Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Easel in the Colville House, Sackville

12 x 16", acrylic on mounted gessoed birch panel
painting #258, 2017

In 2016, Mount Allison University was the recipient of a generous donation from the family of the late Alex Colville, gifting the entire content of his art studio as he left it at the time of his passing. A variety of easels, furniture, artefacts and art supplies now have a new home in the Colville House located at 76 York Street in Sackville, NB.  It was in this house that Alex Colville with his wife Rhoda raised their four children and lived from 1949 to 1973. Colville was a professor with the Fine Arts Faculty at Mount Allison University from 1946 to 1963. They continued living in the house for another decade after he left his teaching position prior to moving to Wolfville, NS. The original studio in the Colville House was located on in the attic, a tight space with a 6 ft head clearance. It is here that he painted many of his best known work, including To Prince Edward Island (1965) that graces the cover of the book in my composition. This book was published in 2014 by Goose Lane Edition in Fredericton, NB in conjunction with a major lifetime retrospective exhibition of his work organized and held at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), then later at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Photos taken at the Colville House, July 26, 2017

The Tasco binoculars belonged to my late father Raymond and are the exact same model as in To Prince Edward Island. I've been wanting to paint these binoculars for at least a decade. I grew up in Cap-Lumière, NB along the Northumberland Strait. On a clear day, we could see PEI even without binoculars. After I acquired the book all I needed was the proper setting. When my wife and I visited the Colville House last summer, the whole narrative came to me. I would return a few weeks later with book and binoculars in hand to do a quick photo session. This painting is an homage to two men who greatly influenced my life and my art.   

Alex Colville in his Wolfville studio, 1984.
Still image from "Order and Splendor" 
National Film Board of Canada
Click HERE to view the documentary 

My wife and I visited Toronto two months ago to visit the city and attend Art Toronto. While exiting the Princess of Wales Theatre after attending the play ''The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" we came across Alex Colville's Star on the Canadian Walk of Fame located on King Street. 

This painting is available from the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB, located 650m from the Colville House. 

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

Monday, December 18, 2017

Et Hergé créa Tintin

Acrylic on gessoed mounted aluminium panel, 14 x 11''
painting #257, 2017

This painting was inspired after viewing the exhibition, Hergé à Québec held at le Musée de la Civilisation in Québec City in late September. Last year we had planned to visit le Musée Hergé in Louvain-la-Neuve, 32 km outside of Brussels but our bus tour was cancelled at the last minute when my wife and I were they only ones who had booked on that day. Everything happens for a reason, so if we can't go to the museum.....let the museum come to us. 

This travelling exhibition was organized by le Musée Hergé. After stops in Paris, London and Geneva, the city of Québec was honoured and excited to host the show for a five month stint. Hergé à Québec was seen by 420,593 visitors, breaking the record for the most ticket sold in the museum's 30 year history. 

Hergé meets Andy Warhol in NYC, 1972

The exhibition explores the world of Georges Rémi, the talented Belgian born artist known as Hergé who created Tintin and other comic strips. Among the show's treasures was of a selection of valuable documents and artefacts of his life, original drawings, storyboards, 3D-models, illustration art from his early artistic career, a selection of his own private art collection and a mural of books of The Adventures of Tintin translated in 70 languages.

Mural of The Adventures of Tintin books

Model of the Rocket featured in two books

In this composition the museum plan and exhibition leaflets were the jump off points that ignited the narrative. A wonderful picture of Hergé by Belgian photographer Robert Kayaert (1920-2007) graced the covers of both.  The small figurines of Tintin and Milou (Snowy) were eBay purchases I had acquired a few years ago who were waiting in the wings, while a set of pencils were purchased at the Museum Gift Shop upon exiting the exhibition, unsuspecting that they would soon appear in a painting. The background imagery is from the book, Musée Hergé with preparatory drawings and final illustration for Tintin in Tibet. The book was a Christmas gift from my wife two years ago purchased that same fall at le Salon du Livre in Shippagan, NB (Book Fair). 

