Monthly Archives: April 2016

And yet ANOTHER reason to go to Seattle…..

I’ve been meaning to write about Azuma Gallery for a long while.  It’s a great commercial gallery in the Pioneer Square area of downtown Seattle, specializing in Japanese art.  Besides a variety of prints (woodblocks,lithographs, stencils, mixed media) they show screens, paintings, baskets and ceramics.

What makes it so good?

The artwork is of a very high quality.  The gallery represents artists from Japan, as well as American artists working in Japan.  Work by Toko Shinoda immediately caught my eye.  Her lithographs are very graphic: bold and dramatic.

The gallery has existed for 38 years.  The people working there are very knowledgable about the art, and the artists.  I learned that Toko Shinoda has worked into her advanced age….and we do mean advanced…..she was born in 1913!

The pricing is more than fair….at least to the buyer.  I was surprised at the prices: they are very reasonable, bordering on the inexpensive for original art.  (No excuse not to have good artwork hanging in your home.)

If you have the opportunity, visit Azuma Gallery soon.  This Thursday, May 5, they have an opening for their Recent Acquisitions Show.  If you can’t make it to Seattle in the next little while, make sure to browse their website.





Celebrities: read this!!!

Writing about Steve Martin trumpeting Lawren Harris inevitably leads me to think of Lionel LeMoine Fitzgerald .  Some of you may wonder “Who?”  Fitzgerald was also a member of the Group of Seven, and the only prairie artist in the lot.

I think I fell in love with FitzGerald’s work experiencing it at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  (FUN FACT:  The WAG is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery, opening in 1912.)  He was born in Winnipeg in 1890, and was one of the first principals of the Winnipeg School of Art, which is now the School of Art at the University of Manitoba.  ( FUN FACT #2  The same group of people, The Winnipeg Industrial Bureau, founded the art gallery, and the school.  They had lofty goals of cultural development, progress and shaping the civilization of Western Canada.  Wow. When was the last time you heard a business person talking like that?)

FitzGerald spent most of his life in Winnipeg, with studies in Pittsburgh and New York City.  He worked primarily in drawing, oil and watercolour painting and printmaking.  If you click here, you can see a mural by Charlie Johnston that commemorates FitzGerald’s life in Winnipeg.

I’m glad Canadian painting, and Lawren Harris in particular, are getting publicity because of Steve Martin’s interest. Wouldn’t it be great if we could match up some more celebrities with deserving artists?   Any thoughts on who might be a great (or fun!) match with L. L. FitzGerald?

Steve Martin did whaaat???

We live in a curious time, don’t we?  Celebrities absorb enormous amounts of attention in the world.  Some people are famous for the most unlikely reasons….but we won’t discuss the psychology of our society’s values.  Instead, let’s talk about Steve Martin as curator of a  Lawren Harris show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Yes!  Steve Martin, the actor and comedian (if you haven’t seen Trains, Planes and Automobiles you must find 90 minutes this week to watch it), and Lawren Harris, the Canadian painter and founding member of the Group of Seven…. a bit of an unlikely pairing, wouldn’t you say?


Nonetheless, The Idea of North is the first solo exhibition of Harris’ work in the United States. Celebrity has its influence!  The show is organized by the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Art Gallery of Greater Ontario, and curated by Steve Martin.

The Museum of Fine Arts organized a panel discussion with Steve Martin, Adam Gopnik, (writer) and, Erik Fischl (artist) that sold out in 8 minutes!  (Faster than Jets’ season tickets!)  If you were like me, and wished you had been there, click here to watch it.  I found the discussion of the mythology of Canada and the north interesting;  Erik Fischl had some interesting insights into the reasons why Canadian artists/painters haven’t ‘broken’ into America to the same degree as, say, entertainers.  (We might call them celebrities…)



Art dreams….

I just finished reading a New Yorker article about DreamYard, an amazing arts organization in the Bronx, New York.  DreamYard was started 20 years ago to provide arts education to schools whose funding had been cut. Two actors, Jason Duchin and Tim Lord, recruited other artists to teach in public high schools.

DreamYard continues to provide arts education in schools, and now has its own DreamYard Art Centre  AND its own high school, DreamYard Preparatory School.  WOW!  Click here for a brief video about DreamYard.  (You don’t want to miss the two very articulate Grade Five poets!)

I’ve been thinking about DreamYard and Winnipeg’s Art City.  Imagine a world where every neighbourhood has an arts centre, staffed by working artists, open and welcome to everyone.

We all agree (!) that art can save the world. ( DreamYard has some very compelling statistics: 98% of their graduates from the Out of School Programs have gone to college.)  Perhaps it’s time to make fine arts education mandatory in all schools, and available in every neighbourhood.