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The following opinion article was prepared as part of the Gallery presentation for the 2013 Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in Toronto,

July 5-7th.. HOODIE CULTURE explores the cultural implications of garments that conceal. Curiosity about how art resonates with the public is a secondary focus in the exhibition. Techniques from slip casting to drawing and printing on clay were involved in this interactive installation.

 

HOODIE CULTURE

What does it say about our society when comfort clothing becomes a symbol of public mistrust? Hooded sweatshirts are a near-ubiquitous fashion item traversing age, gender and ethnic divides. Found as monastic garb in medieval Europe, the hooded garment prevailed through the centuries in various forms as a cloak, and was adopted by workers on the North American continent in the 1930’s as protection against the elements. Embraced today as a fashion style in casual to formal wear, much like Levis, running shoes and baseball caps, wearing a "HOODIE” has become controversial, since its association in the 1970’s with Hip-Hop culture. Originally created for warmth, this much maligned garment now appeals through providing the wearer anonymity.

The following quotations citing WIKIPEDIA reveal the social implications of this much maligned garment originally created for warmth and comfort

.“The hoodie took off in the 1970’, with several factors contributing to its success. Hip Hop culture developed in around this time… and the hoodie's element of instant anonymity, provided by the accessible hood, appealed to those with criminal intent.” “Most critical to the hoodie's popularity during this time was its iconic appearance in the 1976 blockbuster film ROCKY.”

During the 2000s in the UK, “the HOODIE gained a negative image, being associated with anti-social behaviour" of working class youth in England or Scottish hoodlums.

“In May 2005, a shopping centre in Kent, UK caused outrage by launching a code of conduct which banned its shoppers from sporting hoodies.”

“Hoodie Day was launched in May 2008 in New Zealand as part of an annual national Youth Week, a pro-youth initiative to challenge youth stereotypes. Support and criticism was drawn from politicians, who were divided over the event…. citing the hoodie as not an appropriate article of clothing to celebrate. Two retail complexes … banned the wearing of hoodies.”

“In June 2011, police in Brisbane, Australia launched a 'Hoodie Free Zone' initiative, with shopkeepers encouraged to ask hoodie-wearers to leave. The zone is part of an initiative to educate businesses on how they can avoid armed robberies, in which the clothing is often worn.”

 “Angela McRobbie, professor of communications at Goldsmiths College, UK, says the appeal of the hoodie is because of its promise of anonymity, mystery and anxiety.”

 “London-based rapper Lady Sovereign published a single titled “HOODIE" in protest as part of a "Save the Hoodie" campaign.”

In the US, “after the shooting of Trayvon Martin hoodies took on a national significance, as Martin was killed while wearing one. Donning a hoodie was seen as a sign of protest, and many cities across the USA staged "hundred hoodie marches.”

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The following article was originally published in Studio Magazine by the Ontario Crafts Council in April 2012.

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition at 50: Craft Media in Focus

By Susan Card

 

The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, held annually in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, is a destination for lovers of art and craft. Celebrating 50 years in 2011, the TOAE began when businessman and philanthropist Murray Koffler saw that Toronto would be well served by an outdoor art fair, much like New York’s Washington Square Exhibition. Koffler envisioned supporting emerging artists and promoting established professionals in an outdoor venue. Beginning as a reactionary event in 1961, held in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Motor Hotel on Jarvis St., the TOAE relocated to Nathan Phillips Square in 1967 where it appears each July.

     The TOAE has always had a circumspect relationship with production craft, but embraces fine craft under the “art” designation. The pejorative comment from 1967 that organizers worked “on improving the quality and quantity of accepted artists, so that the TOAE would never fall into a craft show category,” is moderated only by the fact that expanded submission categories included glass, mixed media and photography, as well as other types of media. John Downing, former TOAE Director and editor of the Toronto Telegram and Toronto Sun, alludes to early restrictions based on city by-laws prohibiting sales of merchandise on the square. The legacy is that contemporary eligibility is based on design quality, not sales potential.

