Learning and Supporting the Arts Community

Via Oshawa Express 
October 26, 2011
By Jacquie Severs/Columnist

Developing artistic community is one way for artists to find fulfillment outside the scope of their own work. Through social interaction, artists expand and explore their ideas.

This in turn helps to support their artistic practices and can help further careers.
William Brymner (1855-1925) was an art teacher as well as painter of figures and landscapes.


The idea of artistic community was important to him, so he surrounded himself with his contemporaries. Brymner’s view of his contemporaries was not limited to only other fine artists. He also saw his contemporaries to be architects, writers, musicians, lawyers and others who shared a common interest in art, literature and culture.

His goal was to create places where those of similar values and ideals could come together and unite to defend their common interests. He encouraged the exchange of ideas, evolution in styles and new approaches. His involvement in numerous clubs, associations, and academies resulted in his widespread influence on the art scene of his day. This collaborative spirit and his encouragement of new styles is obvious in an exhibition titled William Brymner: Artist, Teacher, Colleague, which is being presented this fall at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery.

The exhibition, which opens November 5 at the RMG, includes more than 60 works of art from Brymner and his contemporaries, including Group of Seven member A.Y. Jackson, well-known Quebec artist Maurice Cullen as well as others such as Clarence Gagnon, Edwin Holgate and Horatio Walker. The works have travelled to Oshawa from Power Corporation’s collection in Montreal as well as the Agnes Etherington collection in Kingston.

As a teacher, Brymner believed in the importance of studying in various methods, as to avoid boredom for students. At the RMG this fall a workshop series is being presented in honour of this teaching philosophy.

For three Thursday evenings starting November 17, participants can first experience a lecture presented by a curator of the exhibition. The following week participants sketch in the exhibition, inspired by the works themselves. In this way they can mimic the “en plein air” style of artistic study. In the third and final week of the workshop, students paint in the RMG studio under the guidance of a painting instructor.

This three-step process of study is similar to the traditional artistic academic method of study that Brymner himself would have used. 

In order to encourage the development of artistic community, the RMG is presenting this workshop free to members, or for $35 for non-members. The $35 cost is, however, the cost of a membership so it is wise to join their community and enjoy all the benefits of membership while you learn and participate in this workshop series.

Building camaraderie between students was something that Brymner saw as an important element in keeping the learning process engaging.

Working among contemporaries allows for art students to learn not only from the teacher but also from peers, developing artistic ties and friendships that can last well beyond the classroom setting.

This experience can help build artistic communities, alliances and supports the goals and missions that William Brymner supported throughout his career.




Learn more about the The Academic Tradition Workshop

Exhibition: William Brymner: Artist, Teacher, Colleague

William Brymner on Wikipedia

William Brymner on The Canadian Encyclopedia




The Curator’s View: Office of Identity Collects

Sonya Jones is Curator of The Thomas Bouckley Collection. This collection of historical images of Oshawa and surrounding areas plays a vital role in the upcoming project held in Downtown Oshawa. In today’s Curator’s View, Sonya shares her experiences working on this project.


As the Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection, I’m able to discover and learn about the history of Oshawa on a daily basis. It has been an ongoing delight working with this outstanding collection of over 3000 images of historical Oshawa. Every four months I install a new Bouckley exhibition, most often focusing on a particular event, industry, individual, or theme of historical Oshawa. As much as the retelling of Oshawa’s history is important, it’s also fun to look at the collection in a contemporary light, which I try to do from time to time. Contemporary artists have done the same—for example in 2009, artist Brenda Joy Lem’s exhibition Homage to the Heart, explored her family’s history as owners of the first Chinese laundry in Oshawa, and Brenda looked to the Bouckley Collection for images of Oshawa incorporating them into her work. Seeing Bouckley images in contemporary pieces was inspiring.


Brenda Joy Lem

A Clear Flame  2008

silkscreen on paper

Purchase, 2009


This fall the collection will once more be recontextualized in a contemporary fashion by Saskatoon artist Heather Cline using images from the Bouckley collection as a starting point for her work The Office of Identity Collects. 16 King Street East, in downtown Oshawa, will be the location for this community-involved installation/performance, happening from October 24-28th. During the week the artist and her assistant will be interviewing members of the community and documenting memories and stories about downtown Oshawa. In preparation, they have been exploring the Bouckley Collection online. (Click here to search the collection from the RMG’s website)

Oshawa’s story cannot be told without looking to the past, which the Bouckley Collection offers a window to.


