Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Coca-Cola Bottle at 100

20 x 10'', acrylic on hardboard, 2015
Painting # 230

The title says it all. Coca-Cola might be 129 years old, however the iconic form of it’s bottle is celebrating 100 years in 2015. This 6-pack edition was made especially for the occasion.

Coca-Cola was invented by Dr John Pemberton, a pharmacist living in Columbus Georgia. It was first introduced in 1886. The famous fonts used for in the lettering / logo is named Spencerian Script. In 1915, Coca-Cola launched a competition for the design of a unique bottle that could be distinguish by it's form alone. ''The contour bottle'' created by Earl R. Dean was declared as the winning entry. Coca-Cola has great sustainability. It is undeniable that from a marketing stand point that the company has gone to great length to remain current while retaining a nostalgic edge unlike it's main competitor Pepsi-Cola. Based on a best global brand rankings in 2014 by Interbrand, Coca-Cola was the world's 3rd most valuable brand, behind Apple and Google. Pepsi is ranked 24th. 

During the month of May of 2014, my wife Suzanne and I had the immense pleasure to visit the World of Coca-Cola. The museum is located in Atlanta, Ga, the same city as it's headquarters. It houses an immense collection of artefacts and vintage Coke memorabilia and is a must for any individual who collect anything Coca-Cola. The highlights for me was certainly all of the vintage signs, the Olympic Torch display from past games, the original paintings of the most iconic Santa Claus by Haddon Sundblom and the 'Taste it'' exhibit where you can sample at will the 100+ products made by the Coca-Cola Corporation that are available around the globe. As a parting gift, you get a newly bottled Coca-Cola to take home. 

Coca-Cola is a  major sponsors for several sporting events like the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. With Canada hosting the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, Coca-Cola sponsored a Cross-Canada Tour of the trophy before the tournament began with several stops across our country. I was fortunate enough to be part of the medical team for all the seven games held here in Moncton, NB. One of six host cities that also included Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver. 

The painting is currently on exhibition in the group show, Under Summer Skies!
To acquire this painting, please contact the 
Fog Forest Gallery 
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB. Canada
(506) 536-9000 or .

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Les Fraîches du Québec

Acrylic on hardboard, 4 x 3''.
Painting # 228, 2015

This painting was juried in the 8th edition of the International Miniature Biennial to be held in Lévis and Saint Nicolas in the province of Québec. As it turns out, the photo study for the painting was actually taken in Lévis as few years back while visiting my wife's sister Lise during a summer vacation.

Sunday June 14th, 2015 - Opening reception

The first part of the opening will be held at
the Presbytère Saint-Nicolas at 1 pm.
The event will continue at the Galerie Louise-Carrier at 3 pm.

At both locations, the jury will announce
the winners of various prizes.

On your journey between both locations, you are invited to stop at the Galerie d’art des Deux-Ponts to visit an exhibit of miniature artist’s books. You are then invited to stop at the artist-run center, Regart, for a current contemporary arts look at miniatures. 
A miniature tour of the world of miniatures this summer in Lévis, Québec, Canada
The exhibition will be held from June 14th to September 6th, 2015.

One exhibit – four locations
Presbytère Saint-Nicolas
1450, rue des Pionniers       
Lévis, Qc

Galerie Louise-Carrier
33, rue Wolfe
Lévis, Qc                                   
Galerie d'Art des Deux-Ponts
601, route des Rivières
Lévis, QC

5956, rue Saint-Laurent
Lévis, QC

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lucky Kitty

Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 12 x 12''
painting #227, 2015

This past November, I was invited to submit an entry in the 2015 International Artist Grand Prize Competition hosted by the organizers of A.R.T. Revolution Taipei, the premier spring Art Fair in Taiwan. One of the requirements was that the painting should reflect the Asian art market. I immediately mentioned this to my son Jean-Luc. He asked me, ''What would you paint?''. I said, ''Maybe something with Hello Kitty in the composition''. He then pulls out his iPhone and shows me a photo that his friend Matthieu had just sent him. Matthieu had left for Asia the previous day and was backpacking through several east Asian countries. ''Check this out'' he said. ''Matthieu had a connecting flight in Taipei and sent me a picture of a Hello Kitty Store located at the airport terminal''. I had purchased this Lucky Stars Candy tin featuring Hello Kitty about 2 years ago as a possible prop for a painting. With Hello Kitty celebrating her 40th Birthday that same month, it seemed like perfect timing to shine some light of this iconic animated character. 