     Various factors have contributed to the continued inclusion of craft media at the TOAE. Aaron Milrad, an early supporter and collector of ceramics, joined the TOAE Board in the late 1960’s and has sponsored the Ceramics Award for many years. His family’s continued, unswerving commitment assures ceramics’ inclusion in future shows. As the art-craft debate raged in the 1980’s and 1990’s, TOAE policy attitudes swayed. The 1987 Board recommended “wearable art should be eliminated as it attracts too many mass produced t-shirts and other items sold through Queen Street vendors, but exceptional fabric work should be considered under the fine art category”. The TOAE became an incorporated non-profit in 1982 with stated mandates to “promote interest in, and study the arts generally, to advance knowledge and appreciation of and stimulate interest in paintings, sculptures and other art forms through public exhibition”. Not specifically mentioned, craft was defined and included as “other art forms”.

     The TOAE has supported emerging artists with an informal outdoor ambience, sponsored awards, low entrance fees, and no commission taken. Organizers have actively encouraged student applications from art and craft schools, sourcing new talent attractive to gallery owners and collectors. Although funded by several levels of government, the TOAE has been supported largely by application fees, award donations, corporate sponsorships and a volunteer Board with two paid staff. Elected Board members are enthusiastic practicing art and craft professionals.

     Juries comprised of artists, curators and local art dealers screen show applications. Departing from the previous practice of viewing submissions at random, former Director Jennifer Rudder instituted a 1998 jury process based on media category. Current jurors selected for specific areas of expertise ensure the quality of works admitted. In “blind” juries where names are not revealed, applicants are compared within categories. This system enables opportunities for emerging talent and, on occasion, excludes established participants. Up to fifteen juries, each consisting of four board members and one guest expert, view over 12,000 images in March each year. The Jury Committee reviews final selections to balance categories and fill spaces.

     Guest jurors from the educational sector often attract a cadre of student applicants. The TOAE is frequently the first opportunity students have to publicly explain ideas and techniques and many gain gallery representation and commissions through their first exhibition at the TOAE. Glassblower June Pham comments, “As a student, the show encouraged me to continue in my field through offers from gallery owners to show and sell my work.”

     The TOAE is an avenue known to launch careers: painter Ken Danby was the first winner of Best In Show (1961) and David Blackwood, Joanne Tod, Jennifer Stead and Robin Hopper were all present early in their careers. But established professionals have expressed frustration with the unpredictable jury process aversely affecting revenues; spaces are not guaranteed one year to the next, due in part, to the ever-changing site configuration as well as the jury process. In the current shift toward post-disciplinary works, some Board members have lobbied for new exhibition categories – installation, performance and video art – creating a dilemma for organizers and a competition for spaces in traditional media-based categories. However, the $30,000 in cash prizes awarded each year, plus exposure in the annual January Best of TOAE award winners’ exhibitions, always benefit the frontrunners.

     During the past decade, the TOAE has been tested by strikes, SARS and the re-construction at Nathan Phillips Square, which has cut both show and makers’ revenues. Looking ahead, TOAE may again face space, funding, and leadership challenges, but it has nevertheless continued to gain audience. Purported to attract 100,000 visitors each year, Canada’s largest outdoor art show generates over two million dollars in sales, but more importantly it plays a key role in the careers of many artist and craftspersons in Canada. Bill Kirby, Director of the Centre for Canadian Contemporary Art and past TOAE Chair, proudly observes that TOAE has become “an integral part of Toronto’s vibrant cultural landscape.”

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION VISIT:

www.torontooutdoorart.org

 

Wilson, Hilda E. and Clark, Dea Cappelli. Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition: Its History from 1961 to 2007.  Hamilton, ON: ProVidea Inc. 2008.

Crawford, Gail. A Fine Line: Studio Crafts in Ontario from 1930 to the Present.   Toronto, ON: Dundurn Press. 1998.

Wilson, Hilda E. and Clark, Dea Cappelli. Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition: Its History from 1961 to 2007. Hamilton, ON: ProVidea Inc. 2008.

Ibid

Ibid

Ibid

Ibid.

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TORONTO POTTERS’ 15th BIENNIAL EXHIBITION

Catalogue Introduction

Toronto Potters’ 15th Biennial Juried Exhibition September 16 - 26, 2010 at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art commemorates the organization’s 30th Anniversary. Founded in 1979, Toronto Potters stands today a non-profit volunteer-run association of approximately 100 members. Fourteen exhibitions mounted in highly visible public exhibition spaces, John B. Aird Gallery, the Ontario Crafts Council Gallery, and the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, have enhanced the group's reputation for successful exhibitions of artistic merit.

