Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Inuit Artist: Kannanginak Pootoogook Receives Aboriginal Achievement Award

Arctic Seals by Kannanginak Pootoogook

Inuit artist Kannanginak Pootoogook was honoured among this year's recipients of the 17th annual National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in Regina on Friday.

Pootoogook is the son of Joseph Pootoogook — one of the founders of Cape Dorset artist colony. He is a painter, engraver and lithographer, particularly of wildlife art. His work documents the Inuit way of life, the land and the environment.

Please see the CBC website from which this information was extracted. Link here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Meet Robert Landau, the Man Who Stood Up for Art

Robert Landau stood up for the integrity of art and artists when his gallery in Montreal, did their homework and discovered that they had in their possession Robert Klee's stolen work, Portrait in the Garden.

Here we find Robert being interviewed on Russian Art Media, TV. Its a good interview, and well worthy of the ten minutes or so it takes to view. Robert engages in a reflective, thoughtful, examination of his attitudes and opinions on art.

This is how the Landau Fine Arts website describes the interview:

"In this interview, filmed at TEFAF art fair in March 2009 Robert Landau talks about his family, encounters with Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, financial crysis and what it means for the art market. He also advises young collectors on where and how to start."

Its yours to view and enjoy. Please click here.

Robert's picture and interview description were extracted from the Landau Fine Arts, website.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Winners of the 2010, Governor General's Canadian Visual Arts Awards

2010 Governor General’s Awards in the Visual and Media Arts winners (from left) Claude Tousignant, Ione Thorkelsson, Rita Letendre, Gabor Szilasi, Tom Sherman, Terry Ryan, Robert Davidson and André Forcier / photo Martin Lipman

Extracted from Canadianart online

On March 9 the winners of the 2010 awards were announced in Montreal: sculptor Robert Davidson, filmmaker André Forcier, photographer Gabor Szilasi, new media artist Tom Sherman and painters Rita Letendre and Claude Tousignant are joined by glass sculptor Ione Thorkelsson, who takes home the Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in fine crafts, and art dealer Terry Ryan, who is noted for his longtime support of Inuit art (in particular the artists of Cape Dorset, Nunavut).

Please click here to be taken to the Canadianart website site.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Artist's mind at work - the art of Tony Batten - from Watercolor Magic Magazine

While painting Market Day, Yeni Cami,Istanbul (watercolour 30x40) Anthony J. Batten's goal was more then a faithful reproduction of the scene before him. He wanted to capture the history and spirit of the nearly 400 year old Yeni Cami Mosque and its attached Royal Pavilion. He did this in part by taking liberties like combining "local elements that wouldn't usually be seen together."

For example, he moved the large alabastar vase from an adjacent park, and in an even bolder gesture, he actually replaced the scene's orginally boring foreground with a bustling, lively crowd. "While I chose to focus on the side elevation of the building, with most of the people near the front - well out of my viewe," he says. "My actual view was a vast parking space. So I moved the dusty busses out and moved the people in."

Working from photographs and slides he started with a complex drawing, and then erased down to the "essential structure", once he knew where he was going with the piece. He then turned to the shadow areas, working out the dominant lines and masses. At the same time he was careful to work around light areas. In this painting Batten deliberately directed the movement of most of his foreground occupants toward the structure - "a subtle reminder that the architecture and the light and shade are the focus of the work." he said.

extract from: Watercolour Magic, page 75, Winter 1998 edition.
The painting above and others can be seen on Tony's website gallery. Please click here to be taken to his site.

Friday, March 26, 2010

How do You Hide a White Elephant? subtitled: How do you sell a stolen Paul Klee painting?


Painting valued at $100K US stolen from New York gallery in 1989
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 | 3:10 PM ET Comments3Recommend10
CBC News
A Montreal gallery owner is being praised by authorities for helping secure the return of a Paul Klee painting snatched two decades ago.

Agents for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have recovered the painting Portrait in the Garden, which was stolen from a New York art gallery in 1989.

Valued at about $100,000 US, the 1930 oil painting depicts a woman surrounded by flowers.

"The recovery of this painting sends a strong message to thieves that people in the art community are on the look out for stolen art," ICE special agent James T. Hayes, Jr. said in statement released Wednesday.

'We wish that every dealer were like the Landau Fine Arts Gallery and that they searched before they bought everything.'
—Christopher Marinello, Art Loss Register
Robert Landau, owner of Montreal's Landau Fine Art, alerted authorities about the stolen artwork after he was approached at Miami's Art Basel contemporary art fair in December by a man looking to sell the painting. He claimed to be an art dealer from Florida.