Hello Kitty is a white Japanese bobtail cat with a red bow created by Yuko Shimizu. The character first appeared on a vinyl coin purse in 1974 in Japan and was introduced in the United States two years later. The target audience was primarily for young girls but it has become equally popular with woman.  I probably started noticing Hello Kitty on various products about a decade ago. Now a day, it is probably impossible to enter any department store that does not feature this famous feline on a variety of consumer goods. Hello Kitty is owned by the Japanese company Sanrio . Without doing any advertisement, Hello Kitty has become a cultural phenomenon and a pop culture icon across the globe but especially in Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and many Asian countries. She has received the exclusive title of UNICEF Special Friend of Children. Singers Lady Gaga has posed in Kitty fashion and Avril Lavigne featured a SONG on her self-titled fifth studio album. The video has enjoyed more than 73 million views on VEVO.  

Hello Kitty currently appears on an astounding 50,000 plus products distributed in 60 countries. You'd be hard pressed not to find it on any random products. Just Google anything with Hello Kitty and it is bound to exist. Anything you can dream of or imagine, from coloring books, pencil cases, popsicles, t-shirts, dresses, porcelain figurines, cookie jars, bed linen, bedroom furniture, credit card, condoms, ironing boards, microwave ovens, electric fans, toasters, lawnmowers, motor oil, video games to even houses, cars, trains, planes, house cafés, restaurants, theme parks and maternity hospital where the nurses' uniforms features Hello Kitty. It has become a 7 billion dollar /year empire. Click on this LINK for some mind-boggling samples. 

On January 31, I received the news that ''Lucky Kitty'' was selected among 90 finalists from an estimated 4,033 pieces of artworks submitted for the 2015 International Artist Grand Prize Competition created by artists form 78 different countries. A.R.T. Revolution Taipei is to be held in Hall 3 at the Taipei World Trade Center from May 5 to 11, 2015 (including previews). Attendance at last year's event attracted more than 25,000 visitors. I will be the sole representative for Canada. Click HERE for a preview of the finalists and HERE for a link to a video of this grand event.

Update - Event photos (May 11, 2015) 


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Featured on Lines and Colors

My artwork is currently featured on one of the most popular art blogs, 
"Lines and Colors" written by Charley Parker.  Many thanks for the exposure. 
Date- January, 19, 2015.
Please click HERE to view.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Splitting the Apple

Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 12 x 12"
Painting #226, 2014

If there is a musical group that really need no introduction, it would be The Beatles. The band from Liverpool England was formed in 1960. They found success in early 1963 when "Please Please me" topped the UK charts. Their initial releases in America were on independent labels. By late 1963, Capitol Record introduced their music to the American public with their #1 single, "I want to hold your hand". The album, "Beatlemania! With the Beatles" was released in Canada on Capitol records on November 25, 1963.  

The timing for this painting, although I almost missed the deadline was to mark the 50th anniversary of their first album release in the United States. "Introducing.....The Beatles" was released on January 10, 1964 by Vee-Jay Records. Capitol Records would release "Meet the Beatles" 10 days later, on January 20. 

The enduring longevity of The Beatles, even if the band were only together for a decade can certainly be attributed to the various directions that they took musically, from pop, rock and roll, psychedelic and hard rock. But their song-writing abilities, especially the Lennon-McCartney collaboration was exceptionally remarkable. They were extremely prolific and studio albums were released in quick succession.

