This morning I’m excited to share with you my visit to Art Interiors last Friday for a media sneak peek of their Festival of Smalls which opened last Saturday. I have been to Art Interiors before and have always had a great experience but what I didn’t know until my most recent visit was the story and vision behind the store. Owners Lisa Diamond and Shira Wood went to school together and upon graduating realized there was a gap in the art community in Toronto. There were high end galleries with expensive and exclusive art, and there were print/poster stores and nothing in between. There wasn’t avenue for people who had some disposable income and wanted to start buying original art, but who might be intimidated by price point and atmosphere of a high end gallery. So, out of their parents basement they started their business. It look off and now 20 years later, they are still going. They represent primarily Canadian artists, although they do represent some international artists, and in an effort to keep beautiful art accessible to more people they have a policy that nothing is more than $5000. Fabulous concept.
And on the topic of accessible art, comes their annual Festival of Smalls, which also marks it’s 20th anniversary this year. The festival features small sized art at a price point between $55 and $250. The festival gives people on a very limited budget access to beautiful original art. And let me tell you there is SO much to choose from. The walls were beautifully curated, but what I found incredible is the sheer volume of gorgeous smalls they have. For example, this is what is you see lining the floors…..
And the festival has become so popular they are constantly replacing items that have sold from the walls with the stacks on the floor. But now I want to give a quick summary of some of my faves of the Festival of Smalls:
- Richard Herman – Don’t these look like photographs? Ah, no, these are paintings if you can believe it. The detail and colours make them so life-like, you really have to see them in person.
- Gabriella Collier - I am always drawn to colour so I immediately gravitated to these colourful landscapes. They are both bold and subdued at the same time.
- Sheri Kaskrow – At the time of my visit this painting had not yet been set up in the space and was on the floor near under a thingy that holds the unframed art (yes this is the technical term for it), and I’m so glad a spotted it. I just love it. The colours, the style….everything.
- Lori Doody - How fun are these pieces with the Fisher Price style toys? Perfect for a kids room!
- Jack Joel – An architect by trade, this artist does beautiful pencil drawings. It’s hard to tell from the photo but the detail is phenomenal up close. If you are in the store, ask how they came to represent this artist, it’s a great story!
- Christine Breakell-Lee – Another set of smalls that drew me in based on colour. These are slightly more modern than the art I would normally be attracted to, but the colours really got my attention.
- Charlene Serden – Being from the east coast I always appreciate photography of ocean harbours, but these are more than typical. The use of the fog, especially when lines up together, makes these photographs gorgeous and unique.
- Amy Friend - This lovely pieces is actually a framed artist’s palette! These were made specifically for the Festival of smalls by the artist, whose other work I also really liked.
- Maureen O’Connor – This may have been my favourite piece of the show, although that is a tough competition. This is an old vintage photograph on silver gelatin (not sure that is the right term) from probably the 1940′s or 50′s. It is a picture taken of a photo shoot of a topless model from behind. I like that there seems to be a story behind it and, as some of you know, I’m a fan of art that shows the human form.
- Jet Melencio – these unique paper art sculpture birds are awesome, and would be a real conversation piece in your home.
Buying smalls is a great way to start a collection and is a great gift idea for someone on your list this holiday season. The Festival of Smalls runs until December 24th. Most of the small are available online, but I would strongly recommend going in person if you can. It’s a great way spend a couple of hours.
And if you are looking for larger original art they are still in store during the festival. On a previous visit I purchased these pieces by Mel Delija. (Sorry for the poor picture quality).
I framed them myself (poorly) but one day I’ll have them framed professionally, but until then I get to enjoy these pieces and I didn’t need to break the bank to do it. I almost bought more of his work when I was there this time! That is the thing about this place – you are instantly comfortable when you go in. The staff are helpful, highly knowledgeable but not pushy. And you just get the feeling that they truly just want you to find art that makes you happy. Now if that isn’t a business model for success, I don’t know what is.
*This is not a sponsored post