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June 3, 2011

Have you ever looked back at your life and found the roots of a passion that developed later in life? I’ve recently contemplated my love of visual art and where it all began. Although I can’t remember the outing, my parents took me to a show at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in the Fall of 1976 called Ontario Collects. We were photographed looking at a painting by Robert Reginald Whale–a triple portrait of children. This picture appeared in the Oshawa Times. For me this clipping remains dear to my heart in many ways. It’s a document that shows an early connection with my hometown gallery.

Fast-forward thirty-five years. The RMG recently unveiled their reconditioned permanent collection space with old favorites and some new acquisitions. I was very moved and honored to have a couple of my drawings included in this re-hanging. Roman Street and Record Player are two works from 2009. Seeing these film-inspired works flanked by a Barbara Astman photo and a Norval Morrisseau painting was an eclectic and inspiring curatorial decision, offering multiple interpretive routes (thanks Linda).

Over the years, I was involved with the RMG in many ways: as a visitor, a summer student, an employee, an art instructor, and now an artist in the permanent collection. Reflecting back on this continuum, it’s important to acknowledge the importance of local galleries and the many ways they shape our cultural world view.   

Life Imitates Art - click to enlarge

September 11, 2009

Unparalleled terrorist attack on New York City - September 11, 2001

Unparalleled terrorist attack on New York City - September 11, 2001

Mornings are inherently unmemorable, even fugitive.  We can all remember where we were and what we were doing in the morning on this day in 2001. Over the past eight years, I’ve shared my story verbally dozens of times and this is the first time I’m writing about that beautiful autumn dawn, a day before my 29th birthday.

I had marked my first year working at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in my hometown. The day began like any other with checking e-mail, maybe a coffee was at my side, I can’t recall. The daily routine was shattered with a cell call from my older brother at a quarter after nine that morning. Gasping for air he said, “There’s going to be a war!” He had just witnessed, with his own eyes, the second plane crash into the South Tower. At the time, my brother was working in 1 Liberty Plaza, one of the seven buildings in the WTC complex. He had just narrowly escaped death. My brother knew that the horrific news would shave years off our mother’s life not knowing if her eldest was alive. Shortly thereafter, there was no way of dialling out of Manhattan—all communication lines were jammed. His directions to me were simple: I had to tell my mother that he was safe and out of harm’s way. I asked my boss to drive me to St. George’s church where my mother was teaching kindergarten kids in the basement. I interrupted the class, took my mom aside and let her know that our family was intact.