Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Subscribing to posts of new paintings / Follow me on Instagram

Blogger has made the decision to disactivate the subscription option located in the right column of this blog and on its' platform in general. This means that past subscribers will no longer get updates via e-mail of new postings of my artwork. If you wish to follow me, you can do so via Instagram via this link, click HERE. I will however continue to update this blog as long as this platform is available. 

Blogger a pris la décision de désactiver l'option d'abonnement située dans la colonne de droite de ce blog et sur sa plateforme en général. Cela signifie que les anciens abonnés ne recevront plus de mises à jour par e-mail des nouvelles publications de mes œuvres. Si vous souhaitez me suivre, vous pouvez le faire via Instagram via ce lien, cliquez ICI. Je continuerai cependant à mettre à jour ce blog tant que cette plateforme sera disponible.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Paintings for Sale, an homage to Maud Lewis


Acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminium panel, 14 x 11"
Painting #293, 2022

When I first visited the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) located in Halifax back in the late 1980's, I distinctly remember a display of folk art that was part of the museum's permanent collection on one of the upper floors. Among the painters that stood out to me at the time were Joseph Norris (1925-1996) and Maud Lewis (1901 or 1903? -1970). I became aware that this institution held folk art to the same standards as the more academic art movements.  

Maud Lewis in her painted house, photo Bob Brooks
Much has already been written about Maud Dowley Lewis. With the passage of time and sustained public interest, her popularity has only continued to grow. In recent years, she has been elevated to the status of an icon. It's impossible to separate the artist from the life she lead and the artwork she created. While her story is defined by poverty, hardship, physical disabilities and rheumatoid arthritis that gradually started to affect her mobility by mid-life, it was also one of triumph over adversity that was sparked by her creativity and her temperament to endure.

Her paintings are a celebration of life and the beauty she observed in her own little world located in Digby and Yarmouth Co. Nova Scotia. Unlike her own life, her paintings are happy, whimsical and colorful. Subject matter often remain within the domain of birds, flowers, oxen, cats, deer, modes of transportations (pulled sleigh or wagons, cars, trucks, boats), bucolic winter, pastoral and costal scenes. These themes and imagery were revisited time and again. 


Photo op on the Halifax Waterfront - May 2022

While growing up, Maud Lewis was introduced to art and painting by her mother. She crafted hand made Christmas cards done in pen and ink, watercolors and crayola crayons and sold them door to door. After the death of her father in 1935, then later her mother in 1937 she moved out of the family's South Ohio home. There is a brief transition period where she lived with her brother Charles then with her aunt Ida in Digby. Her acquaintance with Everett Lewis was a result of answering an ad when he was looking to hire a housekeeper. They married in 1938 of what appeared to be a mariage of convenience. Her painting career gradually evolved over the 30 years that followed. Her signature painting style was not restricted to panels and boards but could also be found on rock, scallop shells and household items. With her reputation growing over time, the little painted house in Marshalltown would become a popular roadside attraction for locals, visitors and tourists alike with many becoming patrons and collectors of her paintings. 

Her work began garnering unsolicited attention by the media during the 1960's. During the Richard Nixon administration either as US president or vice president (conflicting reports), he would have commissioned two paintings. NS premier Robert Stanfield also started to collect her work. In 1965, writer Murray Bernard and photographer Bob Brooks of the Star Weekly Magazine published by the Toronto Star were dispatched to Marshalltown to do a story on Maud. This nation wide publicity would increase demands for her paintings and elevate her status as a painter. The photography taken by Brooks remains the quintessential pictures taken of her as an artist. On November 25, 1965, CBC's biography series Telescope aired a 30 minute televised documentary on the Lewis couple. (A portion of this documentary can be viewed on this CBC LINK . )

Much has also been written about the relationship with her husband, Everett Lewis. In his case, not always in the best light. With the thousands of paintings sold, he could have provided a much better life for her. Her paintings sold for about $2 to 3 dollars at first with gradual price increase to 5 dollars and 7 to 10 dollars for larger paintings. With inflation, a 5 dollar painting would be have been worth the equivalent of about $47 in 2022. While their house was very small, they also lived without indoor plumbing, running water or electricity. 

