Monday, September 6, 2021

Evangeline Well, Grand-Pré


"Evangeline Well, Grand-Pré (Puits Évangéline, Grand-Pré),
14 x 11", acrylic on mounted aluminium panel, 2021
painting #281

Last summer I was invited to take part in an up-coming 2021 exhibition at the West Baton Rouge Museum in Louisiana that pays an homage to Evangeline, the legendary Acadian literary heroine from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem of the same name,  The timing was perfect as we were leaving the following week for a Nova Scotia getaway as the NB-NS border had reopened earlier during the summer for tourists of the Atlantic, Canada bubble during the pandemic. We made our way to Grand-Pré, located in the bucolic region of Annapolis Valley. The historic site and grounds were open to the public. However, the statue of Evangeline by sculptor Louis-Philippe Hébert was barricaded during our visit and was going to be removed the following day for restauration. A small ceremony was held during the month of July 2020 to commemorate the statue's 100 anniversary. The commemorative church had scaffolding around its perimeter and was also undergoing restaurative work. The church which was built in 1922 will also be turning 100 in 2022 and is slated to reopen to the public next year. 


My wife Suzanne with the Evangeline statue and commemorative church. 
-photo taken during a previous visit, September, 2018.

Self, September, 2020

I first read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem Evangeline in 2017. Longfellow's tale written in 1874 would become a lasting legacy and a gift to the Acadian people. It would forever give them a sense of identity and help define the plight of the Acadians to the rest of the world.

While Evangeline is a fictitious character possibly based on a real person. She is perceived as an iconic and allegorical figure to the Acadians for her qualities of steadfastness, fortitude, strength, devotion and love.

During the deportation of Acadians in 1755, my 6th time grand-father, Michel Richard was deported from Fort Beauséjour to Charleston, SC where he died shortly thereafter. Avoiding the deportation, his wife and children had exiled themselves to Prince Edward Island as tension was mounting with the British. To pay homage to my ancestors and the author, I returned on the grounds of Fort Beauséjour, located in Aulac, NB and used it as the setting for the first two paintings done in 2017 & 2019. In the poem, Longfellow writes,

 Shaking his head, as in doubt; then, heaving a sigh, he continued:- "Louisbourg is not forgotten nor Beauséjour, nor Port Royal".

This painting is my third study using the same props. I wanted to create a full-circle moment by returning Evangeline to her homeland of Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia. The Evangeline Well was discovered by treasure hunters at the end of the 19th century.  It is located directly to the right of the commemorative church in Grand-Pré. My previous two paintings had ginger-ale inside the bottle. For this rendition, I decided to leave the bottle empty, as if returning to the well to fill it with water and as a means of symbolism and for what Grand-Pré and Évangéline represents to the Acadians which for many, also serves as a pilgrimage site. A bust of Longfellow is located about 50 meters from the well. The Grand-Pré historic site was established in 1908 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012. 

The exhibition "Evangeline, Evolution of an Icon", organized by the West Baton Rouge Museum, provides a glimpse into Evangeline’s evolving status from her inception through today as a legend and heroine, to a brand image and celebrity, and ultimately into a cultural icon. Inspiring writers, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs, Evangeline has appeared in many guises. Along the way, her image morphed from that of a demure Victorian-era maiden into a confident modern woman. This exhibition includes artworks by Canadian and Louisiana artists, including François Gaudet, Rémi Belliveau, Mario Doucette, Alvin Richard, Melissa Bonin, and George Rodrigue among several others as well as artifacts and paraphernalia to demonstrate Evangeline’s transformation and her timeless appeal. The exhibit opens Saturday, May 15 and runs through October 31st. 

photos provided by Lauren Hawthorne, curator of collection

The West Baton Rouge Museum is located at 845 N Jefferson Ave, Port Allen, Louisiana,United States. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday- 10 am to 4:30pm and Sunday 2pm-5pm

Suggested reading with beautifully mounted video done by the CBC for the 100th anniversary of the Evangeline statue also featuring François Gaudet, one of the artists taking part in the exhibition which I had a good fortune of meeting during our visit in Grand-Pré- click on this LINK to view.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

LOVE Letters and KISSES

Acrylic on gessoed mounted aluminum panel, 10 x 12"
Painting # 282, 2021

This is my fifth installment featuring a large chocolate Hershey's Kisses. I took a much different approach for this one. After a bit of research and brainstorming, I came up with this composition.

