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February 28, 2014

Now here’s a milestone. Tomorrow marks the sesquicentennial (150!) birthday celebration of Florence Helena McGillivray, one of Whitby’s most famed historical artists! She was born March 1, 1864 on a farm at the corner of Taunton and Lakeridge Roads. In the early 1900s she taught at what is now Trafalgar Castle School.

McGillivray travelled to France in 1913 to further her art studies, where she came under the influence of Impressionism and Fauvism. She actively exhibited her work while there, before returning to Canada in 1914 on the eve of WWI and settling in Ottawa. Continuing to actively pursue her career as an artist, she was elected a member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1917, and became an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1925. She retired to live in Toronto in the 1930s, where she died in 1938. Her paintings are represented in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Many believe that she taught Tom Thomson as trick or two about painting. Happy Birthday, Florence!
Portrait of Florence McGillivray

December 7, 2012

Whitby’s connection to the international Dada movement became very palpable today. Dada was an international avant-guard art and cultural movement formed during and following the First World War. One of its practitioners, Willy Fick, was born in Germany in the late nineteenth century and was an instrumental figure of the Cologne Dada scene of the inter-war period. Fick spent his latter years in Whitby, and died here in Canada’s centennial year.

Willy Fick and Me

Willy and Me

Thanks to the guidance and insights of Angie Littlefield (writer, curator, educator), I had a rare glimpse into Fick’s world and the works of his contemporaries this morning. This splendid collection of the Cologne Dada artists was gifted to the Art Gallery of Ontario by Littlefield and her brother. The rare works are kept in the prints and drawings section of the AGO’s permanent collection. The solander boxes house copious vintage archives, pen and ink drawings, mixed media works, source material, etc. It was like peering into another world, through another’s eyes. A project is currently underway to bring Willy’s worldview to the public eye. Stay tuned–the best is yet to come…

Death in the Kitchen

One of my faves–“Death in the Kitchen”, ink on paper

Shift annual members' exhibition logo for 2012

Juried exhibition theme, as voted by you.

Hot off the press (err… drawing board) here’s the first glance at the 20th anniversary Annual Members’ Exhibition theme for 2012.

As mentioned in my recent post Shift Happens, the winning theme ‘Shift’ was top choice for Station Gallery’s December exhibition. Thank you to all that voted.

For you, my faithful blog readers (and those that casually drop in, now and then) here’s the scoop for this year’s show:

Submissions Accepted @ SG
September 10 – November 10, 2012

Opening Reception & Awards
December 8, 2012 at 1pm

December 8 – January 6, 2013

Valid SG Membership

Children (Aged 4 – 12)
Youth (13 – 17)
Adult (18+)
and finally, the Irwin Family Award for ‘Best in Show’

Complete details coming soon…

January 29, 2010

Playbill Cover for Billy Bishop Goes to War, 2010

Monday evening was my first time to the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery District. Soulpepper’s 2010 theatre season opened with one of the most produced plays of the Canadian stage. Billy Bishop Goes to War is tried and tested collaboration that has its roots on at Vancouver’s East Cultural Centre back in 1978. This two-act musical recounts the life of its eponymous WWI ace fighter pilot. It’s told in the first-person by pajama-clad actor Eric Peterson, who enacts episodes from Bishop’s life. Although the play is essentially recounted as an autobiographical soliloquy, Peterson skillfully impersonates eighteen other players in the Bishop’s life-story. Peterson shares the stage with John Gray, (not to be confused with Oshawa’s mayor) who remains seated at a grand piano throughout the play. Gray’s musical accompaniments punctuate Peterson’s monologue with jingoistic ditties from the Great War era.

One of the underlying themes of the play is that war inexorably transforms individuals; conflict can grind a misfit into a hero. Before serving overseas, Billy Bishop was the “oddity from Owen Sound.” Throughout the play we find out that the celebrated protagonist was a loner, a cheater (both in exams and relationships), someone with many idiosyncrasies, including a taste for strong drink—certainly not the credentials for a war hero. Even so, Air Marshall Bishop was one of the leading aeronautical aces in the British Empire. One of the most memorable anecdotes recounts the moment of King George decorating Billy Bishop with the Victoria Cross. King to Bishop—Check it out.

The following is a Guest Curator blog posting from Sarah Beveridge, a long time friend, fellow artist, independent curator and educator.

A Surprise Visit with Artist Cesar Forero

I had a wonderful surprise visit with artist, Cesar Forero this afternoon while at Station Gallery. I was at the Gallery preparing for the eXcel Juried exhibition (which I juried along with Durham West Art Centre’s, Andrew Hamilton). I had not met Ferero previously, but was so pleased to be introduced and to reminisce with him about his time and exhibition experience here at Station Gallery. 

For those of you that are not familiar with Forero’s work, check out his website for to view the colour, energy, consciousness and creative explosion that encompasses his installation and performance work. 

Cesar Forero exhibited at Station Gallery in the Spring of 2006 in an exhibition titled Carnival, Image and Duality. For those of you in the community that were apart of this exhibition and experience, it is one that you will never forget.

