In: Mark Walton

I Say Tomato… Femme Folks Fest 2022 Repost
March 10, 2022

“They took it down and it said, you violated our community standards on nudity and sex… I objected and I clicked the “This is not what it seems” option or “not what you think it is” or whatever it was. They reinstated (the post) and they sent me a notice of reinstatement with a little thumbnail of the damn tomato… which I took a screenshot of and posted to say I’ve been reinstated… and they banned me again.”

Ruth Dick is a prolific photographer from Ottawa. She was one of our very first featured artists here at curated. where I wrote:

“Ruth Dick is a master at capturing the solitary. Almost every image she takes focuses intently on a single object, somehow stimulating a desire to engage in self-reflection… Like O’Keefe, Ruth is able to conjure up form and substance in abstract ways that deftly imbue her images with fresh import. A pepper is not a pepper.”

Things are still not quite what they seem. Her racy photographs have recently caused quite a bit of controversy, and have even been meta-banned. I spoke to Ruth about the implications of this in a recent conversation. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.

More images by Ruth can be enjoyed on her Instagram account @photos_uncurated. ~ Mark Walton

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Put sunflower seeds in your pocket so they grow when you die | Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. 1889
February 26, 2022

Put sunflower seeds in your pocket so they grow when you die | Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. 1889

It is an understatement to say that many of us have Ukraine in our thoughts, right now. Historians have commented that coverage of many past conflicts have been defined by technological advancements (such as Vietnam with television, or the first Persian Gulf conflict, with it’s almost video game style graphics); the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has already become one that is being seen – and perhaps shaped – by the internet, with streaming and social media.

A recent exchange between a brave Ukrainian woman and Russian soldiers brought to mind the work we’re featuring here (Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers).

From The Guardian: “A woman is being hailed on social media after she confronted a heavily armed Russian soldier and offered him sunflower seeds – so that flowers would grow if he died there on Ukraine’s soil. ‘You’re occupants, you’re fascists,’ she shouts, standing about a metre from the soldier.”

She goes on to command them to “take these seeds and put them in your pockets so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.”

You can see the video of that interaction here.

If it seems a bit crass to cite Van Gogh here, it’s good to remember his work has become a symbol of hope against adversity, of beauty in the midst of pain and suffering, and – possibly – that there is more good than bad in the world. Or, perhaps, it’s more about defiance in the face of difficult odds, and how history – against our trepidations – can be an appropriate judge of contemporary events.

There’s a number of ways you can support the people of Ukraine here, and it’s worth noting that Canada has the world’s third-largest Ukrainian population, so our neighbours and friends are surely watching this with hope and fear. ~ Bart Gazzola & Mark Walton

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Lori Coulter – Diviner
January 27, 2022

Lori Coulter Diviner this piece is tilted... loose page by Lori Coulter When you view Lori Coulter's work, it's almost as... Read More
Liz Potter – Reference
January 11, 2022

Liz Potter Reference The Power of this Land - Liz Potter Liz Potter has a big personality that is inversely reflected... Read More
Amy Weil – Distillation
January 11, 2022

Amy Weil Distillation Back in April 2021, I posted the first in our ongoing series of Curator's Picks. These were meant... Read More
Heather Franklin | Flu
November 22, 2021

Context is everything.

I first saw Flu, by Heather Franklin, in 2010. Heather, the Director of The Button Factory, Waterloo Ontario’s Community Arts Centre, made this drypoint print in 2006, drawn from a photo of three men during the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918.

What drew me to the image was its strangeness. Three men, obviously out of doors (as indicated by the skewed horizon line, so likely to be farmers), in masks, facing an invisible, deadly threat. The title gave away the timeline and narrowed the reason for their masked anonymity to a necessity rather than a choice – they were not running from the law. But the masks still made them “others”, unrecognizable, in a situation I could not fathom. The print carried with it a sense of the uncanny, with a deep sense of foreboding.

In 2021, these men have become very knowable. They are us. They are simple people, dealing with a situation beyond their control in the simplest way they can. Now I find myself less concerned with the contagion swirling around them than with the economic straits they find themselves in, how their families are coping, whether or not they have lost loved ones. They have become human where once they were alien.

You can find more of Heather’s fine illustrations on her Instagram account @heathersphotophoto.

