Sunday, October 31, 2010

Beaverbrook Gallery Wins!

Turner: Fountain of Indolence 1834

So the battle endeth at last! The Beaverbrook lot of descendents have returned home to England, after a 6 year legal fight to seize the paintings in the Beaverbrook Gallery and take them home with them. Not that they haven't been doing it anyway.
The family has had a sorry reptutation of conviently "borrowing pictures" and then forgetting to return them to the gallery.

It all came to a head with a 6 year legal fight over ownership. The descendents claimed that the works were "loaned" to the gallery. The gallery said, "no way", they were a legally bequeathed to the gallery as trustees by Lord Beaverbrook.

Please click here to see the previous story in this saga.

I suspect that it was a win-loss situation for the gallery. |The gallery got back what they were legally entitled to, and Lady Maxwell Aitken and family flew back to England, leaving behind them the Beaverbrook Gallery, to pay for the legal costs.

You can't win for losing it seems.

The story can be found by clicking here to be taken to The Art Newspaper.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vic Atkinson's 'Cartouche'

Vic and I share a common interest in ancient societies. Vic has a developed a love for ancient Egyptian art and when you see this work, you can understand why.

The beauty of colour and design in his work, reveal a richness of artistic expression. Vic takes an artistic form which has been degraded by time and he gives back to us an insight into the beauty of art created by the ancient Egypticans.

Vic, blows away the dust of time and he gives this ancient society the kind of artistic respect they deserve. When you see such a work as this, its not hard to imagine great stone walls, temples, and public places as seen long ago in their fullest glory. Our perspective of these peoples is lifted out of the Sahara sands and given life.

When we see such works we can appreciate Vic's adventurous quest.

Friday, October 29, 2010

George Reid - one of Canada's Early Artists

Mortgaging the Homestead

"In 1890, George Reid was thirty. He had returned to Toronto after a year in Paris and had immediately begun work on a large and ambitious canvas, Mortgaging the Homestead. He submitted the picture as his diploma work for the Royal Canadian Academy, to which he was elected as a full member in 1891. Reid's painting, recounting a country family's misfortune, struck a powerful chord in a society which was so dependent on the land. It was a subject Reid could invest with the conviction of personal experience. Born and brought up on a farm in western Ontario, he had had to overcome considerable resistance from his father to pursue his artistic interests. At one point, the family was forced to mortgage the farm. To such people, a mortgage was a last resort, a serious blow not only because it meant yielding independence and control of one's destiny, but also because it carried the shame and stigma of failure.

"Ironically, what had been a low point in his family fortunes marked for Reid a major success in his career. Three years later, he painted in an even larger format a sequel, Foreclosure of the Mortgage. Widely exhibited across North America, this picture brought Reid highly favourable notices. (Regrettably, the painting was destroyed by fire in England in 1918. In 1935, Reid painted a second--and, one assumes, inferior--version from his original sketches, and this is now in the Government of Ontario collection.)

" Mortgaging the Homestead was typical for its time because of its choice of theme and its narrative presentation. In the emphasis Reid put on the painting of light he also showed himself responsive to the latest academic interests in Paris. The Salon of 1888, the year Reid went to Paris, was particularly noted for the emphasis that painters were giving to light effects. Yet unlike other Canadian artists who had gone to Paris (in particular William Brymner, Paul Peel, and Robert Harris), Reid did not fully adopt the French mode. Nor did his work indulge in the cloying sentamentality and heaping detail that characterized so much European painting of the time. His painting is spare in incident, concentrating on the strength of the characterization that he could bring to his figures.

"The origins of Reid's approach owes most to the years he had spent in Philadelphia studying with Thomas Eakins, one of the finest figure painters of the day. Reid took up Eakins' robust naturalism and his concern with describing individuals rather than types. Eakins looked directly to the people and circumstances of his time and place, an attitude that also marks Reid's best work.

"Reid invested a major commitment to the development of art in Canada through a long career as both painter and educator. When J. E .H. MacDonald wrote in the mid-1920s about the origins of an identifiably Canadian school of painting, he pointed to Reid as one of the most significant arists in its development. Reid taught from 1890 at the Central Ontario School of Art and Design, and he was president of the Ontario College of Art from 1912 to 1928. He became a great advocate of "public art" and undertook major decorative murals on historical themes at Toronto City Hall (1897-99) and the Royal Ontario Museum (1935-38). An extensive program of murals on historical themes at Queen's Park was not realized, but some of the subjects were later executed in murals at Jarvis Collegiate Institute in Toronto (1928-30). In 1944, shortly before his death, he donated to Ontario 459 paintings and works on paper, most of them for display and exhibition in schools across the province. Less than half the works are traceable today."