 

Patterns established by early executives set the foundation for later exhibitions. First president Marian Maynard was in the original graduating class in clay at Sheridan College. Roughly a quarter of the 15th Biennial exhibiting artists are graduates of the Sheridan College ceramics programme, whereas in previous shows many members received their education outside Canada. Traditionally, submissions are encouraged and received, evenly divided between sculptural and functional categories. Juror Ann Roberts’ comments suggest a future direction, to realize abstract concepts through new forms, regardless of making style. The publication of Toronto Potters’ Exhibition catalogues, initiated in the 90’s, provides a visual record of the past decade. Informal sharing of expertise, a function of the “guild” model, provides organizational direction, while members share their other talents to benefit the group. Commitment to creating is evident. Many exhibitors volunteer to run ceramics organizations, teach pottery or form alliances for joint exhibitions beyond Toronto Potters: (Women Who Wood, The Cup Show, Signs of Our Times). That the association has continued for 25 years without permanent residence or studio space contributes to the sense of individual diversity denoting Toronto Potters’ exhibitions.

 

The current exhibition, designed to engage all levels of experience, attracted new and emerging artists to the competition. Three possible avenues offered participation opportunities: a juried Exhibition, Retrospective and Survey Show featuring the collective talent of members.

 

The juried Exhibition held in the Gardiner Museum Shop showcases the finest ceramics produced by members. Support from the Ontario Arts Council enabled two jurors Ann Roberts and Bruce Cochrane to select 41 pieces from a field of 102 works. Based on their combined 60 years of teaching experience, works were judged on creative expression, originality and technical merit in categories of ‘For Use’ or ‘Of Expression’. Jurors’ comments published in the exhibition catalogue are important statements that move art forward by providing insight or direction. This 15th exhibition catalogue continues the fine tradition of documenting Toronto Potters’ exhibitions.

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ECHOES AND RIPPLES EXHIBITION 

Excerpt from the catalogue for ECHOES AND RIPPLES EXHIBITION at

Burlington Art Centre November 2007 to February 2008

Tour and talk with curators, Susan Card and Jonathan Smith. January 20, 2008

Toronto Potters, founded in 1979 as a not for profit volunteer-run association, is an eclectic group of approximately 100 members who pursue working with clay as a passion. Some members are professional artists whose livelihood is dependent on creating pottery or sculpture, or teaching pottery classes, while others experiment with clay as a hobby.

The association mounts biennial juried exhibitions, holds monthly meetings with guest speakers, publishes a newsletter, holds biannual sales of members’ work, and sponsors activities that contribute to the artistic growth and development of members.

ECHOES AND RIPPLES, is one of a series of Burlington Art Centre exhibitions that shows historical context for contemporary pottery. It features selected works from members of Toronto Potters whose work is defined by vessel orientation and who exhibit regularly in juried shows - provincially, nationally, and internationally.

Marian Maynard, one of the founding members of Toronto Potters, was part of the original graduating class in clay at Sheridan College, and part of the group with Donn Zver that began the Potters' Guild of Hamilton and Region in 1971. Indeed, she was the first president of the Hamilton-based guild, but upon relocation to Toronto was instrumental in initiating Toronto Potters, and it’s first president. Knowing this legacy, one becomes aware of the cross-fertilization of ideas within this group of exhibiting potters that transverses regional groups. Many of the Toronto Potters are members of several pottery guilds, including those of Burlington and Hamilton.

Life experiences drawn from various parts of the world contribute to the overall impression of diversity within Toronto Potters, which is a distinctive characteristic of the group. Several exhibitors received their education outside of Canada, in the UK, France, Poland, or Eastern Europe, some in the US, one in Brazil, and some were educated in Canada. The work represents a multiplicity of attitudes and styles.