Robert Indiana (1928-2018) was born Robert Clark in New Castle Indiana. The Pop Art artist's is best known for his work consisting of bold, simple images and sculptures featuring numbers and short words like EAT, HUG, DIE with his most famous work being "LOVE". 

In 2008, he created the word "HOPE" for the Democratic presidential campaign of Barack Obama. Proceeds of the sales of reproduction prints were donated to Obama's campaign, raising in excess of $1,000,000. 

In 1973, "LOVE" was used by the US Postal Service for the first stamp of their on-going Love series. Some 330 million stamps were printed. The first day of issue was on January 26, 1973 in Philadelphia, PA, known as the city of brotherly love. The first-day cover features a Valentine,  since the timing of this stamp was for the annually celebrated day for lovers.

I was able to acquire two of these first-day covers on eBay. For my composition, I decided to make a few changes so that it would become more of an homage to Mr. Indiana and less of a Valentine by doing a few edits. A diffuse reflection of the Kisses chocolate is cast on the plastic film of the box, adding an extra point of interest.

During my travels, I've had the opportunity to see several of his word sculptures and paintings. Below are just a few. 

Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
New Orleans Museum of Art, Dec. 2012

Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Me, June 2014
Robert Indiana lived the last 40 years for his life
on Vinalhaven Island, Maine, located 15,4 miles from
the mainland. The island is accessible
by ferry from Rockland, Me.

Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, March, 2013 

Montreal, QC, August, 2015

John K. Kennedy Plaza (aka- the LOVE Park)
Philadelphia, PA - Oct. 2015

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oct. 2015

Our son Jean-Luc at Penn State
Philadelphia, PA, Oct. 2015

To acquire this painting, please contact: 

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1367 avenue Greene, 
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2A8 
Tel: 514.933.4406


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Un café du jour la nuit à l'Automat, un hommage à Edward Hopper


16 x 12", acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminum panel
painting #280, 2020

Edward Hopper painted Automat in 1927. It is the collection of the Des Moines Art Center in Des Moines, Iowa. An automat was a type of restaurant that served simple foods and drinks from vending machines. This fast-food concept first appeared in Berlin Germany in 1895. The first to open in the US in 1912 was located at 818 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia. Horn & Hardart became the most prominent American automat chain. They were popular in northern industrial cities and were generally open 24 hours/day. They grew out of fashion during the 1970's when fast food restaurants entered the landscape. 

The lone woman seated at a table having a hot beverage. The fact that she has only remove one glove might indicate that she is only there for a brief period or coming out from the cold. Her facial expression and the time of day does sets the mood for the entire painting. There is a tangible sense of isolation and aloneness in her body language. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, this has been the reality for many people during quarantine measures with social distancing, working from home, school closures, a one unit family bubble during orange /red phases and limited admittance of people within a confine space. In order to reach out to family members, friends, to have the ability to communicate from home to the work place and for distance education, the public has been relying more on videotelephony and teleconference platforms like FaceTime, Skype and most recently the Zoom software which saw a significance increase in usage on a global scale. 

With the coffee cup facing the viewer and resting on a calendar, my intention was to create a date using such software with the lady in the Hopper masterwork as a form of symbolism in communicating while being apart. 

The calendar was published by Graphique de France in 1992. It had been in storage since then. The photograph of the painting "Automat" is credited to Ray Andrews (1990). I own three artbooks of Edward Hopper and the photo in the calendar is by far the best reproduction. The coffee cup was purchased as a prospect prop from Chapters / Indigo bookstore. It had been patiently sitting on a shelf in my studio for about a decade, just waiting to be used.  

To acquire this painting, please contact: 

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1367 avenue Greene, 
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2A8 
Tel: 514.933.4406

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Lose One's Marbles


Acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminum panel
11 x 14", painting #279, 2020

I've done several still life paintings using vintage mason jars with marbles. My last one goes back about a decade now. It's always interesting to revisit past subject matter to see how one's fare as my craft continues to evolve. In recent years, I've been using a lot more opacity while painting with transparent glazing on top. I am pleased with the outcome.

For this study, I purchased a 12 x 18 in. white glossy ceramic floor tile from Home Depot which I laid on the windowsill to serve as the base. Its glossiness provided a mirror like effect that I was hoping for. 

The lampwork hand crafted marble on the glass lid was done by an American artisan. I acquired it from the artist a few years ago. This one even has a gold dust ribbon swirl. 