Selfie at le Musée de la Civilisation, Québec

The painting will be on display at Galerie de Bellefeuille in Montreal in early December, 2017.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Styling an Icon

Acrylic on gessoed mounted birch panel, 11 x 14"
painting #256, 2017

This painting was sparked by a previous painting done five years ago, "Famous for more than 15 minutes". (Click HERE to view). It was an homage to Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Coco Chanel but it is the last luminary, William Travilla that prompted me to re-examine this subject matter for a new still life painting.  

 William Travilla (1920-1990) was an American costume designer for theatre, film, and television. He is perhaps best known for dressing Marilyn Monroe in eight of her films including the pink dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (click HERE) and the pleated ivory cocktail dress Monroe wore in the 1955 film, The Seven Year Itch while standing on a New York City Subway ventilation grate. Photographs of the scene as her dress rises around her have become synonymous with Monroe herself. The iconic dress, which was later purchased by actress Debbie Reynolds, was sold for $4,600,000 (USD) during a 2011 auction. The eight films Travilla designed Marilyn's outfits are: Monkey Business (1952), Don't Bother to Knock (1952), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), River of No Return (1954), The Seven Year Itch (1955), and Bus Stop (1956). Travilla would receive four Academy Award nominations during his career, winning the Oscar for the 1951 film, Adventures of Don Juan starring Errol FlynnTravilla was nominated for Emmy awards seven times for his work in television, winning twice.

Monroe once wrote to Travilla, "Billy Dear, please dress me forever. I love you, Marilyn."

Madonna would use Marilyn's song-dance sequence of "Diamonds are a girl's best friend'' as inspiration for her 1985 music video, "Material Girl". The set decoration was reconstructed complete with staircase, chandeliers and a number of tuxedo clad chorus boys. She wore a replica of the pink dress with long gloves designed by Travilla from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Click HERE to view. 

Chanel no. 5 enjoyed publicity when Ed Feingersh photographed Marilyn with a bottle of the perfume. In the 1950's the glamour of Chanel No. 5 was reignited by Monroe, whose unsolicited endorsement of the fragrance provided invaluable publicity.“What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course,” the Daily Mail quoted Monroe as saying in the ad.

Standing with the exhibition banner 
"Marilyn, Celebrating an American Icon" at the Jepson Center in Savannah, Ga
held from April to Jul, 2014.

The book featured in this painting was written by Andrew Hansford with Karen Homer. It was published by Goodman Books in 2011, in the UK. The Andy Warhol box in the same pinkish hue has her dress contains 20 note cards. 

The year 2017 marks 55 years since the passing of Monroe, 30 years since the passing of Warhol and 95 years since Coco Chanel brought the world's most famous perfume to market! 

To acquire this painting, please contact:

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1367 avenue Greene, 
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2A8 Tel: 514.933.4406
e-mail- art@debellefeuille.com

On view at ART TORONTO with Galerie de Bellefeuille - October 28-30, 2017.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Recent paintings included in Harvest / Moisson, two-person show

These recent works will be included along with 
the nine new paintings in 
Harvest / Moisson
a two-person show with the Yvon Gallant

Fog Forest Gallery
L to R: self, Janet Crawford (gallery owner) and Yvon Gallant

Storm brewing in a teacup on Downton Abbey
  12 x 16'', acrylic on gessoed hardboard
painting #241, 2016B
Blog post - HERE

Tangerines in a Hurricane Vase ( homage to Edgar Degar)
Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #159
15 x 11'' - 2009-2012
Blog post - HERE 

A Car on The Cars
Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 12 x 12"
painting # 229, 2015
Blog Post- HERE

Vintage Fashion
Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 12 x 12"
Painting # 223, 2014
Blog post - HERE

Lost a Marble over a Girl
Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 12 x 12''
2011, # 192
Blog post- HERE

Sightseeing in 3-D
Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 12 x 12"
painting # 231, 2015
Blog post- HERE

To acquire any of these painting, please contact the gallery.

