Same Corner, Same Juys, Same Line of Work
Curated by Caitlin Sutherland
September 9 – May 12, 2019
Employing Hamilton Artists Inc.’s external Cannon Project Wall, Vanessa Maltese has developed a site-specific installation alluding to the longstanding previous occupants of the gallery’s purpose-built facility. This subtle intervention takes graphic elements from the Jerry’s Man Shop logo, a men’s fashion boutique and suit shop with a storied history, which, if including Anshel Sherman’s preceding tailor shop, maintained a family legacy on James Street North for over 90 years. Since 1975, Hamilton Artists Inc. has itself occupied various locations on and adjacent to James Street North. Due to reasons within and outside of its control, the Inc. relocated multiple times before carving out a permanent home just a few buildings over from its original location.
Same corner, same juys, same line of work, pares down the Jerry’s Man Shop logo—which once graced the entrance to 155 James in impeccable terrazzo tile— to a disembodied motif or symbol. Rooted in Maltese’s interest in challenging perception through optical illusion and figure-ground relationships, the structure attached to the wall creates shadow drawings with the movement of the sun each day. On cloudy days, the subsequent drawings will prove subtle. On sunny days, the distorted logo may resonate or otherwise create a sense of déjà vu for viewers who have experienced the changing landscape of the neighbourhood. Conversely, others, including younger generations and more recent transplants to the city, will have no term of reference at all. Ambiguous and ephemeral in nature, this installation probes the complex and entangled effects of gentrification – change, displacement, and erasure; development, decay, and renewal – and what this means to and for the people of a city.
Vanessa Maltese (b. 1988, Toronto, Canada) holds a BFA from OCAD University. She was the National Winner of the 2012 RBC Canadian Painting Competition and has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions across North America. Her recent and forthcoming exhibitions include, Night Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), Shane Campbell Gallery (Chicago, IL), Nicelle Beauchene Gallery (New York, NY), Greenpoint Terminal Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Halsey Mckay (East Hampton, NY), The Power Plant (Toronto, ON) and COOPER COLE (Toronto, ON). She has published artist editions with Nothing Else Press, Paul + Wendy Projects, Slow Editions and Casey House. Maltese’s work has been reviewed in national and international publications including, Frieze Magazine, Artforum and C Magazine. Maltese currently lives and works in Toronto, Canada and is represented by COOPER COLE.
Caitlin Sutherland is a curator and writer based in Hamilton with a background in criticism, curatorial practice, and museum studies and management from the Ontario College of Art and Design and the University of Toronto. She has worked independently and with a number of contemporary arts organizations for more than a decade, most recently as the Programming Director of Hamilton Artists Inc., before taking on her current position as Project Coordinator with Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto Mississauga. She has contributed writing to a variety of publications, including Critical Superbeast, Inuit Art Quarterly, Daily Serving, Hamilton Arts and Letters Magazine, and Canadian Art.
Special thanks to Brian Kowalewicz and Historical Hamilton for the header image.