Source: From the history of Jarvis Collegiate.Toronto Board of Education, secondary school website. Please click here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The End of the Group of Eleven

Art groups come and go. They are held together by the bond of common interest and they have their own lifetime.

Helen McLean, recently wrote an interesting review on Iris Nowell's 'The Wild Ones in Canadian Art'.

While I won't write a review on a review, I will mention a couple of things I found interesting.

The Group bonded together with an uproarious sense of iconoclism. Tom Hodgson, who was one of the members of the group, used to paint in a studio he called 'The Pit'.
Hogdson often painted in the nude, and visitors to his studio, were usually persuaded to abandon their clothing.

Helen wrote about the demise of the group:
"By 1957, the Painters Eleven had done what they set out to do, which was to elevate abstract art to the mainstream of Canadian art. To mark their disbanding, there was one last wild party in the Pit, an occasion marked by heavy drinking, plentiful weed, rope-climbing, fistfights and a fire."

Please click here to read the review:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Early CBC - AY Jackson Documentary, complete with film footage of Tom Thomson's, Toronto 'Shack'.

I've been on a bit of an AY run lately. His autobiograpy caught my interest and with that I was off to the races.

Some background to this CBC documetary. It was created in 1955, making it 55 years old. AY, was 72 years of age at the time.

My attention picked up when the film showed footage of the famous 'shack', where Tom Thomson, lived in Toronto.

Lawren Harris, in his essay 'The Story of the Group of Seven,' wrote:

"The studio building was built in 1914. MacDonald, Jackson and I had studios in it. We tried to induce Tom Thomson to join us. Thomson loved the north. The north country and painting were his life. He lived in town in the winter with the sole idea that he could go north as soon as the ice broke in the rivers and lakes. Tom did not want a studio in the building. He would not feel at home in it. There was a dilapidated old shack at the back of the property which was built in the days that part of Toronto was the town of Yorkville. We fixed it up, put down a new floor, made the roof watertight, built in a studio window, put in a stove and an electric light, Tom made himself a bunk, shelves and a table and an easel and lived in that place as he would a cabin in the north. It became Tom's shack and was his home until he died in 1917. It has been known as Tom's shack ever since."

While Lawren doesn't say it, AY Jackson in his autobiography says that Lawren who was wealthy, provided the money for the studio and property. So it's conceivable that he paid for the refitting of Tom's 'shack'.

The Shack was eventually moved to the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, On., and AY Jackson spent the latter years of his life in the shack as a resident artist.

Anyway...its yours to enjoy. Its a real period peace documentary complete with tinny music, orchestrated dialogues and a voice over that makes it sound like a world war 2 film.

Please click here.

Lawren Harris essay extracted from Joan Murray's, 'The Best of the Group of Seven,', Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton, pg.27. isbn:0-88830-265-7.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ronald Bloore and the Group of Five

White Paintings Represent Freedom for the Viewer - Rob Bloore

Kenneth Lochhead, Art McKay, Ted Godwin, Doug Morton, Ronald Bloore were Regina based artists in the 1960's. They received national attention after their paintings were presented by the National Gallery of Canada.

The Regina Five were a group because of where they lived and because of the experimentation of their work, but not by adherence to a common program. Such a notion would have been unthinkable to Bloore who, for more than thirty years, has pursued a rigorous and personal direction. In his catalogue statement for the "Five Painters from Regina," he wrote: "I am not aware of any intention while painting with the exception of making a preconceived image function formally as a painting. By this I mean that the appearance of each work has been consciously determined in my mind before executing it, and the general concept is not significantly altered by the requirements of material limitations."
from the website of the late artist Ron Bloore. Please click here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Doc Snider's House, Revisited

I received a letter the other day from one of our featured artists. And, for the sake of putting the record straight - this man is very, very good. I will respect his confidence and grant him anonymity.

Afer reading the critique on Doc Snider's House, he made some dynamite points.

Before presenting some of his thoughts, I want to say that people bring their own life experiences into critiquing. An academic or someone who has a passing appreciation of art may see something entirely different from what an artist sees. The artist's insights are wrought out of years of hard experience in picture construction.

That being said, the writer encourages viewers to take another long hard look at this painting. He says among other things, that "there are all sorts of confusing elements, roof lines for instance, tangents, and butts galore."...the house in the middle lists to the left".

Ok, so lets take another look at Doc Snider's House.

Look at the left roof corner of the centre house. Do you see how an errant tree branch seems to grow out of the angle where the roof and outside wall meet.

Now, run your eyes up the right wall. A tree trunk runs along the outside wall of the uupper floor line and is wedged uncomfortably into the corner where the wall meets the overhang.

Look now at the right tree. The tree trunk not just butts up against the wall but it runs up along its edge and this creates a visual discordinance.