In 1968, the Beatles founded Apple Records as a creative outlet for the band while signing a select group of artists to the roster. In 1970, "Let it be" would be their last studio album recording. By this time, creative differences and tension between the band members caused the group to dissolve. The concept behind this painting creates a narrative of the band splitting up and each member carrying on with their individual solo projects. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all releases solo albums in 1970. During the following years, their solo recordings sometimes involved one or more of the other members as collaborators. 

Their legions of fans remained hopeful that one day they would reunite, but when John Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment building in New York City in 1980, so did that dream. 

When the band broke up, I was only 8 years old. My interest in music only started around age 12. While The Beatles' songs still played on the radio during my teens, I didn't truly appreciate their music until recently. This was probably due to the ever evolving music scene of the 1970's and reduced radio play. After the band broke up, several compilation albums were issued of their past recordings in greatest hits format, specific periods, anthologies and box set which became even more popular than their original recordings. The album 1, which was released in 2000 on the band's 30th anniversary of their break-up is a prime exemple. The record was a compilation of virtually all their number one singles in the UK and the USA. I bought it in 2011, when it was re-released digitally on iTunes re-entering the album charts at #1. The day I completed this painting on December 29, the album was specially price for the holidays and made yet another return on the iTunes charts at #24. That album has sold in excess of 33 million copies, bringing the total sales of the entire Beatles album discography to 600 millions copies sold, making them the most successful act in music history. On this LINK is a song catalogue, with many more singles that did not make it to number one and are among my favourites.  

I purchased "Let it be" about five years ago on eBay for the sole purpose of making this painting. When I did the photo study, in order to see the side of the apple, it needed to be at an angle. I wanted the image to retain the format of a vinyl album jacket. With the help of Photoshop, I was able to crop it as if you are looking at it directly above, but the perspective of their faces is altered because of this. These are by far the best faces I have painted and this is attributed to the fact that I currently use an iPad to view my source material. I am able to see better. It is strange that the photograph of Ringo Starr that was used for the album cover appears to have a thumb or something obstructing the left lower frame. I worked on this painting for more than two months. I anticipated that doing portraiture would be challenging and it was, but the fact that they were all in the same tonal values on my source photo study did ease the process.

The Beatles legacy and influences on other musicians, songwriters, popular culture and in print are immeasurable and will continue to live on as their music as universal appeal and transcends many generations. 

To inquire or acquire this painting, please contact:
Elliott Fouts Gallery
1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811 
Phone (916) 736-1429 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Free Parking

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 7 x 5"
Painting #225, 2014

The idea for this painting occurred last year after completing the painting Mondrian Tumbler. I can't remember if I was setting up a composition like this in my dreams, but upon waking up after a full nights' sleep, the first thing that popped in my head was, "I wonder if a Monopoly tumbler exist? Sure enough, I found a listing on eBay and immediately acquired it. It was a promotional item offered by Arby's Restaurants back in 1985. It is resting on a book, The Monopoly Companion, a players' guide written by Monopoly guru Philip Orbanes. It was a fun little piece to do just in time for Christmas.

To acquire this painting, please contact the 
Fog Forest Gallery 
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB. Canada
(506) 536-9000 or .


Friday, December 5, 2014

Do you see what I see?

I currently have two paintings on exhibition at the Fog Forest Gallery. The Christmas showcase exhibition opened this evening and will be running until the end of the month. If you are in the area of Sackville, NB, do make the detour, it will be time well spent. 

Click HERE for details. 
Gallery hours are: Tuesday to Friday 10 am - 5 pm. Saturday 10 am - 1 pm or by appointment.

The Fog Forest Gallery is located at:
14 Bridge Street,
Sackville, NB
(506) 536-9000

Monday, November 3, 2014

Vintage Fashion

Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 12 x 12"
Painting # 223, 2014

The image for this painting has evolve around a series of serendipitous events. In retrospect, when I started to connect the dots, the process informed me that it was just meant to be.

