Celebrating Canada’s 150th – Framed by History

 

Impromptu Concert, 16″x20″, Oil on canvas in local Confederation-era frame

Welcome to 2017 and Canada’s 150th!

Last year, France and I made a proposal for an exhibition at one of the municipal art galleries in 2017. Our premise, “Framed by History”, comprised contemporary paintings mounted in original Confederation-era frames. By juxtaposing the new with the old, we thought to draw a connection between local history and contemporary nature in our region. Artistically and as a contribution to celebrating Canada’s150th, we thought we might have a better than even chance! Alas, this time we were not selected. Nevertheless, we’d like to share a visual celebration of our collective 150 years, exploring the arresting relationship between art, history and framing.

France particularly has a longstanding interest in antique picture frames, their renovation and conservation. “Period frames, by virtue of their nostalgia and tangibility, anchor our collective memories and knowledge of times past” says France, “These special windows provide a unique scope through which we may visually review our modern heritage.”

We’re both surprised by the way in which anachronistic images and eras look so right when placed together, the stunning effect of two sometimes strikingly disparate manifestations of time, both contemporary and classic. These works seem to reach out to each other with the frame space becoming an integral part of the art. In a good painting there is balance, discord, or tension: a particular energy making it sing. This also extends to wider spaces and hanging paintings in frames that “work” together.

Our on-line exhibition, “Framed by History” brings together a selection of my paintings matched with antique frames, many from the time of Confederation – all sourced, selected and renovated by France. By juxtaposing the old with the new, an enduring connection is drawn between our shared history and the contemporary artworks.…the present, borne by the past!

We hope you enjoy our gallery.

David and France

 

Showtime!

Join us at the vernissage!

Join us at the vernissage!

Up to now, my approach to selling my art has been pretty low key: mainly commission-based and occasionally through joint shows – I’ve not steered clear of commercial galleries, but neither have I really courted them.

That’s changed and I’m now very pleased to be represented by the Sivarulrasa Gallery in Almonte.  I’ve known Sanjeev Sivarulrasa for a few years now…since he attended a few of our Break-a-Brush! Workshops. A wonderful photographic artist and self-published author, I’ve watched Sanjeev move into the complicated art market to start up his gallery business, then succeed and expand.

The Sivarulrasa Gallery has just recently moved to larger premises at 34 Mill Street. Please join me at the opening of the 2nd Anniversary Show, 26 November, 3 to 6 pm. Come browse the beautiful new gallery, meet Sanjeev and the Sivarulrasa family of artists and celebrate. We’d love to see you!

People in galleries…

People in galleries...

People in galleries…

Once upon a time, it was verboten to take photos in galleries. Now of course, most allow cameras (without flash). It’s so easy to just photograph everything in sight rather than contemplating the art itself. That’s the trouble with technology generally I suppose, as it can take over at the expense of the life experience.

I like taking a few shots of artwork in context – the exhibition space and particularly in the company of gallery goers. People in galleries hold a special attraction. The viewed and the viewer. Often incidental, arbitrary, perhaps distracted and always interesting. Here are a few of my favorite gallery snaps.

I took this shot recently at our National gallery, in front of Barnett Newman’s "Voice of fire" and for evident reasons. Art meets design, we all carry a little art with us.

I took this shot recently at our National gallery, in front of Barnett Newman’s “Voice of fire” and for evident reasons. Art meets design, we all carry a little art with us.

I’m always fascinated when gallery viewers seem unaware of the artwork and with all of today’s technology, it’s so easy to be somewhere else:

At this point in New York’s Metropolitan, Jackson Pollock’s "Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)" was not the main attraction.

At this point in New York’s Metropolitan, Jackson Pollock’s “Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)” was not the main attraction.

Here’s another momentarily unloved painting, Théodore Rousseau's "The Forest in Winter at Sunset". Rousseau worked on this monumental,unfinished work throughout his career. This painting defies presence on a small screen, however is wonderfully moving in person.

Here’s another momentarily unloved painting, Théodore Rousseau’s “The Forest in Winter at Sunset”. Rousseau worked on this monumental, unfinished work throughout his career. This painting defies presence on a small screen, however is wonderfully moving in person.

The last time I went to New York’s MOMA was on a free-entry Friday night – it was the only space in our schedule. On Friday night the MOMA is a zoo. The noise level is incredible and Friday nighters casually swarm, perhaps as a prelude to late night activities.

It’s often tricky to even get a clear view as with Van Gogh’s "The Starry Night".

It’s often tricky to even get a clear view as with Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night”.

The scale of paintings is something that always surprises – impossible to adequately convey on a website or in a book.

At the MOMA again, Henri Rousseau’s "The Dream" is imposing in a way all the wall posters could never be.

At the MOMA again, Henri Rousseau’s “The Dream” is imposing in a way all the wall posters could never be.

