BEING SCENE at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (1001 Queen West, 250 College, 33 Russell ), to June 17, 2005. 416-583-4339. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
I don't know exactly what I was expecting from an art exhibit at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health , but I didn't think it would present a rosy vision. So I'm surprised that the majority of the 81 works elicit a light, even happy response. I find this strangely comforting, since all the artists in Being Scene have struggled with either mental illness or drug addiction and at some point have received treatment from the centre.
The bright pinks, yellows and blues in Margaret Shaw 's Bird Landscape, for example, are so riveting - in a pleasurable way - that it's hard to move on to the next piece.
Keep looking at the seemingly abstract painting and you will eventually notice that swans cover the canvas.
Not all the works evoke such joy. Some paintings, like Travis Gledhill 's They, which uses thick lines to depict a monster yelling at a boy slumped in a chair, do imply struggle and inner turmoil.
Many works tackle external and political issues. Although Henry Benvenuti claims to be a collagist and not a painter, his haunting painting of soldiers with skull heads, Child Watching Military Parade, communicates both his skill and ideas.
The incredibly diverse work by 58 artists was chosen from more than 300 submissions. I find it strange that so many artists are patients at the centre, but according to Benvenuti, also CAMH's 2004 artist in residence, "mental illness and art go hand in hand."
Talent worth seeing.