Frances Patella – Hot Properties: We’ve been here before

Now Under, digital chromogenic print on hahnemuhle paper, 9 x 13.75 in.

Propeller Art Gallery is pleased to present the solo exhibition of Frances Patella, Hot Properties: We’ve been here before

May 31 – June 18, 2023
Opening Reception: Saturday June 3, 2-5 pm
Artist Talk: June 18, 3-4 pm
Artist will be in attendance on Saturdays and Sundays during the exhibition or by appointment.

Exhibition Statement:

In her new series, Hot Properties: We’ve been here before, Frances Patella is revisiting a title she used in a solo exhibition in 2014 at Propeller. Russia had just invaded Crimea. The Toronto real estate market was “hot”.

Inspired by an OSA trip to Temagami and Kirkland Lake in Northern Ontario, Frances began to add elements of the ecosystem in her paintings and photographs. These new works include sculptural elements, like burnt wood from the High Park controlled burns. Her mixed media, photo-based work explores time, transience and transformation. Patella uses photographs to represent an ecosystem over time, incorporating acrylic paint and analog photography, including double exposures.

Frances is interested in showing change over time by photographing specific places over days, weeks or years later. She saves film shot during one burn event to reshoot under different conditions or perspectives. Her process violates classic rules of photography and she exploits these infringements to create with and confirm the transformation process.

During her childhood in Italy and during repeated visits, Frances’ interest was sparked by prescribed fires, ruins and the black volcanic lava left behind in fields after an eruption. Fire was and is used in many countries to clear fields, control invasive species and to smoke out your enemies in time of war.

Closer to home, The City of Toronto conducts prescribed burns in selected parks to regenerate the rare Oak Savannahs. The urban nature of the Golden Horseshoe has squeezed these ecosystems into specially designated areas, including High Park in Toronto. Fire is integral, as it stimulates the germination of savannah species and controls invasive ones. During the burn events, the savannahs are transformed into ephemeral places by fire and smoke.

Planes and tank, mixed media on paper on wood panel, 9 x 12 inches

About the Artist:

Frances Patella was born in in Southern Italy in the land midway between the volcanoes of Mt. Etna and Vesuvius. She now resides in Toronto. Her work has been exhibited in Canada and the U.S. and has received numerous grants for Artists In Education and Mid-Career from the Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils. Her work has won Best In Show and Purchase Awards at the City of Vaughan Juried Exhibitions. Frances’ work was also in films, like “Don’t Say A Word”, featuring Michael Douglas and the TV series Schitt’s Creek. Her work is in private and public collections, including the Ontario Archives, and is reproduced on magazine and CD covers. Frances holds a BFA from York University, a B.ED. from the University of Toronto and studied Visual Arts and French at the University of Western Ontario. Frances also studied drawing and art history in Florence, Italy. She is a Member of the Ontario Society of Artists, and a long-time member of Propeller Art Gallery as well as former Chair. Frances taught visual arts and analog photography in the TDSB, Cyanotype workshops in schools throughout Southern Ontario, for the Photo Educators Forum in Toronto and the National Gallery of Photography in Ottawa. Frances was also a long-time Member of the Board, and Chair of Jury and Judges for the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair. She was Joyce Wieland’s Arts Administrator, apprenticed with multi-media artist Noel Harding and studied with Paterson Ewan. Frances continues to be very active in the Toronto arts community. She has exhibited in Toronto, New York, Brooklyn, Connecticut, and throughout Ontario, in public and private galleries, art fairs, university galleries, commercial and artist-run galleries.

Frances Patella’s work may be seen online at:

Heard on Propeller’s Beyond the Frame Podcast – Episode #22:

Instagram @francespatella
Facebook @frances.patella


Visiting Propeller

Propeller is on Abell Street, located one block south of Queen Street West between Dovercourt Road and Gladstone Avenue. Abell Street is accessible from Queen Street and is one way through to Sudbury. Metered parking is available on Abell and Lisgar Streets. There is also above and underground parking (Green P) opposite the gallery off Abell or Lisgar.

Propeller’s 27 Year History: 1996 – 2023

Propeller Gallery’s mission is “artists empowering artists”. Established as a non-profit organization in 1996, Propeller is an artist-run centre in the heart of Toronto’s Queen West Gallery district, dedicated to promoting contemporary Canadian artists. Propeller Gallery has a strong foundation in its community of members and long-time supporters. Since its conception in 1996, Propeller has moved locations twice without losing its artist-run focus. Propeller is proud to have put on roughly 580 exhibitions since its beginning, founded by a group of students from the Ontario College of Art and Design (now OCAD University).

Current accessibility – if you are unable to use the Propeller main entrance, please enter the Artscape main lobby at 38 Abell St. and follow the following procedure:
1. Scroll down on the listing keypad screen to “Propeller”
2. Push the “green” phone button; the inside door will open.
3. Propeller will answer the call.
4. Propeller’s side door is located to the left of the lobby. Staff will open the side door and greet you.

For more information contact:
Tom Taylor, Director

Propeller Art Gallery
30 Abell Street, Toronto, ON M6J 0A9
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 1pm – 5:30 pm, or by appointment
Facebook @propellerartgallery
Instagram @propellerartgallery