~ Mark Walton

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Diana Nicholette Jeon
November 11, 2021

Diana Nicholette Jeon is a Hawai’i based photographer whose works have been widely published and exhibited, including (coincidentally) by The COVERT Collective’s Peppa Martin. Diana’s photos have won awards at the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, the Moscow Foto Awards and the Pollux Awards to name a few.

“Untitled (from the series, 860 Days)” is a photo that immediately conveys a sense of solitude. The extreme blurring of part of the image takes it a step further to impart an unwanted sense of loneliness, and of not knowing how to escape it… like a bad dream. In fact, the series itself (here) is “about my experience of loss, isolation, anguish and loneliness during a marital separation.”

Jeon’s other projects are equally as personal and introspective, and often combine selfies with other photographic elements to create unique pastiches that engage the viewer to try to connect with the psyche of Jeon herself… what is she feeling here? … why did she choose this? While all art seeks to create this bond with its audience, Jeon’s work is extraordinarily successful at it.

You can see more of Diana’s work at her website, including the series Self-Exposure, Socially Speaking, Nights as Inexorable as the Sea and I, Orfeo.

https://diananicholettejeon.com/

~ Mark Walton

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Life In Movement – The Tanya Liedtke story
November 8, 2021

Life In Movement
2011
Closer Productions

I have 3 ½ left feet. As a sometimes musician I have a great sense of rhythm, but it has never been able to translate into my limbs. As a pre-teen and adolescent, I never knew anyone taking dance classes, never attended any recitals or ballets or other artistic events involving dance… in short, I am the last person you might think who would offer up Closer Productions’ Life In Movement as a documentary film that made such a difference in my artistic practice.

The multi-award-winning film focuses on Tanja Liedtke, the late choreographer of the Sydney Dance Company, who was killed at age 29 before she could take her position. A lauded professional dancer, Life in Movement documents Liedtke’s intentional cultivation of a creative life and her near obsessive process. The dance sequences she created seem to defy physics; she would push her dancers to their breaking points yet pushed herself even further.

Watching the film made me question my own motives as an artist. Liedtke was “all-in” to an extent that I could not emulate as a musician. My passion for photography was/is a completely different animal, and I poured everything I had into it. Life in Movement helped me to focus my intent and my path forward.

The documentary will bring joy, sadness, admiration and reflection to any artist who watches. It is NOT available for streaming in Canada but you can purchase a copy from the Closer Productions website. ~ Mark Walton

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The Banff Purchase – An Exhibition of Photography in Canada
October 22, 2021

The Banff Purchase
An Exhibition of Photography in Canada
John Wiley and Sons, 1979

It never ceases to amaze me how many incredible books one can find at local used bookstores and antique markets. The Banff Purchase is one of them for me. Published in 1979 to celebrate the Banff Centre’s purchase of 153 photographs by seven contemporary (at the time) Canadian photographers, the book is a treasure trove of work by the likes of Nina Raginsky, Orest Semchisen, Lynne Cohen and others. The introduction by Penny Cousineau presages her work to clarify a Canadian artistic identity, as published a quarter century later in Faking Death, previously reviewed on curated here.

Semchisen’s work is a dustier, emptier distillation of Walker Evans’ Depression Era work in the American south. Lynne Cohen is known for her large scale, uninhabited set pieces. Nina Raginsky’s playful, hand-tinted portraits often portray people who are IN the scene, but not OF the scene. Also accompanied by the works of David McMillan, Robert Boudreau, Tom Gibson and Charles Gagnon, the images that comprise The Banff Purchase are a great starting point for anyone wanting to get to know the history of Canadian photography.

Long out of print, you can find this book quite inexpensively in the aforementioned places, or online.

For more images see the full post here.

~ Mark Walton

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Mišo Smišek – Narrative Art
October 7, 2021

Mišo Smišek of Belgrade, Serbia, is a consummate artist. He paints and draws. He is an incredible photographer and has illustrated numerous books. He is a regularly published and acclaimed writer of short stories. He sculpts. He creates pottery and does frottage. The breadth and scope of his work is quite simply impressive. Best of all, every piece he creates has the ability to elicit deep emotion from the viewer or reader of his work. Often dark but rarely disheartening or depressing, his work typically incorporates two or more mediums as above. Mišo has uncanny an ability to create a short story in every piece of his work.

At 64 years old, Miso studied Slovak language and literature at the Faculty of Philology of the University of Belgrade and currently works as a librarian in Boľovce. He posts regularly to social media.

Facebook: Mišo Smišek Art
Instagram: @misosmisek

~ Mark Walton

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