Writer: Thalicia Pennant, Special to The Scene inTO

The weather outside was bitter cold but the scene inside the Art Square Gallery and Café at 334 Dundas Street West was nothing less than hot. I stamped the snow off my boots and headed inside for Part One of a two-week long exhibit featuring the works of artists Norman Anthony Smith and Omar “Oms” Hopkinson.

Opening nights are always exciting but this one was especially so. This was Mr. Smith’s debut gallery showing since making the decision to leave his full time corporate job and devote himself completely to the pursuit of his art.

The crowd was a mixed bag of downtown hipsters and devoted followers, but the response to the collection was overwhelmingly consistent: impressive excitement.

DJ Knyce spun cool house tunes while champagne and strawberries added to the air of festivity that swirled around the boutique gallery.

The presentation included a mix of oil on canvas and black and white prints. The paintings felt like a visual reflection of the month of January. Subtle landscapes in wispy shades of grey that faded and swirled into clouds of white made me think of trekking along University Avenue with nothing but snow at my feet and concrete buildings on either side, the wind howling all around.

While University Avenue is hardly a rural landscape, the paintings had a way of inviting the mind to imagine something else. The piece Mood was like gazing out a window after a cold night’s storm swept past.

The “Winter Series” collection, along with all of the canvas paintings, had strong winter themes  but what I appreciated was the feelings they invoked—they led my mind to think of both the harshness and the romance of winter. The works were almost haunting in their ability to quietly draw you in to the story they were telling.

The artist Norman’s talents are not just limited to the brush and canvas. Guests were also treated to the gift of his keen photographer’s eye.

The black and white photos of various spots in and around Manhattan were classic yet edgy in their ability to capture, in just a few snapshots, the energy of what is arguably one of the most exciting cities in the world. They ranged from close-ups like 40/40  and 38th and Broadway, to wide-shots of bustling New York city street corners.

The exhibit will continue until Monday January 31st, after which Omar Hopkinson will unveil his collection of works in Part Two of “Progression:  Love, Life and Everything In Between”.

For more information about the artist or this show please go to http://www.normananthonysmith.com/ or http://www.nohoinc.com/

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