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September 26, 2011

My enthusiasm for nineteenth century Canadian art was rekindled with a recent presentation at Station Gallery. Last Thursday, James Campbell gave a scintillating talk on the Victorian-era artist Paul Kane. James illuminated Kane’s importance in the field of historical Canadian art. As always, James fosters a dynamic discourse and curiosity that goes far beyond his presentation. Thursday’s lecture was no exception. He ended his talk with an image of Kane’s painting Scene in the Northwest: Portrait of John Henry Lefroy. This painting, as it turns, is a record holder. In 2002, it auctioned for $5.1 million dollars—the most expensive Canadian painting sold!

Paul Kane's portrait of Lefroy

The following day I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario. And there it was–the splendid portrait of British explorer J.H. Lefroy. Lefroy discovered the magnetic north pole. His claim-to-fame posthumously doubled with Kane’s record-holding portrait. Check it out next time you’re at the AGO.

January 28, 2011

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is hearing the stories artists have to share. How did they come to be artists? What kind of twists and turns have their life paths taken and how have they intersected with other people’s journeys. Narrative is alive and well in contemporary visual culture. One artist’s story has captivated the country. Last Friday, Bowmanville-based artist Jane Eccles was featured on the front page of the Toronto Star. This was a first. You’d be hard pressed to find another instance of a living Canadian artist featured so prominently in the Canadian press. The article is immersive, even granular, detailing Jane’s “Dresses Project” in the Living Section (click here to read).

Toronto Star front page, January 21, 2011

Eccles’s series of portraits will premiere at Station Gallery in less than a month. I just love the spirit of her project; she refers to this body of work as emerging from the “closet of souls.”

November 18, 2010

I read the news today, oh boy! Canada’s fashion mogul, Jeannie Becker announced that artist Daniel Barrow won the coveted Sobey Art Award for Canadian Contemporary Art. Barrow is a Winnipeg-bred-now-Montreal-based artist who ended up with the $50,000 award sponsored by the Sobey Foundation. This prize was established to increase the stature and visibility of visual art created by Canadian artists under forty.

Brendan Fernandes's "Neo-Primitivism II"

One of the short-listed artists was Brendan Fernandes. Brendan has followed a very interesting life-path which spanned several continents. For the purposes of this award, he was geographically representing Ontario. Now based in New York, however,  Brendan will premiere as a solo exhibiting artist at Station Gallery for 2011. I’m really looking forward to working with him and seeing what he’ll be bringing to Whitby. For next year, I predict Brendan will be the big Sobey winner. I can just feel it. After all, Barrow had been short-listed twice, winning the second time around. Congratulations, Brendan!