Taking this one step further - take a long, critical look at the lines at the back of the centre building. Look carefully at the space between it and the building to the left. Can you intellectually understand what is happening here?
It appears to be a roof line, but it sort of fades into nothingness.

While this may seem like nit picking, most artists place a very high value on the solid picture construction. This picture has some very questionable composition problems not without which are fragmented and confusing visual pathways.

That being said, it is easy to understand how Fitzgerald was drifting into abstract art forms - but when the two art forms are blended - what is left? A poorly constructed realistic work or an abstract construction which relies heavily upon reality.

Lets look at it from another view. If the artist's prime focus is the ballet of the winter trees - then his choice of title, creates its own confusion. Does the title place pre-eminence on the Doc's House or the trees?

Perhaps its best that this blog entry end with the words of the artist who put me onto this analyis.

The concept that something of significance does not have to conform to the rules because these rules might curb true artistic expression is an intersting concept. How does it become something of significance if it does not use these rules as the basis of its formation. Curious thing is that I am not a compositional stickler and certainly not an expert. So if I see things that are haywire, a true authority could find lots more. But profound creations do not necessarily conform to rules, thats what sets them apart and marks them for greatness....Picasso? Very average work that is flawed really has nothing to recommend it, not even an overly enthusiastic academic critic can convince a knowing eye that mediocre is good if it does not transcend the mundane./blockquote>

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Official Line is...............

Oh my, what can I say?
You my dear readers,are beholding a work called "The One Hundred Foot Line", by American artist, Roxy Paine.

Just in case you think that the blog has 'gone south', let me draw you up to date on this.

The One Hundred Foot Line, sits prominantly in Ottawa, as a visual out of doors repesentation of the National Gallery of Canada.

The National Gallery Site, waxes beautifuly on the matter with the line: It extends above and beyond itself, this work presents an awe-inspiring confrontation between the natural and the “man-made.” No doubt!

If you check the NAG's site by clicking here, you will read Roxy's bio.

Roxy is from the state of Virginia and he calls New York City home.

Does this create any questions?

The best thing about this story is the title. In some ways it speaks very well for our Nation's capital where we have had twisted lines, and official lines, and all kinds of lines now for over a hundred years.

Come now - could we not have been fed another line?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Why was Emily Carr Not Invited to Join the Group of Seven?

I've been reading Joan Murray's 'The Best of the Group of Seven'. Joan is well grounded in her knowledge of the group. She has met and talked to Arthur Lismer and she has interviewed many family members and friends of the group. Joan is the Director of the Robert McLaughlin Art Gallery of Oshawa, On.

Joan challenged me from the get-go with her first paragraph:

Nearly Sixty years ago Emily Carr met the Group of Seven. Her reaction was two fold.On her meeting with Arthur Lismer, shortly after meeting F.H. Varley and A.Y.Jackson, she wrote in her journal. "I wonder if these men feel as I do that there is a common chord between us. "No", she replied to herself. "I don't believe they feel so toward a woman."
But - could there be another side to the story? AY Jackson writes in his autobiography:
"I too, had the weight to feel her displeasure. I spent a great deal of time once persuading a collector to buy one of her canvases. He eventually bought it, and all I got from Emily in the way of thanks was a letter complaining about having had to wait so long."

Was Emily unable to crack group membership because of her sex? There is good reason to believe that. But on the other hand, did the group members distance themselves from Emily because of her abrasive personality? That may also be the case. I guess we will never know the story since all the players are long gone.

Source 1:
The Best of the Group of Seven. Joan Murray. pg.7 1-8.
References:The Best of the Group of Seven. Joan Murray,Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton Ab. c.1984.
isbn 0-88830-265-7

A Painter's Country. Autobiography of AY Jackson. Clarke Irwin co. 1963. Toronto, On.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Paul Rockette Photograph

binoculars c1964
source: cbc website

Shocking Business: The Group of Eleven

One autumn day in 1953 abstract art landed with a thump, like a heavy, unexpected snowfall, on what used to be called Toronto the Good. Splay-footed pedestrians passing Simpson’s mammoth department store at Queen and Yonge Streets were the eyewitnesses. They were used to the home-furnishings window displays and the fur-clad mannequins, but something had gone mightily askew here. The window was full of weird paintings, possibly from one one of those new-fangled UFOs everyone was talking about.

This decidedly non-gallery setting was where seven young Canadians vented the fever of the affliction that had overtaken New York.

The instigator was William Ronald, who did the artwork for Simpson’s ads and handled the window dressing at the store. His biggest challenge until then had been trying to outdo the displays at rival retail behemoth Eaton’s.

Ronald’s bold stroke got enough attention for him and the other six live wires involved in the plot that they — joined by four others and calling themselves Painters Eleven — got an exhibition the following February at the Roberts Gallery further down Yonge.

