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  • “10th Anniversary” Online Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for a..
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  • 15th Solo Art Series – Online Solo Art Exhibition Opportunity

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces its 15th “Solo Art Series”..
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  • Urgent issue of The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

    Location: Mississauga, ON

    CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: URGENT ISSUE OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE DIFFUSION OF USEFUL..
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  • 2020 Social Distancing Exhibition

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    $1,000 in Artist Prizes. We know, you’re stuck at home. While many are stocking..
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  • 10th Annual

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
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  • Call for Art - 5th Annual Animal Kingdom Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 5th Annual Animal Kingdom online art competition. For..
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  • Call for Art - Still Life Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for its 14th Quarterly Art Competition – Still Life. For..
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  • 2 ARTIST/ 2 PERSPECTIVES

    Location: Windsor, ON

    The workshop offers an opportunity to have access to two outstanding painters who..
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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2020 Spring Online International Exhibition

    Location: , ON

    $4500 in Awards - The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites..
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  • Beacon Original Art Spring Show & Sale

    Location: Calgary, AB

    Annual spring 2-day art show and sale with different artists in attendance each..
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  • Nooks & Crannies Outdoor Art Festival: Call to Artists

    Location: Okotoks, AB

    Okotoks Culture seeks proposals from artists to create temporary public art installations in..
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  • BORDERS - ITSLIQUID International Art and Architecture Festival

    Location: Venice,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS BORDERS | Venice July-Nov 2020 ITSLIQUID International Art and Architecture Festival Deadline:..
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  • Acrylic Painting Workshop with Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    April 4/5 2020. Learn how to quickly develop rich colour and surface in..
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  • $550.00 Innovate Grants — Call for Artists + Photographers

    Location: , NY

    Innovate Grant is now accepting submissions for the Spring 2020 Cycle. Innovate Grant..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: CANVAS International Art Fair

    Location: London, UK,

    CANVAS International Art Fair THE LINE Gallery, London | May 07 – October 30,..
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  • 27th Lemonville Group of Artists Show and Sale

    Location: Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

    Please join The Lemonville Group of Artists for their 27th Annual Art Show..
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  • “Sensuality” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline April 30, 2020

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: A glance, touch, dance, flower, scent or piece of chocolate can..
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  • Artwork Shipping Scam

    Location: , AB

    This week an artist on our site was corresponding via email with an..
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  • Geoff Farnsworth: Colour Worker

    Location: Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON

    Join the Niagara Pumphouse for the opening reception for the exhibition entitled, “Geoff..
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  • Call for Entries: Art at the Pumphouse

    Location: Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON

    The Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre is now accepting applications for participation in Art..
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  • Exaltation : Niagara Pumphouse Instructors' Exhibition

    Location: Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON

    Niagara Pumphouse is proud to host the Instructors’ Exhibition as its first show..
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  • Art, Wine, Interior Design Show

    Location: Winnipeg, MB

    Art, Wine, Interior Design Show! Exhibitor opportunities for Visual artists, Interior Designers and Wineries. Finding..
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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2020 Spring Online International Exhibition

    Location: , ON

    The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites oil and acrylic painters..
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  • Land and Sky - 2 Artist/2 Perspectives

    Location: Windsor, ON

    PAINTING WORKSHOP AT SHO ART STUDIOS APRIL 3rd 4th and 5th 2020..
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  • Love At First Sight

    Location: Regina, SK

    Love At First Sight / Regina Art Collective members: Dave Gedjos / DeLee Grant..
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  • In Other Words

    Location: Regina, SK

    In Other Words / Regina Art Collective members: Nikki Jacquin / Derek Olson / Mark..
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  • Call for Art - 4th Annual Black & White Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 4th Annual Black & White online art..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2020

    Location: Venice,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS: VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2020 Venice | April 09 – May..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: THE EXTENDED BODY 2020

    Location: London,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS: THE EXTENDED BODY – MIXING CULTURES ITSLIQUID International Art Exhibition THE..
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  • Appreciation of the Arts

    Location: London, ON

    Three day art and music event to recognize local artists in London, Ontario...
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  • Call to Artists - 2020 Sooke Fine Arts Show

    Location: Sooke, BC

    Artists are invited to submit work for consideration to the 2020 Sooke Fine..
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  • ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) 2020

