Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Media Alert Scholarships, Bus News, and Kids in Mas Costumes!

Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival/Yorkgate Mall Junior Carnival Parade previews 2011 event 2nd floor, Yorkgate Mall
Tuesday July 5th, 11:30 am

Toronto, ON, 29.06.2011: The volunteer organizers of this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival/Yorkgate Mall Junior Carnival Parade will be staging a media launch at the Yorkgate Mall (Jane/Finch). 3+ Children in costumes, Politicians, Sponsors and Mas Bands will be at the Media Launch to update the media:

• Reasons for anticipated increase in attendance
• Parade and TTC Bus Route changes on Parade Day
• Scholarships for students in the Jane / Finch neighbourhood
• Children from two Mas Camps will model costumes (all have signed photo/video releases)
• Live Entertainment
• 11.30 am to 1.30 pm
The Parade will run Saturday, July 16th south along Jane Street. The parade begins at 11am at Black Creek Pioneer Village and ends at the Yorkgate Mall (Jane/Finch). There will be a huge party for the children in the Yorkgate Mall Parking Lot at the end of the parade.
The Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival is an exciting three-week cultural explosion of Caribbean music, cuisine, revelry as well as visual and performing arts. Now in its 44th year, it has become a major international event and the largest cultural festival of its kind in North America. As Carnival is an international cultural phenomenon, the great metropolis of Toronto and its environs will come alive as the city explodes with the pulsating rhythms and melodies of Calypso, Soca, Reggae, Chutney, Steel Pan and Brass Bands. The Festival Management Committee oversees the running of North America’s largest outdoor festival.
Corporate sponsors of this year’s festival include: Scotiabank, The Toronto Star, Sway Magazine, The Grid, CTV, CP-24, The Canadian Federal Government, The Province of Ontario, City of Toronto, Tourism Toronto, The Greater Toronto Airport Authority, Ontario Place, Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Science Centre, Toronto Public Library, Yorkgate Mall, Liberty Grand, FLOW FM, The Caribbean Camera Newspaper, Toronto-Lime.Com, and Grace Kennedy Foods.
For complete listing information, visit www.torontocaribbeancarnival.com, the only official website for the Festival. Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival Festival Office is located at 263 Davenport Avenue. Lower Level, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Tel., 416-391-5608; Fax, 416-391-5693; Email: info@torontocaribbeancarnival.com
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For further information, contact:

Stephen Weir
Stephen Weir & Associates
416-489-5868; 416-801-3101

Sunday, 26 June 2011


Foods of the World at the Scotiabank CHIN International Picnic

Toronto will celebrate music, life, culture, a world famous Bikini Contest and foods from around the world at the 45th SCOTIABANK CHIN INTERNATIONAL PICNIC 2011 taking place July 1 – 3 at the CNE. Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors converge on the city to enjoy the family activities and to nosh during the free, three-day festival.
The Picnic is an opportunity to sample the foods of the world! Caribbean Roti. Portuguese Piri Piri chicken. Italian Pizza. Adoha from the Philippines are just some of the dishes that can be sampled at the Scotiabank CHIN International Picnic.
This summer, there are dozens and dozens of food kiosks. They will be serving international dishes, along with the traditional picnic foods of opportunities to buy hot dogs, hamburgers and corn on the cob too!
Don’t recognize these foods and crave normal Toronto street fare? For the record Roti is Caribbean favourite that uses unleavened bread wrap and has fillings including chicken, vegetables and beef. Piri is a hot Portuguese chili spice that chicken is cooked in. Adoha is a national Philippine dish that braises chicken and/or pork in garlic, vinegar, oil and soya sauce. The world famous Pizza Pizza company is not only serving through the festival but is also one of the sponsors of the Picnic!

