Thursday, September 29, 2011

Central Tech, My School Art

Only a small collection of my student art work has survived the years and most of the pieces I kept are what I would have considered to be my best efforts; work done in our final year.  An early assignment was to set up right across the street from the school and draw a building.  I chose this boarded up house.  A pretty basic drawing but please remember I had only just turned 14!

Pen and ink 22"x15"   First year, 1962

Central Technical School is a public high school with the Toronto Board of Education; tax dollars well spent.  If you recall the television program FAME, that's what I liken it to.  There had to be some advantages to being an inner city kid!  Life drawing was a constant throughout the four years, here is an early exercise:

Life drawing exercise, pencil 22"x15"   Second year, 1963

You can't help but improve when life drawing classes were either all morning or all afternoon long and happened almost every day.  Compare the sophistication of the drawing below to the one above. 

Life drawing, pencil 26"x17.25"   Fourth year, 1966

The first time we 14 year old kids had a live, nude model we were scared half to death when a barefoot, bare-legged, male model sauntered into the studio wearing a bathrobe. Eyes downcast, unable to look at one another we all held our breath, but when he took off the robe there was an almost audible, collective sigh of relief. Back then inequality was alive and well; the women were completely nude (those who wanted to be that is) but the men wore g-strings. In forth year painting the figure was introduced ...

Figure painting, acrylic 28"x15"   Fourth year, 1966

We were being prepared for any path in an artistic life; many courses had commercial art in mind. Some of the girls dreamed of being fashion designers and some of the boys hoped to go into advertising fast cars. Most of us did go on to pursue a wide variety of careers in the arts. 

Learning was exciting with the broad range of subjects which, in addition to all that life drawing, included: History of Art, Research, Design, Illustration, Lettering - much was done by hand, although we did have Letraset there were NO computers! Anatomy - we had to learn all the bones and muscles in the human body. We had a class called Museum when we would got to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) and there, from life, paint things like coats of armour, African masks or the enormous Chinese mural.

Some design projects ...  

Book sleeve, watercolour and ink, 8"x20"   Fourth year, 1966

Five page, three fold brochure, each page 8.5"x11", gouache   Fourth year, 1966

Album cover, acrylic, 6"x6"   Fourth year, 1966

And for those of you who may have been waiting for it, done from an arrangement Doris McCarthy set up in her studio classroom ... my first oil painting:

Still life, oil 20"x24"   Fourth year, 1966

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Central Technical School

Last week, I took a nostalgic trip down memory lane as I photographed old pictures from my art school days.  If Xpresspost is all it's cracked up to be Mark will receive the CD I made him for his birthday, today.

Helen Salomaa in front of the Art Building, January, 1966 

The gal behind the camera most of the time is pictured above.  Our own personal paparazzi; she has left us with a life-long gift of so many photographs.  I stopped in the midst of writing this post to consult Canada 411 where I found Helen's phone number.  After all these years, she and I have just had a long, wonderful and rich conversation. 

In September, 1962, ten days after I entered grade nine and the Art Course at Central Tech, I turned fourteen.  Side by side thirty kids (some came, some went) forged their artistic skills in the four-year art program.  To accommodate the extensive range of art courses our academic classes consisted only of the absolute essentials.  These we studied all together in "the old school" classrooms.

However, we were split into two groups for art classes and spent glorious hours in the fabulous studios of the art building.  This afforded us an intimacy the likes of which was highly improbable in a regular curriculum of a Toronto Public High School.  At the time Central Tech had an enrollment of 2000 students.

We made art and studied together ...

Mark Thurman, me and John Williamson (RIP), January 1966

... and, we played together ...

Neil Sharp, yours truly and Mark Thurman, April 26th, 1964

Being children of the 60s we were naturally influenced by The Beatles.  Above we emulate their Twist and Shout album cover.

Murray McLaughlin, me, Sandra Shibata and Sandra Ko, January, 1966

Having such intense courses, based on solid classical training (in other words we learned how to draw) available to me while so young was undoubtedly one of the finest opportunities of my life.  Art instruction was imparted by instructors of the highest calibre including Canadian icon Doris McCarthy, who taught there for 40 years.

Life drawing was a daily event, April 1966

As the four years flew by I savoured every day dreading its end well before the last year came and went.   

Last day of the last year in Paul Summerskill's class, June 10th, 1966

Many divine turns have sent me in directions I never dreamed of but, to this day, I maintain the foundation that I continue to build on are those precious Central Tech years.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The September Road Trip

Although we didn't travel far we saw an vast amount of inspiring beauty and had a most excellent time exploring territory new to us. 

