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  • INK by Shawn Zheng

    Location: Saskatoon, SK

    Shu Cheng (Shawn) Zheng features his distinctive style of making marks in Chinese..
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  • North Shore Art Crawl

    Location: North Shore, BC

    The North Shore Art Crawl is a free community arts event March 7+8,..
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  • Art exhibit at local funeral home is proof art isn’t dead!

    Location: Alexandria, ON

    • Friday, 21 Feb 6--9: Wine & cheese, entertainment by recording artist Katie..
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  • New Craft Coalition: Call to Artists

    Location: Calgary, AB

    New Craft Coalition invites applications from all mid-career and professional artists to be..
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  • TRAVEL EXHIBITION

    Location: Toronto, ON

    John Mantha will be participating in a group show at Twist Gallery in..
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  • David Tycho: Urbania

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    Guest artist David Tycho will exhibit 10 paintings from his latest series. This series..
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  • ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) 2020

    Location: Brussels,

    ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) is back on October 15-18, 2020 for its 14th..
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  • Clarkson Society of Artists 2020 Show & Sale

    Location: Mississauga, ON

    The Clarkson Society of Artists invites you to attend their annual show &..
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  • Call for Artists: Urban Matrix

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    North Van Arts is inviting artists to take part in an upcoming group..
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  • 9th Artist Spotlight Solo Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art is now accepting entries for the 9th Artist Spotlight Solo Art..
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  • Call for Art - 11th Annual

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
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  • Call For Artists: The Other Art Fair Toronto

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Other Art Fair are thrilled to present the newest edition of The..
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  • Poetic Notions

    Location: Montreal, QC

    Bringing together 30 artists and poets, curators & participants Holly Friesen and Carolyn..
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  • Call for Art - 4th Annual Colors Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 4th Annual Colors online art competition. For this..
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  • Marlene Kawalez and Corynn Kokolakis

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. March..
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  • Jane Selbie and Joseph Farrugia

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. February..
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  • Dianne Davis and the WAP Collective

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. February..
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  • “Grey” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline February 28, 2020

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: Grey surrounds us, sometimes in surprising ways. In beach pebbles, a..
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  • on thin ice Polar Bear Art Exhibit

    Location: Toronto, ON

    On thin ice is a solo exhibit of polar bear portrait paintings by..
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  • Support the Worldwide Art Community | Participate in 6x6x2020

    Location: Rochester, ON

    Hello Artists in Canada, We want YOU to participate in 6x6x2020! Let your creative..
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  • Olivier Du Tre: New Works

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    January 7 to February 29, 2020 At HUB@302 302-1235 26 Ave SE, Calgary, AB..
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  • WAAH 124th Juried Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Hamilton

    Location: Hamilton, ON

    Who:  The Women’s Art Association of Hamilton (WAAH) at the Art Gallery of..
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  • The Indian Contemporary Art Competition

    Location: New York, NY, ON

    The Indian Contemporary Art Competition (ICAC) aims to discover and promote talented artists..
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  • The Loft On King Street

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Loft On King Street is one of the most unique private event..
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  • Overzealous Fine Art Exhibition 2020 Call for Entry

    Location: Toronto (GTA), ON

    Submission Deadline: Sunday, March 1st, 2020 -- Exhibition Dates: March 30 – April 18,..
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  • VOYZX Exhibition of Contemporary Surrealism

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    VOYZX Exhibition of Contemporary Surrealism 2020 is an annual international art exhibition, dedicated..
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Toni Onley