The Group of Seven had quietly blazed new paths in the woods, and with their adherents pretty much painted “every damn tree in the country”, as another top Canadian artist, Graham Coughtry, put it. Painters Eleven — Alexandra Luke, Harold Town, Oscar Cahén, Kazuo Nakamura, Jack Bush, Hortense Gordon, Walter Yarwood, Ray Mead, Tom Hodgson, Jock Macdonald and William Ronald — were chattering ice cutters noisily opening the Northwest Passage.

Please click here to be taken to Paul Dorsey's article, in The Dali House.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

After the Rain by Homer Watson

After the Rain painted in 1883 is a good example of Watson's art. Like most of his mature work, this painting is a piece of refined and careful craftsmanship showing careful attention to detail. This painting has a photographic-like quality. Watson's aim seemed to be to create a near exact image of the countryside, as one might today with a camera. In terms of colour, Watson made considerable use of greens and browns, creating a sedate feel to his work. The painting itself, like many of Watson's paintings, depicts a country scene in the vicinity of Doon, his home town. It is a picture of a farm after a rainfall. Looking at this painting, we can see the plowed field, note the fences in the middle background, and see that the trees in the field have been cleared to make way for farming

Please click here to read the entire article on the Mount Allison University website.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weeding out the Collection

A friend and I were engaging in art talk over coffee. He told me how he refuses to let his less mature works survive the passing of time. Now lets face it. He was really saying, "After I am gone, I don't want my art to be judged on what I perceive as my poorer paintings." His words hit the mark for my collection could do with a good weeding out.

This is the thought that went through my mind as background to this page from the autobiography of AY Jackson.

AY, writes:
"While we were in St. Malo, a little circus tent arrives there. The performances took place in a small green tent, outside of which stood a covered wagon drawn by a mule. I made a sketch of the tent in the evening light. Some years later when I was cleaning out a lot of old paintings, I came across the circus tent and told my sister to put it with other rejected pieces in the furnace."

One day Robinson said to me, "Do you remember a sketch you did in St. Malo of a green circus tent? Do you still have it?" I told him that it had gone to the furnace some years before.

He was shocked. "Why, he said," "That was one of the finest things you ever painted."

Thereafter he would often refer to it, and in retrospect the sketch got better with every telling. "It was as good as a Morrice," he declared, and in time I came to believe that it was and that I had been very foolish to destroy it.

A Painter's Country - the autobiography of AY Jackson, pg.19. Clarke Irwin & Co, 1963. Toronto, On. Canada.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gary Kennedy's Latest Work: Trapp Skiff

Gary Kennedy of Port de Grave Newfoundland, has recently completed the above painting which he has called Trap Skiff. Gary's realistic style of painting provides almost an archival record of life in his province. Gary works in oils, and this painting measures in at 21.5"x 57.5".

I would guess that this is an early morning scene. The colours are muted and grey and it gives his work an archival quality - a sense of timelessness. It could be today, or on the other hand, it may be a reminscence of outport life from long ago. Nostalgia finds a warm home in the hearts of most viewers. Gary's restricted palette take attention from the setting and the lack of distractive colours leads us to focus on movement and the activity of his subjects as they engage in their tasks. But even moreso, Gary reserves his darkest values for the apron and the body of the man on the right. This moves him onto the centre stage (take a look at his workmate and how he is lost in the surrounding lines and shapes and like tonalities of the surrounding boats) By doing this Gary gives his fisherman visual pre eminence. He is not just an integral part of the scene, but he becomes pivotally important. By making the man the centre of focus, we see man in control. But then again,his small place in the overall scheme of things, leaves me with the conclusion that his control is locked into the present moment. He's a pretty small force in the greater scheme of things.

When you see it in this light, you can see how Gary has touched base with the very heart of Newfoundland life. The present day viewer sees the loss of their outport society and its economy and it brings with it a whole dimension of thought, peculiar to the lives of Newfoundlanders.

You are invited to check out Gary's gallery by clicking here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

AY Jackson on Lawren Harris

I did not meet Lawren Harris in Toronto, so he came to Berlin (Kitchener) to meet me. He was I found, a young man, well educated, widely travelled and well to do; his grandfather had been one of the founders of the Massey Harris Company.

To Lawren Harris, art was almost a mission. He believed that a counry that ignored the arts, left no record of itself, worth preserving. He deplored our neglect of the artist in Canada, and believed that we, a young, vigorous people who had pioneered in so many ways should put the same spirit of adventure into our cultivation of the arts. With MacDonald, Lismer, Varley and others whose acquaintance he had recently made, he believed that art in Canada should assume a more aggressive role and he had exalted ideas about the place of the artist in the community. After the apathy of Montreal, it was exciting to meet such a man.

