The Art Perspective blog is a collection of thoughts, musings, and reflections on art, artists, and current happenings in the art world. 

Trend Watch: Contemporary African Art

It will come as no surprise to those collectors who are closely watching the auctions and the art market, but contemporary African art is having a moment. Actually, it has been having a moment for nearly a year now as auction prices have continued to climb. Particularly for Njideka Akunyili Crosby who set and broke her own auction records back in November selling for north of $1 million USD at Sotheby's. 

Crosby isn't the only African artist whose work you should be watching; Julie Mehretu featured above and of Ethiopian descent has been attracting attention for her large scale aerial and architecture inspired works. Her layers of acrylic paint, pencil, pen, and ink add a depth to her work, while telling the stories of undetermined locations. Meanwhile, Sudanese surrealist Ibrahim al Salahi was one of the first African artists to receive a retrospective at the Tate Museum and Cheri Samba continues to receive notoriety for his work and perception of daily life in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

For those of you who aren't used to looking outside of your own backyard for artists to follow, let this be the inspiration to do so. There are some incredible artists emerging from all over the world, and only watching artists from Europe, or artists from North America is really limiting yourself and your collection. 

MCQ Private Collectors Club

Untitled  by Marcel Barbeau

Untitled by Marcel Barbeau

Over the last several weeks we have received numerous inquires about whether or not someone who is a younger collector could be part of the MCQ Private Collectors Club. While each applicant is considered on their own merits and reasons for wanting to be included, the short answer is yes. There is no age restriction, and we encourage all artists, collectors, administrators and those who are curious to apply.

The first pop-up show is going to be happening in the spring, with new works by one of the agency's most award winning artists. As the works are extremely limited, only those in the club will be receiving first access to purchase the works. And we anticipate the works will be sold out before the event takes place, so please ensure you are registered so you don't miss out. 

The link to apply is:

Thank you for all of your support, and we look forward to welcoming you to the first MCQ Private Collector's event soon.

For additional information about the MCQ Private Collectors Club please contact Emily Sommer at


Arsenal Gallery to Open in New York

Canadian arts philanthropist, and owner of the Arsenal galleries, as well as their counter-parts, the for-profit, Division galleries, Pierre Trahan is opening an Arsenal gallery in New York. Set to open February 22, 2017 at 214 Bowery, the space was previously occupied by Dave Hoyland's Seventeen gallery from London, UK. In fact, Seventeen's expansion to New York was being funded by Trahan, until earlier this year, when the two had a disagreement, resulting in the Seventeen gallery eviction, and the plans for Arsenal moving ahead.

This will be the third location for the Arsenal gallery, having a 6,000sqft space in Toronto, as well as a 50,000sqft space in Montreal. According to the Aresenal website, the New York space will continue to show curatorial projects with emerging and established artists across multiple disciplines.

Trahan's decision to move into the New York market could signal a large opportunity for Canadian artists already affiliated with the gallery, as well as potential new artists as well. It is increasingly important for Canada to establish itself as a player in the international art market, and a strong Canadian backed gallery moving into New York is a big deal for that reason alone.

We look forward to the Arsenal's New York opening on the 22nd, and to see if this trend and strength from Canadian galleries is sustainable south of the border. 


Behind the Canvas: Alexis Marie Chute

In our behind the canvas features we strive to bring you stories of artists, collectors, and innovators in the art space. This week we had the opportunity to connect with the driving force behind the InFocus Photo Exhibit, artist, photographer, author, Alexis Marie Chute.

AP. Give us a quick bio or background on yourself. Where did you grow up? What or who inspired you?
AMC. I grew up in Edmonton where I joke that I was an artist from the womb. Tucked away in my parent’s basement, I worked diligently in my makeshift art studio. Even back then I was a multi-medium and mixed-media artist, “painting” with make-up and nail polish, and using real flowers in my creative compositions. I remember blowing through film in bulk in my little point and shoot camera. I am very thankful that my mom never chastised me. In fact, my mom is one of the people that inspired me then – and now. I began working as a professional photographer while still in high school and went on to get my Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and photography from the University of Alberta. All the while, I was exhibiting my work and receiving all kinds of awards and distinctions, like being named an “Emerging Canadian Photographer” by Photo Life Magazine and a “Top 40 Under 40” by Avenue Magazine. I was also the Artist-in-Residence at Harcourt House Artist Run Centre for a year, working on a deeply personal and universal project called “The Quiet Rebuild” about the resiliency of the human spirit after struggle. Writing has also always been a primary creative outlet for me, amongst the visual, and I chose to get my Masters of Fine Art in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That is where I edited my memoir, Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss, which is published by She Writes Press and will hit the bookshelves this April 2017.

AP. How would you describe what you do? Why do you do it?
AMC. I make things and tell stories. That states it simply, although what I actually make is quite varied, yet interconnected. I make paintings, fine art photographs, books, exhibitions, documentary films, conduct social research, and present at conferences around the world. I am motivated by meaningful stories. Even in my abstract paintings, there is a feeling of mindfulness and hope I wish to impart on viewers. Great art – and great writing – is transformative for the person making it and also for the community where it is shown or read, and, ultimately, on whole groups of people and culture in general. I love exploring the innate desire in individuals, and society, to create, and also how the creative process itself can heal and help people become their fullest selves.

