The Black and White Ball

If the title of this post was, “A Black and White Ball” you might think: soccer. You’re not too far off the mark, there IS a sports theme here. But as soon as I utter the next two words, you’ll either remember something, or think something is awry:

Truman Capote.

I have loved him ever since “In Cold Blood” and, of course, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. I wish he’d written more. I walked to 70 Willow Street once, not far from where I lived in Brooklyn, to stare at his house, willing his ghost to come to the window.

At the height of his fame he threw a party for Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham. A masquerade ball with the theme of black and white, it was held on November 28th, 1966 – my birthday. I was turning four and definitely NOT invited. Held in the Plaza Hotel in New York City, the party was as famous for its guests as the images that emerged. How often does a single party, serving a single cocktail, enter the American consciousness and remain embedded?

Back to sports.


In sports, many aspects of “maleness” are underpinned by “femaleness”. Some men acknowledge these underpinnings while others eschew them. I find it hard to ignore femininity in a world of spandex, padding, cups, straps, clips and girdles. In and of themselves these design “elements” are “neutral” – materials, shapes, degrees of rigidity, support, protection and wicking. Historically, these neutral design elements have been sexualized when it comes to men thinking about of women. However, it is anathema to most men to think of them as erotic when applied to other males, especially in the locker room. In the gay world all these suspensory elements are celebrated – exploited as “hyper-male”. Many a well-swung gay fantasy has rotated around the fulcrum of a jock strap.

How is it that we fetishize in both positive and negative ways inert elements attached to human bodies? Here, in this piece, the strange attractor of flower, as pansy, draws the inquisitive bee of attraction in, offers its stigma, styles and ovaries. And releases the bee to rejoin its community.

This pansy is comprised of jock strap cups and hockey girdle straps. A pair, in black and white, would look great above your bed. Erotic art that honours the continuum, not just the poles.

“Pansy For Jocks”, 16 x 16″, will be for sale at “The Black and White Ball” at Propeller Gallery, opening Thursday, February 4, 6:30 – 9:30, all works in black and white, and you should be too! A night of masquerade and sports perhaps? Two alternate versions of the piece on sale are shown here:




Competition for the Same Space at the Same Time

Road Kill by Dan Nuttall
Road Kill by Dan Nuttall

As many of you know I am participating in an art show this spring and will be showing my work “Shore Lines” and “Mimesis 1, 2 and 3” which deal with notions of habitat and the ultimate and twinned fate of both human and non-human animals. I must state for the record that I am not per se “anti-zoo” but rather “pro” asserting the type of work that human animals need to do to consider the long term questions about the twinned fate of human and non-human animals – who will get to survive? how much space will be allotted? is domestication the only answer? what losses of culture can be sustained? when the chains become broken how long are the strands and what are their functions?

dandoesdesign deer on couch domesticus
Domesticus by Dan Nuttall

Coincidentally, the art show I mentioned above has an art competition with the theme “Road Trip”. As an artist and someone interested in non-human animals and issues of space and competition I have decided to approach this topic in terms of seeing the road as something that might “trip” up someone or something – like a non-human animal. In essence I will painting something to do with roadkill. At least that’s the intention now – no paint has been smeared just yet.

dan nuttall crying mybeyes oad roadkill squirrel LR
Crying My Eyes Out by Dan Nuttall

Some of you have written to me asking for more background and greater depth about my blog piece and my animal-centric art pieces so:

1. You can read my blog article concerning ways of thinking about space/habitat as a dwindling resource and how the same questions we apply to zoo exhibits may be applied to conservation spaces. More may be found HERE.

2. Coincidentally, I have just been contacted by an organization that I would recommend you check out – called “Wildsight” and more about their work may be found HERE. You can also read about Wildsight on FB HERE.

While my Masters and Doctoral work dealt with the “design of optimal environments for displaced species” and the “sustainable integration of human and non-human animal communities”, Wildsight’s Denise Boehler gets right to the heart of the matter – Ecopsychology and notions of coexistence – completely aligned with my previous academic work AND the art I am doing. As I have often said: “Good design solves multiple challenges simultaneously”. How we design our world can reduce roadkill, conserve habitat, and see art as a vehicle that carries all of us safely down that road.

Please share, like, comment or invite friends to explore both Wildsight and dandoesdesign.


A Snapshot of Canadian Landscape Art


Siwash by Dan Nuttall

Recently I had the pleasure of participating in the The Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition: Tradition Transformed. You can read about the history of this exhibition, now in its 14th year, here.

All the things we see in life, we see in art. However, not all of the things presented in art can be found in life. The impossibleness of some of the work is central to its lucidity – Jane Austen’s “Wave Action” or Carolyn Doucette’s “Great North American Landscapes Vol. 2 #2 (Pender Island, BC)” are fine examples. I am reminded of a quote: ” These things, because they are false, are closer to the truth” Baudelaire, in “Salon of 1859 ” (Paris).

Recording and memory plays a central theme in many of these works. Peter Adams’ “Earth Scars #5: Diavik Diamond Mine” and “On the Road to Lavender” (those clouds!) serve as records – defying everything that has happened since while Jim Hake’s crumpled postcards, and Megan Moore’s digital sleight of hand “September 7th 1940” involve us in fictional nostalgia.

Blood Lake by Dan Nuttall

Sometimes the landscape has disappeared. Other times, it is the art or artist or subject. My own work, “Blood Lake” shown above, and not a part of this show, is a piece that exists only in digital form as I painted over this painting of a few years back. When I painted over it, largely in white, the reds, still wet, seeped into the new image – one set of thoughts bleeding into another. I see the pink and think about the  buried memories, my dead father, the dead moose – things once captured, things now lost.

The Orillia Museum of Art and History has now produced a catalogue for this show, available in electronic form, that allows readers to an overview of contemporary Canadian art, much of it dealing with “landscape”. You can find a link to this e-catalogue HERE.

At the end of the catalogue you can read about the jurors/artists Tanya Cunnington and Bewabon Shilling. Bewabon Schilling is represented by Roberts Gallery in Toronto. Tanya Cunnington is an artist and gallery owner – if you are in Orillia and wish to continue your journey through the woods of Canadian art I think a trip to her gallery “Lee Contempoarary Art” is a must.

Finally, all of these works, when shown, were for sale, and a price list can be found at the back of the e-catalogue. I invite you to locate these artists and their amazing works and to stake a claim on a vision of Canadian-ness.






Brothers in Brown by Dan Nuttall
Brothers in Brown by Dan Nuttall

As a recovering catholic I like the role that subversive art can play in questioning the dogma of the church. Here, the twinning and reversal of one of the images is a simple device that creates two men, identical twins. The title, offers another form of twinning, in the form of double meaning as Brothers (ecclesiastical) or brothers (siblings). The mirroring (used here as a psychological term) can be seen as a form of mimicked behaviour (we imitate the gestures of others during conversation to establish a rapport for example). Such replication may increase intimacy and enhance connection. Certainly many men have connected through the church and their faith however we tend to have their sexual sides overshadow their spiritual. Is there a spiritual or religious tale of two men in love in the context of organized religion?

Somehow, the flipping of the image also created a cat-head vase in a floral headdress in the middle. Is this some accident or could it be the hand of god?

The Artist Project

Shore Lines acrylic on wood panel 4 x 8'
Shore Lines
acrylic on wood panel
4 x 8′

Very excited to be accepted into the 2016 juried contemporary art fair, The Artist Project, in Toronto at the Better Living Centre at the Exhibition Place, on February 18-21. My painting “Shore Lines” will be there and I hope you’ll drop by my booth and say hello. More here.