Currently exhibited in a group show entitled "Apart Together, a Weary World Rejoices" at the Forest Fog Gallery, Nov. 20- Dec. 31, 2020

To acquire this painting please contact:
14 Bridge Street, Sackville,
New Brunswick, Canada, E4L 3N5
Phone (506) 536-9000

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Lindbergh Again Flies the Air Mail (reposted from Feb. 2017)

14 x 11", Acrylic on gessoed mounted birch panel
Painting #242, 2016-17

Commemorating the 90th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's historic solo transatlantic flight aboard the Spirit of St Louis from New York City to Paris, May 20-21, 1927.

                With "The Spirit of St Louis" at the National Air and Space Museum, 
Washington, DC. Easter 2012.  

Prior to his exploit, Lindbergh was a pilot during the early years of the US Air Mail. He provided service for the newly designated route between St. Louis, Mo and Chicago, Ill. with intermediate stops in Springfield and Peoria. Ill.

Following the transatlantic flight, Lindbergh went on a three city celebration tour in the United States with stops in Washington, DC, New York City and St. Louis where many honors were bestowed upon him. In Washington, DC, on June 11, 1927, the Postmaster General presented Lindbergh with a commemorative airmail stamp. It was also the first time a stamp had been issued to honor a person still living.

The top letter in my composition- postmarked St Louis, on June 18, 1927, also bears a special ink stamp in celebration of his crowning achievement on the same day the city would honor him.

After his exploit, Lindbergh never return to his regular job as a U.S. Air Mail pilot. However he used the immense fame to help promote the U.S. Airmail Services. Lindbergh would return to his former route of St. Louis to Chicago in a CAM-2 plane for two-day promotional tour (northbound on February 20; southbound on February 21). On those two flights he carried tens of thousands of self-addressed stamped envelopes sent in from all over America and the world. These were back stamped, and then returned to their senders as a souvenir and collector item. Items carried on flights piloted by Lindbergh are still actively collected under the general designation of "Lindberghiana." The bottom letter postmarked with a lucky horseshoe -''Lindbergh Again Flies the Airmail'' was one among those thousands he carried that I was so fortunate to acquire for this painting.

I've attached a Lindbergh Stamp in mint condition and both letters to the back of the painting, as a special token for the prospect acquisitor.

In 2012, I did a similar painting for a group exhibition entitled "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" held at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, Ca. Click- HERE for Lindbergh bio notes and further documentation of both paintings.  

In 2017,  a full-circle moment occurred when this painting was exhibited at the OA Gallery in St. Louis, Mo, the city where Lindbergh lived while he orchestrated his dream. Without the eight St Louis men who financed the project which included the making of the custom design monoplane, none of it would have been possible. "The Spirit of St. Louis" was named in honor of those eight supporting patrons.

To acquire this painting, please contact: 

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1367 avenue Greene, 
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2A8 
Tel: 514.933.4406

Friday, October 16, 2020

Farm Animals on Animal Farm, a cautionary tale (an homage to George Orwell)


Acrylic on gessoed aluminium panel (mounted), 18 x 14"
Painting #278, 2020

This painting was started back in February at the beginning of the pandemic. It may seem whimsical on the surface, but it is an allegorical piece infused with political overtones.

I purchased and read "Animal Farm" and "1984" by George Orwell shortly after CNN started using the term of living in an Orwellian time. This came about when then US President advisor, Kellyanne Conway used the term "alternative facts" while coming to the defense of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer when he stated that Mr. Trump had attracted the "largest audience" ever to witness an inauguration. Right away, Conway's "alternative facts" was compared to "doublethink", a term coined to the act of simultaneously accepting two contradictory beliefs as correct. People also drew comparisons to "newspeak", one of the several wordplay Orwell invented for 1984, meaning to limit freedom of thought. By 1950, Orwell's newly coined words would soon find their way in the Oxford English Dictionary beginning with Newspeak, Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime and unperson. In 1945, he was also the first to use the term cold war.

It was later reported by the New York Times that US sales of 1984 had increased by 9500%. Penguin Books quickly reprinted 75,000 copies and the book surged to #1 on the Amazon's Bestsellers List less than a week after the inauguration.

Even more recently when Bob Woodward was invited on CNN to talk about his most recent book "Rage" and his recordings of conversations with Donald Trump, he mentioned the word Orwellian, which is attached to a dystopian totalitarian state.

George Orwell (1903-1950) was born Eric Arthur Blair. He was a novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. His penname was taken from the River Orwell in Suffolk, England. He was born in India to British parents. His parents separated soon after he was born. In 1904, his mother would return to England where he and his sister were both raised. In 1922, instead of going to university, to chose to serve with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, where his maternal grandmother lived. His service there fed his lifelong opposition to Imperialism.