After Landau told the man he couldn't verify the authenticity of the work on the spot, the dealer sent it to Montreal, with the understanding that the Canadian gallery owner would purchase it after closer evaluation.

"Once we found out it was stolen, we called Homeland Security in Washington," Landau said. "We don't deal in stolen art."

The investigation is ongoing. The U.S. authorities who recovered the piece have since handed it over to the international organization Art Loss Register, which maintains a vast database of details about stolen fine art.

"He was very honourable," Art Loss Register's executive director, Christopher Marinello, said of Landau.

"We wish that every dealer were like the Landau Gallery and that they searched before they bought everything."

Portrait in the Garden was originally stolen from New York's Marlborough Gallery, which received a claim by its insurer, Lloyd's of London, following the theft.

The Art Loss Register, the work's current owner/broker, will auction the painting at a forthcoming sale with Christie's in New York.

Klee was a Swiss-born painter and graphic artist whose work was influenced by several art movements of his time, such as cubism, expressionism and surrealism, as well as music and the natural world. He died in 1940.

Extracted from the CBC website:
to view the CBC newspage please click here

Background reference: Wikipedia, click here.

Reference: See also Robert Landau Fine Arts Gallery, Montreal. Click here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Art of Ron Morrisson

Ron playfully calls this 'Landscraping'. I'm not entirely certain whether Ron is calling this painting by that name, or if it isn't his play on painting style.
Not that it matters much, for this delightful work, bears the stylistic imprint of Ron's craft. And that's what catches my eye.

Casual observers of Ron's work frequently fail to get beyond a jarring reaction to Ron's bold colours and dynamic interplay of values. But, when you turn the page of his painting and read further you discover that his works are masterfully unified: sky, water, earth, trees, buildings grass - all weave and flow together in a marvellous symmetry of colour.

Take a long hard look at the colours which Ron uses in his distant mountain range. Check out the way his water and colour flows to unify the elements of his painting. . And then, when you see his strong contrast in values from the very bright blue background range to the heavier, dark, shadowy foreground mountain - you begin to see Rons' creative magic at work.

Please click here to be linked to Ron's blog to see his many other works.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

CBC Radio Archives: 'The Vision of Alex Colville'. "Realism is more real than reality"

Some of the areas of discussion

*Photography and its limitations
*The myth of the artist's personal self image
*The influence of war on Alex Colville as a young war artist
*Opinions on abstract art

CBC Radio interview: Broadcast Date: Dec. 15, 1973
Please click here to listen to the interview.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Part 3 - Conclusion to Paul Dorsey's article on Barker Fairley from 'The Dali House'.

Articles were being written about him in magazines and major dailies, and the CBC carried a feature about him, but still, Sommer recalls, “no good Toronto dealer showed the slightest interest in his work”.

In 1977, though, Sommer piqued the interest of Toronto gallery owner Marianne Friedland and she drove the 40 miles to Georgetown to see Fairley’s latest exhibition there. Impressed, she not only arranged a show at her gallery for that December, she used her “clever sales expertise” to turn it into “an extraordinary success”.
Sommer provides an excellent summation of Fairley’s work.

“How important was Barker as a painter? I have never been able to decide if he was a painter (that is, a human being who lives with his eyes) or if he was an intelligent man with strong opinions about art who became a painter because he disapproved of the direction painting was taking.

“Barker fervently argued that abstract painting was wallpaper. This is nonsense, of course. For my generation abstract painting has been the great eye-opener. All of my most profound visual experiences have been in front of paintings by Kandinsky and Mondrian and Pollock and Motherwell. We can’t all have been in a trance or under the influence of brainwashing.

“It turned almost into a bit of a riot when eager purchasers ordered paintings before the show, with the result that all the paintings were sold before the gallery opened its door … Landscapes that had sold for $250 at our gallery (not exactly peanuts in the early 1970s) sold for $450 and more, and a year later, at his second exhibition at Marianne Friedland’s gallery, his small landscapes sold for $1,000 and more.

“It was a neat triumph of marketing and a happy, long-for vindication for Barker.”

Somewhat less happy was Sommer, who had to sit back as Friedland claimed all the credit for “discovering” Barker Fairley.

“‘The artist who became famous at 90′ was the tenor of all write-ups from then on, and he became, in the last years of his life, a living legend, an oddity.

“He did not like it. That he was finally accepted as a painter, that he enjoyed, and the money he did not mind either. But that his long painting career, from the ’30s to the ’80s, was sacrificed for the sake of a marketing slogan irked him no end.”

“Barker Fairley always said that he never gave a thought to painting until he met JEH MacDonald. He liked the man, and accordingly he liked what he painted. In that way Barker was led to art and soon became a spokesman for the whole Group.

