Design at Riverside
7 Melville Street S, Cambridge, ON
Internationally renowned artist Gary Taxali brings his colourful, poignant paintings, books, objects and installations to Design at Riverside for the summer and early fall. Gary’s work incorporates humour and well observed social commentary in his personal drawing style that references depression era typography, packaging and advertising, but which is firmly planted in the here and now. The exhibition will showcase a wide range of Gary’s artwork and object/product designs including apparel, toys, books, wine labels and commemorative coin designs, along side paintings, assemblages, limited edition prints and a salon style display of hundreds of drawings. Gary will create a one-off artwork for the five exterior facing windows of the gallery and the short documentary film Gary Taxali: the Art of Whimsy will also be on view.
Here and Now: The Art of Gary Taxali will mark the first comprehensive exhibition of his work in Canada
Gary has exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York) and the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh) and is represented by galleries in New York, London and Milan. His clients include Sony, Warner Brothers, Converse, Nintendo, Old Navy, Harry Rosen, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Time, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and GQ. Here and Now: The Art of Gary Taxali will mark the first comprehensive exhibition of his work in Canada.
Toronto–based Taxali was born in India, but emigrated to Canada with his family as a young child. He is a frequent international lecturer on art and design, is a faculty member at OCADU, and sits on the Canada Post Stamp Advisory Committee.
HERE AND NOW: THE ART OF GARY TAXALI
Essay by: Esther E. Shipman, Curator of Architecture and Design, Design at Riverside
Here and Now: The Art of Gary Taxali at Design at Riverside is a multi-media exhibition showcasing a wide array of artworks that includes paintings, assemblages, drawings, toys, coins, apparel, pillow cases, books, installations and a documentary video. It is a salon style presentation that includes hundreds of works mounted floor to ceiling, plus five site specific drawings for the gallery windows, rare toy prototypes, custom posters and a pop-up shop.
But it is really so much more. It is political subterfuge, social commentary, fun, humour, and imagination delivered en masse.
While Gary has enjoyed popular exhibitions around the world, Here and Now: the Art of Gary Taxali is the first comprehensive exhibition of his work to be mounted in Canada. From a wall featuring nearly 300 notebook sized original drawings, to 25 cent coins for the Canadian Mint, to posters for lectures and concerts, to magazine spreads, sculptures, and large scale paintings, the gallery is transformed into a rich, and tactile environment that expresses exuberance, warmth and a window into Gary Taxali’s world.
It is also a touchstone for a conversation about the relationship between commercial art, design and art.
Over the years, there has been an uneasy alliance between the worlds of art and design. Some institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York have included Design and Architecture as part of their mandate for decades, others have simply excluded it completely. In Canada, in 2015, the Art Gallery of Alberta has recently launched the Poole Centre of Design, which is a series of programs to new ideas and discussion about contemporary issues in design. This will mark the first such initiative by a provincial museum in Canada in over 25 years. This is something to celebrate, as design continues to seek recognition as an equal peer in the art world.
In describing Gary Taxali, the preference is to focus on the person rather than bend to the traditional demand to define people though their occupations. It is about communication. It is about sharing information and clarity. It is a means of quickly transferring knowledge. This is an extension of the idea
that we can distill a personality down and then share it with others.
Gary has been commissioned to create work for the leading international magazines and ad agencies and had successful exhibitions at both public and private galleries. His interest in music and personal friendships with numerous musicians has led to a Grammy nomination for Best Art Package and many music related and themed projects. His knowledge of and attraction to depression era graphics, packaging and advertising has imbued his work with a historical reverence, which he has used as a means of exploring new areas of design such as designing and manufacturing toys and apparel, and larger public works such as his series of wrapped transit transformer boxes located throughout greater Toronto. Gary is the author of several books. His most recent title is I Love you, OK? published by teNeues, with introductions by Shepard Fairey and Aimee Mann.
An exhibition such as Here and Now: the Art of Gary Taxali is an ideal example of a bridge between fields of practice, in that the selected works on display have been chosen on their merit and their content rather than whether or not the original source was a commercial client, an Art Director’s Club, an international museum, a personal friend, or a painting inspired by a recurring character. On view is a distinct body of work by a singular artist who easily traverses and minimizes the divides between disciplines, taking us effortlessly back and forth along the journey.
Toronto based Taxali was born in India, but emigrated to Canada with his family as a young child. He has exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York) and the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh) and is represented by galleries in New York, London and Milan. His clients include Sony, Warner Brothers, Converse, Nintendo, Harry Rosen, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Time, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and GQ.
About the author:
Esther Shipman is an established veteran of the design wars. She has a plethora of exhibition, writing, advocacy and consultancy credits and since 2007 has waged the battle as Curator of Architecture and Design for Idea Exchange. Many know her as the co-founder and former Executive Director of VIRTU, whose ground breaking design advocacy programs were pivotal in the development and promotion of new design in Canada and internationally. She has the strength left for at least one more good design fight.
About Design at Riverside Gallery:
Founded in late 2004 as a collaboration between the University of Waterloo School of Architecture and Cambridge Libraries and Galleries. Waterloo Architecture undertook to move to Cambridge from the main campus in Waterloo to create a state of the facility for the school, expand the size, scope, technical facilities etc. Paritally through the renovation of two shuttered Riverside Silk Mills, money became an issue. The school appealed to the main branch of the Library (located across the street) for support. The Library which was also the overseeing body of Cambridge Galleries (running two Contemporary Art spaces) stepped in an paid for the renovation of the North Wing of the School on the condition of opening an arms-length, dedicated architecture and design gallery. Design at Riverside was born.
Doors opened to both the new school and the gallery in November 2004. The gallery initially functioned without a curator (advisory board between the gallery and the school), then had a short term-curator (Sascha Hastings, for 16 months). Esther E. Shipman was hired as the Design at Riverside Curator in November 2007. Prior to her arrival there had been 21 exhibitions, 19 architecture, 2 design. Ms. Shipman rewrote the gallery mandate and implemented a 50% architecture, 50% design policy. In addition, she created a small publishing initiative for exhibitions developed in house. Previously, the gallery published invitations, sporadically documented shows and had published only three catalogues.
Since her arrival, Design at Riverside exhibitions have toured across Canada and abroad, including representing Canada at the 11 International Exhibition di Venezia in 2008, where Ms. Shipman under the auspices of gallery Director Mary Misner, served as the assistant Commissioner for Canada. Design at Riverside has developed an international reputation and has been instrumental in bringing international exhibitions to Canada, most often as the exclusive venue in the country, these include the 50th Anniversary Enzo Mari exhibition (Italy); Portraits from Above (Hong Kong, Germany); 20th Anniversary SNØHETTARetrospective (Norway); Lucienne and Robin Day (USA, UK); Prototyping Architecture (UK); Field Trip (Japan), Maggies Centres (USA, UK).
In addition, Design at Riverside has spearheaded large scale projects outside of the gallery including Common Ground (2012) that included over 30 public installations in the greater Cambridge area and more recently Building Waterloo Region (2014) (in collaboration with Rick Haldenby, former director of Waterloo Architecture) the largest Architecture Festival ever held in Canada involving eight exhibitions at major art and culture institutions across Waterloo Region (Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo).
Design at Riverside is the only municipal gallery in Canada dedicated to architecture & design.