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Exibitions 1980

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Richard Pérusse
From January 7th 1980 to February 2nd 1980
Photographies (Lecture Room)

First exhibition of the series "Young Photographers", initiated by Richard Buchanan.

The Young Photographers Series is planed to be a continuing program of exhibitions to always be held in the lecture space of the gallery in conjunction with the regular program of the gallery. The photographers exhibiting in this program must be young and have had no previous exhibiting experience.
- Internal document (Optica) : letter of agreement between the artist and the gallery, October 18th 1979



Ian Wallace
From January 7th 1980 to February 2nd 1980
Work, 1979

Invited by Sorel Cohen.

Exhibition also showcased at The Vancouver Art Gallery from September 21st to October 21st 1979. For this occasion, the gallery published a catalogue with a foreword by Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker :
"Work 1979 is constructed on the formal problematic of image-making and the kinds of meaning available to a culture through various means of reproduction. The exhibition links symbolic meaning (especially metonymy) with superficial values : it exploits the surface materiality of the two dimensional image and engages the sceptic drive – the drive to consume and define meaning visually.
The scale of these works (9 feet x 18 feet, 3 feet x 48 feet) locates the viewer inside the landscape of ‘lookout’ (in a reflexive comment on the process of viewing) but also distances the viewer from the intimacy and specificity of ‘image/text’.
Both works explore two systems: the sensory (through colour) and the semiotic. The semiotic involves codes of representation, the sign displacing the idea, the materiality of language, autobiography, its architecture, the room of the studio as a model for the mind itself."

"[...] we have a very eclectic history. Optica is seven years old and has had over one hundred exhibitions in that time. We were founded by Bill Ewing as a private non commercial photography gallery. Since that time we have expanded several times, and have expanded the policy of the gallery as well. We still have a very strong emphasis on photography and photo related work. The old invitations that I am sending you only represents some of the shows that we have had. A good indication of our history is to look at the names in the auction kit, which was a retrospective show as well. Some of the missing people in the retrospective were people like Henri Cartier Bresson, etc."
- Internal document (Optica) : correspondence between Richard Buchanan and Ian Wallace, May 3rd 1979

Bibliographie
- «Montreal, Contemporary murals», Réalités, Museum Tour, An International Sampling of Current Art Exhibitions, janvier-février 1980, p.112.




Colin Lochead, Renée Van Halm, Robert McNealy, Bill Vazan
From February 5th 1980 to March 1st 1980
Site Lines

Suggested by Renée Van Halm.

The artists, three from Toronto and one from Montreal, will deal with an extension on a large scale with a drawing sensibility. The title, "Site Lines" refers to the fact that all the pieces deal in some manner with the space in which they are installed.
Colin Lochhead will be installing a construction between the wall and the pillars based primarily on his perceptual observations of the space.
Bill Vazan, weather permitting, will execute a land drawing on the snow on a parking lot visible from Optica’s windows and present references to this work in the gallery.
Renée Van Halm has prepared three drawings in direct relationship to the form and proportions of the windows. Each of these deal with different aspects of the windows – the arch – the outline and centre bar – the opposing halves.
Robert McNealy is basing his work, a wall drawing, on his examination and evaluation of one of Van Halm’s drawings and the actual window.
A catalogue will be prepared and will include artists statements and photographs of the work. It will be released in mid February.
- Press release (Optica)

"Vazan took photographs from the windows on the 5th floor of 1029 Beaver Hall Hill, where Optica is situated; within these individual photogaphes he determined a site-line to the building or structure at the greatest distance from his vantage point. Eight points were then plotted on a map determining a random shape. The photos were then related to the viewer by way of a cartographic wall piece with a central 'you are here' reference point."
- Site Lines; Lochhead, McNealy, Van Halm, Vazan, Optica, Montreal, 1980.

Go to publications catalogue.



Robert Bean, Roy Hartling, Alvin Comiter, Bruce Sparks, Gary Wilson
From March 4th 1980 to March 29th 1980
Halifax

In art, as in every sphere of human endeavour, there are those who lead and those who follow. And regardless of whether or not the followers equal or even exceed the leaders, their work is always dogged by a sense of déjà vu. Such is the case with the group photography exhibition currently on display at Optica Gallery.

In their twenties or early thirties, the five photographers represented all worked or studied together at one time at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. Robert Dean, Alvin Comiter, and Gary Wilson are still living in the Maritimes. Bruce Sparks now resides in Calgary, Roy Hartling in Montreal.