Politically, he favored democratic socialism. He went to Spain in 1936 to fight in the Spanish War. There he joined republican forces backed by the United States and the Soviet Union. However, after he was wounded by a snipper, the Soviet forces accused him of betraying the anti-fascist cause and he had to flee the country.

George Orwell Square, Barcelona, Spain - dedicated in 1996.
Orwell lived in Barcelona between 1936 and 1937 , where he became a member of the POUM , coming to fight on the front with the Republican side. He later wrote of these experiences in Homage to Catalonia (1938), which especially portrays scenes on La Rambla and its surroundings.
Left photo of myself taken by my son Jean-Luc - July, 2019.

He spent part of WWII working as a correspondent for the BBC which further fed his distaste for totalitarianism regimes. His experiences in Spain and during WWII created the political leanings that helped shape his most famous novels, Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).

George Orwell
Source Wikimedia Commons

Animal Farm is a fable that reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. Orwell was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directed Stalinism. The Soviet Union had become a brutal dictatorship built upon a cult of personality and enforced by a reign of terror. Orwell tells a story about humans via animals. In the process he reveals the sins of the revolutionaries are not limited to people involved in the revolution, but when those in charge, guided by high ideals, then goes on to betray them all. Anytime a revolution goes wrong, people often bring up "Animal Farm" and declare it to be ahead of its time.

George Orwell died on January 21, 1950 from complications of tuberculosis acquired three years previously.

The painting is infused with symbolism pertaining to the animals themselves and the role they play in Animal Farm. It is also a reflection of the current political climate in the US. With the Covid-19 pandemic currently underway, all of these animals have all been linked to previous flus, pandemics and other diseases transmissible to humans.
props used-
• Animal figures - Farm World by Schleich
• Background wallpaper-"Golden Lily" by William Morris (1834-1896)
• base- Record album cover with plastic wrap of ''Power, Corruption & Lies" by New Order (1983) / album artwork - "Basket of Roses" by Henri Fantin-Latour, (1836-1904) collection of the National Gallery, London.

L- auto-portrait of Henri-Fantin Latour, photo taken during visit of the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland (July, 2019) / R- Record album - Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order

• Artwork featured on George Orwell books by Shepard Fairey. Ironically, Fairey became widely known during the 2008 U.S. presidential election for his Barack Obama "Hope" poster.

OBEY 3-Face collage, signed offset lithography
24 x 18" (set of 3 prints) - open edition
-personal collection

To acquire this painting, please contact: 

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1367 avenue Greene, 
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2A8 
Tel: 514.933.4406

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Marilyn Blowing Kisses

16 x 12", acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminium panel
painting #277, 2020

This is my fourth painting, part of the on-going series that connects a play with words in the title, a retro black and white photograph, a date (calendar) and a large Hershey's Kisses. The previous three all featured couples kissing. With this one, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and paint a portrait of a single figure that would somehow convey a loving sentiment to the looker while still keeping with the theme. 

I found this photograph of Marilyn Monroe on the web. It probably dates back to the mid 1950's when she wore this signature hairdo. Unfortunately, I do not know who the photographer is. I liked the contrast between the white dress and the black background. There was very little detail between her right hand and the dress. I could not make out her thumb and her pinky looked crooked. My wife Suzanne actually posed for me with a white glove. It is her hand. The whole portrait was done using only titanium white and Paynes Grey. 

To acquire this painting, please contact: 

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1367 avenue Greene, 
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2A8 
Tel: 514.933.4406

Monday, December 23, 2019

Bubble Up

12 x 9", acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminium panel
painting #276, 2019

The Bubble Up brand was created one hundred years ago in 1919 by the Sweet Valley Products Co of Sandusky, Ohio. The introductory flavor was grape juice. In 1938, the soda pop would permanently switch flavor to lemon-lime. It is currently manufactured by the Dad's Root Beer Company.

I vaguely remember Bubble Up while growing up, since it is rather rare to find some here in Atlantic Canada.  I bought these at Winners (TJ Maxx chain) here in Moncton, but it's a US product since a bilingual sticker of ingredients was affixed to the caddy after production so it could be sold here. When I spotted this foursome in the store, I just got a nostalgic visceral response since I hadn't seen these since the 1970's. I got seduced by the graphics and knew I had to paint them.