During the summer of 2013, I was browsing on eBay when I just happen to stumble on this vintage Barbie Sewing Pattern featuring six outfits. I was instantly seduced by the visuals of the illustration. It just screamed "Pop Art", almost à la Andy Warhol. This pattern dating back to 1961, appeared during the same period as Pop Art was emerging. The term was officially introduced in December 1962 on the occasion of a "Symposium on Pop Art" organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. By this time, American advertising had adopted various aspects reflected in modern art, and this sewing pattern was a prime example.  

This past spring, my wife and I visited the southern part of Georgia and South Carolina. This trip had been on my bucket list for close to a decade. Two years ago, I discovered my genealogy on the Richard side, dating back to 1652. I also learned that during "Le grand dérangement" in 1755, my sixth great grandfather, Michel Richard had been deported by the British army from Fort Beauséjour, NB  and sent to Charleston, SC, where he later died. My reasons to visit this region now seemed to carry more weight. After flying to Atlanta, we rented a car and went on a 10-day road trip that included Savannah, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Augusta and Atlanta. 

This whole trip was amazing. The people are most courteous and good old Southern Hospitality is still alive and well in these parts. When we visited Charleston, first on our list was the Gibbes Museum of Art . One of their featured exhibitions was a solo show by John Westmark.  Westmark creates dramatic images of faceless human figures that become lyrical by adding contemporary text. His primary material is store bought paper sewing patterns that are meticulously mounted on large canvases. The collages are brought to life with acrylic paint as his medium.  He creates "a narrative based on crisis, conflict and resolution in relation to feminist and gender-related issues". This collection certainly ignited a spark in my decision to use a sewing pattern for the above painting, although mine took a much different approach.

 John Westmark in his studio. 

On my list of commercial galleries to visit in Charleston was the Robert Lange Studios. The roster of artists they represent is among the most gifted realists in America. The two level space and artists studios is located in a historical building that has been modernized while retaining loads of it's original character. I only briefly said a few words and saluted Robert and his wife Megan whom were expecting their first child in a week or so. Upon exiting the gallery, we walked about 100 meters towards the waterfront when my eye caught a glimpse of a Robert Lange painting hanging in a grand lobby space. After inquiring about the work, a lady told me that Lange was collaborating with them. We then made our way to the water taxi and took a cruise in the harbour. 

During my visit to the Robert Lange Studios, 2 Queen Street, May 2014

During the month of July, I received an e-mail from the Robert Lange Studios. An invitation to submit my resumé for a juried exhibition they were organizing to be held at the Vendue, a historical Inn that recently underwent major renovations and transformed into Charleston First Art Hotel. Upon reading this, I immediately made the connection with the Robert Lange painting I had spotted two months earlier that was exhibited in this same space.

I submitted the required documents pretty close to the deadline. The following month, I received news that from the 500+ submissions received, mine was retained among the 40 selected artists for the show. The exhibition is entitled, "I see a Pattern", a theme that can be broadly explored as it was suggested. This opened a window of opportunity to use the Barbie sewing pattern and explore the theme in a very singular way. 

I'll spare you the details about the choice of fabrics used for my composition, but the dotted print material has several anecdotes that happened before and after it was purchased.

The Barbie Doll was introduced by Mattel in March of 1959.  A full clothing line that even included a wedding dress and accessories were launched at the same time.  This Advance Sewing Pattern was introduced two years later for the novice seamstress and designers who wanted to make their own fashion statements by experimenting with fabrics and prints. During the fall of 2009, in conjunction with Barbie's 50th birthday, New York Fashion Week hosted a haute-couture runway show featuring 50 fashion designers that included Diane von Fürstenberg, Vera Wang, Calvin KleinBob Mackie, and Christian Louboutin. Click HERE for a pics featuring live models. 

New York Fashion Week, Barbie runway show, 2009.