About the Scotiabank CHIN International Picnic

The CHIN International Picnic 2011 has something for everyone including; The World Beat Music component, headlined by top performers from Italy, Portugal, South Asia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Caribbean and Latin America; Sporting Events including a LIVE Club Boxing Show presented by Boxing Ontario and produced by Atlas Boxing Club, Cycling Races presented by the Midweek Cycling Club; Maximum Pro Wrestling Shows; Family Activities including Team K9 Dog Challenge, Birds of Prey Showcase, Zero Gravity Circus Shows, Petting Zoo and Pony Rides, Amusement Park Rides and Games; Cultural Dance and Song Local Showcases such as the Folklore Dance Competition, Italian, Portuguese , Chinese, South Asian, Caribbean, Filipino, Polish and Latino Festivals all weekend long.

Shoppers and Browsers can visit the International Shopping Bazaar with over 100 exhibit booths and brand-name merchandise, retailers, services and entertainment; hungry visitors can visit the many Foods of the World Kiosks on the grounds, and quench their thirst in the beer garden or at the many fruit juice and beverage stands; and let’s not forget the famed MR. CHIN and the MISS CHIN Bikini events.
Join the festivities on the Canada Day weekend for a wide variety of free entertainment for the whole family!

The CHIN International Picnic is produced by CHIN radio /TV international; a Canadian radio and television broadcaster that produces and airs programming in over 30 different languages. The contribution of CHIN Radio to the cause of multiculturalism, understanding and tolerance between people of many national, racial and religious origins has been recognized and acknowledged throughout Canada.

SCOTIABANK CHIN International Picnic 2011
Canada Day Weekend
Friday July 1: noon-11pm
Saturday July 2: noon-11pm
Sunday July 3: noon-11pm
Free Admission
Exhibition Place — West Grounds and Better Living Building

PUBLIC INFORMATION: (416) 531-9991 x3900. Schedule Details – www.scotiabankchinpicnic.com

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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Diversity Business Network and Dream Maker Realty - Pan Am Games

DBN’s Newest Consortium Leader,
Dream Maker to Seek Contract Opportunities with Pan AM Games/Toronto 2015

Toronto, Ontario (June 22, 2011) – Dream Maker Realty is not your typical real estate brokerage. “We help individuals, families and organizations build new lives for themselves using real estate as an investment vehicle,” states Isaac Olowolafe, President and CEO. Isaac came with his family to Canada at the age of four.
Today Olowolafe, the 2011 winner of the Harry Jerome Business Award, runs a business that includes a real estate investment company that owns or manages over 200 properties in the GTA. In addition the company is in partnership with University of Toronto and the African Canadian Social Development Council in a not-for-profit “build our wealth” campaign (www.buildourwealthcampaign.com) with a vision to transform 100,000 lives in low-income communities by building $9.2 billion in generational wealth.
As realty consortium lead for the Diversity Business Network (DBN), Olowolafe is committed to working with and mentoring other diverse-owned real estate brokerages to sell off the residential and commercial units being developed by Waterfront Toronto and Infrastructure Ontario for the 2015 PanAm/Parapan American Games. “The athletes’ village for the Games is integrated into the new West Don Lands community, transforming former industrial land into a beautiful new neighbourhood,” states Olowolafe. “This mixed-use neighbourhood should be in high demand as a place to live after the Games conclude,” he continues.
“We are pleased to have Dream Maker join DBN,” remarks Courtney Betty, founder and President of the organization dedicated to building supplier diversity awareness within Canada and partner to Toronto 2015 in its procurement strategies. “Isaac’s company has all the attributes we seek in a consortium leader – providing education and mentorship to the wider diverse community,” Betty states.
The Pan/Parapan American Games are expected to generate over $1.4 billion in spending in the GTA. The committee organizing the Games has committed to encouraging Tier 1 supply and service companies by awarding 10 points for diversity in all procurement opportunities. According to CEO, TO2015, Ian Troop, “Diversity is for the Toronto GAMES what GREEN was for the Vancouver Olympics.”
“It will be great to be a part of history,” Olowolafe remarks. “Toronto is probably the most diverse city on the planet and it is great that the Games are recognizing the importance of diverse-owned businesses in their contracting out of services. It just makes great business and community sense,” he concludes.

