Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mondrian on Monopoly

Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 10 x 12''
painting #236, 2015

I've mentioned before that the Piet Mondrian's grid like paintings reminds me of the Monopoly board game. While visiting Philadelphia with my family this past October and doing some sightseeing, we unexpectedly came across the Municipal Service Building Plaza right next to the JFK Plaza (Love Park) which features gigantic game pieces from Sorry, Monopoly, Chess, Dominoes and Bingo. This 1996 art installation is appropriately named ''Your Move'' and is the brainchild of artists Daniel Martinez, Renée Petropoulis and Roger White. Upon seeing it, the whole narrative for this painting came to me. Little did I know that two days later, I would see a Piet Mondrian at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

We just returned from a four day Christmas Getaway Vacation in New York City and during our visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), we got to see a whole wall of Mondrian's grid paintings. The painting shown below (lower left) entitled ''Broadway Boogie Woogie'', oil on canvas, 1942-43 was painted after Piet Mondrian moved to New York City to escape WWII. It was influenced by boogie-woogie music. For a great sample click HERE.

This painting was SOLD upon posting it on social media to a collector living in the Netherlands, the native land of Mondrian, how appropriate.

This is my last post for 2015. Thanking you all for checking out my art blog throughout the year and to the patrons who acquired some of my artwork. May 2016 bring you much contentment, happiness and peace.  


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Observing Alex Colville

Acrylic polymer emulsion on gessobord, 11 x 14''
Painting #235, 2015

- Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB - April 28, 2002, 3pm.

I'm here with my wife Suzanne at the opening reception of Alex Colville: The History of Mount Allison. The artist is present and I am quite nervous to meet him for the first time ever, but in a good way. It's a full-house, elbow to elbow. We walk around the first floor galleries when someone asks Suzanne if she was part of Colville family? Maybe it's the Rhoda Colville or his daughter Ann Kitz  hairstyle she wears that prompted such an comment.

Robert Benn (Class of 1952) makes an illuminating speech before introducing Alex Colville. Then Mr. Colville talks about the making of his 1948 commissioned mural, The History of Mount Allison located on campus at Tweedy Hall. He mentions that his gift of the 65 preparatory drawings done for the mural were stashed away in his house and that he had not looked at them for the longest of times. ''Seeing them all here displayed on the walls, some of them are actually quite good!'' he says.  

After his speech Suzanne tells me, ''Get in line to meet him''. I'm glad she came with me.

with Alex Colville at Owens Gallery Gallery, 2002

I had sent him four letters during previous years and he had always generously replied each time. When I introduce myself, he response was, ''Are you the runner?'' At the time I was running marathons and travelling to cities which also had great art collections to visit. I knew so much about the happenings in his artistic life, that conversation was easy. When we ended our chat he said, ''This is the first time that we actually meet each other in person'', which I replied ''Yes, it is''. He then signed a book, The Observer Observed, his biography written by Mark A. Cheetham and a Canada Post First-Day cover, whom had honoured him a month earlier by choosing ''Church and Horse'' for a stamp, part of the on-going ART Canada Masterpiece Series

This painting is kind of a personal piece for me. The artist who initially inspired me to start painting. The composition for this painting has elements that are connected to him. The book was written by David Burnett and published by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) for a retrospective of his work in 1983. (click here for an interview with Barbara Frum).  I acquired it in a bookshop in Wolfville, NS during the late summer of 1989 after viewing an exhibition of his work at the University of Acadia Art Gallery that was entitled The Dow Gift. As luck would have it, it was an autographed copy.

The image on the book cover is a detail from his painting ''Target Pistol and Man'' done in 1980 when Colville turned 60.  Although he has included himself as a figure for several of his paintings, according to Burnett, this painting was the only true self-portrait until then. The setting for this painting was in his studio on the third floor of the house where he and his wife Rhoda lived from 1973 to 1998 in Wolfville, NS, the same space that is featured on the First-Day cover. In the image, he is not looking at the viewer, but rather at his self reflection in a mirror. His wedding ring and watch appears on his right hand/wrist, while in reality they would have been on the left. Burnett also explains the symbolism of the gun, which is not about violence as one might think.

