The Kensington Market Art Fair was significantly smaller than expected. Lacking in both artists and passers-by, likely due to the miserable weather that had tainted the latter half of the day, fifteen dedicated artists huddled under a series of tents to display paintings, drawings, and all sorts of artistic creations to the few people that wandered past.
Upon glancing around at many of the artists’ works, one particular theme seemed to be present: nature was depicted, usually through means of picturesque landscapes or sunsets.
One artist in particular, Guy Parrotta, used themes of forestry and other natural settings in his artwork. Apart from illustrating trees and wild animals, Parrotta framed his canvas with thick branches; these branches, he explains, “become part of the canvas itself, instead of just a rectangular or square frame.” According to Parrotta, one of his greatest artistic challenges is finding a balance between naturalism and more abstract coloring. He’ll often experiment by rendering a two-dimensional painting in three dimensions; a painting that depicts a girl swinging from a branch turns out to have an actual tree branch attached to the canvas.
Another artist, Candace Osborne Bell, used wooden boards as canvases instead of the standard canvas cloth. “I usually start off by doing watercolour on paper, and then I transfer them on wood,” she tells me, pointing out her various artwork – each filled with depictions of bears, wolfs and chakra flowers. While Bell grew up in Northern Ontario, and draws inspiration from the scenic beauty of North American landscapes, she is hesitant when asked if she considers herself a Canadian artist, as she is unwilling to have her artwork attached to a single identity.
The fair was filled with a variety of original works; each artist’s work satisfyingly different from the others. One of the younger artists, immediately identifiable through her paintings as an OCAD graduate, drew her inspiration from the old Microsoft Office program, Paint. She depicted monochromatic and colourful lines of various sizes on square canvases. Contrary to the nature-inspired pieces of the other artists, this artist attributes her inspiration to her younger days in college, telling me, “I just really missed the joy of doodling around on Paint.”
While the nature-inspired art was impressive, it was refreshing to find artists who had drawn inspiration from other aspects of life as well. Combining these two themes, the Arts fair resulted in a unique showcase of some of Toronto’s talented artists.