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If the Old East Village ever needs an official artist-in-residence, painter Tracy Root would be the perfect candidate.
In her most recent works— which will be featured in the show East of Adelaide, beginning Saturday at the Satellite Project Space — such landmarks as the Aeolian Hall, the Palace Theatre and Mystic Bookshop loom large.
“I really am trying to portray the beauty of (the neighbourhood). What I try to get is a contemporary view,” Root said.
Her vision is at odds with the “icky” view some Londoners still have about the area — people who haven’t been witness to its recent rebirth.
Root says she doesn’t know why the stereotypes still linger. “Old East has cleaned up over the past 10-15 years,” she said.
In Root’s painting Mystic, a nude Eve figure is driven from EOA by the serpentine branches of a tree in front of Mystic Bookshop. In Cultural Crossroad, a cyclist and his philosophical dog pause in front of the St. Regis Tavern.
In The King – Palace Theatre, a homeless guitarist strums his instrument out front of the Palace Theatre. According to Root, she wanted to showcase the dichotomy between the venerable performance space and the “really scruffy fellow” on the street.
Most of the pieces in the show are four-feet square. There are also some smaller paintings that visitors to the official opening on Saturday will see. She has been working for a year to prepare the exhibition, with some paintings taking as long as 60 hours to complete.
But why painting? Why is that the right platform for Root’s talents?
“It’s the only way I know how to express my self. That’s how I can express myself. I’m not good verbally. I’m not good (at) writing,” the artist explained.
“A painting of mine will tell you a story,” she continued. “I have a pretty unique style. What I try to get (across) is my perspective.”
In a statement, the gallery said her work is “A contemporary and intimate look at the evolving urban landscape and sociological changes spurring on the development of the Old East Village in London.”
She has maintained a studio there for 20 years.
And who is buying her paintings, which go for anywhere between $700 to $3,000-$4,000?
“The people that buy my work tend to be versed in contemporary fine art,” she said, including landscape and streetscape collectors.
At the heart of her work, she adds, is an emotional centre. “It is a feeling. I’m very empathic. I’m really empathic towards people and how things affect them,” she said.
She also sells her pieces at a gallery in Tobermory, as well as London’s Art With Panache. At the Satellite show, Root is going to try to do her part to push her message about the Old East Village. “I’m going to try to promote the businesses down there, too,” she said.
IF YOU GO
What: East of Adelaide, an art exhibition by painter Tracy Root
When: Official opening reception Saturday, 7 p.m.; show continues until Sept. 15
Where: Satellite Project Space, 121 Dundas St.
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