After looking back all these years, I can think of no one who has so consistently devoted himself to increasing the public's interest in the arts and upholding the ideals of the artists in Canada.

Source: Autobiography of AY Jackson, 1958. Clark Irwin & Co., Ltd. Toronto. pg. 24.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What Could be More Canadian then Hockey?

Imagine this...the NHL is about to embark into the land of fantasy Superheroes, and who better to do it then Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman and the X men.
There will be One Superhero for every team.

Ok readers, here's your chance to produce your Canadian NHL Superhero pack.

Toronto Maple Laughter, Calgary Chuckrider,Edmonton Oil Can Harry, Kaptain Vancovuer Kanuckistan

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The New Raw - The Challenge of Today's Arctic Art

The New Christ by Jutai Toonoo, 2008.

I am caught in a time warp when I think of Inuit art. I see seals and hunters with spears and birds. But what is the new reality?

The West Baffin Art Cooperative has to deal with this on a daily basis for it seems that art galleries are of two minds in the south. Some more avant guarde galleries are willing to step out on a limb and to capture the new cultural realities of the north, but more often then not Galleries opt for traditional, nostalgic works.

Its time to take a good hard look at Arctic life. Dogsleds, and igloos are part of the fading Arctic past. If you go into any arctic community today you will find prefabricated homes, snowmobiles, and all terrain vehicles (quads). When I was in Saniquiluak in the Belcher Islands, I saw a wire running from the back of a small house and learned that this was the village radio station. Airplanes and ships from the south carry televisions sets, computers and southern appliances these northern villages and within 30 years time the culture of the north has been dramatically rewritten.

The question is. What is the new reality? As the traditional Inuit way of life slides slowly into the past, younger artists are becoming increasingly more attuned to these changes. Does the image of a polar bear swimmming among cola cans, helicopters carrying wealthy southern hunters and trucks carrying products from ships to the Northern Store, have a place in today's Inuit art? The answer would be yes. But can it find a market in a population where art buyers prefer traditional Inuit images?

Please click here, to be taken to a Radio Canada International Video, documentary which profiles this issue. Its about ten minutes long but it will forever change the way you see Inuit art.

Also, Eye on the Arctic: The New Raw. Please click here.

Sources: CBC Radio Oct. 8th, 2010 and Radio Canada International

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rolf Hicker Canoe on Lac Monroe, Quebec

Another beautiful and timely picture by Rolf Hicker. Rolf is a master of capturing the atmosphere of his surroundings.

Autumn has descended, and I have been spending time in the forest lately and searching for the 'right' picture to paint. This is what drew me to this autumn picture.

Rolf invites interested readers to click on the following links to see his fall and canoe related pictures.

Please click here to see his canoe gallery .
Please click here to view his fall gallery

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Farewell to Mira Godard -Foremost Gallery Owner

Canadianart, online writes of the death of Mari Godard a foremost Canadian Gallery owner. Please click here if you wish to read the article.

The article sites several people with quotes about Mira, including this one by Chrisopher Pratt.

I had my first show with Mira Godard in Montreal in April 1970. Now, 40 years later, I have a show at the Mira Godard Gallery in Toronto. It is, by sad coincidence, the last show to have been planned and installed in her lifetime. The significance of that, the unforeseen honour, does not escape me. It has about it an asymmetrical balance, a precision that we both found satisfactory.

I met Mira in 1969. Over the past 40 years, Mira and I became friends. She visited my home and studio in Newfoundland frequently. Those visits were a mix of business and camaraderie. She changed and upgraded the understanding of “professional” in the visual arts in Canada. I, and many others, have been its beneficiary.

Monday, October 11, 2010

FitzGerald's 'Doc Snider's House.' An Analysis written by Patricia Godsell

Doc Snider's House, was painted in 1931. The subject matter is simple, but the painting is elegant and delicately composed. Forms, line and space are balanced with great control. The colours are quiet and details are kept to a minimum. The buildings give the composition a three dimensional structure, while the positioning of the trees emphasizes the feeling of space. The trunks bend and curve towards and away from each other, creating delicate tensions and rhythms.

The meaning of the painting resides in its form, in cubic shapes, line, colour, and the relationships of one element to another. Although it is a realistic painting of a house, and garden in winter, it is not far from being an abstract composition. Through nature FitzGerald has worked towards finding the inner substance of forms

He once wrote:
It is necessary for me to get inside the object and push it out, rather than merely building it up from the outer aspect. This requires endless search and contemplation; continuous effort and experiment, and appreciation for the endless flow of the living force which seem to pervade and flow through all natural forms, even those seem on the surface to be so ephemeral.
(do you sense the presence of John Ruskin looking over FitzGerald's shoulder?)

pp 148-149
Enjoying Canadian Painting. 1976.
Patricia Godsell,
General Publishing Co. ltd, Don Mills, On.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lionel Lemoine FitzGerald, 1890-1956. A Unique Member of the Group of Seven

My interest in Lemoine FitzGerald was piqued when I was reading a section on him in 'A Vision of Canada - The McMichael Canadian Collection'.