Everett Lewis (b.1893) was raised in the Alms House in Marshalltown, NS. after his father abandoned the family while he was still a child. It was an institution known locally as the "Poor Farm". He had no formal education, he never learned to read or write. He earned a living as a fish peddler and also worked at Alms House as a night watchman then later as caretaker. The parcel of land that Everett bought for his house was an adjacent lot to the Alms House. In the 1965 CBC documentary, we can see Everett leaving the house on his bicycle and passing in front of the Alms House about 200 meters away.  Despite living in poverty, Everett had a reputation of being a miser and had accumulated considerable wealth by the time of his unfortunate and untimely death in 1979. Everett himself dabbled in folk art creating paintings that were very much inspired by Maud. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia would acquire some of his work while he was still living. 

In 1961, Ten-Mile House and Art Gallery in Bedford, NS owned by Bill Ferguson And Claire Stenning started selling her paintings doubling the purchase price to 10 dollars since these were framed. Maud and Everett Lewis didn't want to appear greedy by increasing the price of the paintings in fear of losing customers and alienating an already established market. 

My wife Suzanne with the Painted House, AGNS - May 2022

Interior of the Maud Lewis House, AGNS, Halifax, NS

Part of Maud's legacy is the little painted house they lived in with many surfaces and objects used as her canvas. From the window, walls, doors, stairs to dustpan, cooking stove and breadbox. Their house would become her greatest work. After Maud's passing, Everett did little to nothing in upkeeping the house. In 1979, The Painted House Society was formed in Digby following Everett's death. The house, land and copyrights were purchased by the society from Everett's heir the following year. Unable to raise the $50,000 needed to restore the house, the estate was sold to the Province of Nova Scotia in 1984. The house was moved to a secure indoor location outside Halifax in order to prevent further decay. It would take another decade before restoration would be undertaken and to plan for it's permanent home once the restauration completed. The Scotiabank Maud Lewis Gallery which also included the house opened to the public in 1998 part of the expansion of the AGNS.

Since her death, the AGNS has been a major catalyst in preserving her legacy, with the restauration of the house and amassing a collection of her paintings that is on permanent public display. 

Author Lance Woolaver whom has become Maud Lewis' premier biographer, has written several books including the popular picture book, The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis with photography by Bob Brooks (1996). A retrospective exhibition of Maud's work sharing the same title was organized by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in 1997 that would later tour Canada. A full length documentary also named, The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis was produced by the National Film Board in 1998 with the script provided by Woolaver. He has also written two plays about Maud, A World Without Shadows (1996) and The Return of her Child. And is the writer of her full biography, The Heart at the Door (2016). 

In 2019, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (MCAC) in Kleinburg, Ontario organized the touring exhibition: MAUD LEWIS. The exhibition in currently on view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia until April 23, 2023. An art book entitled "Paintings for Sale" by Sarah Milroy, chief curator of the MCAC was published in conjunction with the exhibition. The book cover is an image of "PAINTINGS FOR SALE", the road sign that she painted and used outside her home. This book also served as the base and title for my painting.

On November 2, 2020, in time for the Holidays, Canada Post issued three stamps featuring her winter themed paintings from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia collection. All of the Christmas cards we mailed that year were adorned by these stamps.

In 2017, Mongrel Media and Sony Pictures Classic released Maudie. An award winning feature film of the life of Maud and Everett Lewis starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke. The movie was directed by Aisling Walsh. This film introduced Maud Lewis a much wider audience outside Canada. Receiving generally positive reviews with an approval rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 151 reviews. Sally Hawkins gives an arresting performance as Maude. It won awards in all of the seven categories it was nominated for at the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards, including trophies for best actress, supporting actor, director, screenplay and best film. The film stimulated a resurgence and an interest in Lewis' work. It is currently available for streaming on Netflix.  

While Maud Lewis was never really allowed to spend the money she made in order to make her life more comfortable, collectors of her work on the other hand have been racking in the rewards for having a keen eye for art at a bargain. I remember seeing a few of her paintings being resold in commercial galleries in Halifax for about $4000 to $5000 during the 1990's. On November 30, 2009, her painting "A Family Outing" sold for $22,000 CND at a Bonham's Auction in Toronto. A painting found in 2016 at an Ontario thrift store, "Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fishermen" was sold in an online auction for $45,000 CND. Click HERE. In May of this year, a painting entitled "Black Truck" made national headlines as it was traded during the 1970's to restauranteurs in exchange of a grilled cheese sandwich by a Maud Lewis art collector, an Ontario artist named John Kinnear. The story goes that Kinnear and his wife had lunch at the restaurant every day. And every time he ordered the same grilled cheese sandwich. Kinnear also kept in touch with Maud Lewis, sending her proper art supplies and boards. The painting was expecting to fetch as much as $35,000 CND at auction. But when the hammer fell, it went for 10X as much, for $350,000 CND. Full story HERE and follow-up HERE.

