Quickly, a note on Danby
It took some time, but several vitriolic responses to my take on the Ken Danby show at Odon Wagner have started arriving, and in force.
Several of them were submitted in the comment section of this blog, but had not been approved for publication by our web staff; I'm assuming they wanted to run them by me first, but no need -- everyone deserves their opinion to be heard, so long as it's thoughtful and considered (and in a few cases, ahem, Mr. Smits, even when not) so I've gone ahead to ensure the comments were published myself. You can find them alongside the relevant post here.
While I don't want to respond directly to the letter writers here, suffice to say that there's no accounting for taste; I know what I like -- as do we all -- and I think my reasons for not seeing Danby in the light of an accomplished master, realist or otherwise, don't need to be re-stated.
To those who assume I'm simply part of the "anti-realist faction," as one letter writer put it, I can point them to enthusiastically supportive pieces I've written about Alex Colville, and both Christopher and Mary Pratt, true Canadian masters of their genre in a way Danby, in my opinion, never came close to achieving. And while it's not exactly in the same vein, I'm also truly excited to see the Doris McCarthy show that spans the University of Toronto's downtown Art Centre and the Scarborough campus's Doris McCarthy Gallery. To me, these are Canadian artists of that generation worth their iconic stature for their truly transporting gifts -- gifts that allow me to see the world a little differently each time I see their work.
You see, the problem for me is not with a blanket exclusion of a kind of art, but a lack of engagement, connection or even true sense of craft with the work of one artist in particular. I explained clearly why in the paper; it was far from a snipe, but rather -- I thought -- a thoughtfully self-conscious dissection of Danby's work, and the rift between the "factions" the letter writer suggests.
I now find myself in the unfortunate position of having to declare publicly what I always take as a given: Don't take it personally. It's not. And despite what some of you have said -- I mean, really, people -- I never do. My mother, on the other hand, upon reading some of those comments, might not be so forgiving. You are warned ...
UPDATE: I feel obliged to report I have been called an "imbecile" for the first time, by a fellow named Rob Smits (see the comments section here). Tip a sacred cow, however justifiably, and there's no end to the rage you can inspire. I guess I've arrived ...