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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.

February 27, 2010

Just as the Olympic torch was passed in Durham a few weeks back, so too will another torch pass on in the community. This evening will mark Richard Toms’s “Freedom 45” retirement party from the VAC (Visual Arts Centre) in Bowmanville as James Campbell takes on the Executive Directorship. Richard has made a significant and long-lasting impression on the arts in Durham. We are fortunate that this is where Richard burnished his expertise and know-how. He has been energetically involved in the Durham arts community for over twenty years. His expertise touched many facets in the area including visual arts instructor, print-shop technician, education co-ordinator, and of course the Executive Director of the Visual Arts Centre in Bowmanville since 2001. It’s true that he treated these responsibilities as an artform—with sustained concentration, robust engagement, levity and lots of good-humour. But his true passion and acumen lays in his own studio production. Relocating to Prince Edward Island, Richard will now strictly concentrate on his business and fine art pursuits. In the coming months Richard and his wife Stacey will be opening a sweet shop and art gallery in Georgetown, PEI called The Maroon Pig.

For many years, he was a great friend and resource to us at Station Gallery—whenever we had questions about the printmaking process, Mr. Toms was the expert. Richard has kindly donated an outstanding print to Station Gallery’s upcoming Drawing for Art fundraiser. I won’t be the only one who will have eyes for Richard’s lithograph on April 29th. We wish you happy trails and all the best with your new beginnings on the Island. Bon Voyage, Richard and Stacey!