Mississauga Life — Early Spring 2015
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Artists In The House
Trish Dugan

The resident artists of the Living Arts Centre.

Just a few years ago, if you searched online for “modern rustic furniture,” a style that combines reclaimed wood from barns and fallen trees with bases and finishes using contemporary materials, Matthew Agostinis Design topped the results. His custom-made designs helped popularize the trend, and commercial furniture producers quickly took over. What was once a unique art form is now common thanks to mass production. This is an inherent risk of his craft—you cannot claim exclusive rights to a look or trend.

“My other commissions keep me busy all week, plus I teach two nights a week, so I have no complaints,” Agostinis says. “I’m often contracted to provide designs for condo presentation centres. I also create pieces for the lobbies and other common areas of these centres. Right now, I’m working on 1 Yorkville and Ocean Club.”

He’s also in demand with interior designers. They value his ability to refine their concepts to increase aesthetic value and functionality. Typical projects include built-in display cases and home entertainment centres as well as accent pieces like custom fireplace mantels.

You can see and touch Agostinis’s work at the LAC gift shop and in condo presentation centres. At the front entrance of the Dark Horse Café on Spadina Avenue in Toronto you’ll find Twisted Sitter, a bench he created from Ontario spruce with fellow artist Joel Harrison-Off, for the Gladstone Hotel’s 2009 Come Up to My Room exhibition. The piece features a twist in the centre that divides the seating while simultaneously creating visual interest.

With an impressive list of clients that includes McMaster University Medicine, The Cumis Group Ltd., and the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction, Kelly Lowe is rapidly becoming the go-to artist for awards and corporate gifts from Mississauga to Hamilton.

A Sheridan alumna, Lowe carved her niche in awards and corporate gifts following seven years as an assistant to Shirley Elford, the creator and producer of the Juno Award. Elford passed away in 2011, and was a close friend and mentor to Lowe. Lowe agrees that Elford’s death and that of her dearly beloved grandmother were influences on her project for the Living Arts Centre’s March–April 2015 resident artist exhibition, Shelf Life. With this work, a cylinder of glass with an etched obituary, Lowe seeks to commemorate those who have passed using words and light—as only glass can do.

As a successful self-supporting artist, Lowe credits her business sense to her family. Her father is a business owner, and her grandfather and great-uncle owned and operated Patterson’s Furniture on Ottawa Street North in Hamilton.

“I think it’s helped me in so many ways,” says Lowe. “I know I have no one else to rely on but myself. I know my income will not always be predictable, so I’ve learned to plan for that. Most importantly, I know how to meet corporate goals with creativity.”

Resident artist works are available for commission or purchase through the Living Arts Centre gift shop. For more information, visit livingartscentre.ca. You can see Matthew Agostinis’s work at agostinisdesigns.com and Kelly Lowe’s work at kellyloweglass.com.

Trish Dugan is a Port Credit freelance writer and marketing communications consultant.