About Dream Maker Realty Inc:

Dream Maker Realty Inc. is a business focused on helping people build generational wealth through real estate investment. It provides mentoring and financial literacy to families across the GTA. For more information visit their website at www.dreammakerrealty.ca.

About DBN:

DBN has developed a unique approach to diversity in the supply chain in Canada by providing its members with the strategies, tools and contacts to build new procurement relationships. For more information visit www.diversitybusinessnetwork.com.

Issued By:

Stephen Weir
Stephen Weir & Associates | stephen@stephenweir.com
or sweir5492@rogers.com
2482 Yonge Street, Unit 45032, Toronto, ONT.
Tel: 416-489-5868 | Cell: 416-801-3101

Monday, 20 June 2011

Cultural Asset Management - Bringing art storage into the 21st century

Art warehousing is redefined for the 21st century

Toronto curators open Cultural Asset Management facility -- a contemporary, secure, museum quality environment providing integrated services for cultural asset

TORONTO: June 7, 2011 . . . The art of managing important cultural artefacts has been improved and updated. Shelley Falconer and Shawna White, two well-known Toronto based art professionals, are applying 21st century protocols to protecting and evaluating art collections. With a new approach to cultural asset management, a highly respected team, and a sophisticated warehouse, they are establishing a new level of service to the art industry.
The pair established Cultural Asset Management Group in 2008 to provide integrated art management services to private collectors, corporations, governments and the non-for-profit community. With clients ranging from Canadian museums and galleries to the Toronto District School Board, Manitoba Hydro, Absolut, Liquid, Bonded Services, Prime Properties and Remington Group, CAM Group has rapidly distinguished itself as one of Canada’s premier art consulting firms. CAM Group has recently opened a specialized facility in the GTA, to store valuable art and artefact collections in a secure, 30,000 sq ft environment...but there is much more to the story.
Theirs is not a typical warehouse. The environmentally controlled building is not only secure, it includes space for customized vaults for valuable and delicate paintings, prints and sculpture, and has larger space for oversized artefacts. It also has a display gallery so that clients can view and evaluate art in a museum-like setting. All is overseen by a team of highly qualified art professionals.
“The CAM Group has brought together a distinguished group of experts and scholars who are prominent in their respective fields, to provide cultural stewardship,” explains company CEO Shelley Falconer. “We are not just about storage, our facility is managed by experienced curators and collections managers who provide cultural asset management - appraisals and evaluations, provenance research and evaluation through to packing and shipping and of course acquisition, de-accessioning and investment advice.”
CAM Group Co-Founder and President, Shawna White who has been active in the cultural community for the past 20 years explains, "At the Corporate Management level CAM Group provides strategic planning for museums, galleries and government. From policy development to collection analysis, acquisition and exhibition development we offer integrated cultural services.”
Since launching the CAM Group, accolades have arrived from satisfied clients across Canada who are benefiting from this new full service agency. According to long time client, Garry Leach, Director, Manitoba Hydro Board, "Cultural Asset Management Group has enabled Manitoba Hydro to transform a basic vision into a vibrant professional programme. Their intense understanding of Canadian cultural asset stewardship and the ability to effectively manage the process was of immeasurable assistance to Manitoba Hydro in realizing our cultural objectives. CAM Group made your project a success."
Gary Crawford, now Councillor, Ward 36, City of Toronto explains that while he was a Trustee for the Toronto District School Board (the nation's largest), the Board's priorities "were for providing access and support to the Board's Fine Art Collection. We selected Cultural Asset Management Group for their credentials and experience. Their untiring dedication and professionalism to the arts and public education proved invaluable! "
Clients are not always corporate, individuals and collectors benefit from CAM Group services as well. Artist, Joe Fafard knows his projects are in good hands, "I have worked with Shelley at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and now with Cultural Asset Management Group, and appreciate her ability to work through the process with the artist, the museum and the client. From design through to installation and exhibition, she is able to navigate professionally through the many aesthetic, social, economic, maintenance and environmental considerations inherent in the process."
CEO Shelley Falconer’s 20-year career includes international experience as a consultant, curator, educator and administrator. She has worked with some of the world's leading cultural institutions including Sotheby's and Waddington Galleries in England; the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Government of Canada, the Ontario Government, University of Toronto and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
Partner and president, Shawna White is a fine art specialist with extensive knowledge of historical Canadian art. Her career includes experience at such prestigious institutions as the Ashmolean in Oxford, England; the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto; the State Museum of New York in Albany; as well as Canadian Art specialist at Sotheby's (Canada) Inc. and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
These exceptional art professionals are joined by associate partner, Pamela Campbell one of Canada’s leading decorative arts experts. And, with years of experience in the Cultural Management field, Corrinne Fairbanks is CAM Group's museum registrar.
CAM Group was recently named as agents in Ontario for Gaylord Brothers Inc., the trusted source for archival products, tools and supplies. Established in 1896 in Syracuse, New York, the family-owned company is recognized worldwide by public libraries, schools, colleges and museums. Their wide range of products will bring peace of mind to CAM Group clients.
From a single painting to a large collection, Cultural Asset Management Group and its depth of knowledge and expertise are proving to the art world that the time has arrived for a private, full service agency that goes far beyond storage. With services that include: planning, policy development, packing, shipping, appraisals, research, photography, inventory, installation,consignment management, private sales and conservation advice --clients can be assured that their most rare and prestigious items will handled, evaluated and preserved with care by skilled professionals. For more information visit: http://www.camgroup.ca