As titles like Building with Sign suggest, Comiter, who is the best known of the group, takes a deadpan approach. One of his black-and-white photographs – Laundry Racks – conveys a real sense of ambiance. But most of the others rely on visual jokes. For instance, a winged statue appears to be tossing the wreath it is holding aloft over a flagpole on a nearby building. Unfortunately, the humor is too slight to sustain viewer interest.

There are two principal themes running through Spark's black-and-white photographs: construction sites and water in natural and unnatural bodies. In one striking images, a single figure is seen from above swimming in the outdoor pool at Lake Louise, Alberta. However, too many of the photographs are dull in both concept and tonal range.

Robert Bean gives a twist to his exploration of the built environment by adding the element of colour to his square-format photographs. Two images stand out, one for its beauty and spatial ambiguity, the other for its evocation of place. The first shows a fireman spraying a burning red-shingle house, a rainbow created by the jet of water from his hose. The second shows a line of houses painted in the bright colors which help offset the dreariness of Maritime drizzle.

It is Hartling, however, who is the most successful of the four photographers working in what has been termed the "urban landscape" genre. Through juxtaposition of figures apparently unconscious of each other, he creates ambiguous new relationships, often with sinister overtones. One of his black-and-white images, for example, captures a woman casting a worried glance at a man oblivious to her presence; behind her in shadow can be dimly perceived another figure of whom she is unaware.

In contrast to his colleagues, Wilson explores the natural landscape, alternating panoramas with close-up views, infusing a melancholic beauty into what might otherwise be considered as drab scenes. One particularly expressive image depicts a village and cove from an elevated perspective. The surface quality of the prints is strong. But most importantly, there is a refreshing authenticity to the photographers: they seem to be the photographer's direct response to the environment surrounding him.

The exhibition continues at Optica Gallery, 1029 Beaver Hall Hill, 5th floor, until March 29.
- [Source to be confirmed]



From March 11th 1980 to March 22nd 1980
Auction-Dance

"ART AUCTION
conducted by K. Colgan, Phillip Ltd.
March 22 at 20:00 hrs.
free admission
cash bar opens at 19:00 hrs.
preview: March 11 to 22
DANCE
following the auction at 22:00 hrs.
LIVE MUSIC by KLO
admission $5.00"
- Invitation (Optica)



Jeremy Cooper, Andrew Danson, Gary Hall, H.P. Marti, Michael Mitchell, Roger Schip, Ron Hunt, George Whiteside, Eunice Champion
From April 1st 1980 to April 26th 1980
Toronto Photo-Coop

Suggested by Suzy Lake.

Toronto Photographers' Co-Operative:
The Toronto Photographer's Co-operative was formed in November of 1977 with the intention of providing the opportunity for Canadian photographers to meet and exchange ideas and information.
Since that time, the co-op has produced several successful shows and the informal meetings have become a forum for the more than forty members to discuss new work and plan future exhibits and projects.
The co-op will be bringing to its new gallery, located at Toronto's Harbourfront complex, shows from other co-ops and centers across Canada, as well as establishing a slide library and providing workshops and lectures.
The co-op meetings are held at 641 Queen St. E, Toronto, Ont. M4M 1G4.

Exhibitors At Optica:
Eunice Champion – Heremy Cooper – Andrew Danson – Gary Hall – H.P. Marti – Michael Mitchel – Roger Schip – George Whiteside – Ron Hunt

Jurors For This Exhibit:
Judy Gouin, Renée Van Halm and Gabor Szilasi.
- Press release (Optica)

"As you enter Optica Gallery, you are confronted by 39 color portraits lining one wall. There is an innocent, a sophisticate, a dandy, an aesthetic, a clown, a madman, and a host of other personae. Yet what makes the series so fascinating is that the faces all belong to the same individual—photographer Hans Pieter Marti.

Marti, one of nine Toronto Photo Co-op members currently exhibiting at Optica, sometimes uses simple props—hats, glasses, panels painted with funny faces which are reminiscent of cartoonist Saul Steinberg's paper bag masks—in order to transform himself. But mostly he relies on the sheer expressiveness of his face and upper torso. He smiles, he frowns, he threatens, he beckons, he relaxes, he tenses. Thus he playfully- and skillfully- unleashes the cast of characters that most of us keep locked inside.

