One of my favourite parts of decorating is the consideration of the artwork. The salon wall in the living room of the house that I live in with my husband, Arriz, is probably its best feature. Personally, I will invest in any piece that I am drawn to, regardless of who made it or where I find it (within my budget, of course). I frame each piece to suit the art — so there’s no particular repetition of style or colour in the framing, but it works.
I picked up the gold-framed pieces by B. Munch at the bottom of this portrait from a fantastic print gallery in Paris, Galerie d’Art Martine Namy Caulier. Every time I’m in France I make sure to stop by and inevitably pick something up.
Last summer I purchased this stunning photograph of monkeys grooming themselves on a wall in India by Anthea Baxter-Page, who was showing her work at the Rectory Café on Toronto Island. I was taken by the soft painterly effect of her work — more like a watercolour painting than a photograph — as well as how it captures the quiet intimacy of a moment in the animal world set against the striking Eastern architecture. I chose a simple white frame and matting and it is stunning. It is hanging in my front hall so it's the first thing I see when I walk in the door.
Anthea is showing her work again at Toronto’s Alison Milne Design Studio starting this week. The show, India: Life and Lens, documents her travels through India and captures the spirit of the country. Like the print of the monkeys, her work’s painterly lighting perfectly captures the simple beauty of everyday events.
I am hoping she will be showing this photo of a utilitarian room with mundane objects randomly placed on the floor. The room’s elemental nature, juxtaposed with its deeply saturated blue walls, intricate armoire and the large centre window struck a chord with me. So basic, yet so beautiful. It reminds me of the small Bunkie at my cottage, where everything you need is within arm’s reach. It’s about living in a space stripped of everything but necessity.
Her still life of a rustic scale painted the same colour as the wall has a similar quality.
My dear friend, photographer George Whiteside, recently partnered with his nephew, artist Harley Valentine, to open a terrific new gallery on Toronto’s Dundas Street strip called One 800 Gallery. They renovated the space themselves, and it is fantastic (above are exterior and interior views).
The most recent exhibit was a show of Toronto’s busiest, international fashion photographers, 4XFive, with works by Chris Nicholls, Miguel Jacob, Chris Chapman, Michael Williams and George Whiteside.
And I loved the opening show a few months ago that featured George’s film series — I am still considering purchasing this photo. (Enter our contest and you could win one his prints!)
Up next at One 800 is an exhibition exploring the pervasive influence of photography, as part of Contact, Toronto’s month-long photography festival.
Another gallery favourite of mine is Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects. Katharine has a phenomenal eye for selecting artists. Every time I stop by, I am spellbound. Back in the fall she showed a series of small paintings of mundane suburban buildings like this one that were absolutely exquisite. It's so detailed and realistic, it’s hard to believe it’s a painting, not a photo.
I popped by last week and, while the gallery was sadly closed, there was this striking piece in the window.
Another great source for art in Toronto, and a favourite of stylists, is Art Interiors. The girls there rep a lot of talented established and up-and-coming artists. Check out the website, too, because they post a lot of work that you can buy online. They make buying art fun and not intimidating. I bought this tiny etching called Le Faon by John Graham years and years ago and still love it. If you don’t have a big budget, check out the $250-and-under collection, and keep an eye out for the festival of ‘smalls’ exhibit they do every fall from mid-November to December. Prices are from $55 to $250, so don’t wait until the end because they sell out quickly.
There are also a ton of great online sites popping up where you can buy all types of work in any price range, but there really is something to be said for the experience of having a piece of art affect you in person. Check out your local art schools, because the end of the semester is near and there will be plenty of graduate exhibits to discover the next great up-and-comers on Canada’s art scene.
For more tips on buying and displaying art, see our Art Advice Guide.
1. All the Best blog, photography by Rob Fiocca
2. Anthea Baxter-Page
3. Alison Milne Design Studio
4-5. Anthea Baxter-Page
6a. One 800 Gallery
6b. Alison Milne Design Studio
7-8. One 800 Gallery
9. Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects
10. Suzanne Dimma
11. Ryan Louis