Annual Eccentricities exhibit on at Papermill Gallery

Artists are often known for their peculiarities. So Scarborough Arts Council decided to celebrate their strangeness with the 26th annual juried exhibition, Eccentricities, at the Papermill Gallery.

“Working with artists on a daily basis, and being surrounded by creative people, you realize how eccentric they are, and a lot of the time you’re supposed to not show that so much,” said Benedict Lopes, Scarborough arts program coordinator.

“We wanted everyone to just let it out and be as weird and wonderful as they are naturally, through their artwork.”

The show features work in all media by artists from the GTA and beyond, with pieces exploring the themes of unique perspectives and new ways of thinking.

The room was packed at the opening reception on March 31.

“In the past three years that I’ve been working on the juried exhibition, this blows it out of the water,” Lopes said.

“In the artwork that’s on display here tonight, in the number of submissions we had and the feedback that we had from artists, in the space and the outstanding turnout — we are all just thrilled.”

Artist Glenn Bernabe, who received third place and an honourable mention in the competition, created realistic drawings of people and places using pastel on paper. To create each drawing, he took 75 to 100 photographs as reference and each drawing combines 15 to 20 of those photos.

His drawing, “Subway Platform,” shows a blond lady walking by King’s subway station. The iPod advertisement and the wall tiles were drawn from pictures at King’s subway station, while the rest (including fire extinguisher, TTC ad and pole) were taken from St. Clair station. The lady was drawn from a photo taken while she was working at Fruits & Passion at a Markham mall.

“I feel very strongly about being able to move things around and control my composition in order to make what it is I want the viewer to look at, to stand out,” Bernabe said.

“The inspiration came from the actual iPod. I have a fascination for pop culture.”

Bernabe places his subjects in recognizable settings. He used the iPod and the subway station as a backdrop for exploration into individuality.

Artist Ranjit Sidhu’s canvas, “My world, my way,” shows a colourful bird swimming on water.

For the past decade, Sidhu said, he’s been looking for the real meaning of life. He has discovered that there are many parallels between humans and other species.

The bird in his piece is a weaverbird, also known as a painter bird, Sidhu explained. It does the same thing that an artist does. It paints the interior of his house, collects artifacts, decorates his home and matches the colours, and chews bits of trees to make brushes.

“This is what inspired me,” Sidhu said. “Once I saw a bird sitting over eggs. I said, ‘Look at the joy in his eyes, he’s so contented and created a mini-world of his own.’ He’s happy the way he is, and if we all feel happy the way we are, there would be less conflicts, less enemies, and this would be a happy world to live in.

“If you feel happy about your work, about your life, about whatever you cherish in life, nothing else matters. That is what this painting is all about.”