In contrast to Marti's pyrotechnics, Andrew Danson pursues a much more restrained, traditional form of portraiture. Working in black and white with a square-format camera, he photographs his subjects on their own environments but always presents them with a certain formality. Perhaps the most intriguing of Danson's five portraits on view shows a family of three. The image is pervaded by a sense of incongruity. The father, who has the sunken chest and stance of someone in his seventies, is dressed in old-fashioned cap, shirt, and loose-fitting pants held up by suspenders. He looks like he should be in an old farmhouse rather than the more modern surroundings- with hotel-like furnishings and two outsize calendars- in which he lives. The mother, who appears young enough to be the man's daughter rather than his wife, has a curiously disconnected look about her. She holds a protective arm around her son, a bright-eyed boy of 9 or 10. As it happens, there is a poignant story underlying the photograph. The social welfare courts tried to take the child away from his parents, who are both slightly retarded; but they fought and won the right to keep him at home. In a simple, honest way, Danson has conveyed the vulnerability- and solidarity- of the family.

George Whiteside also surveys human condition- but in a very different manner. He makes huge black and white photographs of figures drawn from the world of transvestism and punk; colors and scratches the prints, then inserts smaller photographs at the bottom of the tableaux. However, his attitude towards his subjects remains unclear: He seems both to mock and celebrate the subcultures they represent.

Gary Hall's color photography is invested with some of the irony of Whiteside's but with less theatrics. In fuzzily defined, almost painterly prints likely produced by an instamatic-type camera, he records ambiguous, frequently amusing scenes.

The Toronto Photo Co-op exhibition continues at Optica Gallery, 1029 Beaver Hall Hill, 5th floor, until April 26."
- Abbott, Louise, «Group Shows varied exhibit», The Gazette.

- Abbott, Louise, «Group Shows varied exhibit», The Gazette.
- Toupin, Gilles, «Le Toronto Photo-coop – Des hauts et des bad photographiques», La Presse, 12 avril 1980, p.D19.




Kelly Morgan
From April 29th 1980 to May 24th 1980
Dessins / Sculptures

April 29th To May 24th, Vernissage April 29th At 8:00 P.M.
This exhibit will include all new work that has never been exhibited. It will consist of three floors of sculptures, and working drawings."
- Press release (Optica)

Bibliographie
- Toupin, Gilles, «Milburn et Morgan : Renouveau et redites», La Presse.




Marilyn Milburn
From April 29th 1980 to May 24th 1980
Dessins

April 29th To May 24th, Vernissage April 29th At 8:00 P.M.
Marilyn Milburn will be showing work that has been shown before as well as new work, in an effort to illustrate her progression and continuing interest with an image.
- Press release (Optica)

"An attempt has been made with these drawings to illustrate that by manipulating one or a combination of the following: line, colour, value, texture, interval, dot, form (diptychs, triptychs, quadtychs) and space... The resulting work/s would deny or minimize the "gridness" of the grid."
- Internal document (Optica) : artist statement

Bibliographie
- Toupin, Gilles, «Milburn et Morgan : Renouveau et redites», La Presse.




Murray MacDonald
From May 30th 1980 to June 21st 1980
Columned

"I would be interested in constructing an installation for the south gallery space at Optica. Such an installation would require the whole gallery space as it is necessary to have a large area in which to erect the series of columns, enclosures, and pathways.

The impetus for this undertaking comes from a recent visit to the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain. Walking through the interior of this mosque produced a heightened sensation of being in a specific place, relating to larges spaces, yet managing to be comfortable in that scale. Of course much medieval architecture seems to take into account the human scale, but this particular space seemed unique in the rhythmic placing of pillars, spaces, and projections.

I would like to construct a similar space, on much more modest terms, which would present some of that feeling but in a particular way which would help present and define the human presence (i.e. physical volume). The installation would involve construction of various sized columns placed at regular intervals which would reinforce a sort of open and closed space at either end of the gallery. Entering the room one would be forced (more or less) to approach the other side of the room via a pathway. On the return one would not necessarily feel obliged to come back the same way. This requires two constructions or enclosures at each end of the gallery. Materials would consist of wood, steel, column forms, and some concrete with, of course, consideration given to weight and size limitation.

