Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dean Drever's Bear Hunt at Toronto Sculpture Garden

Dean Drever is obsessed with bears, it seems. Last year, he showed a large yellow bear at MKG127 and more recently showed what look like smaller metal works at Douglas Udell Gallery. This winter, a few neon-orange grizzlies at the Toronto Sculpture Garden are raising his profile in Hogtown's public art sphere. As I mentioned in a brief review in today's NOW, this work seems a little worse for wear sans snow, with its plywood base showing distracting scuffs quite readily -- not a good sign for a work that's meant to be up until April. Nonetheless, I like the symbolic obsessiveness (and obstinate wilderness-orientation) of Drever's work, even if the delivery here could use work. I also find it interesting the way the Toronto Sculpture Garden morphed from a very different expression of nature--Katie Bethune Leamen's Mushroom Studio--last year to the pop-coloured mammalian this winter.

Image of Drever's Bear Hunt from the Toronto Sculpture Garden


Anonymous said...

you are a half wit twit

Leah Sandals said...

Hey Anonymous,

Thanks for the... feedback?

Care to elaborate?

Anonymous said...

Ok - i think it's funny you call those bears grizzlies, even go to the trouble of naming them instead of the normal half wit which would just call them "bears". If you took some time to do some fact checking you would see that Drever has only been working with the theme of the bear for a year. I read your review in the Now and have been following press on this piece as it is obviously one of the most ambitious projects mounted at the sculpture garden or otherwise, in "hogtown" as you call it. I am not sure if someone like you has the time to read other critical reviews on art in Toronto, but had you the time, and done so on these pieces you would at least have some facts straight on your review. Hence the twit.

Leah Sandals said...

Hey Anonymous...

Thanks for explaining.

The reason I called these grizzlies is I've actually encountered a few of these types of bears--sometimes closer than I have would liked to, in fact--in the Rockies, a couple of hours' drive from where I grew up in Calgary. Given the hump on Drever's bear's back and the shortened snout, I thought Drever's bears in this installation resembled grizzly bears much more so than black bears.

Here's some of the kind of info I'm going on for that distinction-
Is there another guideline you suggest using?

Also, Drever has been working with the bear theme for over a year, I think -- at least that's what's indicated by this 2008 Eye weekly review of Drever's bear piece at MKG127 -
That would be about a year and a half that's he's been showing the bear works, with production time I assume happening at least 6 months before the show... adding up to a couple of years of work on bear themes. So, again, is there some other data you're referring to on Drever's timeline that I'm missing?

I totally understand if you don't like my review (or reviews) and totally understand disagreement about overall judgments of art. So if you disagree with me on how good a piece this is at the sculpture garden, I totally get that. I just don't get the bear qualm or the "year only" claim... but maybe if you can explain more I'll get it?

Anonymous said...

It's got nothing to do with liking or disliking your review. Check out the NOW letters to the editor on page 11 of last weeks paper. It has been clearly named as a kodiak bear, in many reviews, in the essay from the sculpture garden, and it is life size. There never was a suggestion that it was a black bear, however the fact that they are life size and that is clearly documented makes confusing it with any other bear, lazy.

The issue I have is well put by L.Dodd in the letters to the editor in NOW. It's simple, if you are going to do something, do it right. I have had the pleasure of reading through a fair bit of your writing and find this review in-line with the rest, poorly researched, lacking fact checking, and a strange kind of chip on your shoulder. Perhaps it is a bit of professional jealousy? It must be difficult to be an artist and then have to critique art in places where you would possibly, rather be showing your work? That is neither here nor there, but I figure a little extra time doing some research would not hurt? Does it not also mention "kodiaks" on the didactic at the Toronto Sculpture Garden?

I post under anonymous as I do not have any emails, url's, or twitter accounts.


Alison Judd

Leah Sandals said...

Hi Alison,

Thanks for your response.

I appreciate your comment, and L. Dodds'.

Still, I hope you can see there might be still some confusion on how closely Kodiaks and Grizzlies are related. Some class them simply as being "brown bears":

In any case, I'm with you in believing good factchecking is needed in all publications, and I know NOW does its best with the limited time available.

Also, I agree that it can be confusing to see critics who also have operated as artists. I'll say "my bad" for not updating my website to reflect the fact that I have not worked--nor attempted to work--as an artist for 3 years+.

So... I've updated my website to reflect same. I identify pretty strongly as a writer and editor--a word person/word nerd--which was my main interest before ever entering the art realm. It's been a winding road to that definition of my role, so again, I understand your confusion on that point. It actually also bothers me as well when people show art and expect to operate fairly as critics... but that's another post!