“The truth is that he knew little about abstract painting because he hardly looked at it. Besides the Group of Seven and ’30s painters like Comfort and Schaefer, he knew few painters … Barker’s way of painting was so singular that no further development nor elaboration was possible …

“Barker Fairley was a product of the enlightenment. His ’sanity’ was the most striking thing about him. He had trained his mind on Goethe, the most sane of all the German writers … Barker’s objection was that abstract anything is ‘irrational’ … There it was, the accusation Goethe had hurled at Heinrich von Kleist when the writer had sent him his play ‘Penthesilea’. The olympian attitude is impressive, of course, but it denies an awful lot of our humanity, far too much to be comfortable with …

“He was active until he was almost a hundred years old. His ambition was to reach this magic number, but in the end he did not quite make it. I remember that he suddenly got old and frail.

“The last time I saw him, only a few short months before he died, I took him out in his wheelchair. He had hung a few of his paintings on the walls of the shop where he and Nan bought their bread. He wanted me to see the place and I pushed him up to Harbord Street and into the shop. On the way he confessed that he was tired of life.”

Fairley and his second wife Nan had a summer house here. He painted hundreds of canvases in the area.


His first wife, Margaret, died in 1967 or ‘68. She’d been dean of women at the University of Alberta, where she met Fairley but she gave up the position when they married in 1913 and moved to Toronto. Two decades later they returned to England and Margaret became active with a Marxist group.

Back in Canada by 1936, she joined the Communist Party, and later she compiled a socialist literary anthology called “The Spirit of Canadian Democracy”.

In 1949 Barker was invited to several American and British universities to speak at commemorations of Goethe’s birth bicentenary. While he was at Columbia University as a visiting professor that March, Margaret joined him in New York for the Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace being held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

The conference was organised by the left-wing National Council of Arts, Sciences and Professions and backed by Thomas Mann, Aaron Copland and Albert Einstein, but many saw it as some sort of Soviet invasion.

Secretary of State Dean Acheson called the Waldorf Conference “a sounding board for communist propaganda” and Washington denied visas to several prominent leftist foreigners. New York newspapers ran stories on commie subversion.

New York University philosopher Sidney Hook, who’d been rejected as a guest lecturer, set up a counter-conference that focused on freedom of expression. His people rallied at Madison Square Garden and then thousands of anti-communist protesters swarmed outside the Waldorf.

Inside, the opening banquet had just begun when Margaret was told there was a telephone call for her. She and Barker left their table, walked out of the hall and were seized by Immigration Service officials. They were led away, newspaper photographers grabbing the moment, and interrogated for an hour.

Fairley’s 1982 portrait of his second wife, Nan.

Barker was released, but Margaret was told to leave the US or face arrest as a threat to national security, and she boarded a train home.

The Fairleys were front-page news the next day — “actual communists” nabbed in New York.

Barker was allowed to complete his term at Columbia but, probably because he was vice president of the Canadian Council of American-Soviet Friendship, was subsequently refused admission to the US, raising the ire of university officials including its then-president Dwight Eisenhower.

Lester Pearson, Canada’s future prime minister, was in 1949 the minister of external affairs, and he ordered an investigation into the handling of Canadian citizens but stopped short of issuing any protest to Washington. He ultimately endorsed America’s “legitimate desire to strengthen its border regulations in order to hinder the tourist and convention activities of communist agents”.

The ban against Barker Fairley was permanent, but late in life he slipped across the border at Lewiston, as he said, “just for kicks”.

The “Incident” is a symopsis of an article by David Kimmel for the University of Toronto Bulletin.

The images of Fairley’s paintings in this post come from the website of Toronto’s Ingram Gallery, which now handles his work, from, and, with thanks to John Sommer, from the book “Barker Fairley: Portraits” (Methuen, 1981).

Apologies to Paul for a little FA editing and omitting the Google Earth maps showing Barker Fairley's home and cottage.

End of Article: From Paul Dorsey's, "House of Dali" blog. Please click here to link to his site.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Late, Toni Onley 1928-2004

t.onley: orchard

portrait photo source:
painting source:

Toni Onley was born in the capital of Douglas on the Isle of Man. His father had been an actor and as a youth he studied at the Douglas School of Fine Arts

Toni was trained as a watercolourist and was influenced by the subdued style of English watercolour painters.

Toni emigrated to Canada and lived in Brantford and he quickly established a reputation for himself as a premier artist. Toni moved west to Penticton, and he spent time studying art in Mexico.

