Friday, April 30, 2010

Patti Durkee - Folk Artist

Meet Patti Durkee

"Patti Durkee grew up in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. She attended Dalhousie University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science with honours in psychology. After having worked as a research assistant in the Psychology Department for a year, Patti decided to pursue a Bachelor of Education from Mount Saint Vincent in Halifax.She teaches Grade 5 at Armour Heights Public School. After being inspired by her sister, Roseann Fine’s artistic talent, Patti took drawing and painting classes from James (Sandy) Spencer who is featured in the National Art Gallery in Ottawa. She began painting in 1999. Many of her painting are inspired by the sea and landscapes of Nova Scotia. Patti recently had an exhibit at the Wagner Rosenbaum Gallery in Toronto. Her hobbies also include photography. While on vacation in Nova Scotia in 2003, Patti attended the Lunenberg Folk Art Festival with her daughter, Haley. After viewing the whimsical and primitive styles of folk art by a variety of artists, she was inspired to start her own business to share her passion with others."

In Full Bloom

To read this and more click here to be taken to Patti's website.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Emily Carr - Totem Walk at Sitka

This picture was painted by Emily Carr in 1917. She was 46 years old at the time.
It caught my eye because it was the first time that I knew that Emily had painted in waters.

When I first looked at it, I thought that maybe there is hope for me as an artist.

I know, I know. Emily is a national icon and its almost sacrilege to judge the works of someone of her stature. But, the more I look at it, the more I struggle with it.

There is in my mind a terrible sense of internal disconnect. The trees and grass seem to sit on top of the ground rather then to be a part of the earth.

The totems in this work, unlike those in Emily's later paintings, seem isolated by their intense colours. And even worse, the light values of the second pole puts it out of place.

Perhaps I'm unduly harsh on Emily. Her picture has great depth. Fair enough. But, there is no depth to the work outside the road. She drops a wash over the right side behind the trees and this, in my mind, makes the road disconnected from the landscape surrounding it. I also struggle to find the source of light in this work.

When I look at this work I find myself thinking of the Emily Carr who's works took a long time to gain acceptance.

It is also noteworthy that this wasn't a beginning work for Emily. She studied art in San Francisco, 28 years earlier and had gone on to live, study art and paint in France.

Emily persevered through the tough times and eventually became one of Canada's most respected oil painters.

Perhaps its no wonder that Emily became a better known as oil artist.

Everyone knows that there isn't much room for making serious corrections in a watercolour painting. And, there are a lot of oil and acrylic painters of stature who find waters an almost impossible media to get the hang of. Not just that, but there are some premier watercolourists who paint a picture several times before they find one which is acceptable. And if anyone should be charitable of someone else's works it has to be me.

Anyway, Emily went on to do great things as an impressionistic, artist - in oils.

You may wish to read Emily's biography and see this painting on the Canada E-Zine.
Please click here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Norman McLaren Animation Film Maker

Norman McLaren is one of those graphic artists who isn't so well known today. But, that wasn't always the case. Fifty years ago, McLaren had a vast collection of fans, around the world who thrilled to see his animated National Film Board Works.

Part of this was because of work from people such as him. McLaren, ironically, was a Scottish immigrant to Canada. He was a graduate of the Glasgow School of Fine Arts and he really got off on the works of the early masters of film; Eisenstein, Pudovkin and Fischinger.

Two years after graduating from the Glasgow School of Fine Arts he won two prizes in Scotland's Amateur Film Festival.

McLaren went from Scotland, to London to work in the Film Unit of the General Post Office, and from London to the Spanish Civil War and after that to New York City.
In 1941, he was invited to join Canada's National Film Board.

His earliest works were war effort films: V for Victory (1941), Five for Four (1942), Dollar Dance (1943) and Keep Your Mouth Shut (1944). (Don't you like that last film title)

The NFB gave McLaren some latitude to explore animation in film and his lengthy career included some 52 films.

The NFB's biography on McLaren says of the respect he gained:

Norman McLaren's films have garnered more than 200 international awards. Neighbours won an Oscar® in 1952, and Blinkity Blank received the Palme d'or for short films at the 1955 Cannes festival. If we consider, in addition to these awards and his body of work, the honorary doctorates awarded to him all over the world, his membership in juries at countless festivals and a variety of events, the many tributes paid to him, the retrospectives of his films, the articles, papers and theses on his work, the exhibitions of his drawings and films, we can better understand the fact that, years after his death, his reputation is as strong as it ever was.

Here now is a glimpse of Norman McLaren's animation skills. Its a short film, scarcely a little more then 2 minutes long. But it shows his power as a film maker.

Click here to see his WW2 film, Keep Your Mouth Shut.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Noteworthy Marriage

Montreal, April 12, 2010 – The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and Radio-Canada will join forces to showcase over 2,000 hours of new stock footage online at NFB IMAGES, the NFB’s web destination for stock footage professionals.

NFB IMAGES clients will begin to notice big changes starting this fall, with the arrival of 500 hours of Radio-Canada footage. There will be 2,000 hours of Radio-Canada footage on by 2011.

With today’s announcement, these two public organizations are pooling their resources to ensure that filmmakers and their audiences have unparalleled access to the audiovisual history of Canada and Quebec, including a vast selection of francophone stock footage.

Pleae click here to read the NFB's press release.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bern Brown: Missionary Tells Tales of Rascals, Trappers

Article by: Ramon Gonzales
Staff Reporter,
Colville Lake, N.W.T.

