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Hot Properties | Frances Patella

May 31 – June 18, 2023
Opening Reception: Saturday, June 3, 2 – 5 pm
Artist Talk: Sunday, June 18, 3 – 4 pm

Hot Properties: We’ve Been Here Before

My mixed media, photo-based work investigates time, transience and transformation, exploring the landscapes of controlled burns. In my new series, Hot Properties: We’ve Been Here Before, I am revisiting the title I used in a solo exhibition in 2014. Russia had just invaded Crimea. The Toronto real estate market was “hot”.

During my childhood in Italy and during repeated visits, my interest was sparked by prescribed fires, ruins and volcanic lava flows left behind in fields after an eruption. Fire was and is used in many countries to clear fields, control invasive species and to smoke out your enemies in times of war. Closer to home, The City of Toronto conducts prescribed burns in select parks to regenerate the rare Oak Savannahs. The urban nature of the Golden Horseshoe has squeezed these ecosystems into specially designated areas, including High Park. Fire is integral, as it stimulates the germination of savannah species and controls invasive ones.
During the burn events, the savannahs are transformed into ephemeral places by fire and smoke.

I’m interested in showing change over time by photographing specific places over days, weeks or years later. I save film exposed during one burn to reshoot under different conditions or perspectives. My process violates the classic rules of photography and I exploit these infringements to create and confirm the transformation process.

Since the burns began in 1999, numerous indigenous species have returned and are thriving in High Park. I photograph one particular resident Red-Tailed Hawk, whose images have been added to my work. He is the only hawk that is banded
and he has allowed me to come very close to him over the years. I want people to be surprised by discovering the hawks, or other animals and things in the trees and on the ground.

In May 2022, on an OSA trip to Temagami and Kirkland Lake, I reversed my method of working. I usually start with photographs and then add paint. This time, I sketched and painted in situ and then added elements of my surroundings onto the paintings and photographed the resulting work. Ironically, we were advised to bring coats, hats, and mitts, but the temperature was so hot that during a three-hour hike in the Old Growth forest, we were so happy to see a spot of snow on the ground that we could cool off in.

As you look at my work, you look through time as well as space. The work depicts the real world but also exists in a different reality or a more fulsome picture of reality. Frances Patella

Frances Patella was born in Italy and resides in Toronto. Her mixed media, photo-based work explores time, transience and transformation in the landscapes of controlled burns. She uses tessellated photographs to represent
an ecosystem over time.

During her childhood in Italy and during repeated visits, fires, ruins and volcanic eruptions sparked her interest. Frances was born in Southern Italy in the land between the volcanoes of Mt. Etna and Vesuvius.

Frances’ work has been exhibited in Canada and the US. She has received numerous grants for Artists In Education and Mid-Career grants from the Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils. Her work has won a Best In Show and a Purchase Award for the City of Vaughan juried exhibitions. Frances’ work was also in films, like “Don’t Say A Word”, featuring Michael Douglas and TV series, like Schitt’s Creek. Her work is in private and public collections, including the Ontario Archives, reproduced on magazine covers and on a CD cover for the Toronto indie band Places Erupt. Frances holds a BFA from York University, a B.ED. from the University of Toronto and studied Visual Arts and French at the University of Western Ontario. Frances also studied drawing and art history in Florence, Italy.

Frances is a member of the Ontario Society of Artists and Propeller Gallery. A former Chair of Propeller, she initiated numerous exhibitions, fundraisers and events, including the ongoing Emerging Curator and Emerging Artists exhibitions. She was a long-time Member of the Board for TOAF and Chair of Jury and Judges. Frances taught visual arts and analog photography in the TDSB. She conducted numerous Alternative Photography / Cyanotype workshops in schools throughout Southern Ontario, for the Photo Educators Forum in Toronto and the National Gallery of Photography in Ottawa. She was Joyce Wieland’s Arts
Administrator and apprenticed with multi-media artist Noel Harding. Frances continues to be very active in the Toronto arts community.

Special thanks to our community partners, donors, and supporters. 

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