Studio 22 Open Gallery always displays and encourages innovative and unusual artwork in their space on King Street East.
Since Dec. 6, the studio has been featuring the work of 29 artists in The Open Collection event.
The event leaves out no dimension of artistic mediums. It displays oil and watercolour paintings, graphics, print, photography, sculptures and much more.
Many of the pieces are bright and loud, such as Holly Dean’s display of fantasy-like vintage Polaroids with calligraphy and colourful painting overlay. The exhibit also displays large black and white photographs by Bernard Clark.
Clark’s photographs of old motel signs demand attention to his careful construction of the image and its modifications.
“If you really look, you’ll see the background behind the hotel is not a sky, it’s actually a photograph of the hotel matted against the background of a corroded steal plate,” said Studio 22 owner Hersh Jacob.
Clark’s collection also includes photographs of tattooed men and women, which are similar to his work that has been displayed at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
“[Clark] has got the real thing,” Jacob said.
However, amongst all of the attention-grabbing pieces that filled the gallery, Robert Blenderman’s oil paintings immediately appealed to me.
Blenderman’s paintings depict ordinary city objects, such as a parking meter and a gas main that would typically be ignored.
Blenderman has been a Kingston-based artist for 53 years and has artistically recorded all corners of the historical city over time.
“[Blenderman] has preserved Kingston,” Jacob said.
Due to the artist’s experience with painting, he has employed all styles in his work, such as cityscape, still life, realism and abstract, to document Kingston’s buildings, houses and alleyways.
Blenderman’s medium sized oil-on-canvas paintings, displayed in The Open Collection, use realism to approach recognizable and seemingly mundane parts of Kingston — including parking meters and residential gas mains.
With a primarily grey colour palette, Blenderman’s paintings may not be as visually exciting to the viewer.
But what made them so enticing were the intimacy of the subjects. Once the recognition had set in, it became impossible not to wonder why the artist chose to paint objects that people generally ignore.
Not many people find beauty in gas mains or parking meters, but seeing it as the subject of an artistic piece imbues it with something beyond the ordinary.
“So much of art is taking the mundane and making it exotic,” Jacob said. “A bowl of fruit is nothing except something to eat until an artist does a watercolour or an oil painting of it.”
That the ordinary subject matter has been regarded in an artistic manner and, therefore, has adopted a form of meaning, seems to provide it with beauty.
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