 

Somehow I always associate Dali with larger gallery-sized works. In fact, he completed some monumental pieces. Here's his smaller gems at the MOMA the famous "The Persistence of Memory".

Somehow I always associate Dali with larger gallery-sized works. In fact, he completed some monumental pieces. Here’s one of his his smaller gems at the MOMA, the famous “The Persistence of Memory”.

Finally a prerequisite selfie!

Finally a prerequisite selfie!

This one at the Metropolitan, with John Singer Sargent’s “Madame X”, the subject of my previous blog posting: Sargent and that profile

Summer Exhibitions!

I'm showing works in pastel, acrylic and watercolour this summer.

I’m showing works in pastel, acrylic and watercolour this summer.

I’ve been busy preparing for a trio of exhibitions this summer. There are upcoming Instructors exhibitions at the Ottawa School of Art, downtown and at the Orleans campus. In addition to these two regular fixtures, I’m also participating in an exhibition at the Sivarulrasa Gallery in downtown Almonte – a collection of painting and sculpture titled “Unbound”.

I’m really excited to be part of each of these shows: Downtown at the OSA I’ll be previewing one of my new series of pastels. “With both hands now” is a combination of line work completed with my right hand, with colour and context using my (normal) left hand. At the Orleans campus, I’ll be showing 3 recent classwork demonstrations, continuing my “Sur le vif” theme…. one of my favorite approaches…quick studies on the spot, in acrylic, pastel, and watercolour. Over in Almonte, Sanjeev at the Sivarulrasa Gallery has chosen 5 of my expressive figurative works from a few years ago for the “Unbound” exhibition. I’m so pleased to show them the light of day once more. Art should be hung regularly!

Ultimately, sharing the breadth of my work this summer is what I’m looking forward to. I hope that you can join me in celebrating:

“Unbound”, Sivarulrasa Gallery, 83 Little Bridge Street, Almonte, July 22 – Aug 28. Vernissage Sunday 24 July, 2:00-5:00 pm. Information: http://sivarulrasa.com/

Downtown Instructors Exhibition, 35 George St, 28 July to 28 August. Vernissage Thursday 28 July, 5:00 to 8:00 pm. Information: http://artottawa.ca/galleries/

Orleans Instructors Exhibition, Shenkman Centre, 12 Aug to 18 Sept, Reception Sunday 28 Aug, 1:00 to 3:00pm. Information: http://artottawa.ca/galleries/

Here’s a preview of my work on display:

 

Remembering Gerald Smith (1929 – 2015)

Gerald Steadman Smith (1929-2015) with some of his large format portraits.

Gerald Smith (1929-2015) with some of his large format portraits.

A Memorial Exhibition of the Art of Gerald Smith runs at the Ottawa School of Art until Monday 29th February. Gerald was a longstanding instructor at the Ottawa School of Art, teaching for 19 years until 2013.

Gerald was a light-keepers son, brought up on a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia. He was inspired to follow a path in art after seeing an exhibition by the Group of Seven.  Moving from the maritimes, he obtained his Masters in Studio Art and taught in Saskatchewan, following which he and his family came to Ottawa. Gerald was a prolific artist, producing over 800 works.

Until fairly recently, I knew none of this… it’s curious how little instructors at the Ottawa School of Art actually see of each other on a daily basis. We come and go to suit our teaching requirements. Gerald and I both taught portraits, so we were invariably scheduled on different days. I knew him for his large-format portraits and remember that we were introduced by a mutual student, in a coffee shop near Ottawa U. I believe we were both attending a seminar. I liked him immediately. Thoughtful and understated, he accepted me as a fellow art traveler.

I only glancingly learned about his full range of art: his large paintings of heads, wonderful figures in gallery settings, seascapes, even ringing abstracts and sculptures. Fine examples of all of these are on display in the Memorial Exhibition.

Two from Gerald Smith's Art Gallery series

Two from Gerald Smith’s “Art Gallery” series

The Exhibition includes a wide range of Gerald's art

The Memorial Exhibition includes a wide range of Gerald’s art

The last time I saw Gerald was at a solo exhibition of his at the Shenkman Centre in 2013. This was to be his last solo show. It was all quiet at the end of the day and he showed me ’round each of the works he’d selected. It was the first time he had exhibited some of his “Art Gallery Series” of paintings in decades. Then we just sat and talked –  about exactly what I can’t remember. I very much regret not having known him longer.

The Memorial Exhibition runs for only 10 days and closes this Monday evening. It’s an all too brief tribute to a wonderful artist, instructor and person. If you can find yourself downtown this weekend, I highly recommended it – well worth the detour.

Gerald Steadman Smith Memorial Exhibition at the Ottawa School of Art

The Gerald Smith Memorial Exhibition at the Ottawa School of Art