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.

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. 

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.


Painting was also exhibited in 
''The Still Life'' Invitational Group Show" 
at the Elliott Fouts Gallery, in Sacramento, CA.
 Sept. 5 - Oct. 1, 2015.

Part of my two-person show with Yvon Gallant entitled ''HARVEST''at 
the Fog Forest Gallery from October 12 - November 8, 2017.
Opening reception - Thursday October 12, 6:30- 8:00 pm

Fog Forest Gallery
14 Bridge Street
Sackville, NB, Canada
(506) 536-9000

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. The year 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 .


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Poets and Artists

My artwork is currently featured in a 3-page layout of the current issue of
"Poets and Artists"(Sept. 2014, issue #57). 
The magazine is a US based publication available through:

Many thanks to the publisher for this great opportunity.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Date with Marilyn, an homage to Warhol

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 16 x 12"
Painting # 222,  2014

Last year we spent the long Easter weekend in Pittsburgh, Pa It's a wonderful city with many top-notch museums, several professional sports teams, a great downtown core and the skyline view atop Mount Washington is breathtaking. We took in, a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game with Sidney Crosby leading his team to victory. We also attended the hilarious "Broadway Across America" musical, "The Book of Mormons" at the Benedum Theatre, and a Green Day in concert at the Consol Energy Centre. Philanthropists Andrew Carnegie, Andrew W. Mellon,  Henry Frick and H.J. Heinz II have contributed greatly in creating a lasting legacy, making the city a sophisticated and cultural hub. 

One of the major reason for that trip was to visit the Andy Warhol Museum. I've been an admirer of Warhol's artwork for as long as I've been painting. It was never a question of ''if'' I would visit the Andy Warhol Museum, but ''when''. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Upon exiting, I even received a parting gift of a large Brillo Soap Pads Box, an homage to Warhol by Charles Lutz, that was part of the exhibition, Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years.   

A few years back, I had the idea of incorporating some sort of Kerr's Candy in a Kerr Mason jar and entitling the piece, "Kerr's in Kerr". The jar and lollipops has been on a shelf in my studio ever since. Being in a Warhol state-of-mine when I got home, I took out a 1991 Andy Warhol Celebrity Calendar which I had held on to for some twenty odd years.  As I started flipping the pages of the calendar, I noticed that the colour combination of the jar/lollipops was the same as the image in that calendar for the month of March, "Eighteen Marilyns" (Reversal Series), 1979. This is when the genesis and narrative for the painting took place. The title suggest an encounter with Marilyn Monroe, a fantasy entertained by many.   

The image above is of my wife Suzanne with another of Warhol's Reversal Series
image of Marilyn Monroe that was on exhibit
 at "La FIAC" (International Contemporary Art Fair) at 
le Grand Palais in Paris in 1989.

Last month, Suzanne and I spend 10 days vacationing in the states of Georgia and South Carolina. As luck would have it, we got to see a wonderful art exhibition entitled "Marilyn, Celebrating an American Icon" at the Jepson Center in Savannah, Ga.  The exhibit includes the artwork of more than fifty artists, ranging in style from Andy Warhol’s Pop Art to photographer Tom Kelley's 1949 famous nudes of Marilyn against a red velvet background. Click on the banner below for details of the exhibition that runs until July 27, 2014. 


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Peonies for Emily

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 12 x 12"
Painting #221, 2014

For this painting, I decided to crop the image tightly and focus on the glass vase rather than the flowers themselves. The book is Canadian Paintings, Prints and Drawings by Anne Newlands published in 2007 by Firefly Books.

The art on the cover is by Emily Coonan (1885-1971), "Girl in Dotted Dress" c.1923, thus the title.

I can't recall seeing Emily Coonan's artwork in the past, so she was not familiar to me prior to publication of the book. After doing some research, it felt appropriate to give her flowers since she was a pioneer Canadian woman artist during a time when woman in art were mainly perceived as hobbyists. She studied under William Brymner as did many others of her contemporaries. Along with like-minded modernist painters, she was associated with the short lived Beaver Hall Group in her native Montreal.  She and Lilias Torrance Newton were the first woman to be invited to show with the illustrious Group of Seven. She was also the first artist to receive a travel grant by the National Gallery of Canada in order to go to Europe.

This painting is currently on exhibition in a group show at the Fog Forest Gallery entitled "In the Garden", from May 22 to June 14, 2014.

Fog Forest Gallery 
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB. Canada
(506) 536-9000 or .


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A world in need of more Superheroes

Acrylic on gessobord, 11 x 14"
Painting # 220, ©-2014

Now for something completely different. I've had the idea for this image for several years now. I think I might have broken my personal record for the most printed letters and words in one painting. With Superman recently celebrating his 75th anniversary in print, the timing seemed appropriate. Superman was created in 1933 by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian born artist Joe Shuster, high school students living in Cleveland, Ohio. The character was sold to Detective Comics, Inc. (later DC Comics) in 1938. Superman is considered by many to be the most famous superhero of all-time. He was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton and raised by foster parents in the town of Smallville, Kansas. Living under the alias Clark Kent, he works as a journalist for the Daily Planet by day and by night transforms himself to come to the rescue of people in peril by using his superhuman abilities for the benefit of mankind. 

I'm really going down memory lane with this one by using toys of bygone days. The first prop belonged to my wife's family. The earth globe was made by J. Chein & Company. This collectable tin toy would be dated pre-1958, since several counties names have since changed after they acquired their independence. The other toy belonging to our son Jean-Luc when he was 8 years old. In 2003, with the success of the Justice League animated series playing on television, Burger King was offering a collection of eight toys in their Kids Club meals which included  Superman, Batman, Hawkgirl, The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman and Javelin 7. During the process of discarding many toys which he had outgrown, I kept a few which included this one.

This painting is a tribute for all of the super heroes that exist in real life. They may not wear skin tight suits and a cape, but their contributions in making the world a better and safer place are immeasurable. Sure there are the household names like Jonas Salk, Thomas EdisonLouis Pasteur, Frederick Banting, Charles Best, Alexander Fleming, Alexander Graham Bell, Benjamin Franklin, Albert EinsteinPierre and Marie Curie and countless others that came before and after. But there's also the people working in all walks of life from the multifaceted healthcare system, teachers, police officers, firemen, farmers, scientists, inventors, soldiers, disaster relief aid workers, cleaning maids who help prevent the transmission of pathogens, volunteers in food banks and animal shelters just to name a few. There are Superheroes who also appear out of nowhere and put themselves in harm's way with acts of bravery to rescue or save a life. And of course, there are those who change the world with simple acts of kindness. 

Superman is a regarded as a world-wide Pop Culture icon. From the pages of DC comics, to action figure toys, to kids lunchboxes, printed on t-shirts and p-jays , body tattoos, to the small and big screens adaptations both in animation and live action films spanning several decades and sequels. I remember quite vividly, watching the original Superman movie starring Christopher Reeves as the protagonist with a bunch of friends at a Drive-In Theatre when it came out in 1978. In September 2013, Canada Post issued a series of six-stamp and the Royal Canadian Mint, a collection of silver and gold collector coins for Superman's 75th Anniversary.