I ventured out on a rainy spring night to see Grow Op 2017, The Gladstone Hotel's fifth Annual Exhibition on Urbanism, Landscape and Contemporary Art. You can read my post about the 2016 event here. Signaling the growth of the exhibition over the years, the 2017 show had the most projects to date. Once again, diverse projects took over the main to ground floors of the hotel. Due to time constraints, I didn't get a chance to pop over to the Art Hut across the street to see the associated exhibition, "Boxed In". Repeating what they did for the Come Up To My Room exhibit, four of the hotel's artist designed rooms were open for exploration during Grow Op. I don't know if it was the rain, or of it was because it was day two of the exhibition and people were waiting for the weekend, or maybe it was the time I got there (an hour and a half before closing), but it was relatively quiet and not many people were there. I enjoyed this because it gave me more time to spend with the exhibits and to talk to the artists.
Here are some of my favourites:
"The Avocado Room" by glass artist and avocado enthusiast Becky Lauzon. Inspired by Frank Moses, Bruce Willis's character in the movie RED, the artist has been growing a small forest of avocado trees in her apartment over the past five years. We discussed how one transports avocado trees to the Gladstone Hotel (very carefully), and how much guacamole she eats (a lot). She made the beautiful glass vases herself.
"Cracked" by Michelle Hunniford & Magdalena Milosz. Cracked invited visitors to think about their own place within the historical and current processes of industrial agriculture. Walking into the room, I noticed a fine white dust in the hallway. It soon became apparent where the dust was coming from. Eggshells. The by-products of egg production and consumption. Visitors could walk across a carpet of eggshells. By the time I got there, the carpet was a fine dust. The exhibit also contained statistics about historical and current egg production. I was delighted to find out that this exhibit had a Kitchener-Waterloo connection. The Yeti Cafe in Kitchener and The CE Food Experience in Waterloo were among the places where the artists collected eggshells from.
"Augmented Topography", an interactive sandbox by Shadi Ramos. Ramos is a lecturer at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. I posted a video of the sandbox in action on the blog Facebook page.
"Rewilding" by Melanie Billark. The wall of clear bricks housed moss colonies collected from alleyways and roadways throughout Toronto and was a commentary on the human domestication of nature.
"Besho Omaa Daawag Igo Anishinaabeg" by Hayden King & Susan Blight. This was a simple, timely and powerful exhibit, especially with Canada 150 approaching. It made me think. I had never thought of the postcard in Canada as being political.
"S.O.S. (Save Our Snails)" by Daniel Ranger. What were you doing when you were in grade 6? Were you participating inyour first public art installation? I know I wasn't. I spoke briefly with Daniel's mother, who is also an artist and participated in Grow Op 2016 ("All Night Blossoms Fell" by Wabi-Sabi Collective). I think it's wonderful to get children involved in the arts, art appreciation, and environmental issues at a young age. The project was an intervention throughout the entirety of the hotel on behalf of snails. It called upon the viewer to slow down and pay attention to what is unseen in the urban wilderness.
"The Woods" by Darren Rego. The fantastical exhibit traces the artist's memories of his childhood experiences growing up in rural Ontario.
Did you attend Grow Op 2017? What were some of your favourites?
Story and photos by Glodeane Brown
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