Over the past 57 years as a missionary in the Canadian North, Bern Will Brown, 87, has encountered many interesting people. He kept copious notes of their stories and now he has released a book - Free Spirits: Portraits from the North - filled with a series of fascinating tales about murder and revenge, adventure and misadventure, faith and love.

These lively tales - by turns tragic, humorous and heart-warming - involve some of the most unforgettable characters Brown met or heard about over the years, including priests and trappers, dreamers and rascals, sailors and traders, artists and adventurers.

"I think Free Spirits will preserve the names and the lives of some interesting people in the western Arctic who otherwise would be forgotten," Brown said Nov. 1 from his home in Colville Lake.

The former Oblate priest got the stories by talking with these characters. In most cases he made notes of his interactions after he got home. "Their stories are part of our Canadian history and offer a glimpse of life in this remote and rugged area of our land, the far North," he said.

Axe murders
Free Spirits, published by Novalis, is Brown's third book. Novalis published his two-volume Arctic Journal in 1999.

Free Spirits, 146 pages, contains 22 tales beginning with Murder Most Foul, which recounts the axe murders of Oblate Brother Alexis Renard and Genevieve Duquette, a young orphan, at the hands of their guide and helper Louis Lafrance, a violent-tempered half-breed Iroquois.

"I don't trap anymore but I still hunt the caribou."
The party was travelling from Fort Chipewyan to Lac la Biche in 1875 to pick up three Grey Nuns. From the beginning, friction built between the brother and his guide over the 14-year-old orphan, who planned to stay with the Grey Nuns in Lac la Biche. The party never made it to Lac la Biche.

Evidence showed Lafrance had killed Renard with his axe and then cut and dried strips of the Oblate's flesh like one would do with buffalo meat. Duquette suffered a similar fate.

Brown, a successful painter, pilot and author, is as fascinating as the characters he writes about. He was born in Rochester, N.Y., in 1920. From a young age, adventure and the North fascinated him. After being ordained an Oblate priest in 1948, he was sent to the frigid Canadian North. His brother Thomas also joined the Oblates because he wanted to live in the Canadian North. He ended up in the tropics of Brazil instead and is still there.

Mission work
Brown began his mission work at Fort Norman, where he learned French, the language of the Oblates, and Hareskin, the language of the people of the North.

"After his apprenticeship, Brown was assigned to Fort Franklin, where he showed his gift for carpentry by constructing a new mission building," recounts editor Frederick Miller in the book's foreword. "This was the first of many missions and churches Brown would build in the North."

He helped build others at Camsell Portage, Uranium City, Nahanni Butte and Colville Lake, where he still lives with his wife Margaret.

"I'm considered a lay leader because I got permission from the Vatican to get married in 1971 but I'm still taking care of the church here."

"Their stories
. . . offer a glimpse of life in this remote and rugged area of our land, the far North."
When Brown moved to Colville Lake, there was only one family left in the village. After he built his log house in 1962, Aboriginal people started to come back and "now we have a population of 130 people." Eventually he built a church, a nursing station, a museum and a library with some 700 books on the North. In the museum he keeps some of his paintings - mostly scenes of the North.

Monthly newspaper
Brown served all over the North and wherever he was he made his mark. While serving in Aklavik, the most northerly community on the Mackenzie River, he started a monthly newspaper - The Aklavik Journal - where he published news from the RCMP, advice from the doctor, the doings of council, weather information and challenging editorials.

"Everyone had to have a copy of this exciting monthly newspaper," recounts Miller. "It was even quoted in Parliament."

Brown survived the cruel and unforgiving North because he adapted "and became an Eskimo with the Eskimos (and) an Indian with the Indians," noted Miller. "All the while he drew enormous strength from his faith, bringing Christ in his person to the ends of the earth."

Clerical celibacy
After the Second Vatican Council the Church of the North began questioning the discipline of clerical celibacy, a concept foreign to native people, who, according to Miller, regarded unmarried men as less than men. Eventually the Canadian bishops also petitioned Rome for a married clergy for the North.

Brown did the same, hoping he would be allowed to continue to minister as a priest once he was married. It would not happen. At age 51 he and Margaret Steen, who is part Inuit, exchanged their marriage vows before Bishop Paul Piche.

"The bishop allowed me to stay at my mission but I no longer say Mass here; we have a priest stationed in Norman Wells coming in here to say Mass," Brown said. "But I am the resident priest here and I'm available for services at the church. I do Baptisms, weddings and funerals."

He is expecting a visit from retiring Bishop Denis Croteau and his successor Bishop Murray Chatlain on Dec. 14. That will be a big event in Colville Lake, where "everybody is Catholic, including the four local schoolteachers."

Brown stayed in the North because he loves the people and their way of life. "I enjoy working with the people here, especially those who are living off the land trapping and hunting," he said. "I was trapping for a while; I don't trap anymore but I still hunt the caribou."

Fishing lodge
During summers Brown operates his fishing lodge. His customers are mostly old friends who keep coming back. "Last summer, for example, I had nine pilots from Edmonton who flew up here in their own planes. We have a good landing strip here."

In Colville Lake there are no roads. "It's all aircraft here and I sold my aircraft last year. I was flying for 65 years."

So how do the Browns get around? They have a team of sled dogs, which his wife raises. "Her hobby is raising these malamute sled dogs and she's raised and sold over 300," he noted. "We have nine dogs here that we use regularly."

