Editor’s Letter: Listless

Stud Set: Lili Huston-Herterich: Sud Set (2011). Archival inkjet prints, dried soap suds on glass, custom frames. Courtesy the artist.Lili Huston-Herterich: Stud Set (2011). Archival inkjet prints, dried soap suds on glass, custom frames. Courtesy the artist.Don’t get me wrong. I love a list as much as the next person: The World’s Top Collectors; The 40 Most Interesting Artists Under 40; The Art World’s Top 100 Power-Brokers; Fifty People Who Make the Art World the Most Fabulous Place Ever. I eat them all up. So why, you may ask, is there not a list of “movers and shakers” to be found in what, for lack of a better term, I’m referring to as the “Ones to Watch” issue?

We decided to forego the list approach because, despite one’s best efforts, lists don’t necessarily convey what they claim to. People who should be on the list aren’t because they don’t want the attention and decline inclusion. (Speaking from experience, the attention one receives from such things isn’t always positive; it can sometimes be a headache.) Even a spot-on list attracts criticism from those who think they, their friends or acquaintances should be on it. Such lists are also changeable and may (for expediency’s sake) reflect the immediate interests or personal/professional connections of those putting the lists together. An artist, collector, gallerist or curator is on a list one year, and then absent the next even though they’re still as active as ever. While shopping lists of names are fun to peruse and do provide some exposure for the people on them, they rarely provide any insightful analysis. Are more “who’s hot/who’s not” lists what the art world needs?

Speed Reducer: Georgia Dickie: Speed Reducer (2012). Metal, wood. Courtesy Cooper Cole Gallery, Toronto.Georgia Dickie: Speed Reducer (2012). Metal, wood. Courtesy Cooper Cole Gallery, Toronto.Rather, we asked ourselves: What makes an artist worth watching? Toronto-based photographer Janieta Eyre, after being under the radar for a few years, stormed back into our consciousness in a big way this past spring with multiple exhibitions that reacquainted us with her darkly humourous oeuvre. We sensed a renewed energy around her work. Here, she discusses the new work she is currently making for a solo exhibition in Montreal this fall. Artists whose work seems to reflect potentially significant shifts in societal attitudes are also worth watching. Devin Troy Strother strikes us as one of these. As a young Black artist in an America undergoing rapid demographic change, his work conveys a hopeful attitude towards race relations that differs from senior artists like Kara Walker. (Even, it seems, in the face of such things as the Paula Deen debacle and the ‘not guilty’ verdict in the racially charged Zimmerman/Martin case that, disconcertingly, was announced in Florida as I typed these words.)

Artists who are part of a peer group that shares a sensibility are also worth noting. In this issue, we’ve attempted our first roundtable discussion with a cadre of promising Toronto artists whose practices are rooted in similar material and art-historical concerns. In “Material Matters”, the artists Georgia Dickie, Lili Huston-Herterich, Vanessa Maltese, Abby McGuane and Jennifer Rose Sciarrino comment on each other’s practices and the cross-currents they perceive in their work. (There are, of course, a handful of other noteworthy artists who could have participated in this discussion, but coordinating a conversation with five people at once felt ambitious enough!)

Thank you to all of the writers and artists who contributed to this issue and, of course, to all of our readers. Enjoy the summer, and we’ll see you later in the year with our Fall/Winter issue.

Thoughts on this issue?
Please share them with us at info@magentafoundation.org

Bill Clarke
Executive Editor,
Magenta Magazine Online

P.S., Just as we closed the content on this issue, we learned about the passing of internationally renowned Canadian painter, Alex Colville, at the age of 92. Reflections on Colville's work will be included in our next issue.