After returning to Canada, Toni reputedly became Canada's premier watercolourist. So much so that he is the one of the only watercolour artists to have made his living exclusively from painting. (Readers' comments invited)

His style is noted for his love of subdued, tones. Toni was intriqued by eastern religous philosophy and he came to paint with large Chinese brushes and there is a gentle, almost eastern blurring of strong definition in many of his paintings.

Toni was known as a keen spokesperson for the rights of artists, when he publicly staged a demonstration of burning his paintings, when the goverment considered taxing art.

Toni's paintings sold for top dollar and he enjoyed a tremendous reputation, particularly on the west coast of Canada.

When Toni commented to Prime Minister Trudeau, at a social event, that he would have loved to have been able to have gone to the Arctic to paint, he was granted a place on a Canadian ship as a passenger, and he painted his way northwards.

A television documentary on Onley reported that the crew asked Onley about why his icebergs looked the way they did and didn't look the same when they looked at them. Tony said that it was a matter of perspective and he suggested that they look at them "upside down".

The captain called Toni to the bridge a few days later said to him, "Toni I don't mind seeing you paint, but my crew is walking around all the time with their heads under their **** looking at icebergs instead of working."

Toni loved to fly, and was known as 'The Flying Artist'. He would take off along the coast of British Columbia and fly into interior lakes which were all but inacessible to most artists. The fact that Tony could afford his own private plane, gives some indication about the kind of economic status that painting provided him with.

Toni's life ended in a tragic air crash.
Toni became an officer of the Order of Canada in 1999.

Please click here to be linked to the Toni Onley website

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Another Posting on Freight Train Graffiti - this time a You Tube Video

This is a Senses Lost film made up of a few photos of some Canadian freight trains. Music by Filthy Varmint. Enjoy. This work was produced by Click here to check out their website for more graffiti pictures, news and interviews.

To prevent a conflict in audio sounds, you are encouraged to scroll down to the bottom of the blog and to turn off the playlist.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ottawa Art Association 2009 Awards. Other Media

From Left:

Kerstin Peters, 1st Place for "His Majesty Ringo I"
Joanne Beaubien, Honorable Mention for "Reunion"
Hilde Lambrechts, 3rd Place for "Art and Science"
Absent, Barbara Tindale, 2nd Place for "Picnic"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Talk about Motion: Pine Wrack by Arthur Lismer

This painting reveals a natural world, which as Tennyson once wrote, was "red in tooth in claw". The tangled roots look like the wrack of horns on an elk. And like the horn wrack, the tangle of roots helps this tree to survive, and to hang on against great odds.

Why does that line of red vegetation along the cliff, below the tree, make me think of a bloody red mouth?

The ruggedness of the terrain and the windblown stormy sky is the antitheses of the romanticized idyllic paintings of Canada painted by earlier 19th century artists.

We're deep into the new Survival Canadian mythos in this work. No more family compactism no more Bishop Straughans or Whitby Lady's Colleges, or lawn bowling or lawn crochet parties on a summer Sunday afternoon.

Arthur Lismer, 1933
Pine Wrack
National Gallery of Canada

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cartoon Artist, Ben Wicks' Collection in York U. Archives

The family of the late satirical comic artist, Ben Wicks, donated over 2,500 of his work to York University. Ben died 10 years ago, and is remembered for his appearances on television and for his work in newspapers. Wicks was noted for his lightning drawing skills. According to, the issue was clouded for a time by a legal dispute between Ben's surviving family and the person who found his work in a plastic garbage bag.

The story of this donation in 2009 can be found on the spiltink blog. Please click here.

2010 Olympics - A Visual Delight by Jeff Cable

photo by Jeff Cable

Just when there seemed like nothing left to cheer about with the end of the 2010 Olympics - what should I find but an incredible website produced by professional photographer Jeff Cable, of San Francisco.

Jeff was a certified Olympic photographer and he generously published his works on his blog for everyone to enjoy. Jeff's blog features an incredible collection of pictures of most of the events.

Jeff kindly consented to this blog using one of his pictures. But, the problem was - which one to chose. (I was pretty partial to his curling shots)

I eventually gave up since there were so many sports and so many great pictures. So, the young lady photographed above got the nod.

Please click here to be taken to Jeff's blogsite collection.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dandelions by Susannah Moodie c 1860

Many genteel Victorian women were accomplished water colour artists, since learning to draw and paint was often part of the middle or upper class upbringing of girls. This was not the case for Thomas Strickland's children, however, who were given a more academic and practical education. In her teens, Susanna persuaded May Ritchie, wife of the Wrentham Congregational Church pastor, to teach her the rudiments of drawing and water colour painting. In return, Susanna volunteered in the Ritchies' school for the children of the village poor.
Throughout her life Susanna turned to water colour painting for both pleasure and profit (see Roughing It in the Bush, chapter 11 and Susanna's letter to Catharine, November 18, 1866). Her subjects were mostly floral and she sometimes included small animals or birds in the composition. Occasionally Susanna sketched small scenes, such as her series of water colour washes of the mines at Marmora. Some of the many pictures she sold to augment her income were painted, not on paper, but on dried maple fungi -- a popular curiosity for late Victorian collectors.