I've always been an admirer of Maud Lewis' artwork but doing an homage painting only appeared on my radar as a result of the pandemic. While we were restricted to the Atlantic bubble for travels because of the Covid-19, my wife and I did a few road trips within the maritimes provinces. In mid-September 2020 we visited the western portion of Nova Scotia. Our itinerary took us to various sites that had a direct connection with Maud Lewis. The background painting that appears in my own painting was the featured image for the month of August in the Maud Lewis 2021 calendar. Growing up in Cap-Lumière, NB, I could relate with the image since our house was located one mile from a similar looking lighthouse. In the calendar, it is referred to as "Lighthouse and Steamer", while in the art book Paintings For Sale by Sarah Milroy, as Untitled (Digby Ferry Passing Point Prim Lighthouse), 1950's. This lighthouse was located 14 km from the Lewis' house. 

The current Point Prim Lighthouse built in 1964 

The original Point Prim Lighthouse dates back to 1817. It was destroyed
by fire in 1873. The lighthouse that appears in the Maud Lewis painting
replaced the original. It was equipped with an attached lighthouse keeper's
residence. It remained in operation until 1964 when it was demolished and
replaced by the current lighthouse. 

When the province of Nova Scotia acquired the Painted House in 
1984, it also purchased its' land in Marshalltown. In 1997, a 
stainless steel framed structure was erected where the house once stood
and a memorial park was established on the remaining grounds.

This Painted House Replica was built by Ross Murray in 1999 on his 
property. Located on Route 217, seven km from where the original house once stood.
Amazing to see so much attention to details. The property also
included a shed and a mailbox. Being there and able to enter the house
and walk around the grounds was like entering a movie set. Completely surreal! 
Click HERE for backstory. 

Photo op in Yarmouth, NS - Birthplace of Maud Lewis - September 2020

My decision to use a Campbell's Soup can as the centerpiece was inspired by the Bob Brooks photo. She used the can to wash her brushes with turpentine. The one shown in the picture taken in 1965 would have been of the same period as when Andy Warhol did his 32 Campbell's Soup Cans in 1962. 

During the summer of 2020, we visited the Village Historique Acadien in Bertrand, NB. Among its' buildings is a replica of the original Nicholas D. Thériault General Store (1924). Almost every items inside are for sale for a few exceptions. The available inventory is meticulously curated by Mrs Lanteigne. While none are antiques, every items has a vintage flair. The top shelf had a display of can goods wrapped in vintage replica labels. When I spotted the vintage Campbell's Tomato Soup cans, my knees buckled. The label is probably pre 1930. When she told me that they weren't for sale, I was so disappointed but understood the situation. When we returned in 2021, I had forgotten about them, but upon seeing them again, my desire to acquire one was renewed. Fortunate for me, she remembered me and said she felt bad once I had exited the door. I had mentioned that I was a painter and wanted to incorporated one somehow in a painting. She kindly agreed to give me one, as long as I was willing to climb up the step ladder to get it. It was a fun moment and I was very thankful. 

I could have used a very similar soup can as in the photo of Maud Lewis, but opted for the retro can to create a narrative that linked her earlier years while her mother taught her how to draw, paint and play the piano when she lived in South Ohio, located 11 km north of Yarmouth.   

If you are still reading, hoping you enjoyed the ride!

