Springhill Suites: One night, Two Galleries, Countless Impressions


On May 24, Springhill Suites, Norman Felix and the McMichael Gallery worked together to co-curate a decadent night filled with colour, texture, and imaginative imagery. The occasion was ArtNight, an annual event which 250 of Mariott’s hotels across North America participate in with the intention of stimulating interest in local talent. The evening was bursting with great artwork and even better company.


A wide range of artists at various stages in their careers were showcased: from emerging talent like Norman Felix’s own Tongson Chen (who is making waves in the art community, despite still being a student, with his sophisticated, stylistically grungy mixed-media depictions of broken-down urban settings) to one of McMichael Gallery’s stars, Doris Pontieri, a woman who conversely pays tribute to the majesty of nature and is soon to show at the Louvre as one of 12 hand-picked Canadian artists. The newcomers and seasoned professionals alike all mingled and brought fresh perspectives to the table.


There was too much beauty to absorb in the meager 3 hours allotted for the reception, but we especially loved Michael Zarowsky, Jeremy Browne, and Doris Pontieri (as mentioned) of the McMichael Gallery. Landscapes are a difficult subject to bring depth, meaning, and originality to, and these artists succeeded in doing so.

Zarowky’s watercolor work was a vibrant, hyper-saturated blend of realism and impressionism. His mastery of using contrast and just the right tones to convey light was specifically notable; looking at his images was like being transported on a mini-vacation to the setting that each one depicted.



Painting luminous scenes and objects is fun to do but also very difficult to properly pull off, because even merely copying a photograph is not enough to capture  effervescent details like the temperature of an environment or even the time of day–these are the factors that make an impressionist painting feel alive.



The photographic accuracy in Zarowsky’s paintings was commendable but the way that he used light to capture the essence of a scene was far more impressive: for example, the snow scenarios in his paintings evoked sensations of coldness and the ones set in summertime felt hot to look at because of his masterful use of radianceaccented by deftly placed, contrasting lines.  


Another artist who explored the relationship that the time of day, and consequently the light, has with structures and the landscape, was Jeremy Browne. Despite the common thematic starting point that his work shared with Zarowski, the two artists had immensely different approaches to tackling this. Browne’s work took the viewer on a more melancholy and serene journey than Zarowsky’s sparkling, crisp images did. While the latter were energizing to look at and involved a lot of intensely saturated colours, Browne’s solemn, solitary farm houses and muted palette made us feel meditative, calm, and introspective.




Pontieri’s innovative use of charcoal on canvas mixed with acrylic and watercolour paints  elevated the subject matter of landscapes to a level where the medium spoke to the message of the artwork and transcended the imagery (which upon first glance was easy to interpret in an oversimplified way). For example, the Northern Birch Trees painting seen at Springhill Suites could be perceived as a mere depiction of a quintessentially Canadian environment.


Upon closer inspection and consideration of the mediums involved, however, it becomes a story of resilience in the face of struggle. Her sparse use of red to show the last few flowers hanging on in the frozen winter landscape was a visual cue for this–and when she went on to describe the process of creating these mixed media pieces this idea was further reaffirmed.


As it turns out, she had to forge her own methodology for using charcoal on canvas as it rubs off too easily and is very difficult to keep intact long enough to render a drawing. Despite being told that it was impossible to work around this and that she should just choose another medium, she prevailed by figuring out an intricate mixed media technique that, lucky for us, worked beautifully.


Even though the event took place in Vaughan (no quick hop from Toronto) many artists travelled the distance from downtown and beyond to be present for the reception. Bryan Belanger, Pete Kasprzak, Abigail Bedwell, Johanna Meharg, Jeff Turner, Saira de Goede (Norman Felix gallery’s latest artist) and Melanie Day all made it out. Tongson Chen wasn’t present for the opening, however he spent all day assisting with every aspect of setting up (no easy feat when the clock is ticking away and a hundred eclectically themed pieces must all be hung in a way that does each one justice), which was incredibly kind.



The night featured a sneak peak at a lot of paintings freshly delivered to Norman Felix Gallery, including several mixed media-based paintings by Saira De Goede, who produces large-scale figurative work depicting beautiful but demonic women. Her striking art attracted a lot of interest with its references to the classical archetype of the female being a beautiful but dangerous temptress.


Bryan Belanger wowed viewers of all ages and demographics with the debut of his formidably scaled offerings–Whitsundays, a painting that felt like a walk on the beach to look upon with its glossy, thickly-applied layers of aquamarine paint, looked like it had been made specifically to fit the grandeur of the Springhill Suites lobby.



A personal favourite, the Balance of Mount Olympus, towering at 9 feet, provided a look at relationships with women in a style that was part myth, part free association, and part calculated madness (as all his works tend to be).




On the other hand, Melanie Day’s soothing, subdued paintings of abstracted stormy island shores were a major hit (especially since it was a burning hot day, and just looking at them was enough to feel awash with relief from the blazing sun!).


The new works by Pete Kasprzak (as seen in our CONTACT show), turned photography on its head with the use of an experimental and unique approach to photography involving black-on-black, with carved latex prints mounted on board.


Jeff Turner, another of our photographers, also delivered some smaller-scale but nonetheless extremely high impact prints on panel coated in resin just in time for the show–the provocative image of an illuminated woman in a bathtub was a major conversation piece, especially as it differed so much from his usual travel photography.