Extracted from: Western Catholic Reporter,
Issue: November, 12,2007.

Please click here to see the article in their website.
Website URL:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Art of Nancy Edell

When I was a child, women spent a lot of time on what was known as the Feminine Arts. As time passed and our culture changed, a high percentage of women had to pursue employment and with it some of the traditional arts associated with women have all but disappeared.

Before I get a lot of letters from readers, please let me say that I am not making any sexist judgements. There are a lot of social, cultural and economic forces behind this shift.

Then, along comes Nancy Edell.

Nancy was an American who emigrated to Canada and took out Canadian citizenship.
She lived in Winnipeg and moved from there to Halifax. It wasn't long before Nancy began discovering the remnants of the arts of crocheting, rug hooking and needle work, and being an artist Nancy was quick to see the passing of a an art form, making its last stand in flea markets,and auction sales.

Gemmaria Gimnosa Hydroid. Oil on plywood.

Nancy focused, as an artist, upon drawing from this cultural legacy and turning it into her contemporary artform.

Nancy's biography on the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia's site says:

Edell was a multi-talented artist who worked in the media of animation, drawing, printmaking, and painting, but it was her use of the traditional media of rug-hooking that moved her work into a new and influential direction.

Nancy died in Halifax in 2005, at the age of 63. She was born in Omaha, Nebraska and when she eventually settled in Nova Scotia she became a part time teacher at NASCAD univeristy.
You can read Nancy's biography by clicking here to be taken to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia's website.

As someone who has been living with the shadow of cancer I am impressed by Nancy who faced her terminal illness by becoming lost in painting by playing classical music and painting by the hour. Its therepeutic and it gives great inner freedom.

Here's another link to a good write up about Nancy, as a 'visionary artist'. Please click here.

The CBC website provides this background on Nancy's accomplishments:

· Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Omaha, Nebraska 1964
· Filmmaking Program, University of Bristol, England 1968-69

· "Bricabra" (solo) touring exhibition, Dalhousie University Art Gallery, Halifax NS; Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Brandon; Museum of Textiles, Toronto ON; Confederation Centre, Charlottetown PEI 1998-99
· "Hooked On Rugs", Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull PQ 1998
· "Layers of Meaning" touring exhibition, Bradford Industrial Museum; Collins Gallery; Cleveland Crafts Centre; UK 1997-98
· Numerous awards for Animated Films at festivals in Chicago, Amsterdam, Southhampton, Ann Arbor, Oberhausen 1969-72
· Numerous Canada Council Grants from 1974 to present

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Helen McNicoll, 1879-1915

Picking Flowers: Canadian Impressionism.

Its easy to float along on today's wave and become so caught up on the contemporary scene that we forget the legacy left by the great artists of the past. The above picture, 'Picking Flowers' was extracted from the Art Gallery of Ontario's online collection.

Helen accomplished a lot in her few years of life.(1879-1915). She was born in Toronto and she died in England. She accomplished much in her few years. Her works can be found in most of Canada's national and provincial collections.

We are indebted to Concordia University for the following biography of her life.

A talented artist of independent means (her father was vice-president and director of Canadian Pacific Railway), Helen McNicoll garnered considerable acclaim during her short lifetime. As a child she became deaf as a result of a bout with scarlet fever, but this physical condition did not prevent her from pursuing formal studies in painting at the Montreal Art Association and the Slade School of Art in London, England. She spent several years in England, painting at St. Ives, where she met her close friend and companion, Dorothea Sharp, a British artist. Inspired by the Impressionists and their experiments with the visual qualities of light, McNicoll painted landscapes, figure studies, seashore scenes, and genre scenes, most often in Quebec and France, and is known for her ability to depict the various effects of sunlight. Her subject matter frequently includes scenes of bonding between women and children, and is often described as "intimate" and "feminine." Elected to the Royal Society of British Artists and the Royal Canadian Academy, she also won the Jessie Dow Prize in 1908 and the Women's Art Society Prize in 1914. She lived most of her life in Montreal. The National Gallery of Canada, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton all have examples of her work in their collections, and two retrospective exhibitions have been organized since her death.

Click here to be taken to the Concordia University website, to read of Helen's accomplishments

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bern Brown: Woman Threading Needle

I like the dichotomy in this work.

Here we find a woman engaged in the delicate act of threading a needle by candlelight. But look at her powerful hands, and her classic outdoor jacket. Not just that, but the struggle takes place amidst the struggle between light and darkness.

But its not all dark and light in this work.

The candlelight is soft and it looks like there are soft folds of cloth surrounding her, and the woman's has a semi smile on her face as she threads the needles. There is a kindliness about the subject, which is as sensitive and as warming as the soft candlelight itself.

I extracted this picture by Bern Brown from the 'Picture This Framing and Gallery' website. You can find this work and others by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rolf Hicker: 'Beautiful White River Falls,' Labrador

Another of Rolf Hicker's amazing landscape works. Check out, Rolf's amazing biography by clicking here.

Rolf reminds me of that old Hank Snow song, "I've been everywhere." Born in Bavaria and emigrated to Canada, in 2003. Rolf's works have appeared in some very presitigous magazines, such as National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, Reader's Digest and more.