This exhibition also traces a largely unacknowledged aspect of the guild structure, the informal sharing of expertise, which expands perspective. Within guilds, alliances occur to form exhibition groups. Cory Pinassi, Wendy Vervoort, and Zsuzsa Monostory have exhibited as Fireballs, while Judith Graham, Laima Bruveris, Danuta Weizenbluth, Louise Macnab, and Susan Card (with Jutta Spengemann) exhibited together as the Cup Group. Joyce Wheatley and Liz Willoughby have fired and exhibited together over many years. Robert Tetu and Susan Card have exhibited together and continue to make collaborative pieces. Kathy Matsushita and Joyce Wheatley are exhibiting Sumi-e artists at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto, which is also the venue of choice for the Toronto Potters’ biannual sales. Joyce Wheatley, Kim Harcourt, Celia Brandao, Zsuzsa Monostory, and Liz Willoughby, along with others, currently wood fire together and form part of the core of Women Who Wood. Eden Bender and Judith Graham are both members of the Ontario Society of Artists. The newly opened Scratch Gallery in Toronto, owned by Eden Bender and her partner Hans Wontorra, regularly exhibits the sculptural works of Judith Graham, Danuta Weizenbluth and Irit Lepkin.

Over half of the potters teach clay classes at various facilities and have, without doubt, have influenced each other as well as a new generation of potters. Joni Moriyama and Mark Jaroszewicz, who teach at the Ontario College of Art and Design, bring a formal sense of design to works they exhibit and introduce their students to the guild concept. Chiho Tokita, Kathy Matsushita, and Kasumi Lampitoc have all studied with Susan Card at Sheridan College or at City of Toronto facilities, or with Joyce Wheatley through the Woodlawn pottery studio. Wendy Vervoort teaches pottery at the Mississauga Potters’ Guild, Kathy Matsushita presently teaches at Pickering Pottery Studio, Zsuzsa Monostory teaches at Riverdale Farm, and Celia Brandao teaches at the Jewish Community Centre in Toronto. Louise Macnab and Danuta Weizenbluth have offered classes for many years through a private co-operative in Toronto, the Potters Studio. More common is non-institutional learning promoted by guilds through workshop leaders hired to share their expertise. For example, Robert Têtu has taught and influenced Robert Walter, Kathy Matsushita, Zsuzsa Monostory, Celia Brandao, Kasumi Lampitoc and Susan Card about detailed aspects of pottery making through workshops he conducts across the province and in his studio in southwestern Ontario. The exhibiting artists are part of the litany of speakers and workshop leaders that comprise the informal training of Ontario potters through the guilds.

Partnerships developed through volunteer work on the Toronto Potters’ Executive, or with groups like FUSION: The Ontario Clay and Glass Association in developing joint workshops with other guilds, follows a pattern established by early executive members. Almost everyone in the exhibiting group has been committed to pottery creating while taking on responsibility for the running of ceramics organizations. Author Gail Crawford speaks of the Toronto Potters having a heritage of a “business-like and professional approach.” Liz Willoughby, Judith Graham, Louise Macnab, Cory Pinassi, Eden Bender and Joyce Wheatley have fine-tuned the organization of fourteen Toronto Potters’ Biennials and have passed their legacy of learning to the new generation of exhibition organizers, Kim Harcourt, Lesley McInally and Chiho Tokita. For several years Judith Graham was instrumental in organizing both Burlington Potters Guild and Toronto Potters exhibitions juried by some of the pre-eminent ceramic artists of Canada such as Steve Heinemann, Bruce Cochrane, Susan Low-Beer, Ron Roy, and Ann Mortimer. Public exhibition venues such as Harbourfront, The John B. Aird Gallery and the Gardiner Museum along with an impressive list of jurors have established the Toronto Potters Biennials as shows to scrutinize for “up and coming” ceramic artists. The 2008 Biennial will take place in the new OCC Gallery on Queen Street in Toronto.

Artists encouraged in the guild setting seem to eventually cycle out of a given group once a certain level of expertise has been achieved or because of life‘s changes. A number of individuals in Toronto Potters have moved on to open new galleries or studios in the last few years. As such, this exhibition includes the work of new, past and deceased members of the group, as well as work from one of the founding members of FUSION and current Toronto Potters member Judy Morsink. Some works are drawn from the permanent collections of FUSION and Burlington Art Centre; others are new works. We wish to thank everyone who contributed current work, or pieces from their personal collections, to mount the exhibition, and on behalf of Toronto Potters, I want to thank Jonathan Smith and the art center for encouraging all Toronto Potters through the opportunity to exhibit at BAC.