Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Earthquakes, Riots and Heatwaves and Great Art in June

It was an eventful month to say the least! With all that was going on in the city we were truly grateful that so many people still made it down to the gallery.

We had three very successful shows beginning with Myriam Levy's Desert Rhythms. The beautiful vibration of her work was complimented by extraordinary music chosen by Myriam.
Our next opening was for Diana Bennett and her cathartic work entitled 'Re
sonance' - a series of sculptures exploring her experiences with her Grand daughter's battle with cancer. It has received not only critical praise, many are saying it is her best work to date, but has also deeply effected many of those who have come to see the work.

The much anticipated opening of Costa Dvorezky's Adam and Eve did not disappoint. We had a great turn out despite the G20 and have had many of his admirers and collectors come by since. Interestingly, many artists have also been asking Costa when he is going to start offering classes in his techniques!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Month of May

I'm sure I am not the only one experiencing seasonal confusion disorder with this unusual weather we have been having, but we are welcoming it at Engine Gallery and looking forward to a beautiful summer down at the Distillery. May was a busy month for us with three openings and several charity events - not to mention the wonderful things our artists have been doing.

Our CONTACT exhibit was a great success. Hundreds of people came to the opening and the exhibit was recognized by Blog T.O, the Executive Director of Contact and will soon be recognized by dart magazine as one of the top ten best picks for the festival. (Below - Brent and Steven during the installation of the show and the opening night crowd).

On the same night as Brent's opening we featured a photgraphy group show in our second space. It featured the work of Dana Bentley and his exploration of an epic Cambodian poem translated into a fresco in the Royal Palace. Beside that was his series "Only their Portraits Remain," a series of portraits taken of political prisinors before they were executed during the Cambodian genocide of the 1970's.
Also featured in the show was work by the infamous photographer Jim Allen ("The Fencer" - below), Scott Johnston, Karen Pearlmutter, Michael Davis, Kamelia Pezeshki, Arkan Zakharov, James Storie, Margaret Glew, Dave Shuken, and Kevin Kelly.

May was a busy month for charity events as well. I attended a luncheon with the Women's Art Association. A group who raises money for scholarships in the Arts at many of the major Universities in Canada. I am hoping to join the organization in the fall to help them with their fund-raising efforts.

I was also lucky enough to attend the Butterfly Ball (above - me with CTV newsman Paul Bliss), a charity Ball benefiting BOOST a child abuse prevention and intervention program. Engine Artist Deborah Holowka generously donated her work entitled "Caressed - Comforted" (below) to the silent auction. The event raised $300,000 for Boost's programs.

We also had several artists in the gallery as part of the distillery art walk. We filmed them discussing their work and I am in the process of editing the videos now. During the interviews I discoverd that one of William Lazos' paintings was run over by a car and still managed to survive! Great news for all of us who are terrified of handling art - he is sure it was the frame that saved it.

There is much to celebrate in June - Myriam Levy's show opens tomorrow evening (come by for a drink), and Diana Bennett will celebrate a mini-show of what many feel is her best sculptural work to date on the 12th of June from 2-5.

Also Costa Dvorezky's highly anticipated show Adam and Eve opens on the 24th of June.

On top of all of this Toronto excitement - Shaun Downey's "Blue Coco" will take her place on the hallowed walls of the National Portrait Gallery in London in June as part of the BP Portrait Award (yes, that BP, and yes, oil on canvas).

So that's enough bragging for now. Happy Spring!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Toronto Artist Shaun Downey chosen to exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England

Engine Gallery artist Shaun Downey's work "Blue Coco" has been chosen as part of the BP Portrait Award 2010 to be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England from June 24th - September 19th, 2010. The award is the most prestigious portrait competition in the world. Only 55 portraits are chosen from nearly 2000 submissions.

Over the past 30 years the portrait competition has been a catalyst for the careers of many significant artists, and is the gallery's most attended exhibition. Last year's exhibit was attended by over 280,000 visitors.

Shaun's work is Influenced by the great painter/story-tellers of the past including Vermeer and Norman Rockwell, Shaun says he "strives to breath fresh life into Realist painting by infusing images from (his) own life with classical ideas and modern cultural references."

Shaun studied at Sheridan College and under Michael John Angel at Angel Studios who was running a school in Toronto at the time in conjunction with his renowned school in Florence.

Shaun says "I visited the National Portrait Gallery in October and was excited to see one of Pietro Annigoni's portraits of the Queen. Annigoni is a great hero and part of my academic lineage, so to show in the same gallery as the master and the many other painters I admires is a true honour.”

After several years of successful representation at the Toronto International Art Fair and through a prestigious gallery in Yorkville, Shaun has recently moved to Engine Gallery in the Historical Distillery District.

For more information on the BP Portrait Award 2010 please visit

BP Portrait Award 2010 Exhibition Schedule

National Portrait Gallery. June 24-September 19 2010
Usher Gallery, Lincoln. September -November, 2010.
Aberdeen Art Gallery. November 27 2010 -January 22 2011

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

AGO Massive

ENGINE Gallery owner Steven Schwartz and I (Mandy Cheetham) attended the AGO massive for the first time this year. While we were happy to be contributing to such a worthy cause we had no idea we would have such a great time!

Upon our arrival we were thrilled to see so many people had dressed in the 20's style to match the speakeasy theme. While the rest of the crowd rocked their fedoras the always-original Steve had intuitively chosen to stand out in a baseball cap and funky button down.

There must have been nearly 3000 guests over the three floors of the gallery. The basement was our favourite - with the band Tanika Charles and the Wonderfuls and a wicked female DJ who's name I can't recall (please message if you know her name) - we danced until the last note of the last song.

As it is at the best Toronto parties we were lucky enough to run into some good friends including Carl Lyons, Michelle De Los Santos, Steven Levy, and clients Ron Masil and Natasha Dobrina. Ron took the fantastic photos including this one of Natasha and Steve.

It was a last minute decision to go, and we are so glad we did. We'll be back again next year with more friends to support the AGO and their MASSIVE event.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Sculptures of Tamara Weller

An extrodinary artist has recently joined the ENGINE GALLERY family. We discovered Tamara Weller at the Artist Project in Toronto where she had been accepted as an artist in the Untapped program.

Tamara has an extrodinary ability to create an emotional narrative with her work and Steven and I were both struck by it immediately. Tamara is a recent graduate of the University of Manitoba and heavily involved in the arts community there.

It was this piece in particular that stopped my in my tracks, and now, having it in the gallery, it is having the same effect on our clients:

This sculpture is entitled "Linda" and is comprised of a painted bronze woman and a house built of wood. Tamara also created a large scale installation called "Morning House" shown below.

We are grateful to Tamara for the tenderness of this work. It does not fail to have an effect on those who share its space.

To view more of Tamara's work please visit


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Brent Lewin's Wild Elephants in Bangkok

Engine Artist Brent Lewin has been attracting a lot of attention lately.

Brent has recently been recognized as one of Photo District News (PDN)'s top 30 new and emergent photographers to watch for 2010 and chosen as a winner in the 2010 applied arts photography and illustration awards in the 'limited edition gallery prints' category for his Want Not Waste Not series.

During CONTACT we will show Brent's series entitled The Elephant in the Room.

The series explores the plight of wild elephants in Bangkok, Thailand as they "vie aimlessly for space in the congested streets" brought in by 'handlers' as a means for panhandling.

Brent explores how the revered, honourable and majestic image of the elephant has come to "represent the failures and inequity of the country's economic development."

Brent Lewin attended the University of Toronto and has photographed for such publications as National Geographic, The New York Times, Discovery Channel Magazine and The Toronto Star.