Click here to be taken to Rolf's website.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fred Taylor, Watercolourist, 1906-1987

Fred Taylor, (Frederick Bouchier Taylor)was a brother of Edwin Plunkett Taylor (EP Taylor), Canada's foremost financial Magnet.
Fred was as unlike his brother as day is from night. The Taylor boys got their start in life by inheriting a considerable family wealth from their father. 'The Welder' on the left is extracted from the Canadian Legion Magazine website. Please click here.
EP was the archetypal, diamond pin in cravat, top hat and spat wearing financeer.

Brother Fred, the artist, was as unlike his brother as one could possibly be. Fred was a communist.

If you want to check out some of Fred's paintings please click here to be taken to Paul Dorsey's Dali House.

For additional information please click here to be taken to the McGill University website, biography page.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ivan Unwin - At The Edge of the World

Ivan Unwin's, use of a limited palette allows him to establish a strong mood in this work. He appropriately named this painting, 'At the Edge of the Earth'. And, it certainly captures that forlorn, empty feeling - that sense of being in a place far removed from human life.

Ivan not only painted this work with a restricted palette, but it is coldly realistic in style. There is a feeling of winter death about it. The grey ice is almost metallic and the dead trees stick above the barren marshland.

Ivan balances his cool colours with ochres. But hereto the warm colours have an an earthy coolness. And if that isn't enough, there are clumps of snow in the foreground around their base.

I like the way things tilt in this work towards the upper left. The light in the pond, and the hills in the horizon all move toward the distant vanishing point. And, for that matter, several of the leaning trees lean like direction signs pointing the eye to that unknowable distant place.

Ivan tells me that its a place near his home, and he walks his dog past it each day.

Click here to find Ivan's presence on the Spirit of the Hills, website.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Robert Genn: Langara Light.

click on picture to enlarge
Robert Genn: Langara Light
Acrylics. 14x18.

I love this work by Robert Genn.

There are so many things that appeal to me. The perspective of standing below this great pine tree and looking up, makes me feel small against the force of nature.

Robert lays his acrylic paint on with big, heavy, loose brush strokes. Its so full of atmosphere and mood that it had to have been painted on location.

There's a strong sense of impressionism to it. Langara Light isn't about photo replication.

The colour values bounce back and forth as you work your way down the backgound: grey to blue to white to light blue and the white turns back to grey which flows on to the bottom of the painting. Brr. This is cold stuff.

The focal centre is the island and the dominating pine tree. I like how it reaches up and up and busts through the top of his picture.

There's a clunkyness and a solidness and a heavy fistedness about it all.
His acrlyics are smeared on as heavily as oils and this style captures the brutal strength of the environment.

There's also a spirit of artistic, iconoclasm at work here. I mean, who would even think of painting rocks pink. Aren't pinks reserved for florals? But here's the stuff - this sense of anarchy gives a spirit of liberation to his work and this emphasizes the liberated, wild, remote location he paints.

Look too at the tree trunk. It does what tree trunks do. It holds the tree together. But this trunk is bright and light reflective. The heart of the matter is brightly lit.

There is a spirit of liberation in this work. The branches of the shrubs at the base of the tree are scratched hurriedly into the work, almost as an afterthought.

The uncontrolled, disorderly, cacophany of branches and twigs and scratches make this a pretty wild looking place to be.

The cool tones give me a feeling that Robert Genn painted this one, while wearing his thick outdoor jacket and pausing only to rub his hands and pour a drink of hot tea from his thermos.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wow - Another Leonardo Work Found!

Collector says he's found another Leonardo -Canadian Peter Silverman says a figure in a sculpted scene is the work of the Renaissance master

Article by Randy Boswell of Canswestnews service. April 13, 2010. Value of the work? How about 150 million.
Please click here to read the story in the online issue of the Vancouver Sun.

Friday, April 16, 2010

McMichael Gallery Receives Norman Hallendy Collection of Arctic Pictures

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is proud to announce that it is the recipient of the Norman Hallendy Collection of Canadian Arctic images. The extensive collection of almost 7,500 colour images is the fifth significant donation made to the gallery over the past twenty years by internationally recognized ethnographer, author and photographer Norman E. Hallendy.

The images in the Norman Hallendy Collection are original 35-mm Kodachrome colour slides photographed by Mr. Hallendy over the past fifty years. He has made many expeditions to the Canadian Arctic to interact with and observe traditional Inuit communities and document their world. The images range in subject from inuksuit (stone figures), ancient and sacred sites, landscapes, seascapes, icebergs, natural environment and campsites, to the people of the Arctic, including artists—many of whom are represented in the art collection of the McMichael. As a respected and trusted friend to the Inuit elders, Mr. Hallendy has been granted the privilege of seeing and photographing inuksuit and ancient sites that others do not have access to. “In terms of understanding the art and people of Kinngait (Cape Dorset), this is a defining moment for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection,” said Thomas Smart, Executive Director and CEO of the gallery. “It is the largest single donation of photographs, both in size and value, to come to this public institution. The slides brilliantly capture the essence of the people, the land, and the history of Kinngait.”