By Robert Amos May 17, 2004

} Toni Onley By Robert Amos Until his recent death in an airplane mishap, Toni Onley was perhaps the most public artist in this province. Everyone here recognizes his name and most people know at least part of his story. His career was long and his output prolific. Onley was news. A short man, his exploits seemed larger than life. He faced down the government and threatened to burn his inventory when the taxation department persisted in trying to tax his paintings before they were sold. When he crashed his plane for the first time, it came to rest suspended by its wingtips over a glacier crevasse. Onley was the first artist in our region to drive a Rolls Royce. It was possible to resent this fame - after all, he made paintings that looked easy. He was known for his small watercolours, horizontal in format, featuring distant elements of the landscape. When circumstances were right, he could paint three in an afternoon. Thousands of these watercolours were painted “on the spot”, their locations and dates noted in the lower margin. In the course of reviewing many of his shows, I too have at times been tempted to discount his achievements. I’ve tried to reduce what he did to a formula. But, let me assure you, after careful and repeated examinations, I have found Onley’s paintings brilliantly crafted and perennially surprising. Furthermore, I have never before seen such a fine selection of Onley’s paintings as this memorial retrospective. It was “hand picked” by Gunter Heinrich, Onley’s longtime dealer and now the agent of his artistic estate. Heinrich has been given a free hand. Surveying just about everything not already sold, he has brought out a “greatest hits” collection spanning the length and breadth of Onley’s career. Thanks to the publication last year of Onley’s biography, Flying Colours (Gregory Strong, Harbour Publishing), we are able to view his many phases in sequence and context. Onley was born in 1928 on the Isle of Man. By the time he emigrated to Canada in 1948 his destiny as an artist was already formed. The earliest of the 93 items in this show is an oil from 1958. Entirely abstract, it is a souvenir of his artistic evolution at San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. Nothing of Onley’s Polar Series from 1962 is available. Those works, assembled from torn fragments of painted canvas, have become sought-after in the auction sale rooms. But Winchester Gallery is deeply committed to abstraction. A number orf small, white Onley panels from 1964 bear only the slightest markings yet even today their austere minimalism has the power to shock. Onley’s early years were studded with honours, prizes and grants. In 1978 a retrospective of his work was presented by the Vancouver Art Gallery, including 314 works! It seems paradoxical that at that point, when his work had been collected by the Tate Gallery in London, the National Gallery of Canada and the Library of Congress in Washington, he would change his style. After 1980 his works were generally small in scale and representational rather than abstract. Predominantly the current show presents the later watercolours, 46 in all. With many hundred to choose from, Heinrich has selected pieces each of which is dramatic, incisive and appealing. A few have strong foreground elements - a fence, a cabin, a stand of trees in stark silhouette. Always evident is Onley’s uncanny brush play. He can draw our attention from a windblown mountain ridge down the sunny glacier slope to meltwater in a pool below - all in a single brush stroke. His dramatic and ambiguous skyscapes never relax into a formula. The British watercolour landscape tradition was reborn in Onley: topographic subjects, transparent watercolours, and a romantic mood. Like a true Victorian adventurer, he painted the Arctic, Japan, India, Georgian Bay and, in profusion, views of his beloved West Coast. Winchester is particularly intersted in Onley’s oils. Of the 15 on show, most are paintings derived from his favourite sketches. Heinrich says there were very few oils left in the studio, a fact which attests to their popularity. Onley’s considerable skills were constantly honed back in his studio. His distintive italic handwriting was just one facet of his interest in Chinese and Japanese brushwork. The practice of this artform entails considerable “waste” of paper. Onley had the utmost respect for the fine materials he chose and thus elements for collage were abundant. He pasted down fragments of journals, written characters and the odd attractive brushstroke, leaving a playful record of his concerns beyond the landscape. Winchester has kept the prices of this show in line with Onley’s last exhibit there. And considering the quantity of work on hand, I don’t expect his prices will immediately skyrocket. Frankly I think he’d want it that way. Onley was a populist. His oils, watercolours, collages, etchings, screen prints, posters, books and cards will long continue to take his vision to the people. ___________________________________________ Copyright © 2004Robert Amos Robert Amos is an artist and art writer who lives in Victoria, B.C.. He can be contacted by e-mail and you can view his paintings at www.robertamos.com