Past Exhibits

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Cheap Thrills

Nov. 27, 2014 - Feb. 18, 2015

Don’t miss out, still on, extended one more day, last chance, ends tomorrow. The roar of consumer messaging is omnipresent, especially during the holiday season and the display of art frequently entangles with the commercialized culture of spectacle. In Cheap Thrills, the Drake’s holiday exhibition, a group of artists liberates the mainstream’s buy now, pay later appetites, reclaiming our relationship with store-bought disposal shiny happy plastic materials.

In the vestibule, Mohammad Rezaei and Hugh Mater’s Flat Line imagines an IRL (in real life) Google image search for a .png file. With a Photoshop “transparent layer” as a backdrop, the local artists blur the distinction between the discover of mass produced objects seen in internet image searches and the contemporary art installation’s readymade. The sleek, Sorayama-esque mannequin and Dollarama finds will catch viewers in that suspended moment where mass produced objects and Photoshop art tools co-exist, referencing a simulated reality typically surfed via an internet browser.

A counter point, however, is Lazy Mom’s Buffet site-specific installation in the Cafe. The ongoing photo project between New York-based artists Josie Keefe, a prop stylist, and Phyllis Ma, a window dresser, is a deliberately sly unleashing of a bored housewife’s artistic ambitions. The wallpaper treatment on the cafe’s walls plays with traditional food photography, the still life and household decor, but with uncooked bacon stripes immaculately wrapped around foam hair curlers and even circumcised bananas, something far more absurdist lurks.

In the lobby, local artist Melissa Fisher has Trying to Feel Nothing, a seemingly light-hearted and pink-tinged site-specific installation encompassing the lobby and coffee table vitrine. Known for frequently reworking in her installations a personal archive containing mostly discarded, found or given objects, Fisher comments negatively on the buying and spending cycle. Using materials like gold batons, mirrored mylar, fake gold chains and even pink plastic cups, Fisher consciously transformed the lobby into a meditative and calm state for viewers.

Behind Fisher’s coffee table vitrine, Betino Assa’s Turning a Landscape hangs above on the back lobby wall. The Bulgarian-born, Montreal-based artist paints fantastical creatures and bizarre industrial machinery in classical landscapes; his medium is acrylic paint on engraved plexiglas. The work plays out a comical, Modern Times-meets-Studio Ghibli assembly line, alluding to consumer culture’s complicated history of the low unit cost for manufacturing goods.

Like Fisher, local artist Georgina Lee Walker uses an inviting, soft pastel palette in her three works that hang at the top of the hotel’s stairs. Yet Walker’s use of plastic materials — such as the bright orange barricade fencing that loosely covers a treated canvas — re-imagines their typically under-construction use. After all, if city-living bees are incorporating plastic waste into their nests, surely our shiny, happy materials have a lifespan beyond the next flash sale.

Special thanks go to the artists, Maggie Flynn, Cameron Lee, Vanessa Rieger and KA Media.

Rea McNamara
Assistant Art Curator, Drake Hotel Properties