Two very noticeably different aesthetics seamlessly blended together that evening: the McMichael served up a collection of traditionalist creations leaning towards somewhat demure subject matter (including still life paintings, landscapes, and subtle earth-toned abstract works catering to a more conservative audience). Conversely, Norman Felix Gallery instead served up a slice of Queen Street West’s urban-meets-contemporary fare. The thematic divide was a re-enforcement of the fact that a successful piece of art transports the viewer to the imaginary world of the creator regardless of how different their life experiences and perspectives may be.




SUPERSKETCH/ Jumper 2013 for NXNE

We invite you to a very special event and reception at Norman Felix Gallery. As a part of NXNE Art,  Norman Felix Gallery and artist and curator Sarah Elminshawi present ¡SUPER SKETCH!  Wednesday June 12th, 7-11pm.



“Super Sketch, the live art and music event that has taken Asia by storm, comes to Toronto! This exciting music and art mash-up created by founding art and music events collaborative SUPERCOLORSUPER makes its way to North America from South Korea for the first time. We are proud to be a destination for the North By Northeast music festival as it expands its dynamic reach by celebrating the exciting arts and music scene in Canada.”

Free with NXNE wristband

Buy in advance at Norman Felix Gallery @627QueenWest  $10

Buy in advance online for $15



See you there ! Save the date , June 12, 2013 !

It Figures

A series of Life Drawings from Rosedale School of the Arts.
It Figures is at Norman Felix until June 3
One gallery visitor who came to the show wrote a very thoughtful review of the exhibit… read some of his kind words below.
“Couldn’t miss the It Figures life-drawings show—it was great last year—so once again

here I am in a downtown Toronto gallery surrounded by a select group of life studies.
This is the intersection of Conté, Sienna, black, white, and paper on the one hand with, on
the other, bodies and spirit. The mechanics of form, in other words, with the facts of life.
Artifact, life…”
itfigures2 (2)
“As we age, our bodies tell deeper stories. Bodies are marked with overlaps, slits,
wrinkles. For her part the artist must defile the model in order make art: defile
means both “narrow passage” and “desecration.” In the deep shadows of our fleshtunnels
are pleasure, transgression, and the possibility of being human.
We are cut, and so defined. To draw out the human is to shadow, and so to articulate.
Articulation, after all, is the little spaces between larger entities: the little spaces that
give meaning by providing contrast…”
itfigures2 (1)
“I can’t help but note the minor differences in ascription concerning what it is the models
are actually doing as they are “captured.” The physical attitude of the horizontal body
is variously described, for example, as relaxed, resting, and reclining. In any case
the model, perforce, gives her- or himself over to the hands of the artist, and as
with Reiki massage the body remains both untouched and touched. It is perhaps in
repose that the model surrenders most fully till given a new liberty in the artwork
itself. Who knows what happens in the gallery after hours? But clearly these bodies
have plenty of energy, and almost anything could happen.”
-David Ker Thomson
Beautiful words for a beautiful show. Come to Norman Felix Art Gallery @ 627 Queen Street West 

Five N’ Dime Pop up @627 Queen Street West !

Tomorrow is the first day of an exciting pop up taking place at the gallery !


Five N’ Dime Pop Up has clothing, shoes, and accessories for those thrifty, and trendy people ! NOTHING IS OVER $20!


So, if you’re looking to add some cool pieces to that summer wardrobe, there is no where else to be but cruising in the Queen street west neighbourhood !


An Exciting Collaboration for Norman Felix – Jumper 2013 + NXNE Art

This year’s annual Norman Felix Jumper is collaborating with NXNE Art !

This is an exciting event, as it is also art, and a musical event with live music in the space !


Wednesday, June 12, 2013 is the reception date, and all the fun for NXNE Art will be taking place that night from 6-11pm !


Stay tuned for more information !

Seniors Expressions #Contact2013 Continues

Our Contact reception for Norman Felix Field of Vision last Friday was such a great time! Beautiful Photography and beautiful people. We still have some wonderful pieces available and are currently taking appointments with buyers, as well as any businesses interested in our ArtStop program. Connect with us at art@normanfelix.com.
Now we are about to welcome our third Contact Photography Festival show into the space!
” Seniors Expressions is a community photography project organized by University Settlement and funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizon for Seniors program. It provides an opportunity for seniors to share their rich and vibrant life stories and have their images captured as lasting memories. This exhibition showcases the oral histories of seniors in the Grange community, portraits of the participants, and a community photographic mosaic.

Curated by Hello Foto Inc.”

Hope to see you at Norman Felix Gallery soon!


Pete Kasprzak

Cityscapes and urban life are the focus of Kasprzaks work. His innovative technique and contemporary vision bring his dark images to life.   

“As an artist, I am inspired by the city’s nightlife. Sometimes it seems that my day begins when the sun goes down. The sounds, the people and the action of nighttime in the city bring me to life. This gives me the energy to create my art, my passion.”




Title: San Fran Trolley


Join us at Norman Felix Gallery for Contact 2013, Friday May 10th!

Please click this link to RSVP and guarantee admission to the event.


Should the link not work, please RSVP by emailing art@normanfelix.com

See Facebook event here.