First of all, FitzGerald wasn't an original member of the group. He was invited to join the group after the death of J.E.H.MacDonald. And, as if that wasn't enough, he was the only western painter in the group.

FitzGerald isn't as well known as other members of the group, because as the book explains, he was invited into the group, late in its existence. The eclectic nature of his paintings put him on the periphery of the group in style.

I have included with this blog entry, three of his paintings to illustrate the variety of his approaches to painting.

Click here to be taken to Wikipedia's article on FitzGerald.

You can also check out this article, in the Canadian Encyclopedia online.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lemoine FitzGerald

Terry Fenton's article on (Canadian Prairie Watercolour Landscapes)on, provides a couple of interesting observations on FitzGerald's style of painting.

Before pointing this out, I should mention that the artist was the last member to join the group, before it disbanded in 1933. Terry Fenton's article, writes:
FitzGerald was a remarkable artist, attempting in his own way to reconcile modernism with truth to nature. His style is delicate and rather pointillist, combining something of the softness of some Victorian watercolours with the precision and subtlety of Neo-Impressionists like Seurat.

Paul Duval, in his A Vision of Canada, the McMichael Canadian Collection, writes that Lemoine did most of his pointilistic paintings during his summer vacations (He was a teacher at the Winnipeg School of Art)when he had lots of time to paint. And, anyone familiar with pointilism knows that it is the ultimate style for micromanagers. Speaking personally, the art of composing a work from thousands of dots of paints would be next to sheer madness.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Masks by Mo Bayliss

It seems like I have always had an interest in archaeology. So, when Mo Bayliss's art entered my sphere I found myself immediately drawn to her work.

These masks are painted with colours which Mo grinds into powder from stone. She then mixes it with water and paints the resulting paste onto art paper. Mo finishes it off by her framing her finished work and putting it behind glass.

That being said, the above mask stares mutely out at the world. It isn't so much as a representation of a living person, as it is statement of life itself. Its hard, for instance to see any indication of personality in it. I remember being taken aback by this when I saw the moon mask in a museum in Victoria, many years ago. You have to get beyond your search for individuality. You are looking at a statement of human life itself.

The mask you see above speaks mightily for Mo's artistic skills. The rich colouring, the varied textures and the dramatic slash of black which crosses its eyes make it an exciting work. And to top it off,Mo highlights her work with surrounding radiating lines. If times were reversed, I am sure that Mo would have been a much demanded native artist, in times long past.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bill Mason and Ken Buck: "Waterwalker"

I have been reading Ken Buck's, 'Bill Mason Wilderness Artist, From Heart to Hand.' The book tells of Bill's journey in life from his youth in Winnipeg and on through his career as one of Canada's most celebrated cinemetographers.

I chanced upon a section of the book dedicated to 'Waterwalker,' which was of Bill's films. With that in mind, I did a bit of online searching on You Tube, where I found an edited version.

Interestingly, the highlights reveal that Ken was the cinematographer and the music was written and prepared by the singer Bruce Cockburn and Hugh Marsh. Bill Mason was the the editor and producer.

Waterwalker followed Bill's internationally acclaimed, 'Paddle to the Sea', and 'Cry of the Wild'.

Paddle to the Sea was nominated for a 1968 Oscar and lost out to Chris Chapman's 'A Place to Stand'. But, following that, it went on to take the nature and environment award at the Valence International Film Festival, in 1989, in France.

"Bill is on a wilderness painting trip in Waterwalker. There is one scene which always elicits a collecttive gasp of dismay from the audience. Bill is paintng the falls with his palette knife to apply oil on paper in an unpredictable technique and that he would often give up to start a new painting, he sits back to look at it for a minute, evaluating it. He then picks it up, crumples it and puts it in the fire, obviously unsatisfied with the results. Most people in the audience would happily have hung it on their walls, just as it was."
pg. 192

The above video is an abbreviated form of the original film. If you check this link, it will take you to the NFB site where you will see the 84 minute film without cuts.

The NFB, also provides a separate web page devoted to this film. It lists the credits and a description of the film. Click here to be taken to the webpage

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ontario's Buckhorn Art Festival

I chanced upon this clip on You Tube today and thought I would share it with you. The video was produced by CHEX tv - the source of my local tv news.