September 15th at Many Glacier

On our first night out, September 6th, we camped at the young mining town of Elkford (est. 1971) in the wilds of British Columbia's Elk Valley.  The following morning we took a short hike to nearby Josephine Falls viewed from the edge of a very deep canyon.  That afternoon we went the short distance to Fernie and set up camp (for two nights) at Mount Fernie Provincial Park which is just down the road from here ...

Island Lake

On September 9th, we crossed into the United States and lazily made our way to Mountain Meadow RV Park at a little town named Hungry Horse, between Whitefish and West Glacier, Montana.  Based there for five nights, we alternated hiking days with shopping and touring days while enjoying glamping with full services including wireless Internet, at our camp site, great meals at cool cafes and restaurants.  The last time we were in the Kalispell/Glacier area was in 1979.  It was a flash trip with two young kids and a couple of outlaws.  Things are quite changed since then.  It all looked new to us, with the exception of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  Anyone who has ever traveled it can never forget the beauty and what a feat of engineering it is.

Going-to-the-Sun Road looking west from Logan Pass

I can't really think of anywhere more beautiful to be stuck in road construction traffic.  It delayed our hike until late in the day when the light was so much finer.  At Logan Pass, on the Hidden Lake trail, we got our moneys worth of wildlife and knock-your-socks-off scenery in the best of weather, even with forest fire smoke haze.

Mountain Goat beating the heat

Hidden Lake

With the weather so fine and everything (that wasn't already was closed) about to shut down for the season the crowds were horrific.  We drove around and around the Avalanche Lake trail head waiting for a parking spot to free up as if we were at a mall on December 24th.  I worked hard to exclude the hordes in my photos!

Avalanche Lake, near Apgar, West Glacier National Park

Coming home up the east side of Glacier National Park we intended to stay just one night at Many Glacier then quickly changed our minds so that we could take the full day hike to the Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint.  The elevation gain was 1600 feet over 8.5 kilometers ... I like to mix up how I measure things!  This primo trail is out in the open for most of the time affording exquisite views of mountain peaks above you and jewel coloured lakes far below.  If you have time to look at only one photo essay I would suggest this one. 

Grinnell Lake, East Glacier National Park

If you are inclined here are links to complete photo essays:

The September Run Away Begins

Eureka, Montana

West Glacier - Logan Pass

Avalanche Lake

Many Glacier - East Glacier

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Goal

I want to have 30 little oil paintings for the Canmore Artisan's Christmas Market, November 26th and 27th.  I am excited to report that my daughters and I will all have booths side by side!  Denise sews purses and other amazing accessories with patterns she invents.  Laura has added hand created silver pieces, of her own designs, to her beaded jewellery.

Daily Gold   oil   5" x 7"   SOLD

I had six small paintings toward The Goal.  Because I needed a thank-you gift I was down to five.  Then, a certain someone (who shall remain nameless) came over and wore me down into selling her the painting above.  I am weak and I simply cannot resist her adoration or whining.  But the meagre collection was dwindling.

That the weather is so lovely isn't helping matters at all.  When yesterday started out cold and cranky I went to my room and painted a pear and crab apples which I clipped from the tree down the street.  Too bad I can't show it to you.  If I am to reach The Goal I have to stop posting any paintings I create between now and the end of November.

In the meantime I'm left with telling stories.  But of course you have the option of reading them ... or not!

Monday, September 19, 2011

FCA Anniversary Show Opening

The venue

On Friday afternoon, September 16th, Federation of Canadian Artists Calgary Chapter President, Kathy Hildebrandt, and her "hanging crew" received 170 paintings and seamlessly had all of them installed in The Simmons building ready for the 6:30PM opening reception that evening.

A wonderful, spacious setting
Rosemary Bennett, Linda Wilder, Kirsten Jensen

Three founding members were on hand to celebrate and to present awards ...

Jeanette McClelland, June Mongomery and Irene Wahl

Yours truly with Canmore artist, Dana Roman, and my painting

With Dana and her mixed media on silk pieces (not bottom right)

And what's a celebration without cake?

An exquisite 32-page colour catalogue was published which included all the paintings in the exhibition.  I regret that I didn't get a photo of Kathy, but I tip my hat to her and everyone who contributed to hosting such a monumental, impressive, commemorative show.  What a shame it was only up for two days!

Monday, September 5, 2011

FCA 30th Anniversary Show

Haiduk Lake and Peak, Banff National Park  2007 oil  28" x 16"  $2750.

During Calgary's famed ART WALK (September 17th and 18th, 2011) the Calgary Chapter of Federation of Canadian Artists is presenting their 30th anniversary exhibition ... see the invitation below. 

