Archive of Rea McNamara

Rea has written 106 article(s) for AFC.

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Rea McNamara

Why Artists Make Better Landlords: An Interview with Akin Collective’s Oliver Pauk and Michael Vickers

by Rea McNamara on June 20, 2016
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The belief that artists are too independent or focused on their career to self-organize needs to die. Artists have the capacity to be both generous and great.

Take, for example, the affordable housing movement, and the artists dispelling the traditional artist-as-gentrifier-enabler role. Theaster Gates transformed vacant and abandoned buildings in his neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side by establishing a foundation, and then partnering with the city and developers to rehab a public housing complex into mixed-income housing. In Houston, Rick Lowe’s Project Row Houses covers six blocks in the Third Ward, providing affordable housing for low-income tenants. Mark Bradford’s Art + Practice not only brings contemporary art programming to Los Angeles’s Leimert Park, but also provides social services for youth in the city’s foster care system. Artists have the potential to readdress urban displacement and ensure affordable space still exists for art by pulling up their sleeves and playing a bigger entrepreneurial role in real estate development.

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Inaugural Toronto Art Book Fair Pages City’s Independent Print Culture

by Rea McNamara on June 16, 2016
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The rise of art fairs has not been all that bad. Yes, we’re stuck with the same galleries showing the same work, but we’ve also seen a rise in alternative venues, the most common being art book fairs. Whether it’s LA or New York, the fairs often have a frenetic energy, particularly the sections dedicated to artist-made zines, which in addition to artist books, often include performances, the sale of related ephemera (think buttons and stickers) and zealous trading. Fair sections divide exhibitors by rare book dealers, distributors and artists. Even the poorest of us can afford something at the fair, which means every visitor can leave with a sense of being able to directly support the livelihood of artists.

Here in Toronto, the arrival of the new Toronto Art Book Fair (TOABF) — which opens today in a historic schoolhouse in the West End, and runs to the end of this weekend — has been enthusiastically received by the local arts community. In fact, much of my Instagram has been filled for the past week with artists like Micah Lexier and Lido Pimienta proudly snapping the wares they’ll be selling. With a tightly-curated 75 vendors participating, it appears the free public event has been far more successful than either Art Toronto or the recently-ended Feature in attracting the involvement of international vendors. Art Toronto mostly attracts galleries outside Canada under its FOCUS curated section (for the 2016 edition in October, it’ll be Latin America) and because Feature was organized by Montreal’s Association des galeries d’art contemporain, it was criticized by local gallerists for its Quebec-heavy regionalism. Further, since Toronto isn’t a “traditional art capital”, those fairs have been challenged in representing a discerning edit of the local commercial gallery scene.

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Chroma Lives: This is What a Tasteful Condo Showroom Looks Like

by Rea McNamara on June 15, 2016
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The Yorkville neighborhood is to Toronto what the Upper East Side’s Park Avenue is to New York. In a word: bougie. Back in the 1960s, it looked considerably different; as Canada’s equivalent to Greenwich Village, it was known for its waify bohemians, coffee house folk scene and a gallery district anchored by influential commercial gallerists like Walter Moos and Mira Godard. But offices and hotels were eventually built, followed by high-priced condo developments amongst the still remaining Victorian rowhouses now listed for over a million each. Yorkville’s biggest attraction is now it’s “Mink Mile”, a high-end luxury shopping strip that caters to the affluent residents of Rosedale and Forest Hill.

Given all this, perhaps it’s not surprising that at first glance, one could mistake the group exhibition Chroma Lives for an interior design showroom. Located in the presentation center for the Yorkville Plaza condo development on Avenue Road, curators Erin Alexa Freeman and artist Lili Huston-Herterich have filled the space with household items like walnut furniture, succulents planted in unglazed ceramic pots, and clothing hung on a rack. Not much distinguishes this simulacrum of affluence from present-day realities, especially at a time when luxury real estate has been engineered to include art walls and humidity systems to attract art-centric buyers.       

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NSFW GIF of the Hump Day: Vintage Sausage Party

by Rea McNamara on June 8, 2016


Porntendo is maintained by an elusive figure who GIFs gay porn. Much of the archive features tags like “just bros being bros” (NSFW) or my personal favourite, “it’s a slow-burn fanfic.” Porntendo is especially thorough, even tagging GIFs based on their pixel-widths.

Of particular interest, however, are their growing collection of GIFs from old Bob Mizer softcore films. The queer pioneer basically invented “beefcake” photography, and seeing these GIFs is a Stonewall time capsule of joyful penis swinging.

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.ART Re-Emerges as “The Art World’s Exclusive Domain”

by Rea McNamara on June 6, 2016
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Will the days of describing the internet as an ungentrified space finally be over? As the internet becomes an overcrowded domain space, ICANN’s new generic Top Level Domain (TLD) program is showing signs of an emerging virtual real estate boom—or at least that’s been the story for the last several years.

At the center of all this is .ART, which went live last week. The website,, comes less than a year after the widely-contested Top Level Domain (TLD) went to highest bidder UK Creative Ideas Limited. Judging by the art fair-esque logo and elevator pitch calling itself “the art world’s exclusive domain”, it seems the centralized online entity that is now .ART has truly been exploited by commercial interests.

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What Happens Now That Peter Brant Officially Owns a Big Chunk of the Art Media Landscape?

by Rea McNamara on June 3, 2016
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The concentration of media ownership is never a good thing. Integration leads to anticompetitive behaviour in the marketplace — especially among publications owned by the same parent company. So should the art world be concerned by the recent news that Brant Publications, owned by powerhouse collector Peter Brant, now owns all the assets of Art in America, The Magazine Antiques, Modern Magazine and ARTnews, which joins his flagship, Interview Magazine?

It depends on how you look at it. Brant was already a majority stakeholder, which gave him full control over the companies. In July 2015, as the Observer reported, Brant Publications sold its 100% ownership of Art in America to Artnews S.A., the publicly-traded company based in Warsaw, Poland that owned ARTnews. BMP Media, a Brant subsidiary then purchased a 60% stake in ARTnews for $16.9 million.

So the only difference now is that he owns 100% of the stock. The question then arises: now that ARTnews is under private ownership, how will that impact its coverage moving forward, especially since it’s no longer a publicly-held media entity?

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