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The good stuff

Art auctions like Snap succeed or not based on the quality of the work

Charity auctions are the perfect opportunity to sup- port your favorite causes and acquire great art simultaneously. Sometimes there are deals to be had, or the chance to buy a print or edition from artists whose work may typically be out of reach. But, as always, buyers should acquire works that they love… works that they can’t live without. For this reason, these auctions succeed or not based on the quality of the donated artwork.

I am looking forward to the Snap auction in the beginning of March, benefitting the AIDS Committee of Toronto. Full disclosure: I am on the curatorial committee, which selected the artists, so I am clearly biased in my thinking that we’ve got some great art. As a fan of photo-based work, I appreciate the auction’s focus on photography and this year’s selection covers a broad spectrum of innovative practices.

Some lots to look out for include Liss Platt‘s Constant: 3 Minutes, a digitally assembled grid of photo- graphs of a swimming raft taken, as the title suggests, of a consistent view over a set duration. All is constant except the weather, waves and light – in other words, not much! Platt uses photography as a tool to examine familiar, meaningful places in a sustained way (she has been photographing the north shore of Nova Scotia for a decade). Can our understanding of the landscape grow as the photographs accumulate in a systemic way? Or will it always be mysterious and unpredictable?

Worlds away, Alex McLeod eschews nature for psychedelic, 3-D environments that he builds in the computer. Glitter, metallic foils, crystals and colours rarely found in nature combine to create utopic (or dystopic, depending on your mood) landscapes. White Blue is a very strong example of McLeod’s wild imagination, attention to detail and totally unique approach to picture-making. Welcome to the future.

Similarly, Alex Fischer works in the virtual world and composes his landscapes by digitally layering his sources like brushstrokes on a canvas. In fact, the lush forest view reads like a painting from a distance but reveals itself to be some- thing quite different upon closer examination. Technology aside, Untitled Greens is timeless.

Richard Johnson‘s work, like Platt’s, is a study in repetition. His Ice Huts series examines this iconic architectural typology across the provinces. His straightforward frontal views simultaneously capture the simplicity of the form along- side the richness of the many details that make each hut unique. Ice Hut #528 from Great Slave Lake in Alberta is special because of the graphic split between snow, water and sky and the stunning combination of green and chartreuse.

David Welch‘s Laundry Totem captures a tower of dirty laundry, which is equal parts humorous and critical. Welch creates these monuments of “accumulation and materiality” with a view to encouraging discussions of our rampant consumer culture, but the absurdity of the stack injects the debate with some much-appreciated whimsy.

Thank you to all of the potential bidders out there. It will feel doubly good to support Snap while going home with something special. But a particularly big thank you to the artists for your creativity and generosity, and for giving the good stuff.

SNAP Preview. Free. Fri, Mar 1-3. Arta Gallery. 14 Distillery Lane. Auction. $100. 5:30pm-11:30pm. Thu, Mar 7. Andrew Richard Designs. 571 Adelaide St E. snap-toronto.com.

PAMELA MEREDITH Is TD Bank Group’s senior curator.