I am honoured to be taking part in such a exclusive exhibition, featuring a great diversity of established and emerging artists. The show is set to open on November 21, 2014 and will run until May 30, 2015. Please click HERE for a preview and opening reception information.
The Vendue is located at 19 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401, U.S.A.  

Here is a list of the participating artists:
Tony ChimentoTripp Smith, Victor Grasso .

December 3, 2014 -Update- A friend and fellow participating artist, David Parker attended the opening reception and generously sent me a few pics to share.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Made in Canada, an homage to Alice Munro and Mary Pratt

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 10 x 12"
Painting #224, 2014

Alice Munro and Mary Pratt are considered royalty and icons in Canada for their contributions to the arts.

Alice Munro is an author, a writer of fiction known for her uncomplicated prose of short stories exploring a recurrent theme of the human condition. American writer of "The Corrections" Jonathan Franzen states, "Over a career now in its sixth decade, she's rehearsed the same themes again and again, but that's because she's a master of variation. She has preternatural powers of sympathy and empathy, but she's never sentimental". The setting for many of her stories often takes place in southwestern Ontario, where she spent the greater part of her life. Her first short story, "The Dimensions of a Shadow" was published in 1950 at age 19. But it was only at the age of 37 that a collection of several short stories would appear in book format with "Dance of the Happy Shades. The Canadian literary scene was quick to recognize her talent by awarding her with the 1968 Governor General's Award for Fiction for her first offering. She would continue to publish another 13 volumes of original stories, gaining the attention of the literary world while receiving many accolades including two more Governor General Awards, three Trillium Book Awards, two Giller Prize, a Man Booker Prize, a National Book Circle Award, and a Roger's Writers' Trust Fiction prize. 

Alice Munro - photo by Kim Stallknecht

Munro has been a frequent contributor to several publications including The New YorkerThe Atlantic MonthlyGrand StreetHarper's MagazineMademoiselle, and The Paris Review. She was introduced to The New Yorker's readers in 1977 with the short story, Royal BeatingsI probably became aware of Mrs. Munro in 1998 when she was awarded the Giller Prize for "The Love of a Good Woman". That same Christmas, I offered the book to my wife as a gift. Her story "The Bear came over the Mountain" was adapted to cinema by fellow Canadian writer/director Sarah Polley as "Away from her". The film garnered two Academy Awards nominations; for Polley as Best adapted screenplay and for Julie Christie as Best Actress in a leading role. It won 7 Genie Awards including Best Picture and was ranked the #1 drama for 2006 by the Rotten Tomatoes.  "Boys and Girls", directed by Don McBearty won an Oscar in 1984 for best short film from an adaptation of a 1968 short story of the same name. On October 10, 2013, she became the first Canadian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. New Yorker editor Chip McGrath calls Munro's Nobel a "Win for her, for Canada". 

Mary Pratt is celebrated for her highly realistic paintings spanning a professional artistic career of more than 50 years. She was born in Fredericton, NB in 1935 and began drawing and painting at an early age. She would go on to study Fine Arts at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB, where she would meet her former husband, Newfoundland artist Christopher Pratt. They would wed in 1957 and later moved to her husband's native province during the early 1960's.  Her artistic career was delayed by the fact that she was very busy raising their four children. At first, she stole time to paint small sketches on their kitchen table. Memorial University Art Gallery in St. John's hosted her first solo show in 1967. 

As she reveals in several interviews, she would find her voice as a artist with the painting, "The Bed" (1968).  The way the light came across the bed as she entered their bedroom, gave her what she describes as "an erotic reaction". She knew at that very moment that this was the kind of emotion that was essential when being informed about subject matter worth consideration and major enough to paint. She didn't find inspiration from other artists. She painted the world around her. Finding inspiration in the domestic and rural life she knew. In 1969, her work, The "Supper Table" is often considered as the first painting of her professional career, because she painted it from a slide instead of real life. The slide informed her about the constant light and gave the time needed to paint the subject in a timely manner.