Carnival, Image and Duality was an exhibit based on the traditional public festival and street parade known as Carnival, celebrated throughout the world but perhaps best known for the yearly celebration that occurs in Rio de Janeiro.

For Forero, Carnival – a festival in which masks, music and dance are central elements – represents an avenue for people to change their appearance and thus assume a new identity, all so as to “portray what they have been hiding inside of them.” In this new world, Forero argues, we can “accept fantastic images as a new reality.”

But Carnival’s opportunity to forge a new identity is not merely some short-lived bit of fun. For Forero, it has meaningful social and political repercussions. In politically repressed societies, Carnival represents perhaps the only chance people have to “freely speak out without any coercion”. (Station Gallery Curator Files 2006)

Carnival, Image and Duality "Mich, ces, perform pose" Station Gallery, 2006

As Station Gallery embarks on its 40th anniversary it only seems fitting to travel down memory lane, highlighting great exhibition programming here at Station Gallery over the years. I hope you enjoy your own reconnection with Forero’s work, I know my eyes have been opened.

To learn more visit:

A VIP glimpse inside Station Gallery's Permanent Collection vault.

Click here to view a VIP glimpse into the Permanent Collection at Station Gallery in Whitby, Ontario Canada.

Learn more about select feature works with Station Gallery Curator Olexander Wlasenko.

September 25, 2009

Newly launched "The Art of Transition" web page.

Newly launched "The Art of Transition" web page.

Yesterday marked the launch of the Art of Transition website. It has a fresh, well-considered look. Its bold, clean and colourful design is an effective branding tool for the event which it advertises. Most importantly, the site is a great way of galvanizing thought and energy in a way that will have positive spin leading up to the November 12 symposium at the Ajax Convention Centre. Such a cross-disciplinary and inter-vocational convergence is rare to see in Durham Region; happening most frequently during election time at town hall meetings. The Art of Transition meeting of the minds should help bring cultural, educational and heritage sectors, as well as many other marginalized players, out of the periphery and to the creative forefront. Although the symposium is about a month an a half away, the site has stakeholders thinking about sustainable and adaptive change in our community. The website is a perfect forum in which to initiate discourse in advance—a kind of virtual mind-mapping exercise prior to the actual brainstorming session the morning after Remembrance Day.     

To learn more visit

July 6, 2009

Station Gallery has recently revived its N. Novak Print Studio. This is an exciting move, since this box car studio was once a locus of printmaking experimentation and production for decades. It was after all, one of the hallmarks which set the Station apart from other public galleries. This made us unique—and it now continues to do so.  The studio played host to many preeminent printmakers such as Otis Tamasauskas, Anne Meredith Barry, Don Holman, Richard Toms and many others.

Artist Todd Tremeer works on his latest print in the Nicolas Novak Print Studio at Station Gallery.

Artist Todd Tremeer works on his latest print in the Nicolas Novak Print Studio at Station Gallery.

I believe that the momentum of the Print Studio will continue as we enter the mid-point of the First Phase of the print studio revival. I’m very hopeful that the studio will attract many artists and that this will be a creative hub of a printmaking renaissance in the region. Traction is what we need now that the print studio is back on track.

June 26, 2009

For many years now, I’ve participated in the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. It is a great place to meet up with old friends and colleagues. I’ve also been introduced to many new artists. In particular, I think of first seeing Natalia Laluque’s Canadiana Project several years back.

This year will prove to be particularly challenging to imagine anything in the ordinary. Metro civic workers are on strike. But how will this play itself out on Nathan Philips Square? Will volunteers clear the rubbish bins? Will the underground parking lot be barricaded and off-limits?

A similar thing happened several years ago when a Garbage Strike threatened to de-rail the Exhibition. As a precaution, the show dates were moved to Labour Day of 2002, I think it was. This had a detrimental effect for both buyers and sellers of artwork. Circumstances had put a strain on the fragile supply and demand equilibrium. For this year, the show will go on as scheduled and it should be a good one. Unlike any other outdoor show before, this years will be fraught with restlessness and insurgence. In a parallel exhibition at Lennox Contemporary, will be Rejects a kind of Salon des Refusé held by some of the artists rejected by the TOAE jurors. This recalls the words of Napoleon III: “Let the public judge!”

June 30, 2009

Durham is replete with creative energy, but few attribute this area with the arts. We’re more known for our industrial base, power plants and sports complexes (I’ve seen some great creative responses to these phenomena). The 905 belt around Toronto has been identified as a chronically under-funded region for arts development. But the tide is turning. The area is a microcosm for a variety of high-quality cultural production and people outside the arts are recognizing this. I think that we are well-poised for a shift to a more creative economy in the foreseeable future. This will be a subject which will be further explored later on this year, when we anticipate a visit from Richard Florida in mid-November.

Richard Florida, coming to Durham Region this September!

Richard Florida, coming to Durham Region this September!

Florida has written on the rise of the creative class in North American and European cities. The scheduled event with Richard Florida might galvanize interest in creative endeavours—it’s kind of possible.