AP. What project(s) are you currently working on?
AMC. This question has a long answer and will betray the fact that I am a workaholic! Typically, I always have multiple projects on the go. Right now I am preparing a new collection of paintings about joy for an exhibition at The Glenrose Hospital. I am working on an artsy documentary film, called Expecting Sunshine: The Truth About Pregnancy After Loss, which is a visual exposé to pair with my book. I am also planning new shoots for “The Quiet Rebuild” as I have about ten people waiting on me to capture their conceptual portrait. I should mention that these folks found out about my project through social media and volunteered – which is pretty cool. And, finally, I am working away at InFocus Photo Exhibit & Award…

AP. Tell us about InFocus. What is it all about? Can people purchase works?
AMC. InFocus Photography Exhibition and Award was birthed one warm summer night in 2014. My husband and fellow creative, Aaron Chute, and I saw a need for an exhibition that celebrated photography created by Canadians. We started small in 2015, with our first exhibit at Harcourt House showing the best photography from Edmontonians. The next year, the show was hosted by dc3 Art Projects and exhibited innovative photography by Albertans. Finally, in our third year, 2017, we welcomed submissions from photographers all across Canada. The show this year, February 7-28, will be mounted in the gorgeous space at The Front Gallery. And yes, all the photographs are for sale! The mission of InFocus is to promote and exhibit innovative, thoughtful, and provocative photography created by contemporary Canadian image-makers. It has been my privilege to witness the stunning evolution of some local photographers, while also strengthening the dialoged with new voices and seasoned pros in the medium. The theme for our 2017 exhibit is “The Future,” which the photographers responded to with their submissions, offering their perspectives on culture, nature, and what’s to come both with photography itself and them as creators. This year we also have the second instalment of our Vistek sponsored InFocus People’s Choice Award, where the public can vote once a day for their favourite photographer or image. I will be giving a curator talk at the opening reception, on Thursday February 9, announcing the People’s Choice Award winner and discussing “The Future.” Another new piece of programming we have this year is our InFocus portfolio reviews. These will take place Friday, February 10 at The Front Gallery. Anyone can participate and show their images to the four reviewers to receive helpful feedback. The reviewers include noteworthy, award-winning photographers and educators: Larry Louie, Curtis Trent, Akemi Matsubuchi, and yours truly. Photographers may register online. My vision is that InFocus will cement itself within the annual creative calendar of this country. I am passionate about photography and love calling attention to amazing photographers and their work. Our call for submissions for our 2018 exhibit will go out this spring.

AP. Who is your favourite creative person? Why?
AMC. I have so many favourite creative people! One person I do want to give public props to is my artsy friend Erika Breen. She yarn-bombs trees in our neighbourhood and makes the most beautiful birds by needle felting a material called roving. Erika is all about our creative tribe and she really gets me. When it was my birthday, she left a gold-painted dinosaur wearing a tiny party hat at my front door.

AP. What is your favourite album of all time?
AMC. I love Alicia Keys, Girl on Fire.

AP. If you didn’t have to work what would you do with your time?
AMC. If I didn’t have to work I bet I would be doing much of the same things that I am doing right now, though in a much warmer climate. Travel is so quintessential to my creative process. If I was free of all responsibilities, I would be writing on the edge of the ocean, painting in the mountains, and eating at a table set on the streets of Europe – all with my camera around my neck, of course. And, most important to me, the people I love would be at my side. Now that would be the life!

AP. What is your favourite journey?
AMC. My favourite journey is the one I am on right now.

AP. Do you have a favourite piece you have personally created? What is it?
AMC. I have a huge painting that hangs in my living room. It is an abstracted mountain landscape made from acrylic paint and many different kinds of paper. I painted it on raw canvas and embraced paint drips. Because of this, the sky looks like it’s raining. There are subtle shimmery golds throughout. My family have begged me never to sell it.

AP. What are your thoughts on the influence of fashion and music on visual arts?
AMC. I love creativity in all forms. Just like I’ve been a proponent for photography as art, I believe the same about fashion and music. It’s the ultimate creative mash-up when all these things come together. This is one reason I am excited to be delving into filmmaking, because it is the amalgamation of so many artistic expressions.

AP. Who is your favourite author?
AMC. Reading fuels me and keeps me sane in a beautifully busy, yet rewarding, life. Some of my favourite authors include Jonathan Safran Foer, Brooke Davis, Jen Sincero, and Patti Smith (who is also a musician), and that is just to name very few.

AP. Where do you go for inspiration?
AMC. Foreign cities. The ocean. The mountains. My office. My art studio. Art galleries. The movies. For a nap. Into the pages of books.

AP. What is your greatest achievement in life so far?
ACM. All four of my babies; Hannah, Zachary, Eden and Luca. My masterpieces!

AP. What is your favourite colour?
ACM. Blue.

AP. What is your favourite sport? Do you have a favourite team? Player?
AMC. My favourite sport is whomever my husband is cheering for.