Trivia- A bottle of Bubble Up appears on a piano in the Ariana Grande's music video, Die in your arms cover ( Justin Bieber).  Click HERE to watch. 

Exhibited in a group show entitled- Not a Creature was stirring.... Artworks to Deck the Halls - Dec. 2019 and Under Summer Sky- June 18 to July 10. 

14 Bridge Street, Sackville,
New Brunswick, Canada, E4L 3N5
Phone (506) 536-9000


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Barbie at 60, a Fashion Icon

Acrylic on gessoed mounted aluminium panel, 12 x 12"
painting #275, 2019

On March 9 of this year, Barbie Millicent Roberts celebrated her 60th birthday. The following week, it was my wife Suzanne's turn to become a sexagenarian. This is my third Barbie painting. The first two were done when Barbie turned 50 and 55. This latest incarnation is a sister painting to the previous that also featured one of the two sewing patterns issued by Advance in 1961. The sewing pattern was the instigator that inspired the imagery and composition. It falls in the timeline when Pop Art became an art movement which drew inspiration from advertising among it's influences.

To view my two previous Barbie paintings - click on this LINK.

With the passage of time, Barbie keeps re-inventing herself and empowering the image of what it means to be a woman in 2019.  Mattel has just released multi-race (in four skin tones) ''Judge Barbie'' - LINK. Part of Mattel's agenda has been to inspire girls to be anything that can dream of, and to break the glass ceiling. Even if at times some of their choices have been controversial over the decades.

Both Barbie and my wife share another 60 years of age, they both still look Fabulous! 

Currently on exhibition in a group show entitled- "Not a Creature was stirring.... Artworks to Deck the Halls" at the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB. from Nov. 21 - Dec. 31, 2019.

To acquire this painting please contact:
14 Bridge Street, Sackville,
New Brunswick, Canada, E4L 3N5
Phone (506) 536-9000

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Hibiscus in a Campbell's Soup Can, an homage to Andy Warhol

16 x 12", acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminium panel
painting #274, 2019

I first became aware of Andy Warhol's ''Flowers'' serigraph prints during the late 1980's when one of the many variations was featured predominately on the set of the CBS sitcom, Murphy Brown, starring Candice Bergan. 

After acquiring this Andy Warhol art book from the Taschen's Basic Art Series 2.0, I became curious about the backstory behind the image. Warhol would draw inspiration from a photograph of hibiscus flowers by Patricia Caulfield that appeared in a 1964 issue of Modern Photography. He was later sued in 1966 for the first time by the photographer for copyright infringement. Warhol was a very prolific artist. With the help of a few workers inside of "The Factory" (his studio), in one day, he could produce as many as 80 of these flowers silkscreens, printed in various sizes.  

L- photography of hibiscus by Patricia Caulfield
R- serigraph print of "Flowers" by Andy Warhol

For at least the past decade or so, we've been buying a hibiscus plant every spring for the veranda in front of our house. For the most part, the blooms only last one day or two, but it has several blooming cycles during the summer. This spring while stepping into our local Home Depot, they had a variety of dwarf hibiscus that is more of a potted flower than a potted plant. By the time I got back home, the concept for this painting came to me. I then acquired a Campbell's soup can on eBay from a US listing since here in Canada, the label was modernized more than a decade ago. I had initially intended to just do black background. Once it was done, the idea of using a modified version of Marilyn Monroe from Warhol's reversal series was introduced. I repeated the image as if it was wallpaper like Warhol did with Cows in 1966. 

This past July, after my wife Suzanne gave me the green light, I headed for Europe for three weeks to do some backpacking with our son Jean-Luc. This was his graduation gift for completing a bachelor's degree in business administration at the Université de Moncton. At the very beginning of the trip, we spent three days in Barcelona, Spain. As luck would have it, we were fortunate enough to view a serigraph print exhibition of Andy Warhol. The whole collection was owned by one individual, and was comprised mostly of many variations of Marilyn Monroe, Campbell's Soup Cans, Flowers and Mao Tse Tung. Click HERE for link. 

Painting to be shown this weekend at Art Toronto with Galerie de Bellefeuille (Booth A12)
Opening Night Gala: Thursday, October 24, 2019: 6:30 PM – 10:00 PM
Fair Hours: Friday, October 25, 2019: 12AM – 8:00PM
Saturday, October 26, 2019: 11:00AM – 8:00PM
Sunday, October 27, 2019: 11:00AM – 6:00PM
Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building
255 Front Street West, Toronto