Oct 30, 2012 - 2:10 pmStory & Photos by Linda Lee PurvisLong rays of streaming sunlight reach through the inviting rural gallery window, illuminating the assemblage of images that line the white walls, kindling them with clarity. Gallery keeper, Sarah Tacoma, has created the space to give light to artists, both established and emerging, as a means to showcase their original bodies of work at this local Cannington venue. The ART STUDIO Gallery & Shoppe avails a cozy, contemporary hub for artful exposure, reflection, and colourful conversation.
Cannington is home to an ever-increasing family of full and part-time artists that encompass a diverse representation of media. “There is such a strong arts community here and we're always brainstorming and helping each other out,” Sarah shares. Sarah's vision for the future involves initiatives with local and non-local artists – both for gallery interests, as well as for area artists collectively. Having opened the gallery this spring, as an extension of her own studio space, Sarah is elated with the keen reception and fortifying encouragement, not only from locals, but from the artist community at large.
Together with her husband, David Marshak, himself an accomplished landscape painter, both artists found their small home studio appeared to be shrinking beneath a swelling inventory for up-coming shows, and consequently, ever-depleting its prime real estate. Sarah flexed to accommodate the issue by seeking her own studio space in town. Since she is sensitive to the need for collaborative support within the arts community, creating the gallery flaunts a collage of reciprocal benefits for all. The space she found was in an ideal location just steps up from the main street, and conveniently adjacent to the cozy Cameron Street Co-op Café – all walking distance from home.
The studio resides in an historic brick building with the charming character of abiding architectural details, wall panelling, and wood plank floors to its credit; a tip of the hat to the past, and a wink to the present. In fact, with Sarah's innovative touches using naturalized wood fixtures and unfettered display elements, the vibe is pleasingly cohesive and congenial.
Inside, the space leading up to the studio is unpretentious and simple, with high ceilings and a broad-paned window. Much like the town itself, the gallery is small but magical, and with Sarah's ingenuity, this over-looked venue is now being looked over. Having opened earlier this summer, the response to Cannington's new gallery has been no less than affirming.
As a child, Sarah felt the first twinge of recognition that she wanted to be an artist during a family visit to a museum where she was awed by a liberating self-portrait of a nude woman, which somehow endorsed an intrinsic sense that she too wanted to articulate her creative voice visually. At 17, she spent a year in Japan as an exchange student, taking photos all the while, but not having the money to develop her film. When she returned, all of the rolls she had sent home over the year had been developed, and upon reviewing them, not only was her natural talent revealed, but so was a snapshot of her future.
Sarah met her (then) husband-to-be in Toronto, and eventually followed him home to Cannington, where she quickly adapted to the relaxed pace and affordable lifestyle that a quaint rural community can provide. With a more reasonable cost of living, Sarah is delighted to spend extra time exploring her craft, in lieu of relinquishing valuable time and energy to extraneous jobs just to compensate for premium city rates. It also provides her and David the opportunity to enjoy raising their one year old son, and alternate between parenting and work. While studying at Sheridan, Sarah met fellow photographer, Kelly Stacey, who also followed the blazoned trail to Cannington, and where she too can be found, on occasion, working in the studio.
Sarah is quickly becoming recognized for her unique approach to photography, including a recent series of photo encaustic images. This process involves brushing hot wax over a mounted photograph to alter the finish and add texture. Sarah often begins by distressing the image to impart a weathered appeal, and then may apply flourishes of paint, emphasizing certain elements within the photo, or add random splatters, or embed objects beneath and between the layers of beeswax. This evokes depth and draws out key features, often summoning a dream-like quality with a variable haziness that diffuses hard lines.
Her work expresses a romantic love of nature in telescoping spectrums, ranging from up-close profiles of budding branches to distant vistas of mountain landscapes. In addition to bucolic beauty, Sarah is drawn to architectural features, as is evident in her recent collection of period door and window images. She has traveled to many places to inform and inspire her work, but acknowledges that even Cannington stirs her creative curiousity. “Just the beautiful old buildings are an inspiration. I love that you can see the stars at night and smell the flowers and earth. Here, you open your door to nature outside each day.” Sarah discovered a newfound love of her neighbourhood when a co-op student was placed with her for four months. “We just wandered everywhere with our cameras, taking pictures of everything; it was great.”
Sarah is active in the art show circuit and participates in numerous Toronto shows throughout the year. Her work is displayed in a several galleries downtown, as well as the Art Gallery of Hamilton. But perhaps most dear, is her ART STUDIO Gallery & Shoppe, where she not only shares her own work in the making, but she also houses a little artist gift shop of primarily local work comprised of: rings, pottery, photo transfers, oil painting, wood carving, silk-screenings, alpaca yarn, cards, and a unique, artful cache of delights.
Gallery shows rotate on a monthly basis, each commencing with an opening reception for visitors to meet the headlining artist(s). The gallery's first holiday gift show opens soon, with a variety of works from an array of artists, and featuring smaller pieces and prices that make gifting original art both affordable to purchase and priceless to receive.
The Queen West Art Crawl 2012 did not disappoint. Last year I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of art and the huge crowds it drew in and this year proved to impress yet again. One of the things I love about this show is the genuine interest shown by the browsers and collectors alike. Lots of questions, comments, card swapping, and guest book signing. I loved it.