Due to the amount of work involved in the preparation of the piece, should it be accepted, it would have to be presented late in the Spring as my 'free time' is somewhat short for this year. I would foresee no problems in having the piece finished within the next four of five months."
- Internal document (Optica) : project proposal, October 20th 1979

"In a text printed on the wall near the entrance, Murray MacDonald gives some clues about the prototype of his installation which took place last June at Optica. Reading it, we realize that he isn’t talking so much about a visual model – the specific look of the Mosque at Cordoba – but of his physical experience with a certain kind of space. He says that he wanted ‘to maintain that ‘forest of pillars’ sensation (on a modest scale) which would act as a transitional device between the whole space of the room and the actual space of the individual.’ So while there is no real visual resemblance to Cordoba (where the columns support a complex system of tiered arches), there are kinaesthetic references.

This particular sculptural/architectural cross-reference is effective because of the sculptural nature of the spatial conception at Cordoba (which it shares to some extent with the temples of Egypt and Greece). […]

What is the result of the conjunction of architecture and sculpture which MacDonald proposes in this installation? Basically, it is an attempt to transform the usual subject/object relationship that occurs in volume-enclosing architecture and in place-occupying sculpture, through the integration of the space of the work (and by extension, that of the building) with the space of the viewer (who becomes a participant). […] In its scale, its tactility, and its transparent openness, it facilitates an intensified awareness of being in time and space."
- Nemiroff, Diana, "Murray MacDonald, Installation", Parachute, no 20, Fall 1980, pp.49-50.

Bibliographie
- Nemiroff, Diana, «Murray MacDonald, Installation», Parachute, no 20, automne 1980, pp.49-50.
- Nixon, Virginia, «Diane's Acrylics Display a Bouquet of Color», The Gazette, 21 juin 1980, p.106.
- Toupin, Gilles, «À la galerie Optica : De Cordoba à Montréal», La Presse, juin 1980.




Brian McNeil
From May 30th 1980 to June 21st 1980
Exposition solo / Solo exhibition

First solo exhibition (photographic portraits "White Wall Series", "Sofa Series", etc.)

Bibliographie
- Nixon, Virginia, «Diane's Acrylics Display a Bouquet of Color», The Gazette, 21 juin 1980, p.106.
- Toupin, Gilles, «À la galerie Optica : De Cordoba à Montréal», La Presse, juin 1980.




Lynn Hughes
From September 8th 1980 to September 27th 1980
It's Only Facination

"It seems as if a statement might easily become an apology for painting in an age of 'modern art'... an intellectualizing of it. I can only say that I have returned — not so much to Painting as to pictures... perhaps out of hedonism. I am not trying to be clever about painting or paint. As I do read widely (for delight), the simplest and most appropriate thing seems to be to put with the work some examples of the kind of texts I become attached to. They cannot speak for the paintings but they do have some interest in conjunction with them."
- Internal document (Optica) : artist statement

"[...]Returning once again to the subject of pricing, it is too bad that Lynn Hughes and David Elliot, the young artists exhibiting at Optica, have not even bothered to post the prices of their works.
It's a good thing we have Canada Council-founded parallel galleries like Optica that can exhibit new art without having to worry about selling to survive. But not listing the prices gives the impression that the artists couldn't care less about selling.
The gallery staff (who don't know the prices themselves) will put you in touch with the artists if you express an interest. But many people, for instance those who might be interested in filing away comparative price information for future reference, simply don't bother to do this. Selling contemporary art is hard enough. Why make it harder?
Having said this, I must add that unless the prices are low, I would not imagine this show would attract too many buyers (though the Art Bank has bought Hughes.) Hughes' colorful expressionistic semi-abstractions—works that contain shape that seem to suggest such real objects as a bed, window, sink, even slices of bread—are striking, confident and refreshingly unpretentious. However, they are still at the senior novice stage."
- Nixon, Virginia, "(...) American Show Simple, Refreshing", The Gazette, 13 septembre 1980, p.57.

Bibliographie
- Nixon, Virginia, «(...) American Show Simple, Refreshing», The Gazette, 13 septembre 1980, p.57.



image
David Elliott, Crazy Studio, 1980.

David Elliot
From September 8th 1980 to September 27th 1980
Exposition solo / Solo exhibition

"Imagine a stage cluttered with props... simple things... boxes, 2X4's, ropes, wooden supports, mirrors, some artificial flowers.
Imagine that it is pitch black. The house lights are down and perhaps, even the curtains are closed. And yet, you can see the objects on the stage; see them like an X-ray, right through the curtain, as though each item had a spot light trained on it.
Now things begin to happen. Bricks and boxes shift. There is a good deal of bumping about. Some of the objects cluster together in stable, little lumps. Others seem to be falling. Ropes become taut pulling canvas awnings and backdrops into place.
The more things move, the more confused it becomes. Mirrors and flats serve to complicate your sense of perspective. Just when you think that you've got it right, it shifts somewhere else.
Sparks sputter and spew from a Roman candle. Pinwheels can be seen moving through all of this, like Giotto's angels through some cock-eyed architecture."
- Internal document (Optica) : artist statement