Target Pistol and Man, 1980
Acrylic, 60 x 60 cm
Private collection, Calgary
at AGO (Oct. 2014)

The first day cover of his stamp was issued by Canada Post in Edmonton, AB on March 3, 2002. During our conversation, I asked him if he had attended the reception in Edmonton during the launch of the stamp, which he replied “No, it would had been a bit much to travel there”. It would be interesting to know why Canada Post chose Edmonton and not Sackville, NB or Wolfville, NS for the launch of the stamp. For my painting, I decided to change the date and place on the First Day cover to April 28, 2002 and Sackville, NB to document the day I got to meet him in person. He grew up in the border town of Amherst, NS. Sackville carried a lot of weight in his artistic career and family life. He attended Mt Allison University and earned a BFA in 1942. He married Rhoda Wright that same year and later raised four children here. He was dispatched as a war artist from 1943-46. From 1946 to 1963 he was part of the Mt Allison Fine Arts faculty as a professor. In 1963, he resigned from the university position in order to paint full-time while continuing to live in Sackville for another decade. Sackville and the nearby Tantramar Marsh would become the setting for several of his paintings. In this interview he recalls the importance of living in a more rural setting, away from the agitation of the big cities, click HERE.

Milk Truck, 1959
oil and synthetic resin
collection C.I.L
setting: Downtown Sackville, NB
exhibited at the AGO.

Since his passing at the age of 92 less a month, on July 16, 2012, Alex Colville continues to receive adulation as one of Canada's painter laureate. During that same spring, with failing health and in the memory of the passing of his wife Rhoda (December, 2011), he made a very generous gift of the 35 serigraph prints done during his artistic career to the Owens Art Gallery. I attended the opening reception on November 2, 2012 held in Tweedy Hall. His daughter Ann was invited to talk about the lives of her parents and the gift. She herself had served as a model for so many of his paintings from a very young age. It was a very moving moment for all. Mt Allison alumni and former student of Colville, Christopher Pratt also delivered a touching address about his formative years while a student under his tutelage. The huge gathering then proceeded for the unveiling of the exhibition at the Owens Art Gallery. While I am only one of his many admirers, my picture was taken at the exact some spot where I shook his hand a decade earlier and would appeared in the NB Telegraph Journal a few days later.

at the Alex Colville Gift, Owens Art Gallery, Nov. 2, 2012
Telegraph Journal, photographer Viktor Pivovarov

Since then, both the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (AGO) (August 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015) and the National Gallery in Ottawa ( April 25 - September 7, 2015) have acted as the stage for a major lifetime retrospective which I had the immense pleasure on seeing with Suzanne in Toronto on October 28, 2014. We had also visited the National Gallery during the Easter break last year and got to see several of his paintings in their permanent collection. 

Alex Colville retrospective, AGO, 2014

On November 26, 2015, a 1975 Colville original painting entitled ''Harbour'' was sold during the Heffel Fall Auction for a record price of 1,880,000 CND (including premiums), breaking his previous record for Man on Verandah which was also sold at auction for 1,287,000 CND in 2010. 

This painting will be exhibited at the Fog Forest Gallery in a group show entitled ''The Finest Gifts'' in the lovely town of Sackville, NB.

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

Previous posts on Alex Colvillle 

- Reflecting on being Acadian 
- The Colville House

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2015 Small Works Invitational

New group show opening this coming Friday, November 6, 2015 at the Ober Anderson Gallery in Kirkwood, MO, a suburb of the Greater St Louis, MO. Many thanks to Lisa Ober for this unique invitation and the opportunity to show my artwork in the Mid-West for the first time.  The exhibition includes some very talented artists, several I have been acquainted with through this Blog or Facebook. These would include Lisa Ober, Joyce K. Jenson, John Salozzo and Carrie Waller.  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Having a Ball with Little Miss Sunshine

Acrylic on gessoed masonite, 7 x 5''
Painting #234, 2015

While my son Jean-Luc, now 20 was in kindergarten, he introduced me to the series of book known as Mr. Men and Little Miss, or to us in French as Monsieur, Madame. 

