Posts Tagged 'Art'

Art, Murals and Contests

Although art competitions ostensibly exist to benefit the artists, the contest holder is always the chief beneficiary, as shown by a local hardware store’s mural contest a few years back.


The Victor Clothing Company’s Anthony Quinn mural in Los Angeles was quite impressive when I saw it years ago. Since then, murals have come into vogue in Southern Ontario.

Creating a mural is not easy, nor cheap, and requires maintenance. Currently the the stunning mural created by Eloy Torrez in Los Angeles is in serious need of restoration after 27 years.

Murals Come to Elmira

A competition was announced: five local artists were selected to design and create their own original 6′ x 6′ murals on the blank wall facing the Elmira Home Hardware Store parking lot.

1. Linda Brubacher

Elmira's enlisted - Lest We Forget

#1. Linda Brubacher

2. Trevor Martin

Sugar Bush

#2. Trevor Martin

3. Pat Lackenbauer


#3 Pat Lackenbauer

4. Jo Oxley

A quilt of local family names

#4. Jo Oxley

5. Paul Wilson

Sprts team logos in the 4 corners, fountain of memories etc

#5. Paul Wilson

The way the contest worked, interested folks could vote for their favourites, but voters had to pay for their ballot. In this way, the Home Hardware campaign “raised about $2,500”.

California’s Victor Clothing Company commissioned artists to create the now famous murals.

In comparison, Home Hardware got a wall full of free murals, a reputation both for “supporting local artists” and for providing the community with public art, a  charitable donation, and all the accompanying publicity.

The community got some nice public art which remains in reasonably good condition almost seven years later.

And the artists?

They had to undergo a selection process, then conceive an idea, plan out the design, and then actually paint the thing.

Trevor Martin’s winning mural paid him $500; not a terrible return for work he estimates took about 24 hours.

The other four artists each received $100. If it took them each ten hours to paint their murals, they may just about have managed to earn minimum wage.  My guess is that each mural took well over ten hours to paint, so except for the winner, none of the artists are likely to have even earned minimum wage.

Pretty good deal, right?

The rest of the money raised was donated to charity.

An argument is usually made that the artists get exposure from a contest like this.  In some cases it can be valuable, but artists still need to eat.  Plumbers need exposure, too, yet I can’t recall anyone suggesting that they should donate their work for it.  Perhaps in future supporting local artists might mean paying them a reasonable amount for their work.

But even if exposure is an important consideration, is a contest like this one the right kind of exposure?  Particularly when there is a “winner”, well, we all know what the word for a non-winner is. Does that kind of exposure really help an artist’s career? And who are the judges?


These days you can find all manner of art “contests” online.   The artist is generally required to herd their family, friends and fans to the contest venue to get them to vote.  Most of the ones I’ve seen don’t require a simple voting, but repetitive voting over time.  And before people can vote, they have to register, and give up a lot of personal information. (Guess where SPAM comes from…)  So again, the voters pay the price. Do you really want to do this to your fan base?

So I have yet to wonder about any net benefit to the artist.  Although a contest dangles a prize, is that prize worth the price you have to pay for it?

know what you’re getting into

Before even creating a contest entry, let alone posting your work, always read the contest rules. Any contest submission will necessarily transfer or sharing at least some of the artist’s rights to their own work to the contest holder. [As does posting your work to any website that you yourself don’t control.]   Be very sure that you know what you are agreeing to. And that you can live with it. For artists, the main advantage to the proliferation of art contests is that there is always another contest.

Because, after all, the main beneficiary of any contest is always the contest holder. After all, they get to make the rules.

The back wall facing the parking area with 5 finalist murals

and the winner is?

Driving Photography

I’ve been playing around with taking photographs when driving.

Of course, only when I’m a passenger.

the sun is setting behind three hydro towers at the side of the road.

I expect taking photos while driving the car would be even more dangerous than driving while on the cell phone 🙂

Sunset photographed from a moving car

The twin advantages digital photography has over film is that you can see immediately if what you’re doing is working…

Zooming past a tree with the sun behind

…and you can take zillions of photos until you get what you want.

Sun sets behind a bare tree and a highway traffic sign frame

I’ve been known to shoot a few thousand pictures on a two hour drive. So I thought I’d share a few.

Sometimes you capture the most extraordinary images:

an aerial view of the traffic and pedestrians in my wake reflected in the glass of the new addition to the ROM.

