Gary Starks

21 August 1983
Opening Reception 21 August 1983 8pm

West Gallery:

The Perils of Taking Things Personally and a Catalogue of Unused Space: Two Picture Books

This exhibition is entitled The Perils of Taking Things Personally and a Catalogue of Unused Space: Two Picture Books. Five copies of each book will lay on a table with twenty-six additional pages from the books framed on the walls.

My intention regarding this show and my work in general since 1976 has been to make logically sound structures of words and pictures (usually photographs) that can be interpreted in a number of different ways such as confessionally, socially, art historically, visually, logically, moralistically or humorously.

– Gary Starks

The Gallery Time Forgot
Christopher Hume
Toronto Star, August 1983

Mercer Union’s descent into irrelevance has been delayed.

As long as Gary Starks “picture book,” The Perils Of Taking Things Personally, remains on display, viewers will actually have a good reason to visit Toronto’s most recent art fossil. The gallery time forgot is the last place you’d go looking for something as novel as Starks’ literary antics. Not that they are a great moment in the history of western art, or anything like it, but the deadpan quality with which Starks tells his tales gives them a poignancy that underlines his very; tender insights. The approach works best when applied to childhood, episodes.

Each page combines a seemingly unrelated photograph and text. No page has more than two lines, no story lasts longer than eight or so pages. Random objects accumulate in the photographs one by one. They include things like broken bottles, a crushed milk carton, discarded shoes – the kind of junk that can be seen everywhere around us.

The relationship between the visual and the written is unclear at best. Perhaps it was this debris – and the playgrounds, schoolyards and other places it gathers – that triggered the thoughts and memories the artist writes about.

Starks’ other picture book, A Catalogue Of Unused Space, would have been better left that way.