This painting is currently on view in a group show entitled "Comfort and Joy" at the Fog Forest Gallery


Thursday, June 2, 2022

When The Kiss turns into Kisses, an homage to Gustav Klimt

16 x 12", acrylic on gessoed mounted aluminium panel
painting #292, 2022

Born in 1862, Gustav Klimt was an Austrian Symbolist painter and the founding father and a leading member of the Vienna Secession movement, a group of artist who consciously rejected the academic style of the late nineteenth century. Even though he had formally studied art at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. He received training as an architectural painter and was classified as an academic painter who could paint hyperrealist portraits. He became celebrated for his rich, complex, gold-dazzling friezes and portraits of powerful, chic woman from Vienna's turn of the century society. His artistic vocabulary incorporated esoteric design and eroticism, which was not always well received, including some commissions which were never revealed.  His work was greatly influenced by the Byzantine movement and he also was associated with Art Nouveau when the movement was at it's peak.

''The Kiss'' (1907-08) is a celebration of his deeply held belief in the transforming power of idealized love. Klimt himself is the male figure embracing his life companion Emilie Flöge. Gilles Néret, the author of Klimt published in 2007 by Taschen writes,''Klimt's otherwise dominating woman becomes submissive. She yields to the man, abandons herself to him, and sexuality shimmers through her clinging gown''. 

The Kiss was done during his ''Golden Phase''. During this period he used gold leaf prominently on the artwork, which brought him both success and critical acclaim.

During the month of January 2020, I had book flight tickets to Munich, Germany and had already reserved accommodations of what was supposed to be a month long backpacking trip to Central Europe where my wife and I had planned to visit 11 cities in eight countries. Among those cities was Vienna Austria, where many of Klimt's works can be view. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic was declared two months later and our trip cancelled. I am hoping that next year, we'll be able to finally travel abroad and embark on this adventure.

I have seen a few Klimt paintings in the past decade, including the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1 at the Neue Gallery in New York City during the month of February 2013, Hope 1 (1903) at the National Gallery in Ottawa during the month of April 2014 and a small exhibition of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele entitled "Judith and Edith" that was shown at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, The Netherlands (May 2016).  


This painting is my fifth installment in as many years, featuring a large Hershey's chocolate Kisses which is a seasonal product only available from Christmas til Valentine's Day.

UPDATE - During the spring of 2023, my wife Suzanne and I finally did get to travel to Central Europe which included Vienna, Austria. On May 1, we attempted to visit the Upper Belvedere Palace two hours before closing, but all remaining admission tickets for that day were already sold out. That evening, we bought tickets on-line for the following morning that had a time slot in order to visit the art museum. It was at this moment that I realized how famous this painting had become. The room in which the painting is on display was packed with admirers who wanted their pictures taken with it. From previous art museum visits, as far as popularity goes, it is on par with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Picasso's Guernica and Van Gogh's A Starry Night . The Upper Belvedere also house several other Gustav Klimt paintings, as did the Leopold Museum which had a replica of his art studio and the Secession Art Museum where some of his iconic murals are on display on the lower floor.  

with The Kiss at the Upper Belvedere Palace
Vienna, Austria - May 2, 2023

To acquire this painting please contact:

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

Friday, October 15, 2021

Art-ifacts - Solo Show at the FFG


Full appreciation goes to Janet and John Crawford of the Fog Forest Gallery for doing such a beautiful job of displaying the artwork for my solo show: Art-ifacts. 

The exhibition runs from Oct. 14 to Nov. 5, 2021. 

The gallery will be open on Thursday and Friday from 10 am to 5 pm or by appointment. 

The exhibition can be viewed online from the Fog Forest Gallery website at this LINK.

To acquire any of the remaining available paintings, please contact:

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

Solo Show - Art-ifacts @ FFG

Title- Murano Glass Decanter on a Windowsill
Acrylic on gessoed aluminium panel mounted on birch cradle panel
16 x 12", painting #268, 2018
original blog post - HERE

 Title- Bowl of Fruits for Mary, an homage
16 x 16", acrylic on gessoed aluminium panel
Painting #269, 2018-19
original blog post - HERE

These two recent paintings will complete the lot of 12 that included 10 new works for my solo show entitled Art-ifacts at the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB. The exhibition runs from October 14 to November 5, 2021. Unfortunately, in order for the gallery to remain open during the pandemic while keeping everybody safe, the gallery director and I came to the decision that it was safer not to hold an opening reception. The public however will be able to visit the gallery at their leisure during the run of the exhibition. 
The gallery will be open on Thursday and Friday from 10 am to 5 pm or by appointment. 

The exhibition can be viewed online from the Fog Forest Gallery website at this LINK.