Fog Forest Gallery
14 Bridge Street
Sackville, NB, Canada
(506) 536-9000
website- http:/fogforestgallery.ca

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Shooter Marble in Shooter Glass

7 x 5", acrylic on gessoed hardboard
painting #255, 2017

A play on words inspired the imagery for this study. During the spring of 2014, we visited Coca-Cola World, a museum of everything Coke in Atlanta, which is also where their headquarter is located. I picked up a few items in the gift shop on our way out, this shooter glass was one of them. The glass study rests on blank card with Andy Warhol's "Three Coke Bottles", 1962 on the cover. 

Coca-Cola is by far the most popular soft drink in the world, sold in 200 countries, with 1,8 billion servings consumed daily.

Part of my two-person show with Yvon Gallant entitled ''HARVEST'' at the Fog Forest Gallery from October 12 - November 8, 2017.

Fog Forest Gallery
14 Bridge Street
Sackville, NB, Canada
(506) 536-9000
websire- http:/fogforestgallery.ca


Friday, October 13, 2017

Marbles for Anne Shirley

Acrylic on mounted gessoed birch panel, 6 x 8"
Painting #253, 2017

The spirit of Anne of Green Gables remains alive and well, 109 years after Lucy Maud Montgomery brought the Prince Edward Island icon to life in her series of novels. Anne of Green Gables: The Musical has been performed every summer at The Charlottetown Festival - Confederation Centre of the Arts since 1965, making it Canada's longest-running musical. In March 2014, the production was officially recognized as the longest running annual musical theatre production in the world by Guinness World Record.

Anne with an E, a new critically acclaimed Canadian television series based on the book started airing on CBC earlier this spring and is available for streaming elsewhere in the world on Netflix. Amybeth NcNulty was chosen to play the role of Anne Shirley from approximately 1800 girls who audition for the role.

This painting was inspired from Anne of Green Gable, the animated series, episode #20 (2002) entitled "Marbles". These marbles are resting on the 2015 Charlottetown Festival Program. 

Part of my two-person show with Yvon Gallant entitled ''HARVEST'' at the Fog Forest Gallery from October 12 - November 8, 2017.

Fog Forest Gallery
14 Bridge Street
Sackville, NB, Canada
(506) 536-9000
websire- http:/fogforestgallery.ca


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Evangeline, an homage to Longfellow

16 x 12'', acrylic on gessoed aluminum panel
painting #254, 2017 

Evangeline is an epic poem written by American poet and educator Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was published in 1847, 170 years ago. Longfellow was born in 1807 in Portland Maine. His best works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. I've had the chance to visit his childhood home twice. The Longfellow house was built in 1785-86 by the poet's grandfather, General Peleg Wadsworth. It is one of the oldest brick structures on Portland's peninsula.

The deportation of Acadian people from their lands by British troops (1755-1764) becomes the backdrop for the poem. Recounting the tragic tale of a young Acadian woman named Evangeline Bellefontaine who was separated from her fiancé Gabriel Lajeunesse on the eve of their wedding during the great upheaval in 1755 in Grand-Pré, Acadia (now Nova Scotia). The prose follows Evangeline on her long and arduous journey across the eastern seaboard of the United States as she spends all of her adult life in search of her long lost love. Now an old woman working as a Sister of Mercy among the poor in Philadelphia, at long last she finds Gabriel among the sick while caring for the dying during an epidemic, only for him to die in her arms. Even though Evangeline is fictitious character, she is perceived as a heroine and icon for the Acadian people and has become a symbol for faithfulness, courage, hope, perseverance and love.

 The eloquence in Longfellow's writing is evident from the first paragraph:
This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

Instead of reading the book before starting the painting as I've done before, I read it only once the painting was completed. Being myself an Acadian, it is a painting that carries a bit more weight within the narrative of the imagery. 

I found a vintage Evangeline soda pop bottle in an estate sale last summer in Summerside, PEI. I can't recall ever seeing this brand. After doing a bit of research, it would have originally contained Ginger-Ale and was bottled by Seven-Up Ltd in Halifax, NS. The book used for my composition was acquired on eBay from a seller in Newfoundland. It was published by Airmont Books in 1965 and sold for 75 cents.

Antique Evangeline crate. 