 Mary Pratt - photo by Ned Pratt

Since then, her work as been exhibited and collected by major art institutions, corporate and private collectors across Canada while also being represented by two major commercial galleries, the Mira Goddard Gallery in Toronto and the Equinox Gallery in Vancouver. 2013 would mark the start of her third touring retrospective to visit several venues across Canada. The first being "The Substance of Light" 1995-97 organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, NB. This was followed by "Simple Bliss" 2004-2005, organized and curated by the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Sask. and finally her 50th Anniversary retrospective 2013-2014, organized and curated by The Rooms, Provincial Art Gallery in St. John's Nfld and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, NS. Six books have been published about her art, including A Personal Calligraphy (2000). She has been awarded The Canada Council of the Arts Molson Prize and is a companion of the Order of Canada. A series of two stamps was issued by Canada Post in 2007 to honour her contribution to the Canadian Art scene .  

I've had the privilege to view all three retrospectives. Her most recent, on October 18 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. They are among the best solo shows that I've had the privilege to see in my lifetime. The impact they've had on my own work makes her my all-time favourite artist. She presents here subject matter in such an original manner, like no one had done before her. Her colour palette is harmonious, vibrant and goes beyond what any slide might be able to provide as information. So many of her paintings gives me a visceral internal response that just speaks volume about her ability to juggle life. She balances the very appealing images of jelly jars, fruits and glass bowls with less easy imagery containing dead moose, eviscerated chickens, dead fish and slides of a nude model taken by her husband.  Collectively, they become the biography of her own life. The scale of her paintings also makes a statement when viewed in person. This last show is but a sample of her total oeuvre and makes an overwhelming declaration of dedicating a life to family and art while making lifelong sacrifices in order to produce such a body of work. 

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, October 18, 2014

Salon hanging of still life paintings at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Unlike Munro, who's work has crossed borders and has been published in 13 languages, Pratt's work as a painter has essentially remained inside Canada. That is the faith for many artists, not just Canadians. With the digital age and the internet, art is quickly becoming more accessible to the masses. Opportunities for artists are becoming more common place, even if recognition by the artistic establishment and academia might be another issue.  

Munro and Pratt do share many commonalities. They are of the same generation, only four years separate them. Both married as young adults and for a while put their professional career on hold in order to raise their children. Both lost children at birth or miscarried. Both depicted the world in their immediate surroundings. Although Munro's work is fictional, the setting for her stories is not. Neither of them have political agendas with their work. When they started to produce their mature work, both received National recognition very early on. Both divorced and remarried. Both of their careers has been hampered by illness as they advance in age. 

The genesis for this painting was brought on by these recent honours bestowed upon both. They are forever linked by the fact that Alice Munro's editor, Douglas Gibson has chosen no less than three of Mary Pratt's images to appear on her book covers, with:
-Friend of my Youth (1990) / "Wedding Dress"- 1986 
-No Lost Love (2003) / "Barby in the dress she made herself"- 1986         
-Runaway (2004) / "The Bed"-1968.  

For my own painting, the background image is Mary Pratt's "Jelly Shelf" (1999) from the exhibition poster for her retrospective "Simple Bliss" shown at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. I viewed that exhibition after driving my mother to Halifax for a medical appointment during the winter of 2005. My mother was insisting on paying for the usage of my car and gasoline for the seven-hour round trip. When I refused, she said, "Well, I want to pay for something", so she ended buying me this exhibition poster. My mother was not well at the time and passed away the following year from heart failure, Parkinson's disease and severe osteoporosis which had crippled her body. This image and poster has sentimental value for the very obvious. The curators for her current retrospective also chose "Jelly Shelf" as the promotional image for the poster and for the book cover published in conjunction with the show. Her latest retrospective in comprised of 75 paintings.   

To acquire this painting, please contact the 
Fog Forest Gallery 
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB. Canada
(506) 536-9000 or .