Cottage decor doesn’t usually evoke the idea of a killer contemporary art collection. Kitschy canoe prints and wildlife paintings, maybe. The once over- looked cottage is now having an art renaissance. When a long-time client of Toronto’s Gallery 133 purchased a rambling Muskoka cottage, he came to gallerists Paul Wise and Vanessa Axelrad to animate the space with a gorgeous collection of original works. The cottage was beautifully designed to highlight large artworks with zonal lighting and wall space taken into consideration. (The previous owner was also an art lover.) The gallery set to work sending more than a dozen paintings and sculptures hand-picked to fit the space and, in the end, the owner selected several pieces, instantly changing the mood of his space.
Things I See While Dreaming, 60” x 60”, Acrylic on canvas, 2021
This abstract work by Brooke Palmer was the only piece commissioned for the cottage. Upon seeing a smaller version of it, the owners chose to commission a larger 60-inch x 60-inch rendition to perfectly fit the entryway. Juxtaposed against the stone pillars, Palmer’s vibrant painting imbues the space with joy. Palmer created the painting without a brush, instead pouring acrylic paint onto an unstretched canvas. “He directs the paint with different creases and folds of the canvas, creating elaborate pathways for the paint,” says Axelrad of the flowing, organic results. The bold colourful work, which appears illuminated from within, sets the tone for the cottage.
Trendsetters, 60” x 48”,
Acrylic on canvas, 2019
This figurative painting by American artist Janet McGreal has approximately 25 layers of paint in different colours. Part of her Squigglies series, the work pulls you in with its lush texture and rich palette. McGreal uses layers of acrylic paint in various colours, then scratches them back to where she wants the colour to land. The multidisciplinary artist’s work is housed in notable collections, as well as in the homes of media giants and rock stars, and feels right at home in Muskoka, too. The image also lends an air of familiarity and approachability. “The series depicts all the loving people she’s known in her life,” says Axelrad of the artist. “She is very humble, kind and charitable — a superior person.” No doubt that positive energy is imparted into the work itself and its environment.
The Importance of Being Earnest, 60” x 60”, Acrylic and Birch Wood Ply, 2019
Talk about a million-dollar view. This sculpture-painting hybrid by British artist Stuart Hartley has an arresting presence in the living area. Playful, yet poignant, the piece alters the space significantly with its intriguing form and colourful palette. In this series, Hartley randomly inserts the letters of the first 10 words of a book or poem into the artwork. The haphazard placement of the letters and balls on ledges engages the viewer with each pass. The interactive piece appears different from all angles, making it a great conversation-starter in the cottage’s main living space.
hey Rise To The Top, 60” x 144”,
Oil on canvas, 2017
For the office, a prominent waterscape by Joe Sampson draws you in instantly. The rolling waves and bouncing light of his work appear almost photographic. Detailed brushstrokes
of the oil painting are revealed upon closer inspection. “The fact that the work is so large gives it an inviting aspect,” says Axelrad. “When you stand in front of it, you can’t help but to be drawn to where the water is lapping the shore. You feel it as you walk toward it. It’s visceral.” Sampson’s piece is an ideal addition to the collection, one with a more direct correlation to the lakeside locale. The pull of the water and its rejuvenating qualities is at the heart of any cottage, and here it is celebrated on canvas, too.