Two months before spending our 2012 Christmas vacation in Louisiana, I found my genealogy on-line dating back to 1630. My French ancestor and 8th times grandfather, Michel "Sansoucy" Richard was born in Saintonge France and immigrated to Port Royal, Acadia (now Nova Scotia) in 1652. During the deportation of Acadians, his grandson and my 6th time grand-father, Michel Richard was deported from Fort Beauséjour to Charleston, SC where he died shorty thereafter. Avoiding the deportation, his wife and children had exiled themselves on Prince Edward Island when tensions were mounting during this period of great uncertainly. To pay homage to my ancestors, I returned on the grounds of Fort Beauséjour, located in Aulac, NB and used it as the setting in the composition. With views of the Tantramar Marsh, the waterways opens up into the Bay of Fundy. From here, you can make your way by boat to Grand-Pré. 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".

While in Louisiana, we visited the Acadian / Cajun region of St James Parish, Broussard, Beaux Bridges, St. Martinville and the city of Lafayette. St Martinville is widely considered to be the birthplace of the Cajun culture and traditions, and it is in the heart of Cajun Country. Between the dates of 1764 and 1785, upwards of 2600 Acadians took exile in Louisiana, then under Spanish rule, but previously owned by the French.

  My wife Suzanne with the statue of Evangeline, St. Martinville, LA

In 2013, the Charlottetown Festival produced "Evangeline" a musical that ran during the summer at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. We were fortunate to attend a presentation. "Epic, ambitious, Canadian...comparable to Les Misérables" wrote The Globe and Mail. It was reprised in 2015 for a one month run at the Homburg Theatre in Charlottetown. 

In 2005, I was among a very fortunate small group of four in the entourage of one of the judges during the Moncton stop of the auditions for the very popular TVA reality-TV singing competition, Star Académie". A then unknown singer, Annie Blanchard from Maisonnette, NB auditioned to Michel Conte's ''Évangéline'', and instantly won the heart of the judges and the public. This link is not the audition taping but a similar version with piano accompaniment, click HERE to listen. At the conclusion of the show, Évangéline was release as a single on the compilation album. It would climb all the way to #1 on the Quebec charts. Annie Blanchard would go on to win the Félix for the song of the year at the 2006 Gala de l'ADISQ (highest musical distinction in the province of Quebec).

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
website- http:/fogforestgallery.ca


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Vine Tomato on Warhol Campbell Soup Can / Green Tomato on Warhol Campbell Soup Can

Each- 8 x 5", acrylic on gessoed hardboard
paintings # 252 & 251, 2017

Five years ago in 2012, the Campbell Soup Company would issue a limited edition of four Andy Warhol inspired labels for their Tomato Soup to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Warhol's first important solo exhibition that comprised of the 32 varieties Campbell Soup was offering at the time. The show was held at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in 1962. The collection would eventually be acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in NYC in 1996 by bequest/gift/purchase.

 MOMA, visit Nov. 2010

The Warhol edition of 1,2 million cans of Campbell's condensed tomato soup were sold at Target Store in the USA for 75 cents each. A former co-worker was vacationing in Maine at the time and was able to get me a full set of 4. It was the third time that Campbell Soup would honour the Pop Art icon with these signature cans; the first being in 2003 for the Eagles Grocery Stores chain (Pittsburgh) and at Barney's during the Holiday season of 2006. 

The Campbell Soup Company did approve of Warhol Soup Can Art since it provided them with some unsolicited free publicity as this letter can attest. In 1993, the company would buy a Warhol painting of one of his tomato soup cans to hang in the boardroom of there headquarters. 

During the promotion and sale of these special edition cans, the Campbell's Facebook page was offering 15 minutes of fame to their followers. I was the 100th to enjoy my Art of Soup moment!

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
Website- http://fogforestgallery.ca


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Chair inside the Olson House, an homage to Andrew Wyeth

11 x 14", acrylic on gessoed birch panel
painting #250, 2017

I first became acquainted with the Farnsworth Art Museum located in beautiful Rockland Maine back in 1998 when we made our way for a brief vacation in Maine to visit the newly opened Farnsworth Center for the Wyeth Family. Andrew Wyeth's masterpiece "Christina's World" was on loan from the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in NYC and the painting was revisiting Maine for the first time in 50 years. The Olson House located in Cushing, Maine is the setting for the painting. It is currently owned by the Farnsworth Museum. 