These children books were introduced to the world in 1971 by British author and illustrator Roger Hargreaves. The first book he wrote was called Mr. Tickles. It was inspired when his young son Adam asked him what a tickle looked like. He would go on to produce a total of 46 booklets for the Mr. Men series. In 1981, the Little Miss series followed suit with another 33 humorous books that are also about universal human emotions and morality. In 1988, the world would mourn the loss of Hargreaves who died quite young at the age of 53 following a series of stokes. His son Adam (born 1964), took over the empire his father had created and after some rigorous training, was able to continue to publish new offerings. The popularity of the books was an instant hit spawning a BBC animated series for Mr. Men in 1974 and for Little Miss in 1983. The sales of the books has reach a staggering 100 millions, sold in 28 countries and translated in more than 10 languages.
Click:  Here and Here and Here for some nice interviews and video demos with his son Adam Hargreaves.

The rights to the characters has been sold twice. Since 2011, they are currently owned by Sanrio, the same company that owns Hello Kitty. 

The four-time Oscar nominated film, ''Little Miss Sunshine'' starring Abigail Breslin in the title role is not related to this book. 

Mason jars or canning jars has been incorporated in the composition of many of my painting for their beauty and also as symbolism for preserving things, whether memories or objects. The Ball Corporation, originally Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Co. has been in business since 1880. Last year I purchased a box of 6 blue tinted Ball Mason jars issued to commemorate 100 years of American Heritage (1912-1915). The one used in this painting is a vintage model that came with the zinc lid.

To be exhibited in the 2015 Small Works Invitational at the 
101A West Argonne Drive, 
Kirkwood, Missouri
(St Louis, MO)

Exhibition Dates: November 6-December 31, 2015 
Public Reception: November 20, 2015


Friday, October 30, 2015

Marbles over Warhol

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 8 x 10''
painting #233, 2015

Yet another instalment and tribute to Andy Warhol. This composition superimposes a postcard of Marilyn Monroe over ''Flowers, 1970'', serigraph print portfolio shown upside down from the art book, POP ART by Tilman Osterwold, published by Taschen (1990/2007).

I've just returned from a 5-day trip from Philadelphia, PA.  A beautiful city rich in architectural wonders, history, culture and art. Also, the cradle and birthplace of the United States as an independent country. I had been wanting to visit the city's impressive art institutions for the longest time and was not disappointed. Au contraire, I was awestruck by it all. A combination of wealth, philanthropy and good guidance has amassed such wonderful collections spread across four major art museums that I've had the privilege to visit. 

The Barnes Foundation alone is so impressive and has the greatest private collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early modern art amassed by one individual, Dr. Albert C. Barnes. A total of 3000 works that include 181 Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the single largest collection of the artist in the world. Holdings also include 69 Paul Cézanne, 59 Henri Matisse, 46 Pablo Picasso, 16 Amadeo Modigliani, 7 Vincent Van Gogh, 4 Claude Monet and at least 3 Georges Seurat. 

The Rodin Museum is also the single largest collection of sculptor by Auguste Rodin's work outside of Paris, all amassed by movie theater mogul Jules Mastbaum. The museum opened in 1929, three years after Masterbaum's death. I have visited the Rodin Museum in Paris back in 1989. This was a beautiful re-acquaintance with is work. 

The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Museum and Art School was founded in 1805 and is considered the first and oldest of both in the United States. The museum only had a few people when we visited on a Sunday afternoon to witness an outstanding collection. Mostly American master painters with the likes of the Peale family, trompe l'oeil master William Harnett, Rideway Knight, Thomas Eakins, Robert Vonnoh, Cecilia Beaux, Edward Hopper, Peter Bloom, Childe Hassem, Karl Anderson to name just a few. Also on view was a magnificent solo show of recent alumni James Toogood, who's hyperrealist watercolours and pastels were new to me but did not leave me indifferent.

Last but not least the Philadelphia Museum of Art which opened it's doors in 1877, a year after the United States held it's first World Fair. It is a World Class Museum and one of the largest in the country. I ended up spending more than 3 hours but could have spent a few days easily. Opening on the day of our visit was ''Aububon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life''. The first survey of it's kind in the past three decades. Click HERE for details. Outside the main entrance was Robert Indiana's 1998 AMOR, on view especially to honour Pope Francis on the occasion of his visit to the United States. The iconic, six-foot-high sculpture overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, site of the public papal mass which took place on September 27 in front of hundreds of thousands during the world meeting of families. 