Top Photograph: Secret entrance to secure art warehouse in Toronto
Bottom: Shelley Falconer inside CAM Group headquarters

The CAM Group facility has never been opened for media tours. . . until now.
Accredited journalists interested in covering this story, touring the new facility and interviewing founders Shelley Falconer and Shawna White can make arrangements through Stephen Weir & Associates.
Stephen Weir & Associates, Publicists:
Linda Crane 905-257-6033 c. 416-727-0112 cranepr@cogeco.ca
Stephen Weir 416-489-5868 c. 416-801-3101 stephen@stephenweir.com

Move over Mas Men


The winds of change are blowing through the Toronto Mas Bands Association (TMBA). The association that actually recruits and trains the 17,000 or so people who perform in the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival (Caribana) have set up their Mas Camps and begun to beat the drums for this year's festival. There are 16 Mas Camps in Toronto this year, 30% that are being run by a woman (five camps). Last year only 2 of the 16 camps were controlled by females.

For the past two weeks I have been escorting journalist William Doyle Marshall around the city to visit the Mas Camps. Four of the camps - 1 in Scarborough and 3 in Etobicoke are where the groundbreaking camps are located this year.

Pictured above are four of the five Mas Women.

Top Left: Narissa Ali has set up her Renaissance Mas Productions camp in a small warehouse on Howdon Avenue (back of the building). Her theme? Time after Time. When we visited her camp she was preparing for an upcoming Internet broadcast with a Trinidad based company.
Top Right: Whitney Doldron took over Mas Players International from her father Courtney, two years ago. This year she has a very large, modern camp in Etobicoke adjacent to Highway 427 (beside a banquet hall). William Doyle Marshall is shown above taking her picture. The theme this year is Fairytale Fantasies.
Bottom Right: Thea Jackson is expecting at least 1,000 men and women to join her Tru DYNASTY camp this year. She has a big space in Etobicoke - 246 Brockport Drive - bring you GPS!
Bottom Left: Kathleen Hughes believes that running a Mas Camp is a family affair. When we visited her Renaissance Mas Productions in Etobicoke, she had her father (and former Mas Man), her aunts, nieces and children making costumes for this year's festival. The camp is located at 175 The Westway (The Westway & Islington) in a city community centre next to an outdoor tennis court. There is a lot of free parking!
NOT VISITED YET: Calypso singer Susan Grogan (Susan G)has set up her new Spirits of the Caribbean Mas Camp at 1720 Midland Avenue, Unit 15. Doyle and I will visit that camp this week.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

What does a publicist do? Muse on when is the best time to try to have dialogue with the media