    Location: Brussels,

    ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) is back on October 15-18, 2020 for its 14th..
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  • Call For Artists: The Other Art Fair Toronto

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Other Art Fair are thrilled to present the newest edition of The..
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  • Marlene Kawalez and Corynn Kokolakis

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. March..
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Tom Dean: Desire

By Gil McElroy January 6, 2003

} Tom Dean: Desire May 30-September 15, 2001 Toronto Sculpture Garden, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Toronto-based artist TOM DEAN’s recent site-specific exhibition at the Toronto Sculpture Garden (May 30-September 15, 2001) was part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of this pocket-sized art park in the heart of downtown Toronto. For “Desire,” Dean brought together five figurative bronze castings of cherubs and five bronze swans, all approximately life-size, pairing them in miniature scenarios spread out across the tiny expanse of lawn, all the better to mess about with a couple of the classic symbols of love and lust. Each cherub and swan was a unique original -no pose was a duplicate-and so each pairing of beast and babe made for an interactive drama of singular and unique proportions. Over near a low brick wall, a cherub and swan eye each other warily, both half-turned away, the swan with its wings spread wide, the cherub pressing one of its arms against itself and clutching the rock upon which it sits with the other. Near a brick walkway, a cherub nestles in the grass on its back. Close by, a swan preens its back feathers, head buried beneath a wing. They seem oblivious to the presence of each other. In front of a wall before which cascades an artificial waterfall, a swan stretches its neck upward, perhaps trumpeting. The cherub nearby protectively holds an arm against its head, covering one ear. Nearby, another cherub crawls along the grass, bare bum in the air, its companion swan presumably fast asleep, head and neck relaxed along its back. And in the middle of it all, a cherub sitting in the grass seems to have just thrown something-one arm frozen in the follow-through of its volley-toward the nearby swan it glares at. Neck arched, head near the ground, one wing raised protectively, this swan appears the outraged victim to the cherub’s inexplicable attack. It’s all body language, of course, subjective and wide open to as many varied readings and interpretations as there are those who came to walk amidst these small bronzes. In the torpor of the summer’s heat wave, anything seemed possible. Even the Garden of Eden. The setting of the cherubs within the confines of the grass, trees, bushes and plants of the Toronto Sculpture Garden unavoidably conjured up allusions and connotations of biblical proportions. Eden, that garden against which all others are inevitably measured, was guarded (the story goes) by warrior cherubim, there to keep interlopers -like the evicted Adam and Eve-out, and while those cherubs bear little physical relation these soft, overstuffed infants of Baroque imagination and contemporary greeting card fancy, the association, however wobbly and creaky, manages to stand. Barely. But it succeeds in rendering only half the equation, for these babies- all male, incidentally-are situated in relationships with their companion swans that Dean has intended to be meaningful (ergo the many and varied possible readings of body language). The symbolic baggage both bird and babe bring to the proverbial table must also come into play. The pudgy cherubs of the Baroque, the putti of the Italian Renaissance-images of which have been commercially trafficked by New Age merchandisers and become an integral part of contemporary pop culture- are the mythological descendants of Cupid (the Latin word for “desire,” incidentally). The swan itself is an emblem of Aphrodite. So Eros it is, then, love and lust cavorting on the lawn of the Toronto Sculpture Garden in the guise of a handful of bronze babies and birds. But it is no dance of dialectics that these creatures enact within the dramatic little cocoons of their pairings, for they are birds of the same metaphorical feather, flip sides of the same coin. Walking amidst the sculptures of “Desire” was not to experience some aesthetic amalgam, some conceptual synthesis, of visual ideas Dean had set in knee-high binary opposition to one another out on a small patch of Toronto lawn. Rather, it was to bump heads with a few pieces of some ancient amatory puzzle, and to risk the hubristic temptation of trying to fill in the empty spaces. As Dean well knew, our vanity would bequeath to “Desire” what it needed to be complete. Good thing, then, that we were there to help out. This review originally appeared in Art Papers Magazine, January/February 2002. ___________________________________________ Gil McElroy is a critic, independent curator, artist, and poet currently living in Colborne, Ontario. His latest books are Gravity & Grace: Selected Writing on Contemporary Canadian Art (Gaspereau Press), and a book of poetry, Dream Pool Essays (Talonbooks). View Gil's curriculum vitae.