To be exhibited in the 2015 Small Works Invitational at the 
Ober Anderson Gallery
101A West Argonne Drive, 
Kirkwood, Missouri
(St Louis, MO)

Exhibition Dates: November 6-December 31, 2015 
Public Reception: November 20, 2015


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Clementines over Autumn Algoma

Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 12 x 12''
Painting #232, 2015

I was introduced to the book, The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson during a visit to the Moncton Public Library during the fall of 2014. Not long after I returned it on loan, I had to purchase a copy for my own.  Although the book was first published in 2005 by Firefly books, it somehow flew under my radar during the past decade. It was written by art historian, David P. Wilcox (b. 1937). It is one of those quintessential books that no art library should be without. The massive 441 page volume encompasses different aspects of the life, spirit and physical environment of the Canadian landscape as seen through the eyes of the celebrated Group of Seven and affiliated luminaries.  

The front cover is graced with Autumn, Algoma (1920) by Lawren Harris. The Group of Seven also known as the Algonquin School was a group of Canadian landscape painters from 1920 to 1933.  Tom Thomson is often associated with them, but in reality in died at age 39 under mysterious circumstances on Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park, Ontario in 1917, before the group was even formed. Thomson's artwork is often considered as a main source that inspired the group to explore the landscape in a post-impressionism manner.    

While the Group of Seven may not be widely known outside Canada, things may be about to change. Actor Steve Martin, a serious art collector has just curated an art exhibition that will feature Lawren Harris in is first solo exhibition to travel south of the border. It was done co-jointly with the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Hammer Museum. The travelling exhibition will see stops on both U.S. coasts. ''The Idea of North'' just opened at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and runs through January 24 before heading to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from March 12- June 12, 2016. The collection will later be shown at the Art Gallery of Ontario on it's final stop from July 2 to September 11, 2016. You can read all about it on this LINK and on this LINK.

I did the photo study for this painting during the dead of winter, while outside, the deck and backyard were completely covered in a blanket of snow. It was quite a challenge to paint in details, the partially abstract rendering of the book's cover with refracted light.


Friday, October 2, 2015

PA / Poets and Artists Magazine

I'm very fortunate and honoured to be among 19 AMAZING artists from around the globe to be featured in the current issue of PA magazine (Poets and Artists). The September issue featuring Realism was guest edited by Frank Bernarducci of the Bernarducci-Meisel Gallery in NYC.

also available on iTunes in the USA at this LINK .

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Still Life - 2015

Group show opening today at the Elliott Fouts Gallery
with five lovely artists. Show runs until October 1, 2015

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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sightseeing in 3-D

Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 12 x 12"
painting # 231, 2015

Part of my creative process in choosing subject matter for a painting has to do with the intent and the narrative. While I am not the first to use a View-Master as a prop, several artists whose work I admire certainly ignited the idea that this toy might be an interesting object worth consideration if only I can create something visually unique in content and composition. These artists would include James Hollingsworth, Otto Lange, Kelly Grace and Carl Janes.  (click on names to view)

With the opportunity of on-line shopping, comes the possibility of acquiring great finds without ever having to leave your home. This View Master is a model G produced from 1959-1977. It was purchased from a seller on Etsy living in Montana, while the three sets of travel picture reels were purchased individually on eBay from a seller living in the U.K. The whole narrative came to me while browsing and connecting the dots.

I did not have a View-Master as a child, but several kids in my neighbourhood did. Most of the reels they owned were cartoon serials from Disney, Hanna-Barbera or Warner Bros. However, I do distinctly remember viewing several travel reels. The ones that come to mind were of Disneyland and Expo '67 held in Montreal. In retrospect it would be interesting to know if viewing these fascinating stereo pictures did contribute somehow to my love of travelling and later visiting all these places in real life because the three dimensional effect does give the feeling of being there and longing to visit them one day.