The Buckhorn Art Festival is a premier art show in this part of Ontario. It is very well attended and it sprawls over an area which incorporates about 8 buildings. To show at Buckhorn is a real validation for an emerging artist, for it means that you have "made it" through a rigorous judging process.

Like many of these shows, it is always fun to chat with artists whose work impresses you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mo Bayliss, recreates native art

Mo Bayliss is a unique artist. While most artists fit into well defined slots, Mo has made a niche for herself. Or should I say, she has found a niche which has been around for a very, long time.

Mo draws from her personal resource, of her great grandmother's native heritage, and from her love of drawing and her fascination with fossil collecting. But this is only the beginning.

It all started with her providing research and proofreading assistance for the Pecos Rio Grande Museum of Early Man (a virtual online museum based on archaic artifact recoveries from West Texas cave shelters). This led Mo to try her hand at other early historical native crafts and upon telling the Curator she would like to try the paint, he sent along some paint making stones recovered from a cave shelter. Three historical facilities have since come on board, and they have officially recognized her as an amateur archealogist.

Mo became an artist in residence at the Museum of the Boyne, in Alliston Ontario, in April 2006. It was here that she presented her historical illustrations of ancient pottery and heritage watercraft, and she remained there through to November 07.

Mo then programmed and launched the 1st Aboriginal Festival at the Gibson Centre of Alliston, with "Clay - The Aboriginal Way" (on a volunteer basis) in June 2008, and she co-ordinated "One Spirit-Many People" the 2nd in June 2009. Mo reports that she will become the creative director of the forthcoming 2011 Aboriginal Way show.

Mo has packed a lifetime of study and hard work into her last 6 years. What she lacks in formal art education she has supplemented with hard work and instruction from her portrait mentor, Toronto artist Jozef Milczarski who was quick to recognize her natural talent.

And, to make it all the better, Mo has found a market and a home for her art. She has sold over 100 of her works, in the past four years and her collection is displayed at 'Art Unique', a small private gallery in the Cookstown, area of Ontario.

While most artists seem to juggle their budgets with their art needs - Mo is much more down to earth about it all. (forgive the pun) She just grinds away at the stones she sees colour in, and mixes the paste with water and 'has at it'. She applies her paint to 9x12 canvases, and creates her personal representations of native art.

Mo's enthusiasm for her media is obvious. She has been sharing her art in workshops with adults and children, and has even been making her own petroglyphs.

When I asked Mo how she prevented her powdered paste from being damaged she told me that she doesn't use fixative and that she treats her the paintings as she would any other finished watercolour painting by putting them behind glass. Mo went on to say that "some do 'smudge' and are a little volitile, but in most it 'stains' and sticks well to the paper. It doesn't fall off. A commonly asked question is "will the paintings fade" at which I reply, "This is a 35,000 year old paint making technique, I hope I am not around long enough to find out".

Mo's curiosity in native art was really peeked after she attended a show of Native Ancestry art at the Gibson Centre in Alliston, and this led to her trying to recreate the colours she saw displayed in the show.) I was doing I emerged as artist in residence at the Museum on the Boyne in Alliston in April 06 - with the historical illustrations of the ancient pottery and heritage watercraft, and remained there through to November 07. I programmed and launched the 1st Aboriginal Festival at the Gibson with "Clay - The Aboriginal Way" (on a volunteer basis) in June 2008, and co-ordinated "One Spirit-Many People" the 2nd in June 2009. We pulled 2010 because there was a change over in the Excecutive Directorship and they were by no means prepared to host an event of this extent. But I am at this point, slated to be creative director of the 2011 feature.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Barry Penton's, 'Late Haul'.

Barry Penton's most recent work Late Haul presents his viewers with a simple, but yet powerful view of by gone days in Newfoundland.

Barry writes: My latest piece of work is entitled "Late Haul" is in memory of my Wife's Grandfather Albert Cluett Sr. He has worked diligently years using his Newfoundland Pony from everything to hauling water to wood. This painting features Albert defying the elements to get his horse home to his Father's House before the unforgiving Newfoundland winters of years ago. It once again shows how life was a struggle for the outports of Newfoundland.

The picture is loaded with both atmosphere and a story. This is a world of simple, hard realities, and the viewer's attention is drawn to the image of the man, with a horse drawn wood sled. Barry makes effective use the time of day to tell his story.
This is a black and white world of basic survival. By painting this scene after the end of daylight, Barry offsets the hard qualities of the scene by the warm light which comes from the window. It tells of a world within - where family, and warmth and security offset the hardship of external struggle.

