being scene at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Queen site, 1001 Queen West; Clarke site, 260 College; ARF site, 33 Russell) through June 2002. 416-531-7770. Rating: NNN
the big surprise of being scene, the second annual year-long showcase of art by current and former clients of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, is that most of the work on view is far too straight to fall under the "outsider art" umbrella. Not that there's anything wrong with disappointing stereotypes. Since the Centre's mandate is healing, it's a good thing that these artists, many of whom have created their works in the context of art therapy, are not uniformly depicting a raw and desperate inner angst.
Still, many of the most compelling works, like Peter Smith's The Big Pill (a multimedia collage of carved basswood and Rx capsules); Alan Parker's oil painting of malevolent, hard-drinking, chain-smoking card Players; and the saccharinely sweet embracing monkeys of Paul Zingone's Loving Memories, demonstrate a healthy bite.
It's very clear that the primary goal of this show is to support the artists. All are being paid a fee, and the Centre has purchased a number of the works, as well as published a colour catalogue that's available free.
But where this show really wins is in bringing the art-viewing public into the community of the Centre's clients. The works are displayed in cases in the hospitals' corridors, most of them in the former Queen Street Mental Health Centre, but a few can also be seen in the one-time Clarke Institute and Addiction Research Foundation.