The Olson House, Cushing, Me, June 2014.

Andrew Wyeth was introduced to Christina Olson while vacationing in Maine in 1939 by his future wife, Betsy James, who's family home was close to the Olson farmhouse. Wyeth would entertain a friendship with her and her brother Alvaro for the remaining of their lives. She was afflicted with was is believe to be polio and was unable to walk from her early thirties. In a 2016 article published by Mail Online, it was suggested by a group of neurologists that she might have suffered from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.  

The inspiration for "Christina's World' occurred when Wyeth saw Christina crawling on her hands from the garden towards the house while he was painting in a studio he has set up on the third floor of the house. When Wyeth did the painting in 1948, Christina would have been in her mid-fifties. He would alter her features to a much younger woman, half her age keeping only her skinny arms and pink dress intact. This painting would become one of the most iconic images in American Art history. It has been both revered and shunned by critics.

I've visited the MOMA four times since 1994. My last visit dates back to December of 2015. Christina's World was on display oddly in a hallway instead of a prime gallery space. I recently read an article written by Henry Adams who explains a backlash against Andrew Wyeth after he was awarded a solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1976, a first for a living artist. Tables turned against Wyeth when controversy ensued during the organization of the exhibit. Click HERE to read.

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth, MOMA, Dec. 2015.

The MOMA recently decided to change the original frame for a newer model that would better compliment the painting.   Click HERE to view this interesting clip. 

 When I visited the Olson House back in June 2014, the book that appears in my above painting was on a table. It was written by the artist's wife Betsy Wyeth and published in 1982I quickly flipped through it, placed it on the green chair and took a picture. Before starting this painting I bought another Wyeth book written by Laura Hoptman that was published by the MOMA. She writes about Christina's neuro-muscular condition, "She refused to use a wheel chair, preferring to scoot herself across the floor in a kitchen chair".

It was never my intention to paint this. It was only this past July when I looked back at all the photography I had taken at the house that a more personal narrative came to me when I cropped the image and removed the top rail. The remaining spindles reminded me of prison bars. The image on the book is also much darker than the original painting and with mostly browns rather than greens. 

My own mother Emma died back in the fall of 2006. The day before moving into a senior's apartment, she lost her balance while closing a door and fell to the floor. She had been living alone in her house ever since my father died three years earlier. She wasn't able to get up even if she had not broken any bone. Her sister would find her lying on the floor 18 hours later. She had several chronic ailments that emerged in the last four years of her life including severe osteoporosis in her spine and congestive heart failure. Her health was deteriorating rapidly. An underlying neurological condition was only diagnosed about 2 weeks before she died, which was an advanced stage of Parkinson's disease. In the months leading to her passing, so could no longer walk or eat without assistance. She was confined to her chair all day in a nursing home. Being myself a registered nurse, I was faced with the eventuality of discussing with her what was her wishes in the event that her heart should stop. During this heart to heart talk, we came to the conclusion even if she was still very lucid, her once strong body was now abandoning her. Her spirit was now trap in a body that had turned into a prison. Much like Christina Olson, they both died at the age of 74.

Had he lived, Andrew Wyeth would have turned 100 on July 12 of this year. Two retrospectives of his work are currently on view. Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect at the Seattle Art Museum, Wa from October 19, 2017 to January 15, 2018 and Andrew Wyeth at 100 at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Me until December 31, 2017. I recently got to see a few of his paintings while visiting the new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City (Dec. 2015) and the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway (May 2016). 

Andrew Wyeth died in 2009 at the age of 91 after a brief illness. His remains rest in a small cemetery alongside Christina and Alvaro Olson, located not far from where the figure of Christina appears in the painting.

Hathorn Cemetery, Cushing, Maine

Part of my two-person show with Yvon Gallant entitled ''HARVEST'' at the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB. 
from October 12 - November 8, 2017.