SECOND ANNIVERSARY SHOW at Spence Gallery (588 Markham), to August 15. 416-795-2787. Rating: NNN
Joan Spence's gallery specializes in works on paper and canvas by artists from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Some of her artists live in those regions, while others are part of the diaspora now living in Canada or the U.S. Her second-anniversary show features both emerging and mature artists working in a variety of styles and media.
Among those now in Canada, Sudan-born Izzeldinn Kojour shows graceful acrylics, watercolours and ink drawings of semi-abstract figures ornamented by line drawing reminiscent of Arabic calligraphy. Guelph-based, Nigerian-born Miranda Mafe 's humorous ink drawing series features a cartoon-like child trying to come to terms with odd Yoruba proverbs. Argentine Toronto resident Ivan Ortiz paints dark abstractions that explore sheen and texture.
Canadian Opal Dunbar-Adams and U.S.-based Jamaican Michael Escoffery use illustration techniques to portray dramatic or stylized images of black women and children.
South African Frank Ross paints bright, busy township scenes reminiscent of the paintings sold to travellers in the Caribbean, amping them up with collaged bits of metal packaging and plastic used in shantytown buildings.
Probably the best-known artist here is Marcelo Suaznabar of Bolivia. His folk-art, magic-realist-style paintings of Bosch-like imaginary creatures and dreamscapes hang in museums in South America.
All these small works are priced for the beginning collector. Lots of art-lovers have no interest in cutting-edge conceptual or installation art, and of course many artists work in more traditional styles, either by choice or because they need to earn a living. There's nothing wrong with making or buying works that look good on the wall.
Spence's gallery gives them a venue and deserves a visit any time, not just on Caribana weekend.