Susanna passed on her painting skill to her daughter Agnes, who made good use of it to illustrate Catharine Parr Traill's books Canadian Wild Flowers and Studies of Plant Life in Canada.

Click here to be taken to the source

Monday, March 15, 2010

Year 2006. How Did the Big Cities Rate for their Number of Artists?

Here are some interesting numbers.

1. Vancouver ranks first among all Canadian cities for concentratin of artits with 2.4% of its population.
2. Victoria 2.0%
3. Montreal 1.9%
4.North Vancouver 1.8%
5. Toronto 1.6%
6.Verdun, St. John's. 1.3%
7 Sanich. 1.2%
8.New Westminster. 1.2%
10 Richmond, Regina,Waterloo,Ottawa,Quebec City,Halifax. 1.0%

Toronto reported the highest level of earnings for artists with $34,100


1. The average earnings of artists are very low.
2. A typical artist in Canada earns less than half the typical earnings of all Canadian workers.
3. Artists’ earnings decreased, even before the current recession.
4. There are more female than male artists, yet women artists earn much less than men.
5. Aboriginal and visible minority artists have particularly low earnings.
6. Economic returns to higher education are much lower for artists than for other workers.
7. Many artists are self-employed.
8. There are relatively few opportunities for full-time work in the arts.
9. There has been substantial growth in the number of artists since 1971, but the rate of growth is decreasing.
10. Artists, as a group, are becoming more diverse, older and better educated

Its important to note that the artistic community consistets of actors, crafts artistans, conductors, composers and arrangers,circus performers, puppateers,painters, sculptors and visual artists,writers, producers, directors, and dancers.

Taken by itself...visual artists who earn their living in the arts, are very few in number.

Click here to see source.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thomas Davies: Early English Military Artist in Canada

by Jim Burant

Thomas Davies

(circa 1737-1 812), a Royal Artillery officer whose first service in Canada began at Halifax in 1757.
"Davies, an important figure in Canadian military history, recorded unique views of the campaigns at Louisbourg and in the St. John River valley during 1758, the campaign against the French forts in the Lake Champlain and Richelieu regions in 1758, and the St. Lawrence River valley campaign against Montreal in 1760.

His watercolour view of Amherst's troops descending the rapids of the St. Lawrence in the 1760 campaign (Figure I) was widely reproduced in print form, since it formed the background to the famous dedicatory portrait of Jeffrey, Lord Amherst, painted by Joshua Reynolds and published in 1765.

It is a moving and extraordinary rendering of the difficulties faced by Amherst during his rugged journey. Davies served in North America throughout his career, including duty in the years of the American Revolution, during which he again drew many views of battles fought against revolutionary troops.

A Davies sketchbook recently acquired by the National Gallery of Canada contains superb views of British military operations around New York, as well as sketches relating to Canada.4 The most interesting of all Davies' work, for the military historian,are sketches now held by the National Archives of Canada showing different types of military formations as well as 'A South View of Crown Point' with the pitched tents of the army's camp laid out before the observer (Figure 2).5."

editor comment:

English officers in training were taught how to paint in watercolours, since these paintings provided valuable pre-photographic records of locations and situations.
So, its important to look at this work, not as the work of an artist, but as a military record. The sailing boat in mid picture is so innoculous that its hardly worth calling it a subject, for in fact it isn't. The overall scene of the campaign is in itself, the subject.

Davies does have some modest compositional skills as seen in his foreground rocks and trees. These give the work darker values and a feeling of distance. And, he has also used trees and landscape contours to surround the central area of his painting.

The documentary nature of the work superscedes it as a work of art. Colours are suppressed and muted with earth tones. But, this is to be expected for it was painted by a military officer who was constrained into using his watercolours to record a military event.

I wonder if this style of painting didn't influence non documentary watercolour artists. Traditional English watercolour painting has, for instance, been characterized by a 'greying down' of bright colours.

note: figure 2.5 can be seen on this link: [PDF]
from:The Military Artist and the Documentary Art Record
Archival Journals, article 12435 by Jim Burant.
Simon Fraser University. [pdf] file

Friday, March 12, 2010

Paul Dorsey on Barker Fairley (cont)

Cathy Edmonton”, undated

“Ought not the painting of humanity … draw ahead of the landscape [and] take priority over it?” he wrote in 1939. “Ought it not do so in any age, and especially in this age of intense human conflict and suffering and innovation? There is everything in the world about us, the world of today, to suggest that the luxury of dwelling on empty landscapes is likely to recede in men’s minds and the urgent human issues to assert themselves with growing force.”
This passage is cited in “Barker Fairley: Portraits”, a bound collection he released with art critic Gary Michael Dault in 1981, half a decade before he died 22 years ago this past October, in his 100th year.