AP. What would you say to people who say to you ‘why Edmonton’?
AMC. The people. Hands down. The community is amazing.

AP. What is the one thing you want to share with everyone reading this?
Do the things you want to do even before you feel ready. I hear this excuse all the time: “I’m not ready yet, maybe next year.” Even with photographers who I encourage to enter InFocus because I see potential in their work, there is often this fear and resistance. What do you have to lose? What do you have to gain? You likely will gain a whole lot more than you lose. That is the beauty of experience and putting yourself out there. Be bold and pursue your dreams – then you will create the kind of life you don’t need a vacation from.

For more information about Alexis or the InFocus Photo Exhibit visit the websites below, or in person at the Front Gallery.



Our 10 Most Anticipated Exhibitions of 2017

Each year we look forward to reviewing the exhibition schedules of museums and galleries across North American, Europe and Asia. There are always numerous shows that make it on to our long list, but only 10 become our most anticipated for 2017. This years anticipated exhibitions range from emerging young artists to masters, legends, and of course some of the best in photography. Whether you are in Laguna Beach or New York City, London, UK or Edmonton, we have your must see shows for the year:

1) InFocus Photo Exhibit (The Front Gallery, Edmonton, AB) February 7 - 28, 2017 - Now in its third year InFocus Photo continues to expand and grow. What started in 2015 as a locally focused event, expanded in 2016 to include photography from across Alberta, and now in 2017 the exhibit will feature work from Canadian photographers from all across the country. This event is quickly becoming an annual force, demonstrating the value and importance of photography as a fine art form. Featured photographers include Curtis Trent, Greg Gerla, Joshua Jensen, Ann Mansolino, and many others.

2) David Hockney (Tate Britain, London, UK) February 9 - May 29, 2017 - With a career spanning decades, this retrospective of Hockney's work comes just before his 80th birthday. His style, and use of technology continues to change and evolve with his work. This exhibit will showcase his early works from the late 1960's to his most recent paintings which have never been seen in public before. At a time when gay rights are coming under fire, Hockney, who is openly gay, often explored sexuality in his work and many of those seminal pieces will be on display as part of this exhibit.

3) This is America II - America Martin (JoAnne Artman Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA) February 15 - April 15, 2017 - With this new body of work America Martin continues to showcase her unique and humanist approach to her work, through the lens of her Colombian-American roots. Her exploration of the human form, is well represented through her iconic nudes, in particular her representation of the prototypical heroic female. Her work is both felt and experienced and America is an artist you should be watching and looking to add to your collections this year.

4) The Looking Glass (Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, AB) March 11 - May 28, 2017 - This multifaceted exhibition, curated by Laura Ritchie explores the depth and reflection in portraiture. Reaching into the AGA archives, Ritchie has selected works from artists since the 19th century including Walker Evans, Joe Fafard, Kathe Kollwitz, Diego Rivera, and Andy Warhol. 

5) Ian Cheng (MoMA PS1, New York) April 9 - September 25, 2017 - Last summer we featured Ian Cheng on our list of the top 5 emerging artists under 35 that you should be watching, and now less than a year later he is receiving his first solo-exhibit at a US museum, and not just any museum, MoMA. The exhibition, a series of three live simulation video works, explore the history of cognitive evolution. Emissary, as the trilogy is called is made up of open-ended animations with no fixed outcome or narrative.

6) Georgia O'Keeffe (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON) April 22 - July 30, 2017 - In partnership with the Tate Modern, this is the only North American stop for this retrospective touring exhibit featuring over 100 of O'Keeffe's works. The exhibit will touch on her entire career from her early abstraction experiments to her late work. The exhibit starts with her first show in 1916 in New York and follows her career until her death in 1986. A rare opportunity to see one the great modernist painters from the 20th century.

7) Rei Kawakubo | Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York) May 4 - September 4, 2017 - Each spring the Costume Institute selects a muse, last year it was the intersection of technology and fashion, this year they have shifted their focus to the art of the in-between, exploring east/west, male/female, past/present through the lens of Rei Kawakubo's extraordinary career at Comme des Garcons. The exhibit will feature 120 of Kawakubo's womenswear designs from her first runway show in Paris in 1981 to her current collection. 

8) Fahrelnissa Zeid (Tate Modern, London, UK) June 6 - October 8, 2017 - Trained in both Paris and Istanbul Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901-1991) was easily one of the most influential Turkish artists, period. She was known for her large scale abstract works that were influenced by post-war Europe. This exhibit explores the motion in her work, from complex patterns to geometrical details.

9) Basquiat: Boom for Real (Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK) September 21 - January 28, 2018 - This is the first major exhibition of Jean-Michel Basquiat's (1960-1988) work in the UK. The exhibit will draw together over 100 works from institutions as well as private collections including many works which have never before been seen in the UK. 

10) Jasper Johns (Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK) September 23 - December 10, 2017 - Jasper Johns is arguably one of the most important living artists of the 20th century. Known for his unique treatment of iconography, and his appropriation of objects and symbols, Johns has been a central force in the abstract expressionism, neo-Dada, and pop-art movements since the 1950's. This exhibit will focus on various chapters of the artists' career.