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Mountain and/or Other Gods, detail, 2008.

Top of the World, 2005-2007.

Columbus, detail, 2006-2008.

The Night Watchman, detail, 2006-2008.

Blown His Stack, 2005-2008.

Peter Smith: You May Find Yourself
March 3 - April 14, 2010

Curated by Ann MacDonald
Organized by the Doris McCarthy Gallery in partnership with the Robert McLaughlin Gallery

Opening Reception
Wednesday, March 3, 5 - 8 pm
Free shuttle bus to DMG departs 401 Richmond St. W. at 5:30 pm, returning at 8 pm

In Peter Smith’s works, a universe inhales and exhales; domino dots and the heads of screws glisten like stars while oil-painted cars on clogged expressways carry passengers to unknown destinations. His assemblages unite throwaway culture with aspirations for comprehension, and rather than proposing a mastery of lived chaos, generate a demonstrated curiosity that compels creativity. The works offer a fresh look at the distillation of the urban experience. With an approach to life similar to that of poet Pablo Neruda, Peter Smith’s works are an ode to the everyday. He brings attention to pleasure with his bold use of colour and his representation of reality that rejoices in its bluntness and its beingness. Smith is able to coalesce the bombardment of urban commotion and dollar store detritus into intricate harmonies that engage the eye, heart and mind—compulsively, yet gently enticing the viewer to recognize affinities in the midst of chaos, and that the headlights of cars may be enjoyed on the same plane as a multitude of stars in the sky.

You May Find Yourself is comprised primarily of wall assemblages, sculptures, and large-scale prints. The exhibition also includes a video component—set up as unassuming vignettes, Peter describes his experience with mental illness. With a calm composure that belies his compulsive assemblages, he appears bemused by his experiences and is candid in his sharing. These videos are poignant, gentle in tone and subtly humourous. Consistent with his assemblages and prints, they present yet another facet to the diversity of understandings with which viewers may approach the world.


Peter Smith (b. Toronto, 1959 – 2009) first received art lessons in lieu of rent from an artist who lived above his father’s store. Smith was introduced to contemporary art through his studies at the Ontario College of Art and while working as a preparator at the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation in Toronto. Characteristically, he crowds his canvases with information, trying to convey the simple act of simultaneously reading the paper and watching the television as an experience of accelerated time, enabling volumes of information and events to conflate in the past, present and future. In 2004, Peter Smith was awarded Second Prize in Ernst and Young’s Great Canadian Printmaking Competition. Peter Smith is represented by Birch Libralato, Toronto, and his work is in major collections including Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt, and the City of Toronto.


Film Screening and Lecture by Chris Landreth
Monday, March 8, 7:15 - 8:45 pm
The Academy Award-winning filmmaker will discuss his work and screen animated short films Ryan and The Spine.

Revelations: Artist Talks by Peter Mulcair, Jordan Stone, Joey DAMMIT! and Henry Banger Benvenuti
Tuesday, March 9, 11 am - 12:30 pm

Four Workman Arts members will share their experience building careers as artists while struggling with mental illness or addiction.
Free shuttle bus to DMG departs Workman Arts (651 Dufferin St.) at 9:45 am, returning at 1 pm.

Understanding pictures in vision and touch: Lines, perspectives and metaphors from cave art to the present
Tuesday, March 16, 12 - 1 pm

Lecture by Professor John Kennedy

Curator’s Talk
Thursday, March 25, 1 - 1:30 pm

Contemporary Art Bus Tour
Sunday, April 11, 12 - 5 pm

Starting at 12 noon with a tour of the OCAD Professional Gallery (100 McCaul St.), free bus departs for the Art Gallery of York University and Doris McCarthy Gallery. To reserve a seat, please contact the AGYU at 416.736.2100 ext. 44021 or scarte@yorku.ca.