The Group of Seven connection easily survives him. Fairley’s works are displayed alongside theirs at the McMichael Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, and in 2004 the Canadian Conservation Institute announced joyously that it had acquired his old paintbox, along with that of the Group’s AY Jackson. Jackson and Fairley had enjoyed several canoe trips together, the classic Group of Seven painting excursion.

The oil-caked wooden boxes had been the keepsakes of Naomi Jackson Groves, AY’s niece, until she died, when the auctioneer got them. They were being raffled off with Jackson’s record player, briefcase, sleeping bag and folding cot.

Though it was at the time awaiting a scientific “analysis of the paints”, the institute reckoned that AY must have used them while he was living in Ottawa in the mid-1960s, prior to a stroke necessitating his retirement to McMichael, which is where I got to meet him on a high-school field trip (as recounted in this post).

How Barker Fairley came to be at House Sol in Georgetown, Ontario, is a facinating story well told by John Sommer in an article he wrote in 1993. He’s shared it with me for the retelling.

Sommer says he learned about Fairley’s art in late 1968 or early ‘69 from Erindale College lecturer Alan Powell, who had agreed to pose for a painting at Fairley’s home in Toronto, at 90 Willcocks Street. Sommer visited the artist there soon after and says he “had the surprise of my life”.

“I discovered shortly after he started that the chair he was sitting on came close to breaking apart whenever he moved with it forward or backward, as he was in the habit of doing during portrait sessions. I braced myself to come to his rescue, to catch him before he would collapse with the chair, if ever it should come to that …

“In his book ‘Portraits’ he is giving this story a rather neat and flattering twist: ‘It will be apparent from my portrait of him, with his right arm grasping the back of the chair he was sitting in as if he couldn’t stay seated any longer — a position he dropped into after I had started — that he is a man of immense energy and enthusiasm.’

On his first visit to Fairley’s home and studio, Sommer asked to host an exhibition at House Sol and Barker “performed a quick little two-step (a mannerism all his own), he was so happy about my offer”.

The show was held from October 18 to November 6, 1969, and only afterward did Sommer learn of Fairley’s lofty stature as a scholar of German literature.

Still, he was puzzled that Fairley had been painting for 37 years and only one large gallery, in Munich, and a small one in Toronto, had shown any interest.

“I guess that his reputation as a literary scholar made people think of his paintings as the products of a hobby-painter. And his artless style wasn’t fancy enough for dealers and critics.”

Fairley exhibited in Georgetown four more times through the 1970s, on one occasion bringing the painting reproduced below, his just-finished portrait of Robertson Davies, one of Canada’s most distinguished authors. It too now belongs to University College, Toronto.

to be continued:
Appreciation to Paul Dorsey, for this exerpt from his blog. Click here to be taken to The Dali House.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Paul Dorsey on Artist Barker Fairley

Barker Fairley by AY Jackson. 1920

AY Jackson by Barker Fairley, 1939

"I remember seeing an exhibition of paintings by Barker Fairley some 30 years ago and being positively unimpressed. They were a bleak, washed-out lot. Renewing contact recently with John and Gisela Sommer, at whose Gallery House Sol in smalltown Canada the show was held, prompted me to have another look.
And now I think I see the point."

Francis Sparshot, U of T, Associate Professor. Author of Structure of Aesthetics,
by Barker Fairley.1957.

"There’s something quite moving in the gaunt portraits and sparse landscapes, particularly the latter. Rather than washed-out, the scenes now seem blindingly bright to me. I wonder, too, if he was consciously stripping away the utensils of the scenery so that we could see the countryside fundamentally naked."

Dale Fields by Barker Fairley

“People keep asking me if painting is hard work,” he once said. “Painting isn’t work. Painting is making decisions. I make decisions, nothing more.”

There’s an interesting political sidebar to Fairley’s career as well: he and his first wife Margaret Adele were once ridden out of the USA on a rail, their reputations tarred and the Canadian government in no mood to help them remove the feathers.

Fairley, who was born a headmaster’s son in Britain in 1887 — in Barnsley, Yorkshire, in fact, just down the road from my hatchling nest in Lancashire — but who spent most of his life in Canada, was far better known in his time as one of the world’s foremost authorities on German literary beacons like Goethe. He was an academic through and through, a literary and art critic, author of many books, and only then, it seems, a painter.

