Written by Lorette C. Luzajic
"Dana’s Damned Dollies"
Another art party at Shampoo Hair is always cause for celebration. Of course it’s super cool when a resident hottie fetches your beer from an ice-filled shampooing sink. It’s even cooler to gaze around at hipsters in their inspired vintage outfits, no doubt killer mixing pieces from Kensington’s clothes bounty. But coolest of all, the creative community comes together casually to enjoy one another’s company and to look at and talk about art in a relaxed manner without pretension. These are art shows for real people who want to have a good time, not be bored to death and worried about saying the wrong thing. The flavour recalls the good old days when the Idea Museum created gallery spaces by exhibiting hot local artists in Cabbagetown apartments, inviting a DJ, and leaving the hoity-toity scenesters in the pages of Toronto Life where they belonged. Whatever happened to that Brat Pack?
This time, Jessica Whitbread double duties as both the brains and the beauty behind the Shampoo series, merging her curatorial acumen with her natural flare for a party, and voila, the results are Awfully Gorgeous. Montreal artist Dana De Kuyper is the creator of these Damned Dollies, strangely festive little poppets that make the macabre cute and cuddly. You might recognize Dana’s dollies from the pages of Strut, Bust, or Elle Quebec, but don’t miss them while they’re on display for the next few weeks at Shampoo, 32 St. Andrew Street, Toronto. They’re so affordable that you can pick up a handful, and the varying characters will absolutely remind you of specific personalities or friends.
Recent years have seen a revival in doll making, with a kind of gothic bent. Year before last, Ugly Dolls, those impossibly sweet plush toys that flew from the shelves, won Toy of the Year Award. Those string-a-long monster doll key chains dangle from every cell phone and key ring in sight. As a toy lover, this is all great and dandy, but Dana’s pieces feel like real characters because they are one-of-a-kind, stitched and bitched by her inventive hand into unique being.
Those cranky sour types I don’t like might ask what kind of importance the art of weird dolls could possibly bring to the table. But those who know the meaning of life would say make play, not war.
Visit Dana: www.damneddollies.com
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