I like Barry's willingness to paint people and animals. Watch for this artist. He has a great future ahead.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bertram Brooker, Canada's Rennaisance Man

I chanced upon the name of Bertram Brooker in early September when I prepared a blog entry called, Nudes in Toronto. Brooker has a forimdable presence on Google, so I spent an hour or so, roaming along the strands of internet to learn more about him as an artist. What intriqued me was that Brooker was not only, in his time, a significant player in the Canadian art scene, but that he had a lasting influence on its direction.

Wikipedia says:
Bertram Richard Brooker (March 31, 1888 – March 22, 1955) was a Canadian writer, painter, musician, and advertising agency executive.

Born in Croydon, England, to Richard Brooker and Mary Ann (Skinner) Brooker, he moved to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba in 1905 with his family. In 1913 he rented a movie theatre in Neepawa, Manitoba. That same year he married Mary Aurilla (“Rill”) Porter. In 1914 he became editor of the Portage Review, a local newspaper. In 1915 he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Engineers in Winnipeg. After the war he worked for The Winnipeg Tribune, The Regina Leader-Post and The Winnipeg Free Press.

He moved to Toronto, Ontario in 1921 and joined the staff of Marketing magazine. Brooker served as the magazine's editor and publisher from 1924 until 1926. In 1923, he published his first book, Subconscious Selling. In 1929 he joined the staff of the J.J. Gibbons Advertising Agency.

In 1931 Brooker was embroiled in a controversy about nudity in art when a painting of his was removed from a gallery exhibition because it contained nudity.[1] Brooker later wrote the essay "Nudes and Prudes" in 1931 as a rebuke.[2]

In 1936, Brooker's novel Think of the Earth (1936) became the first work to win the Governor General's Award for Fiction. In 1940 he joined the staff of the MacLaren Advertising Co.

Brooker is regarded as the first Canadian abstract impressionist. He was strongly influenced in his development as an artist by LeMoine Fitzgerald.
(There is a future blog entry on Lemoine to follow in about a week. Lemoine was the last member admitted the Group of Seven).If that wasn't enough to pique my interest, nothing would.
Continued in the next blog entry

Thanks be to the author of the Wikipedia article who generously provide us with the above information,. Please click here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bertram Brooker, Lawren Harris and Spirituality in Art

Checking back to the site, Canadianarthistory, (please click here).There are a couple of things of note in that website essay. One being that Bertram Brooker's paintings embraced realism and then moved into abstractionism. Secondly, Brooker demonstrated a concern for spirituality in his works. And, lastly, Bertram knew and communicated with Lawren Harris.

It pretty evident that Lawren Harris at the very least, shared Brooker's interest in spirituality. Harris was a known Theosophist. The above painting by Lawren Harris is loaded with spiritual symbolism. The question we will never really know is whether Bertram Brooker influenced Lawren Harris on a spiritual level - did they both play off one another, or did Harris influence Brooker?

Whatever it was, Lawren Harris's North Shore Superior, eventually went on to sell for
$3.5 million dollars in November 2009.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Franziscka Windover and dreams of smalltown mainstreeting

When I look at this work, I wonder how someone so young could have ever captured the spirit of Saturday night mainstreeting in small town Ontario in the 1950's. When I looked at this I was overtaken by a flood of memories; my cousin Rick, riding on the hood of a car,(no safety belt in those days), in a long cavalcade of honking vehicles, and holding the huge intercounty baseball trophy. He reminded me of a Roman general hauling his captured booty through the streets of Rome on the way to the steps of Caesar's palace.

Saturday nights throbbed with life in small town Ontario back then - in the good old days. Ontario was pretty much a rural province then, and the entire farm community rode into town to shop and socialize. Walking down mainstreet was quite a journey, as you worked your way around groups of people chattting and having a good time.

But, mainstreeting in a Chev with the windows rolled down and the sound of Elvis's Hound Dog bouncing off the walls of the buildings - that was life at its best for a teenager.

Franziska has captured this spirit and her picture has that mood setting atmosphere that makes me wonder if it all was real or if it was a dream in our collective social psyche's.

Strange isn't it, how a good work of art eclipses time. Now that my dreaming is over, another reality sets in. The style of clothing of the two people to the right of the painting, tell a different story. Franziska has presented us with a drawing taken from the present times, of a classic car show in the nearby village of Marmora.

But here's where this picture soars. The entire work is softly wrought. Its precisely drawn, but yet, the fineness of line doesn't become hard edged. The tonal values are for the most part, muted, and subdued and the light is diffused.
The foreground road sets the tone which leads our eye into the work. The road looks wet, and the reflected headlights are gently spread.

Talk about realism! Is it my imagination or not? Does the left headlight look unbalanced and does it not look like the beam is independently cast down onto the road in front of the car?

And Franziska says that she is self taught? I can't help but wonder if the hand of the divine master isn't helping her make such dreams come to life.

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//

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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.

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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.