A publicist does very little real work in any given week. Oh, we are busy busy busy but .... We tell people what they know. We make calls and send emails to people who don't want to hear from us. And we worry about the what ifs and the why nots. About the only true work that we do is to give sage advice, based on experience, as to when and where media announcements should be made.
Don't do it on a Friday or a Monday. Never on Weekends. Avoid doing anything during the Film Festival. Never hold a media event at a location you need a GPS to find and never never never hold a press conference after 4pm.
Of course there are always exceptions. Only last summer we held a media tour of a secret art vault in a secret location, and the response was overwhelming.
I have been advising Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Festival, or Carnival or Scotiabank Caribana, about holding the annual July 15th media kick-off to the festival. We usually hold it at City Hall in Toronto and we get hundreds of media covering the event. Women and Men in costume, Entertainers. Speeches. Spectators by the thousands. This year the location has to be moved.
Initially the Festival wanted to work with Harbourfront to stage the event on the waterfront. Not a great idea. Harbourfront wants revenue and attendance but has strict marketing agreements in place (our sponsor CTV can't hang banners because CBC owns the rights ... etc), extreme unionized set-up/security costs, no parking and an unwillingness to let the Festival have its launch during business hours. (Harbourfront insisted on a 7pm start).
I convinced the organizers not to hold the July 15th media launch at Harbourfront. Meetings were held and I learned yesterday that the Launch would be held at the new David Pecault Square on King Street (beside Metro City Hall) across the street from the CBC. Great location. Easy to reach. No logo strings attached.
A Publicist's Dream? No. The launch has been set for 5pm. Aghh. It is rush hour downtown, all media trucks will be tagged and towed, and office workers rarely pause on their rush out the door to catch the red rocket, the Go train or the King St street car.
It is all about timing. Here is a note I sent out to the Launch committee in respect to the timing of a media event. The matter has not be resolved.

Regarding the proposed Pecault launch.

My comments are soley based on how the media works in Toronto. These are the same comments I sent out when it looked like we would have an evening launch at Harbourfront. I wish I could change my message but the reality is that unless we have a really really really big name on stage, the 5pm event will get little media coverage.
To get the most media coverage possible, you hold events when most of the media is working. You also hold it where the media can easily reach. That is why almost all media conferences and launches are held in downtown Toronto between 9am and 2pm Monday to Friday.
Basically the vast majority of journalists, videographers, photographers etc work an 8 hour day, usually 8 to 4. Most daily newspapers expect their reporters to file before 5pm. Most of the name journalists/broadcasters only work Monday to Friday. We also have 4 community papers that come out on Wednesdays or Thursdays. For the Wednesday paper, they have to file very early on a Tuesday.
Media do keep staff on the job after 5pm but they are usually specific beat reporters/new/students/B-team and don't command much space/time on the reports they file. By 5pm, all the soft news for print and broadcast have already been lined up.
If we proceed with the 5pm roll out we will get CP-24, CFTO (probably live), Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Lime and probably the Caribbean Camera. If the event is at noon we will get 40 or more media covering the event. Last year we had 100 register at the media tent.
Without the media covering the event, is it worth the expense to put on a show for a 1,000 spectators?
Last Friday night the cash rich, super connected Lumanito had an opening event at the David Pecault Square - 7 pm. Free. Media was invited to cover. How many people reading this posting were aware that this event was held and do you think it was a successful media event?

Monday, 13 June 2011

How to get noticed while driving down the 401!

Three truck convoy bring 9 huge sculptures by Ivan Eyre to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

I took the above and below photographs with my cell a few minutes ago. It shows 2 of the 9 sculptures that are going to be installed at the McMichael today and tomorrow. Last piece will be installed tomorrow (Tuesday June 12) at 11am SHARP.
Media welcome to attend the Tuesday installation. Drop me an email if you want to attend. stephen@stephenweir.com

Under the watchful eye of the Globe and Mail, Beach Digital, The Metroland News Group (Toronto Star's northern GTA papers) and Vaughan Today watched (above) as the Eyre statues were successfully installed in the new McMichael sculpture gardens.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Installation of Ivan Eyre’s Monumental Bronze Sculptures


Tuesday, June 14, 2011 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

What: Media are invited to capture a “monumental moment” at the McMichael during the installation of Ivan Eyre’s nine twice-life-size bronze sculptures in the gallery’s new outdoor Sculpture Garden.