Sunday was wonderful and quite a bit warmer, it was a perfect art in the park day. Last year, I did this show over 8 months pregnant and had a great time, this year I had my son with me for the first day (a little overambitious on my part!) and couldn't believe a year had already passed. Overall, the show was fantastic and I packed up a lot less work than I arrived with.
Next up, the Brickworks Show Thursday, September 27th. I will be working on a few large pieces over this next week in hopes of completing them in time for the show. I'll also be documenting the process as I've had multiple requests for a studio video. But first, I have an interview with East of the City Magazine this afternoon, I'll post a link as soon as its published.
Thanks to everyone who came out for the QWAC show, it is wonderful to be shown such support. I hope to see you all next week at the Brickworks!
SMALL-TOWN ONTARIO ARTIST TURNS LANDSCAPES INTO NOSTALGIC DREAMS
Story by Sasha JohnsonPlaid Magazine
The bust of the naked woman seeped south, flopping into her face, and her legs spread wide as she balanced on her head. The self-portrait hung incongruously on the wall. Standing in front of the painting was a young girl, small in comparison to the canvas’s six foot scale. It was Sarah Tacoma’s first visit to an art gallery and she was in awe of the painting that commanded her attention at eleven-years-old.
Despite this early love for art, not until Tacoma was seventeen, after a yearlong exchange in Japan, did she consider it as a viable career path. She documented the trip with her first camera, but could not afford to develop the film while she was away. When she returned home to see the photos her mother had developed for her, she was so pleased with the results she decided to enroll in Sheridan College’s Photography and Painting Program. She graduated in 2004.
Today she works out of a studio down the road from her home in Cannington, Ontario. It’s not surprising that the thirty-year-old photographer resides in a small town north of Toronto. Her poignantly provoking landscapes encapsulate a foggy beauty best captured outside the city. In the nostalgic space between a forgotten dream and a faint memory lie the smooth, tinted visions of untamed lands―either untapped or abandoned. Sarah creates the vistas, fitting of pixies and fawns, by taking a photo on film. She prints the image on fine art paper, which is then glued to wood. She scratches into the image and paints the photo to accentuate certain areas. The final piece is then covered in beeswax, a natural encaustic process. “It creates this kind of haze over the whole thing…which sets it back and makes it kind of dreamy,” says Sarah. The thicker she applies the wax to a specific area, the foggier it becomes, allowing the thin layers in other areas the ability to enhance details of the image. The result is a privileged view of how Sarah sees the world. Many people miss little details, she says, like the way the light may be shining through a leaf. Sarah captures the moments and landscapes that would be overlooked and reveals them again, from beneath a soothing mist that highlights the beautifully organic settings.
“We have so much great stuff right out our backdoor and we don’t see it anymore,” she says. Sarah takes photos everyday, often the images are never even looked at, but particular scene may hold her attention and she returns at dawn or dusk. Currently she is working on a series of images of doors. The pieces are on a small scale, three inches by five inches. “I flip between making huge pieces to making the smallest pieces,” says Sarah, who may begin creating landscapes on a tiny scale as well. The murky dreamscape theme will likely carry on in her work, as she has plans on creating distorted images, photographed through glass.
This summer she will be travelling to the Yukon and plans on taking a series of photos there, which will be exhibited later this year. Her work is available in Toronto at Canvas Gallery and Norman Felix Art Gallery
I'm so grateful to Durham Tourism who are promoting my new art space, they have sent out my info to over 12 thousand people so far and my website getting all kinds of attention. So, thank-you!
Here is a little piece they put in their newsletter.
The Art Studio opens in Cannington May 26
The Art Studio, a new contemporary gallery, artists’ studio and shoppe is hosting a grand opening at 2 Cameron St. E. in Cannington on May 26 from noon to 6 p.m. The studio will feature a mix of photography, painting, jewelry and textile art. The gallery plans to hold bi-monthly shows featuring established, as well as emerging artists, primarily from the Durham Region area. For more information, please visit www.theartstudio.ca.
Guess who's work made TORNOTO LIFE's 30 Must See Pieces from the Artist Project
! Crabapple was a hit at the show and I'm so excited it made Toronto Life's top 30 list. Not only did it sell at the show, but it has inspired a body of work for an upcoming solo show this summer.... details to follow!"Sarah Tacoma’s waxy treatment created the illusion of a tilt-shift photograph"
- Kevin Naulls
Well, its been a couple of weeks since the big show… just enough time to wind down, decompress, unpack and start gearing up for the next show!
The Artist Project was a great success!!! It was first time at this particular arts event and I really enjoyed it. The jurying is well done, with a great selection of mediums and styles and overall high level of quality throughout. This might be one of the finer art shows in Toronto. My husband and I were contacted a few days before the show about being on the CBC with Mary Ito’s Fresh Air program. We were thrilled that they had heard of us and agreed. Mary came to the opening night preview party to do the interview. Click here to listen!!
With winter in full force this season, I took the opportunity to delve into winter photography, something I’ve avoided in previous years. I was really pleased with the results and featured them in this show. I’ve also been experimenting with different applications over my photos, straying briefly from resin and dabbling in wax and oil paint. I will be posting images of that soon!!!