Gwynne Giles, who recently opened a storefront studio in the Beach Hill neighbourhood, has capped off the five years since he first took up painting with participation in The Artist Project, this weekend, Feb. 21 to 24, at Exhibition Place.
The remarkable thing is that Giles only began painting upon his retirement from golf club management, and has no formal training. At 66, he’s a newcomer to the art world, but has already been showing and selling his work since 2010.
That lack of training has not been without its setbacks: two months before his first solo show, the white backgrounds of a number of his paintings turned grey, resulting in Giles repainting 10 canvasses in two months.
A sampling of Giles’ work can be found in the window of his storefront studio at 1813 Gerrard St. E. Make an appointment to visit the studio at 416-466-6159 or see him at The Artist Project. More on that show can be found at theartistproject.com.
Anyone who has spent any small amount of time in the Beach likely has an inkling of the importance of the Leuty Lifeguard Station to the identity of the neighbourhood.
While it is basically a utilitarian shed on the waterfront, it has been elevated to a status of Beach icon over the years.
Art lovers have doubtless encountered paintings and photographs of the Leuty in local art shows and shops. It’s almost a rite of passage for landscape painters in the Beach to offer their take on the Leuty and Kew Cottage just a bit north on Lee Avenue. Photographers have put their own spin on the structure as well; Erwin Buck published a poster featuring a time lapse project of photos taken every 10 minutes from sunrise to sundown.
Into that crowded field comes photographer Laura Pederson, who discovered the Beach was her “happy place” shortly after moving to Toronto in 2011. She quickly moved to the neighbourhood, and an idea began to take shape.
“It didn’t take me that long to notice that it’s an iconic part of the neighbourhood,” she said.
The basic concept, as described on her website, is simple: “One photo of the Leuty Lifeguard station. Every single day, for one whole year. The exact same framing, the exact same background, any time of day. It just has to be every day.”
And so for more than 300 days now – aside from a couple unavoidable work trips, during which her partner Robin Kuniski, also a photographer, filled in – Pederson has made the trek to her spot just north of the Leuty, set up her tripod and waited for something interesting to happen. And something interesting almost always does happen at the Leuty.
“A lot of things happen there, and a lot of things happen right in front of the lifeguard station,” she said.
Pederson often carries a second camera, or at least an iPhone, to capture the action that happens outside of the frame dictated by her project’s parameters. Many of those outtakes and extras appear on her website as well, alongside the Leuty photo of the day.
One of the benefits of the project for Pederson is the amount of people she’s met during her daily sojourn. At one point, caught in a flash rainstorm, a stranger offered her plastic bags – intended for picking up dog droppings – to protect her camera from the rain.
Now that the projected end date of April 3 is in sight, Pederson is contemplating what, exactly, to do with all the images. She said she has considered a book, a gallery show and even a calendar, but hasn’t quite settled on a fitting way to share the full-size images with the public.
“It’s kind of weird that it’s coming near the end. I don’t know what I’m going to do when it’s done,” she said.
While the future of the project is unclear, the existing imagery on the website makes for a fascinating amateur study in place and light. Despite the repeating composition, the variation in weather, time of day and human interaction with the Leuty in Pederson’s photos offer more proof, if any was needed, of the Leuty’s importance as an architectural anchor of the Beach.
Visit theleutyproject.com to view all the images in the project.