Or stumble on a serendipitous moment:

the biplane dives past a highway light standard headed for the trees

close n the biplane diving for the trees

A red biplane marked "Lucas" trails smoke in a deep dive

And sometimes even ordinary scenes can appear extraordinary…

rainy street at night; the traffic lights reflect on the road and in the raidrops on the windshield

… or provide a new way of looking at things.

looking at the following traffic reflected in the side view mirror

I love it when I catch a glimpse of art

A mural adorns the side of a corner building in Chinatown (cc by

or even architecture.

disgorging traffic on the last day of the Canadian National Exhibition

There is always something.

this pgoto of the CN Tower dome has been enhanced and filtered to make it brighter

Because art is all around.

city scape of Toronto at night

just for fun


Over the years I’ve derived a great deal of enjoyment for Canada’s Arrogant Worms musical comedy group. the following image is a collage I assembled from photographs taken by Mike Gifford August 22, 2009 in Brittania Bay, Ottawa, ON, CA, and posted to his Flickr account under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. That grants me permission to alter the images and create this graphic. This is one example of what is now known as a “re-mix”.

Photos by Mike Gifford, CC BY-SA remixed into this collage by lothlaurien CC BY-SA


Bob Trembley is one of Canada’s premier dobro players, but the stage he performed on in Gore Park was actually a Gazebo with railings running around all sides. This effectively blocks the view, making it devilishly difficult to capture a single shot of Bob and the Dobro. As you can see, the only place I could get both in the shot I was blocked by this annoying microphone stand. Time to employ a little digital manipulation.


Even though I know how to do it, it still takes my breath away when I can employ image manipulation in such a dramatic way. It truly is magic.

I've magically removed microhone and stand from blocking the image


Canadian Website Links: Art is all Around

One Hundred Jobs

I wanted to share links to some interesting websites I discovered through that contest. Videos from these websites were my favorites.

I rather liked One Hundred Jobs since Aimee Davison is rather like Bridget Jones in the flesh. You must check out her blog. There were a few “funny” contest submissions, but this was easily the best of them.

The Cow and the Moon

Cow and the Moon Paper Company created another of my favorite videos. The video’s theme was that the website allowed Kelly Linhares to be a stay at home mom This certainly resonated with me having lived it myself. (And it was worth it!) The problem I had with this film was that it didn’t tell me about the home business. I had to go to her website to find out that she creates fun invitations and greeting cards (and she certainly seems to have a better business sense than I do). This video made it into the finals, but she decided to pull out rather than continue the way the contest was being run.

The Cake Lady

The Cake Lady is another of my favorites because it led to a really good website. I felt that Vanessa Le Page’s film suffered from framing; it would have benefited from tighter editing and close shots of the website. The website is excellent… visually stunning and *gasp* a fluid layout! Woohoo! I gained five pounds just popping in.


Ibsurdities is an excellent website showcasing the talented Lori Watson’s wildlife art, “Scratchboard Prints” and  graphic design work.  Take a look at some of the exceptional work she’s done.

Studio Diva

Studio Diva Lynn Davies is a terrific artist. The website shows off some of her really fine artwork. But it goes a bit further than that, she takes a serious look at the process of creating art. Definitely worth a good look, particularly if you’ want to learning how it’s done.

Bram Timmer’s Beside is a domain name (part of a series of domain names… along with aside and reside…) with a pun I can appreciate. I found the film interesting, but it went on too long for a “talking head” without actually showing any of his websites. This talented guy has a great body of work, but I prefer the fluid aside photo page because the images are available large.

I haven’t been out to Kleinberg in quite a while, but The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is certainly an important Canadian art collection. My bone to pick is that the site only displays teeny images of the artwork in the collection. This is a common failing many people make with websites, only putting thumbnails or inferior images online, or stamping “sample” on their artwork. This comes from the worry that “giving it away free” will compromise the business.

My thinking is more on the line of building an audience. A thumbnail image is not going to make a fan out of me. Looking at paintings on a website is not the same thing as looking at them in reality. I suspect the website would bring the gallery much more business if it was opened up. The only way people become fans of art is through exposure.

In the old days of radio that was understood by the music companies: giving it away for free was how the fan base was built. I don’t listen to the radio anymore, so the internet is where I tend to go to find new music.

Jane Paddy Folk Songs

Which leads to Jane Paddy‘s beautiful folk music. This is another good website that cleverly allows visitors to listen to the music, which allows people the opportunity to experience the music so that they may become fans. This is crucial to building a fan base. Nobody is going to but a song without having first heard it.

I discovered more music on Nathan Michael Marcuzzi’s site. You can hear portions of his music for his new album billed as being “about materialism, religion & politics” here. Personally, I’d prefer to hear a few full songs rather than many partial songs. Like a story, a song has a beginning a middle and an end, so partials are clearly unsatisfying. Although I like some of his beginnings, I have no idea if I’d like how any of his songs end.

Sustainable You

Radio stations play entire songs– that’s how brands are made and audiences are found.

Another music site I found was Roland Karl Bryce: Whistler Suite. This modern classical music seems to have been written as a musical score for the environment, kind of like Beethoven’s “Pastoral”. One of the best things about the internet is the way you can find the right audience for your creation.

As an environmentalist I really liked the Sustainable You website, which offers useful information that can help us all make the world a better place.

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