Since 1989, Mr. Hallendy has been donating his photographic work to the McMichael. Earlier donations include a smaller representation of colour slides taken in the Eastern Arctic, and a collection of rare black and white 35-mm negatives and photographs of Kinngait artists from 1968. He has also donated Inuit art including drawings, prints and sculpture. Norman Hallendy has transferred copyright for the images in this collection, and the earlier black & white photograph collections, to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection which will oversee the use and licensing of the Hallendy images in the future. This comprehensive photographic resource has significant research, documentary and educational potential, as well as spectacular aesthetic value.
“The acquisition of these images greatly enhances and supports our existing holdings of Inuit art, including the historic Cape Dorset archival collection on loan from the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative,” continued Mr. Smart.
According to Mr. Smart, the Norman Hallendy Collection is a perfect complement for the approximately 100,000-object Cape Dorset collection of drawings, prints and sculpture. For the past twenty years the McMichael has been the custodian of this national treasure. Kinngait is a hamlet located on Dorset Island off the southwest tip of Baffin Island in Nunavut. Named after the mountains which make up the region (Kinngait means “high mountains”), Cape Dorset has become a centre for Inuit drawing, printmaking, and carving since the 1950s.

Source: Press Release
Stephen Weir, McMichael Gallery, Publicist.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ruination by Ron Morrison, of Courtenay, BC

Thanks go out to Ron Morrisson for sending the FA blog his most recent work. Ron continues to delight and surprise viewers with his mastery of colour and light as a watercolourist.

Ron begins by hanging a canopy of blue sky and trees at the top of his work,almost as a theatrical backdrop for the drama that unfolds on the stage below it.

Note how the blue sky, blends into the peaked silver roof of the larger of the two buildings. The slope of the roof is like a ski run, where the eye slides down and leaps high in the air and descends upon the drama below.

The peaked roof of the building to the left, has an almost liquid sense of light and this is enhanced by the shadowy black forest that surrounds it. There are also reflected highlights which sweep like a spiderweb along the left side.

Ron's work, like this one, appears spontaneous and right hemisphere driven. And Ron is the first to admit that he makes decisions as he works. But that isn't to say that what you see is what you get. This work is the result of careful examination, and several reworks.

I like the way Ron connects the elements of his works. Slide down the building to the lower roof. You find a waterblossom, then a streak of light and then what looks like a pair of crossed 2x4's. And the lower part of this opens into the part of the picture where the action is.

At first glance it looks like a jumble of old cars. Right? Well, look again. The X at the bottom of the peak, takes the eye to the top row of the centre car. Look now at the bottom row and you will find the centre car facing it and sharing some of the same colouring.

Its all part of a wonderfully designed and orchestrated work. Right hemisphere work? Maybe. But there is also a lot of order and control going on.

Ron does things with colour that sets him apart from the watercolour community. Ron's signature is his advanced use of strong contrasting values, advanced understanding of colour, and his effective picture construction skills.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Toronto Artist David Bolduc Dies

Toronto Artist David Bolduc died this past week at the age of 65. Bolduc's style has been called. "exotic or eccentric modernism". In the 1970s and 1980s, Bolduc was "a bright star in the constellation of Canadian art."

Bolduc adopted bold use of colours, squeezing oils directly from the tube atop a stained background. The picture and informational source for this blog is on the CBC website.

Please click here to read the complete article.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Documentary on The Group of Seven

This documentary by Alapar Productions, records the history of the Group of Seven.
It also features Tom Thompson who was not a member of the group.The Group of Seven wasn't a fixed group in time. There were at various times as many as ten members.

Frank Johnson was the only member to leave.

Six Members of the Group of Seven are buried on the property of the McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario.

Some interesting information. Emily Carr was not a group member. Ernest Wicksey was invited to join the group but declined because he wanted to spend the weekends with his family and attend church on Sundays.

Please click here to read the article on the group in the Canadian Encylcopedia.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ivan Unwin Showing at Gallery ArtPlus in Belleville.

One of the pleasures of producing an artblog is in being able to meet the kind of nice people I met the other evening in Gallery ArtPlus in Belleville, Ontario. Dianne Lee, the gallery Administrator sent me an invitation to drop into the gallery to meet Ivan Unwin at his showing and to hear him give a talk on his works and of his role as an artist in society.

The Gallery is an intimate and inviting place, and a perfect setting to present the works of this new artist in our country.

Ivan's dramatic works took me by surprise. Ivan is an English artist who emigrated to Canada 4 years ago. His background was in graphic video arts and he returned to painting about 6 years ago. His media is acrylics and he applies them more as a watercolourist then an oil painter.

Ivan's showing included works from his time in the lochs and highlands of Scotland and a collection of his more recent Canadian paintings.

It was intriquing to follow Ivan's changing style. His works are strongly influenced by English Romanticism and his paintings for the most part, are done with a tightly limited palette. This allows him to create dramatic works which are heavy on mood and atmospherics.

His move to Canada, has resulted in him embracing Canadian wildlife and natural settings, and several of his large works were set in the area around his home in Warkworth.

Ivan isn't afraid to embrace political issues. One of his works in the show features Prime Minister Stephen Harper wearing a dunce cap, and another has a manure spreader flinging human septic fertilizer onto a farmer's field.

Speaking personally I found the horizontal and vertical compression of his subject matter most interesting. In one of his works, his story is played out on the bottom 1/10th of the canvas beneath a big sky. Several of his works are cut into separate vertical panels.

Be sure to note his name, for here is a painter who is rapidly making a name for himself.

Ivan writes in his bio:

"After completing the English Art education I had a collection of my atmospheric sculpture based performance art / film work released via the Manchester, England, Factory Records / IKON Film label. Titled ~ Flickering Shadows, a well reviewed and acclaimed body of work that opened further funding and many European exhibitions. It also put me in contact with producers of the newly re-invented music video. Consequently for over 10 years I had worked in London UK as an art director for many music artists Oasis, Cold Play, Pink Floyd to name but a few, as well as working for many international corporations designing and building the sets for TV Advertising.