Why: The sculptures, donated by well known Canadian artist Ivan Eyre, will join the McMichael’s permanent collection. This extraordinary gift and the $4.2 million Infrastructure Stimulus Funding provided by the provincial and federal governments for the enhancement of the grounds are important steps in the ongoing revitalization of the McMichael. The enhancements will help preserve and showcase the spectacular outdoor setting of one of Canada’s most renowned art collections, and the Sculpture Garden is a major component of this plan.

Where: McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg (just north of Major Mackenzie Drive and Islington Avenue intersection).

CUTLINE: Photos of two of three trucks enroute to Kleinburg from a US foundry. The sculputres by Winnipeg artist Ivan Eyres to be installed at the McMichael Gallery on Tuesday.

JULY 2011 UPDATE - The Garden is now open and videographer George Socka has posted a you tuber about the ceremony with artist Ivan Eyre


Monday, 6 June 2011

MEDIA ALERT: Boxing. Chain Saw Juggling. Bikini Photo Op. Wednesday Noon Liberty Grand. Scotiabank CHIN Picnic preview

12NOON – 2PM
Ceremonies/Introductions begin @ 12:30
Complimentary parking in east lot next to Liberty Grand

Lenny Lombardi available for interviews from 11:30 to 12:30; and after 1:30pm


WEDNESDAY JUNE 8: 12noon – 2pm
11:30 Buffet/Refreshments OPEN
12:30 INTRO: LION DANCE Opening
12:35 Lenny Lombardi Welcome Remarks and introductions:
Welcome Remarks by Mr. Ahmad Dajani,
Vice President of Multicultural Banking Scotiabank
Welcome Remarks by Kristi Johnston, Consumer Marketing Manager,General Motors Canada

Intro of Entertaiment Segments
- 3 minute On-stage segments/demonstrations
Sports: Boxing - Atlas Boxing Club boxers.
Spokesperson: Adrian Teodorescu
Cycling - Midweek Cycling Club – Cyclists
Spokesperson: Craig Fagan
Wrestling- Maximum Pro Wrestlers
Spokesperson: Robbie McAllister & Arda Ocal
Family Entertainment Element – on stage demonstrations:
Zero Gravity Circus - Chainsaw Juggler
K9Dog Challenge
Birds of Prey
Circus Jonathan

International Entertainment Element - on stage performances
Culture Phillippines Dance group
Bhangra Dancers

1:06 Lenny Lombardi: Special Mentions
1:08 Miss CHIN and Mr CHIN 2011 participants Introductions of both the Mr. and the Miss CHIN participants
1:25 All Entertainment participants called up to stage to join the Miss and Mr participants for Photo Ops


The Media may register for July 1st, 2nd and 3rd with Stephen Weir at the Media Desk at front entrance.
The Media may also pick up fact sheets from Stephen at the Media Desk.
Media Kits and Fact sheets available at Front Desk
Photo Gallery and Media Releases will be made available after June 8th on website: scotiabankchinpicnic.com

issued by:

Stephen Weir
Stephen Weir & Associates | stephen@stephenweir.com
or sweir5492@rogers.com
2482 Yonge Street, Unit 45032, Toronto, ONT.
Tel: 416-489-5868 | Fax: 416-488-6518

CUTLINE: 2008 CHIN Picnic Bikini Contest. Flickr photo from: gbalogh's photostream

New First Nations' Photography Show Set To Open At The McMichael Gallery

June 11 to September 11, 2011
Organized by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography


