Artist-in-Residence: Community Over Everything

Posted by Ashley Mulvihill , May 26, 2016
Maya Hayuk 2011 Artist-in-Residence

Maya Hayuk - Untitled, 2011. Artist-in-Residence piece in 222 at The Drake Hotel

Hello fellow curious culture seekers - to help put this into context, a bit about me (and of course, my tie to the Artist-in-Residence Programme). I joined the Drake about three months ago and have been directly involved in helping organize our recent Artist-In-Residence projects from about Week 1, which has been a pretty incredible experience. From researching artists, connecting with them, organizing flights and materials, to helping install, in my short time here I’ve been able to experience how dynamic the process really is. I found the recent article published by The Globe & Mail, titled ‘The Hottest Hotel Perk? Artists’ an interesting look into Artist-in-Residence programmes with one quote that particularly stood out for me and tied directly to my own experience with the Drake, “We do it for the community. It is something we love.”

The Drake Hotel on Queen West, the first of now three Drake locations, was built on a deep appreciation for artists, their creative process and how art can enrich our surroundings. The attention paid to the Drake’s community and how to create an inclusive, compelling and completely original environment is what has helped continue to grow its reach.

One of the foremost reasons I was drawn to the company was the feeling of how versatile and far reaching their artist collaborations are. Part of this is built around the AIR program, a unique opportunity for artists to live, work and experiment in a space outside of their studio. Having artists participate in the Artist-in-Residence programme can be educational and enriching in so many diverse ways. While continuing to grow and support our artistic community we’ve been able to extend the conversations to our guests, creating a hub for exchange that evolves with each new residency. Both emerging and established artists have been invited to participate, often free to explore their practice in our space, we collaborate to set up a framework but ultimately it’s their time to experiment.

Jason Peters - Second SY Installment

Jason Peters - Never What It Seems, 2015 - The artist's second configuration of his Sky Yard sculptural work.

Like many people, I love stories, and when learning about the creation of each piece in the collection developed through the AIR program, every work has a uniquely Drake-ified story that has created a relationship between the artist, the staff, the building and guests.

Maya Hayuk’s 2011 residency is a great example of this, while treating the wall in 222 she was able to focus on her style at a critical time in her career. She developed a gesture, in-part, during her stay at the Drake that has become the central motif in her work. For many artists, having time to try something new and focus solely on their practice is a special opportunity.

In the last month alone, we’ve been particularly busy with residencies hosting artists from the UK, Brazil and the USA. Jason Peters (USA), who originally installed his sculptural work on the Drake Hotel Sky Yard in September returned to reconfigure his piece in mid-April. Disassembling and reassembling the artwork made of white buckets, he transformed it to extend over the front of the building, taking on a new presence within the space. As if the sculpture were its own being, by reimagining the configuration it takes on this anthropomorphic quality that is a great example of how playful and visually striking contemporary art can be.

INSA - I Would Die 4 U, 2016

INSA - I Would Die 4 U, 2016

During the last week of April, we had concurrent residencies happening at the Drake Hotel and the Drake Devonshire. INSA (UK), who coined the term GIF-ITI and has his own App to activate his murals, spent a week painting his ten-frame artwork on the east wall of our Queen Street West Sky Yard. Employing a technique he’s never used before, breaking up the stills used to active the gif, he developed a new tactic during the creation of his very first Toronto mural (sponsored by Perrier Canada). This interactive element that engages our guests was a major draw, art for the Drake is about community and this new work created through the Artist-In-Residence program encourages people to participate, have conversations about mural painting and what incredible things are happening around the world through the use of technology.

Gustavo Prado installing along the Devonshire waterfront

Gustavo Prado installing along the Devonshire waterfront

At the same time INSA was GIF-ITI-ing West Queen West, Gustavo Prado (Brazil), a Brooklyn-based sculpture artist, was installing a site-specific mirrored work on the bank of Lake Ontario in Prince Edward County at the Drake Devonshire. My own experience working with Gustavo Prado during his time at the Drake was really interesting, he was incredibly hard working and curious, we shared great conversations and ruminated on ideas for the future. At times it was comical (he thought it was totally bizarre I wore turtlenecks everyday, I explained they’re quite common in Canada), at other times it was intense experimenting with materials combating the elements, but at the end there was an incredible sense of accomplishment. Spending time preparing, building and crafting around a decades old tree situated between the waterfront patio and the lake, Gustavo was able to create an outdoor sculpture that mimicked the organic form of the tree and responded to the environment around it, something he had never attempted before. This opportunity to step out of the studio, be surrounded by new people and experiences, can generate unparalleled inspiration.

Gustavo Prado - Daphne's Eyes, 2016

Gustavo Prado - Daphne's Eyes, 2016

The Drake continues to develop these Artist-In-Residence collaborations with artists because of the unexpected and exciting possibilities the programme provides for everyone involved. Channeling the free-thinking bohemian digs of the past (if I can borrow the line from the G&M article), paired with the highest quality of art from emerging and established artists, we do it for the artists, we do it for the community and we do it for us.

Be sure to stay up to date on all our upcoming residencies by following the Drake Art blog!

INSA's Egg

INSA's Egg, 2016

A Special Mention
Spending many hours in the neighbourhood, getting to know the community and culinary arts, INSA was struck by what we sort-of-lovingly refer to as ‘the egg’, adjacent to the soon-to-be-reopened Drake General Store. The legs is a central motif in his work and used often in his projects, it is so recognizable that it could almost be considered an elaborate tag - now you’ll know how to spot INSA works world-wide!

Posted in: Art

Tags: Artist-in-Residence  DrakeArt  Drake Artists  Gustavo Prado  INSA  Jason Peters  Maya Hayuk  The Drake Hotel