"[...]Returning once again to the subject of pricing, it is too bad that Lynn Hughes and David Elliot, the young artists exhibiting at Optica, have not even bothered to post the prices of their works.
It's a good thing we have Canada Council-founded parallel galleries like Optica that can exhibit new art without having to worry about selling to survive. But not listing the prices gives the impression that the artists couldn't care less about selling.
The gallery staff (who don't know the prices themselves) will put you in touch with the artists if you express an interest. But many people, for instance those who might be interested in filing away comparative price information for future reference, simply don't bother to do this. Selling contemporary art is hard enough. Why make it harder?
Having said this, I must add that unless the prices are low, I would not imagine this show would attract too many buyers (though the Art Bank has bought Hughes.) [...] Elliot's works, which are all similar, are like painted drawings. White outlines on black or red backgrounds depict scrambles of objects which the artist's notes compare to stage props—artificial flowers, mirrors, stage flats, etc. They are painted with honest professional flair.
But Elliott's works have relatively little lasting visual appeal and they lack the depth that can compensate for the absence of such appeal. Elliott's sculpture assemblage, including a painted wooden plant, spiky green leaves and all, shows a wittier side of his undoubted talents."
- Nixon, Virginia, "(...) American Show Simple, Refreshing", The Gazette, 13 septembre 1980, p.57.

Bibliographie
- Nixon, Virginia, «(...) American Show Simple, Refreshing», The Gazette, 13 septembre 1980, p.57.




John McKinnon
From October 1st 1980 to October 25th 1980
Constructions récentes en acier

"John McKinnon builds welded steel constructions. He lives and works in Toronto. McKinnon's work has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the A Space Gallery, the YYZ Gallery and others. "New Work" was exhibited as a recent solo show at the Art Gallery of Brant. Of his work, McKinnon says : "The pieces have been erected out of mild steel... to portray in a linear manner the animated possibilities in a material." The Optica Gallery will exhibit recent works in a show which opens Wednesday, October 1st to continue through October 24th."
- Press release (Optica)

Bibliographie
- John McKinnon : New Work, The Art Gallery of Brant, May 14-31, 1980.
- Toupin, Gilles, «Henry Saxe et John McKinnon : Quand la sculpture a du souffle», La Presse, 18 octobre 1980.




Peter Thompson
From October 1st 1980 to October 25th 1980
Photographies

"Mr. Thompson's current exhibition is a highly individualistic look into the urban landscape. He believes that much can be learned by studying the walls on which, at the same time, insulate while betraying man. These walls speak of man's despair and degradation, his rage, his struggle and even his hope.
He himself believes firmly that under all this confusion, lies order and even beauty, and his purpose is to show those seeking esthetic pleasure in today's urban landscape must attune themselves to their immediate surroundings.
The subject matter of the photographs on display is frail and transitory. What has been captured may at any time, be erased, torn down or weather-beaten."
- Internal document (Optica) : artist statement

Bibliographie
- Toupin, Gilles, «Peter Thompson, Françoise Chadaillac : Des murs urbains à la rue», La Presse, octobre 1980.



image
© Jana Sterbak, Measuring Tapes, 1980.

Jana Sterbak
From November 4th 1980 to November 22nd 1980
Travaux récents

"Toronto sculptor Yana Sterbak pulls off an unusual combination—whimsy mingled with a severe geometrical style—in her show of sculptures at Optica. Even the size of the show is whimsical. There are just three works, at most a foot high, sitting on the huge bare floor of the gallery. It is on at Optica, 1029 Beaver Hall Hill, until today."
- Nixon, Virginia, «‘Fil’ designs are creative», The Gazette, 22 novembre 1980, p.110. .

Bibliographie
- Nixon, Virginia, «‘Fil’ designs are creative», The Gazette, 22 novembre 1980, p.110.




Alan Carrier
From November 4th 1980 to November 22nd 1980
Photographies





Barbara Astman
From December 2nd 1980 to December 20th 1980
Exposition solo / Solo exhibition



Bibliographie
- St-Jacques, Rosanne, «Barbara Astman peut-être un 'body-art' photographique», Parachute, no 22, printemps 1981, p.40.