For Immediate Release. June 5, 2011 Kleinburg, ON—Profoundly symbolic works by some of Canada’s most celebrated Indigenous artists send a powerful message on the evolution of Aboriginal self-determination in Canada. Presented by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (CMCP), the exhibition Steeling the Gaze: Portraits by Aboriginal Artists will be on view at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection from June 11 to September 11, 2011.
This deeply reflective exhibition will showcase the significant collections of Indigenous artists of the CMCP and the National Gallery of Canada, as well as selected private collections. It combines portrait photographs and video installations by twelve artists―KC Adams, Carl Beam, Dana Claxton, Thirza Cuthand, Rosalie Favell, Kent Monkman, David Neel, Shelley Niro, Arthur Renwick, Greg Staats, Jeff Thomas, and Bear Witness.
“This exhibition pays tribute to prominent Aboriginal artists whose works offer a new voice,” said former CMCP Director, Martha Hanna. The exhibition explores how contemporary Aboriginal artists have used the portrait as a means of self-expression in spite of its long problematic history for their peoples. “The portrait is a European convention which exerts control over the subject,” explained the CMCP co-curator Andrea Kunard. “In the past, Aboriginal people were often objectified for commercial purposes. They were represented as a dying race doomed by the inexorable march of ‘civilization’. Contrary to this portrayal, they have neither vanished nor died out; they survived.”
The exhibition’s other co-curator, Steven Loft, added that “these artists use their cameras to create a means of cultural self-determination. By reconstructing the narrative of race, they have captured the wide plurality of Aboriginal histories, cultures, and contemporary realities and have created their own visual identities.”
The exhibition engages a number of themes which are present in the work of contemporary Aboriginal artists. These include:
Aboriginal artists as creators of visual history
These artists reclaim images of themselves, their families, and their communities and use them as a means of transforming past concerns into the present. They challenge stereotypes, creating a new visual history, and are harbingers of a changing reality.
Keeping ancient traditions alive
To challenge the detrimental characterizations of Aboriginal life developed through colonization and assimilation, contemporary Indigenous artists represent identity as a changing and complex state, rather than one that is essential, singular and “frozen” in the past. Within these images, which describe contemporary existence, references to traditions, family, and community, appear as a source of strength and grounding.
Appropriation, mass media, and “acting up”
Bear Witness, Rosalie Favell, and KC Adams use appropriation strategies to explore the influence of art history and mass media on identity. In his work, Bear Witness weaves together images taken from popular movies. Rosalie Favell takes images from art history, and KC Adams merges stereotypes and fashion photography in her portraits of Aboriginal community members. Acting up for the camera is another approach for dealing with identity issues. Dana Claxton, Shelley Niro, Rosalie Favell, Thirza Cuthand, and Kent Monkman use photographic space as theatre, taking on various guises to present a multifaceted view of contemporary Aboriginal existence.
Socio-political issues
Kent Monkman, Rosalie Favell, and Thirza Cuthand explore contemporary, social, and political issues within the Aboriginal communities, such as sexuality, hybridity, and shifting socio-political dynamics.
The full face portrait
Arthur Renwick and David Neel focus on the face and how it is framed. Neel uses more conventional studio techniques to present his portraits, while Renwick presents larger than life, full face portraits, positioning his subjects as living embodiments of Aboriginal spiritual and cosmological traditions. Both artists offer a glimpse of Aboriginality we do not often see reflected in our media saturated society.
Steeling the Gaze: Portraits by Aboriginal Artists is curated by Andrea Kunard, who has been with the CMCP since 1998, and Steven Loft, appointed in January 2008 as the National Gallery of Canada’s first ever Curator in Residence, Indigenous Art.

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of more than 5,700 artworks, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, First Nations, and Inuit artists. The gallery is located on Islington Avenue, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in Kleinburg, and is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors/students and $30 for families. There is a $5 fee for parking. For more information about the gallery, visit www.mcmichael.com.

For further information or to receive images, contact:

Stephen Weir, Publicist
Gallery: 905.893.1121 ext. 2529
Toronto Office: 416.489.5868
Cell: 416.801.3101

Michelle Kortinen
Communications Coordinator
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2210

CUTLINE: The Masks of Arthur Renwick - From the Face website. Renwick's work is featured in the new exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg