CENTRAL: ART CENTRE GROUP SHOW at Loop Gallery (1174 Queen West), reception tonight (Thursday, August 19) 6 pm, runs to August 29. 416-516-2581. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The Art Centre at Central Tech is Toronto's secret art school. In 80 years, it's produced a range of talent from Group of Seven member A. J. Casson to unassuming art star Fiona Smyth. Incredibly, tuition for the four-year high school program and three-year adult diploma is still free. Yeah, free. Shhh.
So how and why the big secret? Recent grad Kate Lavut muses that during the Harris years the centre kept a low profile as the neo-conservatives pillaged education and the arts. Premier McSkinty hasn't improved anything, but the cash squeeze hasn't stopped Lavut and her colleagues from producing some great work this year.
Their group show at Loop features 22 artists from both the high school and adult programs. Some of the work never gets past a cautious enthusiasm for the medium, but that's a start. Other work demands more attention.
For sheer beauty, you can't shake a tripod at Elvina Rafi 's photograph of a man with two pigeons.
Gareth Bate stands out among the painters with his quasi-Impressionist oil paintings of a Second Cup on Bloor. It's curious to see a franchise depicted in such an exquisite light.
And Jennifer Castle 's Lino Yes! block print caught me off guard days later when I found myself still thinking about it. Her black-and-white double image of a hand with a chisel making a linocut features the text "Lino Yes!" in bright red. The artist's exuberance at learning her craft comes through in the work itself, perfectly affirming the value of the Art Centre program.
See you in the lineup for September enrolment. No butting.