It was well after he brought his scholarship to the German department at the University of Toronto that Fairley was prodded to take up a brush by one of his former students, Robert Finch, himself a painter as well as a poet.

He couldn’t have needed too much encouragement. By then he’d encountered all of the Group of Seven, though he’d missed out on Tom Thomson, their spiritual heart.

“I knew them all,” he told an interviewer. “I met Jimmie [JEH] MacDonald in the fall of 1917. I never met Tom Thomson, he had died a few months before.”

Fairley began by rendering landscapes in watercolour but, lamenting that “Canada has no tradition of portraits, no tradition of freely painted faces”, soon switched to the human physiognomy in oil (without ever abandoning landscapes)."

To be continued:
With appreciation to Paul Dorsey's Dali House.
Please click here to view Paul's Blogsite.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tony Batten and the Old Ursiline Convent of Three Rivers

This is a classic painting, both in traditional style, and in recording our history and culture as a country. Its earth tones, its subdued colouring, and Tony's careful attention to details make it the kind of work that should be shipped directly to the National Gallery of Canada.

Please click here to be taken to Tony's website.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Eric Keast an Eclectic Artist

Eric C. Keast is a self taught contemporary artist combining various media: Painting, papier-mache,beadwork, writing, etc.. He has been documenting his work -online- in photographs and video since returning to Canada, after ten years in Minneapolis, where he studied and worked with Anurag Art Bronze |Studio and Foundry, Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre's MayDay parade and festival, Two Rivers Gallery at MPLS American Indian Centre and Ain Dah Yung Youth Shelter.

In the 1980's and 1990's, Eric studied the rock art forms of the Canadian Shield, pictographs and petroglyphs,and prehistoric material culture, while working for the Regional Archaeology unit and the Ontario Rock Art Conservation Association in Kenora, ON.

While not a strict follower of the Woodlands School / "X-ray" forms of representation, Eric's work is influenced by the source material and strong lines of Woodlands art.

Eric received an Ontario Arts Council "Northern Arts" grant this winter, which will be used to: a) create a mural wall / theatrical space infrastructure at SpiritFire Park in Devlin, ON

b) sculpt a large foam/clay sturgeon model, create and install a papier mache copy of the Sturgeon Mother at SpiritFire Park

c) Lead a mural design/installation workshop with the UMAYC program, from the Fort Frances UNFC

d) Hold a grand opening event in August 2010, presenting a theatrical performance in new space and host performance by T-Bay's Rodney Brown.

Eric is a member of the Ojibway nation. He is an eclectic artist whose works
includes: rawhide rattles, acrylic paintings, wood sculpture, papier mache masks, beadwork, leatherwork, 'First Nations', art, and 'Native Art'.

Please click here to visit Eric's website.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Moona Lisa by Alex Fong

20x30 watercolour

This whimsical picture by Alex Fong, brings with it a satirical rendering of the works of different artists. How many can you recognize? Click here to see other works on Alex's website.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

While on the Topic of Iconic Art

Gabor Szilasi: Snowstorm in Montreal,1971
National Gallery of Canada

"Gabor Szilasi is a documentary photographer renowned for his humanitarian vision. His fascination with daily life has led him to search for images that show the traces of man’s presence - be it photos of people, interiors, vernacular architecture and urban landscapes.
Largely self-taught, Gabor Szilasi started to photograph in Hungary in 1952 when he purchased his first camera- a Zorkij. In 1956 he documented the Hungarian Revolution in Budapest and shortly afterwards fled the country, eventually immigrating to Canada in 1957."

Excerpt from Cybermuse Gallery.Ca. Please click here.


Air Canada
Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa, Ontario
Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, Montréal, Québec
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal, Québec
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa, Ontario
Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta
Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montréal, Québec
Fotografiska Museet, Stockholm, Sweden
McCord Museum, Montréal, Québec
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Montréal, Québec
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Montréal, Québec
Musée du Québec, Québec, Québec
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Collection from Concordia U.Please click here.

Click here for the link to the National Gallery of Canada/Cybermuse site

Friday, March 5, 2010

Biography of the late Ben Wicks - Celebrity Comic Artist

"I was bloody hopeless at school," he recalled. "Left at 14 and they were as pleased to see me go as I was."

Ben Wicks was cockney born and he never lost his accent.
He had 43 books of his art published.
He received The Order of Canada.
His comic strip 'The Outcasts' appeared each day in 184 newspapers across Canada and the USA.

