The Gladstone Hotel's Exposed showcase was definitely the spot of hotness in Toronto this evening, in opening its doors to Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival goers. With plenty of gorgeous faces to be seen and rooms filled wall to wall with exquisiteness, the hotel is a compulsory stop if you are planning to attend this year's festival.
Featured on the hotel's second floor is a vast array of fresh talent and particularly striking I found, was the work of Toronto photographer Natalia Sokolovska who returns to the festival for a second time after having made her debut last year. Her Hidden Spaces collection essentially is a love letter to Toronto, taking recognizable landmarks around the city in photo form, adding to them new dimension, depth in shadows and gorgeous treatments. Although not particularly abstract or philosophical, Sokolovska's work is sheer beauty, like frames from a film with masterful cinematography. Seeing Toronto through her lens instills a sense of pride in me as a Torontonian and if that's not Pervasive Influence, I don't know what is. See more of her work here.
Perhaps some of the more recognizable pieces at this year's festival are those of Katia Houde's and we created them in our own image exhibit. I had the pleasure of working with Houde many years ago when we were both slumming it in our Call Centre jobs and in all honesty I had no idea she possessed such talent until today. Her collection is adorable and poignant. Using Cats and Dogs as her subjects, Houde dresses these animals in campy outfits, placing them against backdrops we'd find in old elementary school photos and family portraits. The sad reality is that many Pet Owners subject their Cats and Dogs to very human values and belief systems, explaining why Gourmet Pet Food, Clothing, Grooming and Furniture are such big businesses. Heck, count me among the guilty with my dog Billy's collection of fancy Collars, Leashes and Organic Dog Treats! Visit Houde's official website here.
Also noteworthy was a joint exhibit by Aaron Vincent Elkaim & Brett Gundlock titled Runway, featuring behind-the-scenes photographs of models getting glamorous at Fashionweek. The world of Fashion needless to say is a seamless merging of media and art which impacts us regardless of what we choose to wear. The duo presented their photographs on suspended cords and even had camera to capture their spectators. I hope it caught my good angle! Don't forget to check out Elkaim's site and Gundlock's blog.
Perhaps the most emotionally resonant exhibit at The Gladstone Hotel this year is that of Hank Young - The Gladstone Cowboy and Elevator Operator. Young was a social activist who had once aspired to run for the New Democrat Party (NDP) although in the end he lacked enough popularity to fulfill his dream. He attached himself to many noteworthy causes including the fight against drugs in the Parkdale area, where it had become a serious problem prior to its restoration. It turns out that Young loved to sing and the Hotel's now-popular Karaoke nights were actually started by him. Young passed away last year sadly, but photographer Nancy Paiva pays homage to the well-loved Gladstone Cowboy in her series of photos and video interviews. He never lived to see these photos and interviews as Paiva had told me, but it is perfectly fitting that the hotel's Artbar be dedicated to him this year entirely for the festival. Even though I never met Young, I felt as though I had a connection with him just being in that room and this made Paiva extremely happy to hear as this was her hope all along with her work. Learn more about her here.
Exposed: Pervasive Influence runs from May 6th through 19th. Visit The Gladstone Hotel's website for more details.