The national organization was initiated in 1941.  I joined in 1986 and in 1988 I was the first Calgary Chapter Member to receive the highest level of membership which permitted me to use the initials SFCA after my name.  At the time I was 40 years old (no where near being a senior!) and thought that perhaps they should have used M for master!  I served as the Calgary Chapter president from 1991 to 1993.

Should you be in Calgary and/or plan to take in ART WALK please do stop by to see the FCA exhibition ...

The Calgary Chappter is over 100 members strong and from them approximately 170 paintings with be on display (and for sale) at the Historic Simmons Building in Calgary's East Village ... a diverse and dense urban village ... part of  the city's Rivers District Community Revitalization Plan.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Twenty-five Years at The Avens

(You can click on any of the photos to see them enlarged)

Arlene, a weaver and a founding member of the CAAG
at a Christmas Fair, December 3rd, 1982 

In 1981, when Bill and I moved back to the Canmore area, I joined the then one year old Canmore Artists and Artisans Guild (CAAG) and met Arlene Curry.  She and I became fast friends.  Side by side we raised our children ...

Kathy's 4th birthday, July 10th, 1983

Dale and Denise, Kathy Arlene, me and Laura September 16th, 1989

... and when Arlene had a vision to open a gallery we planned it together.  On June 13th, 1986, the doors of the Mountain Avens Gallery opened for the very first time.  Initially it was only to be a summer venture in a small, rented house at 730 - 9th Street beside the Peppermill Restaurant which is now The Trough.

Arlene on opening day, June 13th, 1986
Yours truly inside the Mountain Avens Gallery, June 13th, 1986

It was important that the name of the gallery include the word mountain.  The Mountain Avens flower grows only at high elevation and the plant has leaves that are evergreen.  On the gallery's first birthday I gave Arlene this painting:

There Will Always Be An Avens   1987   oil   10" x 8"

In 1987 Arlene (and her then husband) purchased an old house on Main Street.  After extensive renovations the gallery seamlessly moved and opened October 10th, 1987.  Here it continued to flourish and be further cemented in the community.  For years it was where our families viewed the annual Canada Day parades.

Canada Day 1991 - Denise, my Dad and Arlene in the doorway.
Bill on the left (in blue) and me with the yellow beret and palette

There were countless group shows and I participated in all of them but it wasn't until November 1994 that we presented my first Mountain Avens Gallery solo show ... Mountain Intimacy.  I had decidedly hit my stride with mountain imagery; I now had a few years of painting outdoors and bagging peaks under my belt.  The back country had captured my soul and was now shining through in both my studio works and plein air paintings.

The gallery's tenth anniversary exhibition hosted works by past and present artists.  At the opening reception, June 15th, 1996 special remarks entitled The Blossoming were given by Bob Sandford.

Arlene, Bob and me at the 10th anniversary celebration 

Arlene sold the gallery to John Borrowman in December 1998, and for a time she remained on as gallery manager.  John also owned The Quest in Banff and so the Mountain Avens Gallery was given a new name; The Quest Avens Gallery.  When John sold The Banff Quest he entered into a business arrangement with Arlene and together they planned a grand, new building.

Down with the old to make way for the new

The little house/gallery closed in September 2000 and while the construction of the new building was in progress the gallery operated out of a rented, temporary space above what today is the Main Street location of the Rocky Mountain Bagel Company.  Here is the completed masterpiece before the current, simplified name - The Avens Gallery - went up on the exterior ...

The new Avens building, September 11, 2002

The new interior space of The Avens was/is magnificent; very conducive to solo shows and I was ripe and ready to have one of those every spring.  There were six annual exhibitions in all beginning in 2003 with Under the Influence; French Impressions and concluding with Wild! in 2008 ... but these are stories in their own right and best saved for future posts.

The Aven's 20th birthday, me with John and Arlene, June 10, 2006

When we moved to Claresholm, in September 2008, I eased out of working as much as I had and excused myself from the high pressure of what major shows involve. 

By December 2010, when John sold the gallery I had really settled into semi retirement.  In the transition Curtis and Andrea kept a few of my paintings but I wasn't committed to providing new art to the new owners.  On August 29th, 2011 I removed my paintings from The Avens Gallery.  This marked an unceremonious end to a vital, twenty-five year, chapter in my life and with it came a multitude of feelings.  Gratitude for the great years working with Arlene and John.  Relief that the weight of obligation to produce and provide is lifted.  And, as you would expect, some sadness, but also delight that The Avens, like the perennial flower it is named after, continues to grow and blossom every year.