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


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Pinned up 7-Up


Title- Pinned up 7-Up
14 x 14", acrylic on gessoed aluminium panel
painting #291, 2021 

7-Up was created in St Louis, Mo by Charles Leiper Grigg in 1929. The lemon-lime soft drink was initially called "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda". The formulation much like many soft drinks that were often developed by pharmacists during the late-19th and early-20th century contained a drug, in this case the mood stabilizer Lithium that is often prescribed for bi-polar disorder. It was removed from its formulation in 1948.  The name was changed to 7-Up in 1936, the same year the slogan "You Like It, It Likes You" was adopted and remained in use until the mid-1970's. There are several theories behind the origin of the name. I like the claim that 7-Up was bottled in a 7oz bottle while many other soft drinks like Coca-Cola were available in 6oz bottles. In 1961, Coca-Cola would introduce Sprite to its product line as a direct competitor to 7-Up. In 1967, sales for the product rose when it adopted the ad campaign of being an "Uncola".  

7-Up, 1970's advertisement campaign

Some time back, while in a store aisle, I spotted this dart board. The first thing that came to mind was a thought of Jasper John's "Target" paintings. I bought it as a prospect prop. It wasn't until this summer that I noticed that the colors of the vintage 7-Up bottle and the dart board were exactly the same. The positioning of the bottle with the board creates a sort of Japanese Rising Sun imagery with the bullseye. The logo and design concepts for the bottle has changed with the passage of time, always trying to stay current. I find this specific bottle to be the most iconic, maybe it's because it was the one in use while I was growing up. 

This painting will be part of a small solo show entitled "Art-ifacts", hosted by the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB from October 14 to November 5, 2021. Unfortunately, in order for the gallery to remain open during the pandemic while keeping everybody safe, the gallery director and I came to the decision that it was safer not to hold an opening reception. The public however will be able to visit the gallery at their leisure during the run of the exhibition. 
The gallery will be open on Thursday and Friday from 10 am to 5 pm or by appointment. 

The exhibition can be viewed online from the Fog Forest Gallery website at this LINK.

Update- November 15, 2021
I've decided to reframe this painting from it's initial black frame with round mat opening under glass. The aluminium panel has been mounted on a wood support and is now presented in a black floater wood frame. 

To acquire this painting please contact:

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

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Bobbing for Apples

Title- Bobbing for Apples
10 x 12", acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminium panel
painting #290, 2021

Bobbing for apples (aka- apple bobbing, dooking, apple ducking, duck-apple, snap apple night) is a game often played on Halloween. The game is played with floating apples in a tub or basin filled with water. Players then try to catch one with their teeth. Use of arms is not allowed, and the hands are often tied behind the back to prevent cheating. I first played it in eight grade during activities held at school on Halloween day. After several unsuccessful attempts in trying to take a bite out of a floating apple, I took a no holds barred approach going head first in the water and immobilizing an apple on the bottom of the tub. When I reemerged, I was declared the winner of my round. The prize was a 45 rpm record of Paul McCartney & Wings hit single "Let 'em in". Click HERE to listen. 

During the fall of 2017, we spent a few days in the province of Québec. As we drove around the bucolic Île d'Orléans, we did a few stops, including a visit to a vineyard for some wine tasting. We also bought some fresh produce at the farmer's market that included a large box of honey crisp apples. When we got back home, I did a photo session on the back deck of the house inspired mainly by the cool vintage  "Pommes Québec Apples" graphics on the box. Out of the several pics I took was one that inspired the above painting. The intense blue colour inside the galvanized pail is actually a reflection of the sky. I like how the primary colors co-exist in a rather monochrome surrounding.

This painting will be part of a small solo show entitled "Art-ifacts", hosted by the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB from October 14 to November 5, 2021. Unfortunately, in order for the gallery to remain open during the pandemic while keeping everybody safe, the gallery director and I came to the decision that it was safer not to hold an opening reception. The public however will be able to visit the gallery at their leisure during the run of the exhibition. 
The gallery will be open on Thursday and Friday from 10 am to 5 pm or by appointment. 

