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Artist’s Urban Graffiti welcomed inside Vaughan City Hall

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Suzanne Metz

Artist Suzanne Metz is celebrating a career milestone. The Thornhill, Ont.-based artist has a one-woman art show now running at the SLATE Atrium Gallery in Vaughan City Hall.

Titled Urban Graffiti, the show is an exhibition of abstract canvases in bold colours with graphic detail, as well as text with enigmatic messages.

While the paintings were hung last month, the community is invited to meet Metz at the official opening of her show from 7 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 12.

Her paintings will be on display until Nov. 10.

Graffiti is often seen as a controversial art form because of its association with vandalism. However, in a recent interview, Metz said she views graffiti as “raw and socially conscious” public art that can energize and inspire viewers.

The South African-born Metz is a classically trained visual artist and art teacher. “For most of my life I drew from live models. That’s what I teach.”

Her foray into abstract art is a recent development, she said. “About six years ago, I needed to express myself by writing my thoughts and feelings.”

This expression evolved into a form of graffiti, she explained. “The graffiti is not on walls, but on paper.

“It’s my way of expressing how I feel and how I see things. The graffiti is a dynamic vehicle to express myself in a symbolic way … I don’t know how long it will last.”

Metz, the mother of three daughters and grandmother of four, immigrated to Canada in 1986, settling in Thornhill, like many other South Africans.

“I’d never been to Toronto before. I came here blind. Toronto has been an amazing city. The four very different seasons are very inspiring.

“In South Africa we are spoiled with perfect weather all year round.”

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Metz graduated with a fine arts degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Since then she has been very much in demand as an art teacher, saying her classes are all full.

Though she has run private classes, she has also been teaching for 17 years at Reena, a non-profit organization that supports people with developmental disabilities, as well as the Schwartz/Reisman and Prosserman Jewish community centres.

Metz’s art has been featured at group and solo shows. Her work was exhibited multiple times at public shows like Toronto’s Art Expo, the Artist Project and Artscape Wychwood Barns, in addition to the New York Art Expo, as well as numerous private galleries.

Her work now makes its home all over Toronto. “I’ve sold dozens of pictures via galleries all over the (Greater Toronto Area),” she said. “The Denison Gallery on Wingold Avenue carries my work. I’m in a lot of corporate offices.”

Metz said she’s grateful for the support she has received from Vaughan’s art curator, Sharon Gaum-Kuchar, calling her “incredible.”

Metz won an award for her work at a juried art show in 2015, and after winning a second award in 2016, she said Gaum-Kuchar approached her about doing a one-woman show at Vaughan City Hall.

At the time, Metz only had two finished pieces and a few panels. “The rest is all new. I created nine new pieces for the show.

“It’s a big honour to be asked to do a solo show,” Metz said. “I’ve been doing art work for a long time. I have a huge body of work that I’m really proud of.

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