The desire to produce my own work was again awoken after the purchase of a small cabin in Scotland, located near the west coast in a remote ancient oak forest. That midge infested rain soaked atmosphere inspired new painted work, a medium that I had not worked with since art school. After the years of creating work at the edge of film and performance art, there is an irony that painting - landscape / nature, is now for me the new avant guarde, with a central intrinsic question of pure composition, and of colour. I had a painting from this period shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2005.

With a pin a map and the internet we moved to Warkworth Ontario in 2006. I am now starting to tackle new atmospheres with local situations, and have a new collection under the title “do least harm” to be premiered in spring 2010 at the Artplus Gallery in Belleville, this being my 1st one man show in Canada.

Many of my works are pure landscape or nature studies but this cannot be detached from a life touched by the anarchic late 70s living in England, music has, and always will be an influence, so also included in this collection are a set of political / environmental activist works, with human rights land abuse as subject"

You are invited to click here to check out Ivan's work in the Gallery ArtPlus website

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Canadian Artists of Eastern European Origins

I stumbled upon this page from Concordia University in Montreal. Click here. Its a list of Canadian artists with Eastern European origins. Why was I surprised to see that it numbered almost 100 artists? As a watercolour artist, I noticed that the late Zoltan Szabo of Hungary was not on the list. Could it be because he emigrated from Canada to the States after living here for 20 or so years? Nor could I find William Kurelek who descends from a Ukranian family.could it be because he is now deceased?

Gabor Szilas (FA blog feature photographer and winner of the Governor General's award) is listed.

The list includes photographers, graphic artists painters,and likely other visual media artists.

It is interesting to see the number of exhibitions these artists have participated in.

All of this goes to show that the tapestry of Canadian life is enriched by the gifts of the many diverse cultures and nationalities which have made Canada their adopted homeland.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gary Kennedy: The Skaters, and Alex Colville's "Realism is More Real than Real."

My wife tells me that she likes realism in painting. I tease her and ask her if she likes photography or painting? But Alex Colville said it so well, when he said that Realism of more real than realism. (March 23rd Blog. CBC radio interview).

When I look at this work above, by Newfoundland artist, Gary Kennedy, I get a sense of what Colville means.

Gary Kennedy paints a scene which evokes a warm response from most Canadians.

We see 4 girls skating. Their similarities in facial appearances suggest that they are sisters. They are also bonded with their hands held. The picture also has the kind of individual dynamics we find among siblings. An attentive and helpful sister (on the left) - balanced on the right by a bolder sister who takes life on her terms. She goes it alone, and is the only one not holding hands.

But look carefully at her.

The three who are bonded with hands held, have moving feet. The girl who strikes out alone and ahead of her sisters - is standing still. Is this a life metaphor? Are those who isolate themselves from bonding connections, psychologically frozen? Are we seeing a repeat of the old Canadian theme of Canadians strength coming from unity and not from individuality?

The three who hold hands are smiling. They are bonded. The two older ones are united by the little one in the centre. She needs their help and they are her skating caregivers. The girl on the right is intense and focused and her arms stick out like balancing wings.

Note too, that even though 3 of the girls hold hands, the girl on the right is linked by a lack of paint separation. And, do see how the chain of girls is given symmetry by the girls on the left and right, having their arms extended.

Then there are the subtleties. The colour of the girls' clothing comes from their jackets up. The seriousness of their endeavour is captured by the black and white contrast in their leggings and skates.

And while I am on the topic of colour, surely it is no accident that Gary paints the little girl wearing a red coat. Red is the dominant, attention getting colour. And the little girl is the smallest skater, in the middle between the two taller girls. And, the three girls whose hands are joined each wear an item of clothing which is either red or has a red hue.

I guess Alex Colville had it right. Realism is more real than real. This work and others by Gary can be seen by clicking here to be taken to his website.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Winnie The Pooh: Winnipeg and White River's Statues

White River, Ontario - World-famous children’s character Winnie the Pooh was inspired by an orphaned bear cub, which was purchased from a trapper at White River by Captain Harry Colebourn, during WW I. He was a veternarian and his troop train had stopped at this Northern Ontario town enroute from Winnipeg. Colebourn named Winnie for his home city (Winnipeg) and took her on to England as his troop's mascot. Before shipping on to France he left Winnie at the London Zoo where she was discovered by author A.A. Milne’s delighted son Christopher. Winnie inspired Milne to write the children’s stories for his child. (Historia video) . The town has a large statue of Winnie complete with honey pot, and the popular children's character is celebrated with Winnie's Annual Hometown Festival, held the third week in August.

Statue in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg

White River's statue of Winnie.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Work of Malcolm Sutherland, Canadian Cinematographer

Malcolm Sutherland: 1984-2009

A delightful short film by Malcolm Sutherland. Its takes just a little more then 5 minutes to view, but it stimulates the imagination. The poll along its side shows that 35 of its 270 viewers gave it a thumbs up. Not bad.

The forming game is an engaging dance of shapes and sounds. "The "game" is played by opening the box, unfolding the board and placing shapes on it that you manipulate with your hands. There are no winners or losers in this game; the fun is in the creative way the forms unfold. Features a score by Luigi Alleman and music by Ravi Shankar."

To check it out, please click here to be taken to the NFB site.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kelly Morehouse's Portrait of Olympic Athlete Tracy Cameron.