The exhibition can be viewed online from the Fog Forest Gallery website at this LINK.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Perfect Seal Jar


Title - Perfect Seal Jar
10 x 8", acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminium panel
painting #289, 2021 

I acquired this antique canning jar in 2016 at an estate sale in Summerside, PEI. After I did the photo study for this painting the following year, I dropped a handful of marbles inside the jar, the jar cracked and the bottom fell out.  The same thing later happened with an antique Ball mason jar, except the jar didn't shatter but has a major crack that I was able to secure with a piece of scotch tape. Lesson learned with jars and marbles. Glass hitting glass can either break a jar or even chip a marble. 

It's impressive the amount of different brands of antique canning jars that were produced in Canada more than half a century ago. It's always a thrill when I spot a new-to-me jar in an antique shop. It was a time when a lot more people had gardens and did all kinds of preserves for winter. While canning still remains a must for many, what has changed however, almost all fruits and vegetables are now available year-round in grocery stores. Before world-wide importation or green house farming, most fresh produce in grocery stores were seasonal. 

This painting will be part of a small solo show entitled "Art-ifacts", hosted by the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB from October 14 to November 5, 2021. Unfortunately, in order for the gallery to remain open during the pandemic while keeping everybody safe, the gallery director and I came to the decision that it was safer not to hold an opening reception. The public however will be able to visit the gallery at their leisure during the run of the exhibition. The gallery will be open on Thursday and Friday from 10 am to 5 pm or by appointment. 

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

Friday, October 8, 2021

Improved Corona Jar


Title - "Improved Corona Jar"
12 x 14", acrylic on mounted gessoed aluminium panel
painting #288, 2021

This painting might look fun and whimsical at first glance, but it is a allegorical piece that is also meant to pose as a form of social commentary. 

When the Covid-19 pandemic started in early January 2020, the main concern was to try to contain the virus and stop it from spreading. With no vaccine existing, it wasn't long before there were clusters of outbreaks with this virus being so highly contagious. The only way to stop the spread was to put sanitary measures and for many countries to go in lock down, resulting in the massive disruption of our daily lives. As cases multiplied, the healthcare system was soon overwhelmed with lack of PPE and patients going in severe respiratory distress, having to be sedated and intubated while trying to ride off the storm on a ventilator. It was the beginning of a very stressful time for frontline and healthcare workers. Even if all of this was happening, it kind of brought the world together. There were often rallies in front of hospitals in support of healthcare workers, households displaying rainbow signs in their windows that everything was going to be alright, the Zoom platform exploding in popularity, people in cities opening their windows to sing and play music as a form of solidarity.  

Then all of a sudden, it became political, especially when mask mandates were implemented, which for some was a breach of the civil liberties. Science deniers and conspiracy theories would soon follow suite on social media and right-wing channels. Then the virus gradually became an instrument that caused division within the population.

In late 2020, there was hope on the horizon when several pharmaceutical research companies announcing that vaccines had been developed and were being approved for emergency use after their trials were completed.  These were found to have a very high efficacy rate in warding off the disease, hospitalization or deaths. 

When the vaccine rollout started, the response for vaccines was overwhelming. Finally, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. While some remained vaccine hesitant, the anti-mask / anti-vaccine militants started rallies in protest. Still hope remained as the general population continued to roll up their sleeves to get shots into arm. There was a possibility that herd immunity might be achievable if 70-75% or more of the population would become fully immunized. 

That theory seemed sound until the variants started to appear. The vaccines still remain highly effective with high efficacy rate among the general population with no underlying or auto-immune conditions in warding off, complications such as long Covid, hospitalization or death. When the Delta variant started to spread during the summer in the United States, it was a evident, that a pending storm was about to hit us with a 4th wave.  Especially when mask mandates were temporary lifted, our province opened its borders to the rest of Canada and later to the US. It was then referred to as  the pandemic of the unvaccinated, now affecting a much younger slice of the population as this variant is more than 2x as contagious as the previous variants according to the CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention). 

When the federal and provincial governments started to gradually impose vaccination mandates for many public workers and students, followed by vaccine passports to access non essential services, this would incite and fuel the anti-vaxxers to start protesting in front of  hospitals against health care workers. You just can't make this stuff up. Within a year, rallies in front of hospitals went from cheers to jeers.

