Saturday, July 28, 2012

Painting about Emily Carr's Life.

Roy Coyote, the commentator points out a lot of interesting shapes, designs and patterns within this painting by Emily and suggests the presence of native symbolism.

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing”

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Annie Pootoogook's Tragic Story is our Social Tragedy

I held back in posting this article, since it is such a painful story.  I eventually decided that since it has made its way into the media, that silence doesn't have much value.

Annie Pootoogook has fallen on hard times.  And, it seems that she is following a path taken by a few native artists before her and its a collective national tragedy. Annie has been living on the
 streets in Ottawa. And to make matters worse, she is pregnant.

Annie is a member of the Cape Dorset art community and she is the 3rd generation Pootoogook artist.
She is noted for drawing themes of the life fabric she knows.  Her paintings have been noted for their blunt candor.

A recently written Wikipedia article reports that Annie has received assistance from none less then former Governor General Michaelle Jean, to try to get accommodations for her.

Pootoogook began drawing in 1997, working with the disarmingly simple media of crayons and ink on paper. Her works are large in scale and bold in execution. They portray contemporary Inuit life — juxtaposing intimate family scenes and home interiors with scenes of alcoholism and violence.  
Watching television is a recurring theme, seemingly in a matter-of-fact documentation of daily life, but tinged with the implied lack of physical or productive activity. Her titles are deadpan, e.g. "“Sadness and Relief for My Brother," "Memory of My Life: Breaking Bottles," or "Man Abusing His Partner." Living Inuit traditions do appear in her work, such as her portrayal of women tanning animals hides or families in fishing camps.  The passage of time figures heavily in her work, represented by a clock with hands set in different positions in different drawings.
The power of her work stems from its lack of obvious judgment. Her work does not moralize; she is just an observer, recording a reality both good and bad, with no distinction between the two. "In the last 10 years of her life she did an absolutely extraordinary series of drawings where she talked about the darker side of traditional life and, in fact, did speak about things like spousal abuse," said Pat Feheley, owner of Feheley Fine Arts, a gallery in Toronto that represents Pootoogook. 
 Source: Wikipedia. Please click here.
Annie was the winner of the 2006, $50,000 Sobey Art Award, and her works have been shown in formidable galleries.

The Ottawa Citizen recently reported Annie's story. If you wish to read the article and see a video of her story, please click here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Francois Baillairge and The Virgin

This work by Francois Baillairge is called 'The Virgin.' This was  part of a crucifixion scene originally in a parish church in the village of St-Jean-Port-Joli, 100 kilometres east of Quebec City, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence. The church council commissioned the sculptor to produce the group in 1797.

The power of this work is in his interpretation of Mary's torment.  Baillairge takes his carving to a deeply personal level, such as might be done by a medieval painter. Her hands are tense and prayerfully positioned. Her face is distraught and her eyes look away as if seeking the comfort of a distant power

Port Joli, is noted for its reputation for producing excellent wood carvers.

Extract from the National Gallery Collection. Please click here.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mother: A human love study by Jane Romanishko

I caught my breath when I first viewed this work by Jane Romanishko. What a painting!  This is a painting which is rich in such age old themes as love, life and survival.

The first thing that caught my eye was the relationship of the child to the mother. The two are bound in a single, long, looping length of cloth that is loosely shaped like a human heart. This prepares us for a work about the complexity of human love. Love not only binds the mother to the child, but it binds us to the work. we are looking at.

When I showed this work to a portrait painter, I asked her what caught her eye, and she said..."The baby."  Interesting, for the first thing I noticed was the mother's face.

Irregardless of what drew us both into Jane's work there are are a number of significant dualities at play. There is old dualism of age and youth. As well as such interplay between a hard life and the protected life,  and there is also a contrast between the strength of the mother and the weakness of the baby.

I like how Jane treats  the innocence of childhood. The baby's skin is soft and smooth. Notice how the cloth which surrounds the child is unbroken - its lines are straight and defined.  And, the background behind the baby is as plain and uncomplicated as the character of the child itself.  The maternal side of the heart fabric has a tired, weary, woman.  Her face is marked with lines of stress and her eyes look worried. Her hair is straggled and the background behind her is complex,dark and uncertain. There is an array of lost and found lines.  You have to like the way technique and style work together for Jane to create the overall theme of the work.

Now look at cloth that binds them. The woman's face is lined and worried. The cloth around her head is fragmented and undefined.  The child's face is smooth and its covering is illuminated.

I wonder if this not just a statement of the relationship between the mother and child, is a metaphor for our lives and for the struggle we experience gives rise to new life and light?  Notice how we move from darkness and lack clarity on the left to light and definition on the right.

Interesting, but whilst the child is filled with light and love, it is also a burden. The woman's passage into the   future comes with a price. This is life of purpose. Life where sacrifice leads to deliverance.

This painting has so much feeling,  interpretive skill and power. It's a dramatically powerful work.

Artist's Comments

Art, like life, is only as deep and interesting as the viewer interprets it. There is no greater compliment to the artist as to have someone stop, look and connect to their painting. It takes a very special person to
view art in the way that you do. I appreciate your comments and thank you so much for your critique.

To view this and other of Jane's works, please click here.      

Friday, July 13, 2012

Inuit Artists Could Benefit from Art Resale Royalty

Artists around the country are lobbying the federal government to create resale rights legislation.

The law would ensure artists are compensated when their work is resold at a higher price than that what it was originally purchased for.

Fifty-nine countries around the world already have the legislation, including France which has had the law in place since 1920, according to April Britski who is the executive director of the Canadian Artists Representation, also known as Carfac.