Ben's picture was extracted from The Regional Maple
You can read his interesting biography by clicking here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Sculptured Monument to Hockey - Sure Why Not?

Sculptor Tim Schmaltz thinks its time we have a monument to hockey. At least he did back in 2008. I guess the largest hockey stick in the world (Canadian kitsch, right column) doesn't count.

Where will it all end?

When I was a kid, we used to gather around the family crocinole board at night. How about a monument to crocinole...the sport that kept Canadian families together? Or, can you imagine a statue celebrating rugby in Canada with a pile of bodies and a ball sitting on top? Maybe Molsons might even throw in a statue to their iconic beverage?

Imagination can take us wherever we want to go on this one. Anyway, after having seen Canada defeat the USA in Olympic hockey for a gold last night, I'm in the mood for celebration. If Tim appeared at my door today asking for a donation, I might consider taking out a mortgage on my house.

Thanks again to the CBC for keeping up posted with another good blog entry and for the picture which I lifted. Please click here to be taken to the story.

And, while you are at it - why not check Tim's website out by clicking here.

Disclaimer: The Frederick Artwork Blog doesn't recommend mortgaging your house to support Tim's monument. (Well..I had to add this, the world is big and there is always somebody out there who is easily influenced)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Welcome to the World of Barry Atkinson

There is a special place in my heart for the animation artists who work behind the scenes to create films such as The Lion King. These artists are for the most part are unknown but yet their works thrill the imaginations of both children and adults alike.

Barry Atkinson, is one such artist. He has worked for The Walt Disney Studios, Dreamworks, and Don Bluth as an animating artist.

Barry grew up in an artistic environment.He was born in Ottawa and is the son of artist Vic Atkinson, whose work also appears on this blog. (check the list of artists in the right column).

Barry launched out into an art career at the age of 20 and his journey has taken him from being a background designer to being an artistic director.

His brush was engaged in the production of The Lion King, Prince of Egypt, an American Tail, and Fantasia.

Take a look at the picture at the top of this posting. It is so typical of Barry's work. Barry is noted for his ability to effectively manage soft light, vibrant colours and powerful designs. He works in acrylics, gouache and oils. And his Japanese Garden paintigs works are mysterious, spiritual, and sublimely peaceful.

You are invited to check out Barry's blog by clicking here

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We Want Turner Back! Legal fight goes to Court

Beaverbrook heir wants Freud and Turner back!

Are you ready for this? When is a gift bequeathment not a gift bequeathment?
Not when it is a Turner Painting given to New Brunswick's Beaverbrook Gallery, by the late Lord, himself.

Its reported that Max Aitken, moved to the UK where he gained his peerage - and bought himself a mansion, and he acquired along the way, grandchildren who today want the two most valuable paintings back. The old family mansion is said to cost a fortune to repair, and times are tough nowadays, and the gallery has about $200 million dollars hanging on their walls out there in one of the colonies. Get the story?

The fun begins today, with an open court session in which both sides will trot out their paperwork to determine who gets to keep the collection. The Beaverbrooks have already gone down this road before and the courts settled on the collection staying where it is - in the gallery. But, times have changed and $200 million is a lot of change.

I know of one man who went to court, with his wife pushing him in a wheelchair, and him hoping for a softening of a judicial heart. I wonder if the descendents will appear with runs in stockings, and their elbows poking out of their Harris Tweet jackets?

They've got their eyes set on the two big ones, Fountain of Indolence, by JW Turner, and Hotel Bedroom, by Lucien Freud.

Beaverbrook's descendents have had a habit of taking the Lord's paintings out of the gallery, on loan, then selling them off.

The gallery's documents showing their legal entitlement to the paintings were earned for them a decision in court the first time around. Story has it that over the years, Beaverbrook's descendents have bullied the gallery management into signing documents which claim that the paintings were lenders and not keepers.

Please click here to be taken to the source of this content,

Another source. The brunswickian. Click here.

Fredericks-Artworks Blog, copying policy

The Canadian Copyright act, section 29 reports on fairdealing, that it is not an infringement to reproduce someone else's work for research, study, criticism, review or to report. Which pretty much sums up what this site is about. All content sources, be they artists, printed references, and website url's are respectfully identified on this site. http://http//

Mission Statement
A Portrait of the Visual Arts in Canada, is intended to celebrate the richness of Canada's visual arts, and to promote the arts in Canada.

Statement of Intent
I make every effort to credit the sources of information used in this blog and to obtain the permission and cooperation of all the works presented by living artists. I try, as much as possible to use works from public sources eg. national and provincial collections, of deceased artists. If for any reason, any artist disapproves of anything written about them or their work the artist is encouraged to request withdrawal of the content.