In this lot are reels of Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and New York City. The images span from the 1950's to the early 1970's. We visited Niagara Falls during the last week of March in 1998 while on a road trip to Hamilton Ontario during my running days when I ran the "Around the Bay 30K". The most impressive thing about the falls was the shear force of the water. We returned during the fall of 2016 where I tried the new Zip-Line.

We visited Grand Canyon during the last week of February 2009 on a road trip of Arizona, Nevada and southern Utah. Here, the vastness of the ravine is mind boggling. There was still a bit of snow which added to the magic of this mystical place. It was the last week before the shuttle service kicked in, so we could drive at will to discover this amazing national park. 

And finally New York City, one of my favourite places to visit. We've visited the Big Apple five time so far. The first two were in line with the New York City Marathon which I ran in 1994 and 2002, then later as tourists in 2010 and 2013. Sightseeing, great art, Broadway plays and the famous skyline are the main attractions. I always find it a surreal experience to be there. This year, we will be spending Christmas in New York City with some family members joining us. On Christmas evening we have tickets for the "Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular" featuring "The Rockettes". I did the photo study for this painting before I even booked the airline tickets. The NYC reel featured in the painting was just randomly added. Call it faith or coincidence that "The Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall" would appear in this disc.

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


To be exhibited in a two-person show at the Fog Forest Gallery, Sackville, NB
October, 2017, details to follow.


Monday, August 24, 2015

A Car on The Cars

Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 12 x 12"
painting # 229, 2015

During my teens and until my mid twenties, a great deal of the music I purchased was on vinyl. Not only was the sound very distinct, but you had the added bonus of holding the album jacket and liner notes/lyrics while listening to your record. Over the years, the artwork produced on many album covers contributed greatly to popular culture. A marketing tool that added to the enjoyment, sales and by themselves became a desirable items to collect.   

In 1984, new wave / pop-rock band “The Cars” released a multi-platinum studio album entitled ''Heartbeat City''. Peter Phillips' painting, “Art-O-Matic Loop Di Loop” (1972) appeared on the album jacket. It’s one of those classic 1980’s album that kind of defined by early adulthood in many ways, since I was but 22 at the time.

Before I even started to paint and my real interest in art would begin, it is undeniable that the exposure to this form of art would contribute and influence my artwork. In recent years I have completed several paintings in the same 12 x 12'' format. 

The original acrylic painting on canvas, ''Art-O-Matic Loop Di Loop'' is mural format, measuring a massive 200 x 400 cm or approximately 6½ ft high by 13 ft long. At the time the record came out was owned by Galerie Neuendorf in Hamburg, Germany.  It features a pin-up girl, automotive parts, light beams, circles, stars and a 1971 Plymouth Duster 340. The concept for my own painting happened by chance when I found an exact Johnny Lightning die-cast car in yellow on eBay. I've added the mason jar since it's purpose is to preserve stuff.

English artist Peter Phillips (b. 1939) is considered one of the fathers of the Pop Art Movement and after a temporary move to New York City exhibited alongside is American contemporaries Andy WarholRoy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist. He has had several retrospective of his work including the Tate Gallery in London which owns several of his works. 

''Heartbeat City'' was produced by Robert ''Mutt'' Lange (Def Leppard, Shania Twain, AC/DC, Bryan Adams) and The Cars. Six singles would receive radio airplay, including four top 10 hits, ''Hello Again'', ''You Might Think'', ''Drive'' and ''Magic''. Actor Timothy Hutton directed the video for ''Drive'' sung by Benjamin Orr. It was during the filming of that video that frontman Ric Ocasek met his future wife, supermodel Paulina Porizkova (whom I had a massive crush on). To add more Pop Art flavour to the album, Andy Warhol directed the très cheezy video for "Hello Again". The album was certified 4x platinum in the US alone. Click on the below image to view the video.     

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

To be exhibited in a two-person with Yvon Gallant entitled "Harvest" at the Fog Forest Gallery, Sackville, NB
October 12 - Nov. 8,  2017.

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.
The exhibition will be held from June 14th to September 6th, 2015.

One exhibit – two locations
Presbytère Saint-Nicolas
1450, rue des Pionniers       
Lévis, Qc
 (gallery where this painting is showing) 

Galerie Louise-Carrier
33, rue Wolfe
Lévis, Qc