Downtown Markham is a multi-billion dollar new city, the largest planned mixed use development in Canada, spanning 243 acres within the Greater Toronto metropolitan area. The developers of this massive project, The Remington Group, felt it was important to not only construct millions of square feet for retail, housing and entertainment uses, but to create an art program that would be integral to all these spaces. Remington’s art curator, Shelley M Shier, felt that street art should be a major component of this art program and set aside two locations for the use of street art and photography within this new city.
I have always been fascinated by what I see on walls and since the mid-1970s whenever I saw something of interest and I had a camera with me I took a picture. Many photographs from a variety of locations were the result. In some instances these photographs turned into projects; the first was called Cancer Eyes, featuring photographs I took in the New York City subway system for six months beginning in October 1978 and ending in March/April 1979.
Celebrating New York City Legends – The Woodward Gallery @The Four Seasons Restaraunt (2016) , 99 East 52nd St. New York, NY 10022 (10 Portraits of Notable NYC Personalities)
Photographer, author, music producer and former CIA Agent Hank O’Neal has had the rare opportunity to photograph celebrities in a variety of settings. These portraits of interesting New Yorkers were all taken during projects where O’Neal worked with each person on a film, book or recording project. Woodward Gallery celebrates these New York legends in a special exhibition at the historic Four Seasons Restaurant lobby. This body of work will be among the final exhibitions before the Four Seasons relocates from their landmark location of nearly 60 years.
Andy Warhol Art installation in the Remington Contemporary Art Gallery, Markham Onatario
"On the second level of the Remington Contemporary Art Gallery is a long rectangular space that had glaring white walls. I remembered a picture Hank O’Neal had created for an exhibition I curated in 2005 that featured his hand colored portraits of Andy Warhol from photographs he’d taken of Andy many years earlier at The Factory. I asked him if he felt his pictures could be enlarged to fill this entire space. I knew Hank was experimenting with enlarging his images digitally and owing to the fact that Warhol was a pioneer in that field I thought it was a natural fit for the space. " ~Shelley M. Shier
The Back Story
In late 1984 Allen Ginsberg told me a man named Jerry Aronson was in the process of making a documentary film about his life and times. In January 1985, Jerry was scheduled to conduct an interview with Andy Warhol about his relationship with Allen and to offer any pertinent observations he might care to make about the noted poet. Allen asked if I could take a portrait of Andy Warhol that might be used as a still in the film. A few weeks later Jerry called and asked as well.
The interview was scheduled for January 15, 1985, at Andy Warhol’s last and final factory, the studio where he created his artwork, located at 22 East 33rd Street. I arrived with the crew and we set up in one of the rooms that made up Andy’s studio complex. There were pictures and works in progress scattered about on the floor and people were working on them.
Andy finally appeared, wearing a black turtleneck sweater, ordinary pants, his silver fright wig and a baseball cap. He sat down in a straight back chair, the lights came on, the cameras rolled, Jerry asked his questions and Andy answered them. Or at least he kind of answered them. I took pictures from various angles, close ups, medium shots and a couple of interiors. At the end of the shoot, he held still for a couple of really ordinary portraits.
I developed my film and had a number of photographs from which to choose but the more I looked at them the more I thought I wanted to play with the almost expressionless portraits I had taken and so I did. I chose the three or four that seemed the most bland and began to color them with transparent water colors, red, yellow and blue. I mixed up the colors and mixed up the pictures. I must have done about 120 small 4” x 4” square photographs.
I then assembled the photographs by hand and mounted them as a ten by ten square grid on illustration board. I was essentially doing what Andy had been doing for so many years but I was doing it with his face, in the primary colors he used with such success. Later I made some double and triple and quadruple exposures of my favorite portrait, but only in black and white. Then I began to play with them in other ways.
In 2005 I began to rethink these photographs for an exhibition in New York City. Computer technology made the difference and I was able to refine the images. I could make the pictures any size I wanted. Later I experimented with prints on canvas, smaller at first and then as large as 52” x 52”.
The latest Andy pictures were done in the summer of 2015, when 42 large prints were created to become a permanent installation on the second level of the Remington Contemporary Art Gallery, a three level public art exhibition space that has become the artistic and visual cornerstone of Downtown Markham, a new cultural center in the greater Toronto area. In addition to the 42 large prints on vinyl, an oversized 52” x 52” Double Andy on canvas is displayed in the same location.