King Street East, 1911


King Street East, 2011



When you visit the 16 King Street East location, you’ll feel like you are entering a 1950s government passport office. You’ll sign some “government” papers (permission forms), get your “passport” photo taken, fill out a survey of questions, and lastly you’ll be interviewed about your memories and thoughts about Oshawa. The whole process will take around 20 minutes. At the end of the week, on Saturday, October 29th,  the artist will conduct a Citizenship Ceremony where you’ll get your “passport” which will include a gift of a woodblock print by Heather Cline based on the King St. area. Heather will return home to Regina and begin work on a series of artworks specific to Oshawa and the stories collected with the end result being an exhibition at the RMG from September 1 – October 28, 2012. Be sure to take the opportunity to share your stories about Oshawa, and in turn participate in the creation of a community driven exhibition.

Location: 16 King Street East

Dates: October 24 – 28, Citizenship Ceremony on October 29

Hours: 11am – 4pm


Saskatoon artists collect stories from downtown


These images are from the The Office of Identity Collection project staged in Regina SK in the spring of 2009 and exhibited at The Art Gallery of Regina in the fall of 2010. 

The photograph is from the Citizenship ceremony and celebration; the painting in 10’ x 10’  digital imaging/acrylic/Canvas by mixed media artist Heather Cline.


article via Oshawa Express


By Jacquie Severs/Columnist

Artists in residence programs offer other artists and communities an opportunity to interact and collaborate. One popular format is for a gallery to offer an artist the chance to live and work in their town for a set period of time, supporting the venture with funding. This grants the artist the opportunity to work on their art free from ongoing financial worries, providing focus on their art practice.

In return, artists often run workshops and provide a window to the community into their art practice. Usually there is an exhibition at the end of the year of the art created. Artist in residence programs are not limited to fine arts however, and can also involve writers, architects, dance, design and more.

Residency programs are not a new phenomenon. Examples date back to the early 1900s. One Canadian example includes a variety of programs from Parks Canada. At one location, the program allows an artist to spend six weeks in Gros Morne National Park, exploring, photographing, sketching and participating in the park’s interpretive program. The program is designed to help connect people and the park through the arts as well as to draw attention to Gros Morne. Through artists’ participation, Parks Canada hopes to expand the way the park is seen by local residents, staff, visitors and audiences beyond park boundaries.

Kitchener, Ontario created Canada’s first municipal Artist-in-Residence program in Canada in 1995. The year-long program encourages conversation between artists and Kitchener residents and visitors, supports artistic innovation in contemporary art and offers workshops in neighbourhood community centres, lectures in the City Hall and exhibits in partnership with other agencies. One month of the residency year is reserved for the artist to use Kitchener City Hall’s Rotunda Gallery for exhibition.

The RMG is working with Saskatoon artist Heather Cline assisted by Michele Sereda from October 24 to 29 in a project called “The Office of Identity Collects.”

This project involves the artist taking up residence in a downtown Oshawa storefront located at 16 King Street East and recreating the atmosphere of a government passport office from the 1950s.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=16+King+Street+East+Oshawa&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=16+King+St+E,+Oshawa,+Ontario+L1H+1A9&gl=ca&t=m&vpsrc=0&ll=43.897769,-78.862867&spn=0.018554,0.025749&z=14&iwloc=A&output=embed&w=300&h=300]


“Passport” photos will be taken of participants and interviews conducted asking people for stories about the downtown Oshawa area. After the artists have collected material, the artist will combine it with images sourced from the RMG’s Thomas Bouckley collection of historical photographs.

Then the artist will return to Saskatoon to paint a series of works specific to our city and the stories collected.

The work created will then be shown in an exhibition at the RMG from Sept. 1 to Oct. 28, 2012.

Be sure to visit the pop-up office downtown at 16 King Street East from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from October 24 to 28 to participate in this artist in residence program. Those who visit will be asked back to the location on Saturday, October 29, where a “Citizenship Ceremony” will be held and each participant will be given a “Passport” which is a small woodblock print of King Street.

This unique project provides an opportunity to have fun, connect with artists and build on the existing history of downtown Oshawa.