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Outdoor Art Show Round-up


It's bright, sunny and hot, which means it's time for the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. Every year I give myself heatstroke trying to find the most interesting work buried within the hundreds of stalls set up in front of City Hall only to have my interest piqued a handful of times.

This year, however, you're along for the ride, so here are the artists and images that caught my eye this morning as I waded through the crowds and squinted at the sun.

Please continue reading below the cut.

Holly Farrell White 29
Each year at The Outdoor you can have your pick of ironic still lifes featuring items of pop-culture or banality (Mr. Potato head can be found in at least three paintings at this year's show), but Holly Farrell's exquisite paintings finally give to these everyday items the respect they truly deserve. Hang these works next to your 19th century trompe-l'œil paintings.

Robert Farmer

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Green 368

Farmer's take on The Last Supper shows Christ at the centre of an uproarious birthday party populated by various animals and decorated with balloons and streamers. The table is a giant hotdog. This is his least interesting piece. Next to it hangs a painting of a baby dressed like Napoleon smashing ships together and laughing maniacally. His smaller works look like scenes from some horrifying storybook. All are executed perfectly in wonderful colours and tones.

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Kate Jackson White 38
War has never looked so peaceful. Jackson's series of embroidery pieces My Soldiers quietly suggest a sentimentality about war. It's like the mothers and grandmothers of The Troops have finally confronted the fact that their children are trying to kill each other, and they're okay with that. "Look, here's a lovely needle-point I've done. My boy carries an M-16. Without him his weapon is useless. Without his weapon he is useless." Etc. Kind of chilling actually.

Genevieve Jodouin Yellow 631
The printmaking at this years Outdoor is particularly strong, but the standout for me is the work of Genevieve Jodouin. Her simple line drawings printed over wallpaper patterns work perfectly with the themes of routine, habit and home-life that keep showing up in her work. Her images are a little sad and a little lonely, but they look like they're comfortable with that; they're working through it.

Matt James

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I don't know if Matt James is proud to be Canadian or terrified by the prospect, maybe he's just puzzled by the whole idea. The hockey players in his paintings look confused and bewildered as they parachute into parks or lakes filled with giant ferocious beavers. James has a great illustrative style full of energy and bright colours. These would look great in a kids room except for the weirdness of some of the subject matter. Then again, that's not such a bad thing either.

Julia Prime Green 361
It's difficult to see where the stitching ends and the painting begins with Julia Prime's work. Her pieces are the Outdoor this year are small landscapes with trees embroidered onto dyed and printed fabric, hung inside their frames with little clips. They're gorgeous small images that look more like drawings than anything else and beg you to look closely.

Expect to spend at least 2 hours wandering around Nathan Philip's Square if you plan on seeing everything at the show this weekend. There are vendors selling corn on the cob, and of course the usual armada of chip trucks will be lined up on Queen street all weekend, but I wouldn't hold it against you if you broke up your browsing over a couple of days.

However, and this has happened to me before, if you see something you like on the first pass BUY IT, especially if it's a one-of-a-kind. There's nothing worse than finding out someone scooped you while you were busy hemming and hawing.

The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition is taking place July 6th, 7th, and 8th at Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall rain or shine


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