Kelly Morehouse of Mill Village Nova Scotia, sends the FA blog, her recently painted portrait of Olympic bronze medalist, Tracy Cameron.

Media: Chalk, pastels, and gouache.

Kelly writes in her artist's statement:

“An Lasair A-Staigh." That is the title of this portrait, Gaelic, meaning “The Flame Within.” It is this inner flame, this strength, strength of body, strength of mind, focus, spirit and grace that I hope I have illuminated in this portrait of Tracy Cameron.

The paper I chose has fibres that are visible, flowing, unhidden throughout the portrait, as a current, that I feel portrays the flow of Tracy’s energy, of the water which she parts with her oars, the flow of her thoughtful, competitive nature, and of course, the flicker, the flame of the Olympic torch, The Flame Within, that draws together like minded athletes from around the world."

You are invited to check out Kelly's website by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Henry Moore Exhibit coming to the Art Gallery of Ontario gives insight into Moore's troubled soul

Henry Moore: Reclining figure, 1975.

Article by Martin Knelman,
Toronto Star.

So you think you have already had your fill of Henry Moore, the famous sculptor from Yorkshire whose mammoth sculptures have been proudly showcased for decades at the Art Gallery of Ontario?

Prepare to have your preconceptions shattered.

Get ready to meet the darker, edgier, more erotic and complex Moore of his earlier work — and the demons that became invisible in the later work that made him safe and popular.

A revisionist show will open at the AGO on Oct. 23 after closing in London, where it is currently drawing crowds to the Tate Britain in London. And it will introduce Toronto to the younger, more troubled Henry Moore who disappeared into the shadows before he created The Archer for our city hall. The show is the latest in a strikingly strong program of temporary exhibits of wide public interest, which includes the forthcoming “Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts,” “Drama and Desire: Artists and the Theatre” and the current King Tut exhibit.

“If you think you already know Henry Moore, this will be a mind-blower,” promises AGO curator Michael Parke-Taylor, who collaborated on the exhibition with Chris Stephens of the Tate Britain.

According to Stephens, this is a chance to revisit the legacy of Moore — a working-class son of a Yorkshire mining engineer. Before being embraced by the bourgeoisie, he was a socialist and a pacifist.

The new exhibit of 40 never-before-seen pieces at the AGO is meant to show that there was a lot more to the famous artist (who died in 1986) than large rounded female figures and abstract forms.

That’s why Richard Calvocoressi, director of the Henry Moore Foundation, has described this as the most important exhibit of Moore’s work in the 33-year history of his organization.

The AGO version will not be nearly as large as the exhibit at the Tate, which includes many works from the period that is already familiar to those who visit the AGO.

That’s because in his latter years, there was a nasty spat over Moore’s plan to give the Tate the sculptures that now belong to the AGO. The Tate was going to create a new wing for the Moore works, and that drew a bitter response from other artists. In 1968, the year of Moore’s 70th birthday, a letter denouncing the plan for a Moore wing appeared in The Times, signed by 41 artists.

By then, Moore’s popularity had made him contemptible in the eyes of his peers. His enormous sculptures, which seemed to be appearing in public squares and parks everywhere, were seen as complacent, soothing, commercial. They were considered too big, too ubiquitous and too serene. In the view of the art-world elite, Moore had become too popular and beloved — the reassuring favourite of millions who knew little about art but knew what they liked.

Moore’s reaction to the piece was to turn to Toronto, where he had become a bit of a folk hero after Phil Givens (the city’s mayor from 1963-66) commissioned him to create The Archer.

And so it came to pass that in 1974, Moore thumbed his nose at the London art world by donating 900 works to the AGO.

“The show at the Tate takes Moore up to the mid-1960s,” says Parke-Taylor. “The two museums have slightly different agendas, and I have been a bit more selective.”

Because the AGO already has a strong group of Moore’s post-1945 work in its permanent collection, it will focus in this temporary exhibit on the Moore of the 1920s and 1930s.

“Our goal is to put Moore back into his historical context. He is darker than you think. He fought in World War I, and survived a battle in which 350 men out of 400 were killed. This had a huge effect on him,” says Parke-Taylor. “He picked up on aspect of surrealism. He developed an abstract view of the boy that came out of experiencing trench warfare. And there were sexual implications.”

Or as Stephens writes in an essay for the exhibition catalogue: “In contrast to the dominant view of Moore, we propose that he presented the body as abject, erotic, vulnerable, violated and visceral.”
Appreciation to Martin Knelman of the Toronto Star for this March 31, byline

Please click here to see Martin's article, at source.

Monday, April 5, 2010

2nd Stolen Artwork Turns up in Canada - this time a Henry Moore

Its becoming an old song. Someone snatches an expensive artwork from a New York Gallery and it shows up in Canada. Its a little like illicit high end, cross border shopping, in reverse.

Check out Carmen Chai's story of the latest discovery in a Canadian Gallery - A Henry Moore this time!

Click here to check it out in the Toronto Star.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lady X - who is this mysterious artist?

"Lady X" is the name we gave to this, shy, private Salt Spring artist who prefers to remain anonymous. What a delight it was to discover this gem of an artist who paints life with her heart on her sleeve. Each piece is a magical composition where people, animals and objects float Chagallo-like across the canvas. Through subtle lavyers of colour and gesso her dream images emerge with unexpected details.

