below:Calvin (left) and Allen (right) flank recent exhibiting artist,  Shannon Moyer-Szemenyei ]


How do you help promote each show for the artists?  We advertise in Slate Art Guide (their magazine & online version) and on  www.torontoart.com plus we have our own website & social media. Since opening in November of 2012, Urban Gallery has built a contact list of over 1,200 visitors & art aficionados so each exhibition benefits from a promotional e-mail campaign.

Do you have any relationships with arts associations, groups, etc.?  We are currently part of the 2014 Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival and World Pride Toronto 2014, and we are considering participating with other arts groups and associations in the future as we grow our reputation as a gallery.

How has the opening of the gallery impacted the neighbourhood? Have you noticed it attracts new visitors to the Queen East historic district?  We have noticed an increased foot traffic since we opened, and we know that many of our visitors are pleasantly surprised by the vivacity and safety of the neighbourhood, and the many new businesses and shops opening along the historic Queen Street East strip.

Do you have plans to hold special catered events in the space?  Yes, we will be hosting events during our Group Show Pride of Place in June 2014, as well as various events during Pride and World Pride. We’re also working on our 2nd Group Show in September, the visually delicious “Art of Food” when we will be featuring tasty selections from our catering menu during the Show’s run.


Urban Source Catering celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2015 – any special celebrations planned in the gallery space?  Yes, we will ‘kick off’ the 30th Anniversary Celebrations with the aforementioned Group Show “Art of Food”, and will also host events each month leading up to the 30th Anniversary on March 8, 2015.

Who/how can artists contact you for possible exhibitions?  Calvin is the Gallery Manager and is the main contact for booking exhibitions, but they can also speak with Kaspara Albertsen to make their initial inquiry. Artists can contact us via email at urbangalleryart1@gmail.com or call 647-460-1278.

Any special shows coming up this year? Upcoming Exhibitions: July: artist Alex Taves • August: artist Linda Langerak • October: artist J. David Murphy • November: photographer Karen Silver • December: artist Erik Chong

  •  I SEE is a photography exhibit in May 2014 for Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival
  • Pride of Place is our gallery group show for PRIDE and WORLD PRIDE in June 2014
  • Art of Food is our second group show in 2014, featuring food-themed art and our Chef Lyndon Wiebe’s food artistry

We have a number of “Art Salons” (pictured below) planned and also have several exhibitions already scheduled for 2015, and are receiving inquiries daily for exhibition opportunities!

Nik Beat salon

And a final message from Gallery Manager, Calvin Hambrook:

I’ve been very happy with the interest and enthusiasm from the artists and gallery visitors, not only for the ‘No Commission’ concept, but also for the beauty of the space – its elegance and simplicity. I’m delighted by Kaspara’s pleasant and efficient handling of inquiries and events and, of course, Allen’s excellent curating talent. We are all very proud of Urban Gallery’s contribution to the local community’s well-being as well as the general Toronto arts community!

Calvin, Kaspara & Allen(L to R) Calvin, Kaspara & Allen – the heart, soul and artistic driving forces behind URBAN GALLERY







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