Our province of New Brunswick had fared rather well since the beginning of the pandemic with all of the precautionary measures in place and were regularly revised depending on the state of contagion. The tide has since turned as we are currently experiencing an unprecedent influx with record high daily number of new cases infected with the Delta variant, hospitalisation and patients requiring ICU care. And this is with 90,1% of the eligible population having received one vaccine and 81,1% that are fully immunized. The fact remains that even if there are breakthrough infections, 80% of those requiring hospitalization are the unvaccinated, proving the the vaccines do work. Our provincial government announced this week that it would be imposing a circuit-breaker system in specific regions in order to contain the transmission of the virus since our hospital system is currently overwhelmed with Covid-19 infections. 


As some of you may or may not know, I was a registered nurse for 35 years before retiring in 2017. On my birthday in late January, my wife offered me a scrumptious cloud cake. Three hours after making a wish and blowing the candles, I received a telephone call from my former employer. They weren't birthday wishes.  It was to join the vaccination taskforce for the vaccine rollout with public health. My response was, "Be careful for what you wish for" since my wish was for an end of the pandemic by year's end. After I received my first vaccine in March, I came out of retirement and started working at vaccination clinics, putting shots into arm. 

As a still life painter, I've been collecting small props for many years. Whenever I get a visceral response or I feel an attraction or a connection for a particular object, I will often buy it on impulse. It can be the first element that can immediately  ignite an idea or concept for a painting. Other times, it can take many years before an event might trigger a response when these stored objects come out of hibernation to be used to create the narrative.

Back in 2006, I was watching the Scotiabank Giller Prize on CBC. The Giller Prize, is a top literary award given to a Canadian author of a novel or short story collection published in English the previous year. The winner that year was "Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures" by Vincent Lam. Dr Lam is a medical doctor and was working as an emergency physician in Toronto at the time of his win. The book is a collection of short stories connected through the relationship that develop among a group of young doctors as they move from the challenges of med school to the intense world of emergency rooms, evac mission and terrifying new viruses. I bought the book shortly thereafter. The title alone intrigued me and thought, it would be a great prop for a painting, but under what circumstances? 

After I had started working at the vaccination clinic, I can across this Corona mason jar which was stored on a back of a shelf in my studio. When I bought it back in 2016, it dawn on me that it was the Spanish word for crown. Also, that I had previously acquired some Crown jars for a commission painting. In the context of the pandemic, the moment I saw the word Corona on the jar, it took a whole different meaning. It was then that the whole narrative for the painting came to me. Later that week , while working at the clinic, a pharmacist who pre-loads the syringes with the vaccine for the nurses kindly gave me an empty vial of the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine. I often refer to marbles as the mind, in the context of, "I'm losing my marbles". I won't go any further with the narrative and let you draw your own interpretation. Just know that the jar is flooded in light and hope. 

While I was painting away, I listened to "Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures" on audio book.  One of the short stories is entitled "Contact Tracing".  It deals with the SARS-CoV-1 that occurred in Toronto during the outbreak between 2002-2004. The initials stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-1. The narrator send chills down my spine as the unfolding drama was exactly the same as with our current pandemic. Lack of PPE, medical personnel getting infected and issues that arises while working in a hospital setting during a pandemic.

During that pandemic, 8110 cases with a 10% mortality rate were reported worldwide from 31 countries. The United States reported 27 cases with no deaths, while Canada reported 251 cases, 44 deaths including one doctor and two nurses who worked at a Toronto hospital. 
SARS-CoV-1 is one of seven known coronaviruses to infect humans. This current pandemic is SARS-CoV-2. When many claim that the vaccine was rushed and developed too quickly, what many don't realize is that the science and research in developing a vaccine for a coronavirus had been in the works in vaccine research labs for years. It's quite impossible to test a specific vaccine for a 3-phase human clinical trial if there is no outbreak within an infected population. 

But if we all coming together, follow sanitary mesures, do our citizen duty by getting vaccinated to protect ourselves and all those around us; maybe, just maybe, we'll put an end to this pandemic. 

Buy the book through these links-

This painting will be part of a small solo show entitled "Art-ifacts", hosted by the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB from October 14 to November 5, 2021. Unfortunately, in order for the gallery to remain open during the pandemic while keeping everybody safe, the gallery director and I came to the decision that it was safer not to hold an opening reception. The public however will be able to visit the gallery at their leisure during the run of the exhibition. 
The gallery will be open on Thursday and Friday from 10 am to 5 pm or by appointment. 

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