She paints events from her life with an honesty and passion that can only take place when an artist works without any intention of public viewing. The pieces explore a wide variety of subject matter; often female-oriented themes such as motherhood, love, jealousy, companionship or social events such as cocktail parties. Her work is compelling because it is born from a lifetime of experience. These are authentic experiences with which we can identify as similar to our own."

Lady X is represented by Pegasus Gallery in Vancouver. You can see more of her works and read this extracted biography on that site.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Ontario Plein Air Society - A New Group with a Great Future!

Now here's a group that interests me. The Ontario Plein Air society. Partly because it combines two of my great loves, landscape painting and being out of doors.

The group had an early spring painting session this week at Scotdale Farm, near Georgetown, Ontario.

Zan Barrage, founder of the OPAS wrote: "We did ok yesterday. We had 5 people show up but the temp was -4 and it was windy. Not what the weatherman had promised." Now that's the spirit you have to admire!

Zan went on to say: I started the Society about a year ago after many years of going out there alone, I decided that we need to have a common voice. Many have joined. We have over 50 members now, but only a handful are active so far. David Sharpe is the co-founder of OPAS and we have a few members who are both active in painting and organizing. Our goal ultimately is to have group paint outs and group shows across the province.

Any group that continues the tradition of the Group Of Seven, to interpret this land in our art through a choirs of our many distinct voices and styles is onto something good.

The group extends the welcome mat for new members. A word for the wise: "Watch them grow...great days are ahead for these people!"

Zan has a number of interesting you tube videos which can be viewed by clicking here to go to the You Tube location.

Click here to be taken to the Society's blogsite


Friday, April 2, 2010

I See You, by Ice Bear (Chris Johnson)

Chris has just completed "I See You", another excellent work in his wildlife series.
Chris has captured this Great Horned Owl, as it appears poised to strike.

But there is more. Chris capitalizes on the big, round eyes and the intense stare of a owl, and he builds this into the title for the picture.

Note too, that he pulls the bird's body in from the back to draw its tail feathers increase its wind resistance to control its landing. This bend, pulls the body into a striking posture, and he accentuates the bird's speed of flight with his long strokes.

I like the way its one wing is extended. This suggests that the owl is using it an aerial rudder to control any last minute, sudden change in direction or to give it balance as it hits its prey.

The picture's background is a basic night time sky. There is the owl, and the branch it flies past. Anything else would be visually distracting. Your sight is as fixed on the owl just as its sight is as fixed on its prey.

Nice touch Chris!

You are welcome to check out Cliff's wildlife series, by clicking here. Then proceed from there to his to wildlife category.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Student of Art History Discovers A New Story Behind Henry Moore's 'The Archer'.

Henry Moore: The Archer
extracted from the Toronto City Hall website.Please click here to view.

Story by by Jenny Lass

Art history PhD candidate Sarah Stanners has unearthed new details about the drama surrounding Henry Moore’s infamous Three Way Piece No. 2: The Archer (1964–65) sculpture at Toronto’s City Hall.

Stanners explained that Canada has had a fickle relationship with Henry Moore, whose long connection with Toronto solidified in the 1960s as part of an effort to expand their respective international reputations.

The possibility of acquiring Moore’s Archer raised controversy in 1966 due to its $120,000 price tag and avant-garde design. The City of Toronto was hesitant to use public funds to buy a piece of art considered too abstract for Torontonians and produced by a non-Canadian artist. Despite fervent backing from Toronto’s mayor, Philip Givens, the proposal to buy the sculpture with municipal tax dollars was voted down. The Archer was eventually purchased using private funds and was unveiled on October 27, 1966 in City Hall’s civic square, now known as Nathan Phillips Square.

However, what many Canadians don’t know is that The Archer was produced as a result of a great friendship and following an unexpected tragedy.

In 1958, Finish architect Viljo Revell won an international competition to design Toronto’s new City Hall and its civic square. Revell wanted to display a Henry Moore sculpture in the square, but, according to Stanners, Moore would rarely “design something specifically for a space.”

So in 1964, Revell visited Moore at his studio in England to select a piece from his working models. During his visit, Revell was drawn to a maquette of The Archer and encouraged Moore to make it a large-scale bronze sculpture. Sadly, “the day after Revell left Moore’s studio, Revell died,” said Stanners. Moore finished The Archer in honour of his late friend even though Toronto hadn’t confirmed that it would buy the piece. Moore eventually reduced The Archer’s cost by $20,000 in memory of Revell and to aid its private purchase.

Moore is being commemorated at the Revell-designed Didrichsen Art Museum in Helsinki through an exhibition called Henry Moore: The Challenge of Architecture, in which a smaller marble version of The Archer (1965) is displayed. For the exhibition’s catalogue, also called Henry Moore: The Challenge of Architecture, Stanners chronicles the saga of The Archer in an essay titled “In Friendship and Memory: The Archer and Viljo Revell in Toronto and Helsinki” (The Didrichsen Art Museum, 2008).

Toronto’s love affair with Moore continues thanks to the Art Gallery of Ontario’s promise to preserve its collection of hundreds of Moore sculptures and to acquire British artist Simon Starling’s privately donated Infestation Piece (Musselled Moore), a version of Moore’s Warrior with Shield laden with zebra mussels to symbolize the influence of foreign art in Canada.

Whether you love him or hate him, “you can’t look at the British influence of culture on Canada without looking at Henry Moore,” said Stanners, who encourages all of us to be mindful that there is more to the art we admire than what we see — “there’s a story behind it.”

extracted from A&S, University of Toronto
Please click here to view.

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