The legislation could benefit artists in Nunavut. Recently, a print by Cape Dorset, Nunavut, painter Kenojuak Ashevak sold at auction for about $29,000. If the legislation was in place, Ashevak would have gotten about $1,500 from the sale.

Britski said her group wants that to become a reality.

"Quite often, artists will sell work at relatively low prices early on in their career especially and then later on when it gets resold it is often for more, especially when it goes through an auction house. And so the full value of the work often doesn't come through until second or third or sometimes even fourth sales. We feel it's important that visual artists should receive some sort of compensation in acknowledgement of the contribution that they made to that work,"

Britski said they are recommending that the resale royalty be five per cent of the price.

Printmaker Andrew Qappik from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, just heard about the potential new law.

"If its resale value will compensate the artist, then it will help," he said.

Without a law in place, Qappik said artists are left to negotiate resale rights deals with the galleries on their own.

Source: CBC
Please click here

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Facebook censors Canadian Artist's work

This painting by Canadian artist Gregory Colbert, published on Facebook,  was removed by Facebook authorities as being 'pornographic'.  Its nice that FB should have the universal right to decide on the nature of art.

This appeared in an article in the Hindustan Times. If you wish to read the article and see the picture, please click here.

And, if you are curious - this article and picture will appear in A Portrait of the Visual Arts, on its Facebook page.  But viewer beware. You may find it has a big CENSORED stamp across the centre of the  work.
Or...worse may be lifted by the FB cops.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Meet Jane Romanishko: Definitely no plain Jane!

Jane Romanishko is not only a great painter but she has a fascinating personal life story to tell.

Jane was born in Siberia and she was introduced to art when she attended, the Ossinki art school, with her good friend. Her best friend wanted to become an artist, so it seemed like the right place for her to be at the time.  When Jane reflects on the experience, she says, "The truth is, there was an artist within me waiting to come out."  Looking back on the experience, she admits that the school provided her with a solid grounding in art basics, which has followed her  throughout her lifetime.  Jane also adds to her formal education, what she learned from personal reading and study.  "My greatest teachers were books and artworks from the contemporary artists Harley Brown and Richard Schmid."

Jane left the Ossinki art school, at the age of 15 to attend a College of Art Education. She entered  the teacher training programme. But her life took a different turn when she went from there to an architectural university.  She moved from there to  Estonia where she gave birth to her daughter Paulina.  When Paulina was 2 years old she moved to the States, and from there to Canada.

Interestingly, Jane says that she didn't particularly realize when she was young that she had a gift for art. It sort of evolved as part of her educational background.  Even though Jane had acquired her architectural degree her heart wasn't leading her that way. The closest she came to architecture was her work as a  freelance illustrator for a Calgary architectural company.

Jane's transition into Canadian life, came from the bottom up, where she worked at  a variety of entrance level jobs. " In one of my early jobs when I was a housecleaner, I became good friends with the family and they were great supporters of mine, and they count among the first to buy my paintings."  They
knew a good thing when they saw it!

When Jane turned 35 years of age, she heard her life call as a painter and she followed its voice.  She knew that this was what was meant for her to be..  She says that it was so natural that it seemed that when it poured from her onto paper and canvas, that someone else was using her hands to create.  What a wonderful way to describe her liberated spirit!

Jane is at her best when she paints portraits of people and animals. And when she really thinks about it, she says that it seems strange but its true, that "as an artist, you work the first 20 years for your name, and the following 20 years your name works for you". Well said.

When Jane looks back over her years in Canada, she says, "We have travelled a lot in the last few years. My partner Dallas is a professional photographer and we have travelled throughout the world - usually off the beaten track. We like meeting everyday people like farmers and fishermen. Its fun to talk to them when you don't know the language." There is a lot of gesticulating and strange movements. "We plan on going to India for six months at some time in the future."

Her daughter Paulina has grow up now and is in her 3rd year of university, where she is studying Asian studies and linguistics, and learning Japanese at university in Kyoto, Japan.

Its interesting how life works things out.  Jane's education in teaching and art, has paid off.  She founded a small art school in Airdrie (near Calgary), but after a number of years had passed she feels a stronger desire to paint and not to teach.  But even at that, she found the time to set up an art retreat. This one is about 160 km from Peurto Vallarta Mexico, near old port San Blas.

Her school will open for its first workshop in February 2013.  Its in an absolutely, idyllic setting overlooking the ocean on one saide, and the mountains and jungles on the other. Jane says: "We hope to have great teachers come and share their knowledge with  students from all over the world. It also will be open to artists who would like just to come and stay and create there."

Jane is a remarkably artistic woman. When she arrived in The States, she says that nobody could pronounce her name. (Zheenya), so she decided that she would be called Jane, after her favourite literary character Jane Ayre.  What a romantic! It wasn't long  before she heard the expression, "plain Jane."  But anyone who knows Jane with her colourful personality and her Russian accent, would definitely not think of her as plain Jane. She's anything but and her paintings and life attest to that!    Jane invites you to drop by her website to check out her work. Please click here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Thanks go out to Bev Herscovitch for sending along the following pictures she took at the Montreal Art Show. The show is being presented by Galerie IQ, and is located in the former St.Bridgide de Kildare, in Montreals Gay Village, and it runs until July 14th.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Artist Crystal Prybille unveils her sculptor of Father Pandosy.

Artist Crystal Pryzbille reaches up with Member of Parliament, Ron Cannan and Kelowna Councillor Gail Given, to unveil Crystal's scuptured work of Father Pandosy. Father Pandosy was an Oblate missionary who established the Father Pandosy Mission in BC's Okanagan Valley,  150 years ago.

Fredericks-Artworks Blog, copying policy

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

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

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