The Curator’s View: Holidays

This post comes from the desk of Linda Jansma, Curator 


Mt. Chocohura, NH

Some of my holidays are purposefully full of art. This past March’s trip to New York City and last summer’s long weekend in Chicago are two examples of such trips. Plans are made according to the opening hours of museums and galleries and what special exhibitions are being shown. These are great trips, but aren’t necessarily relaxing.


(image of TOAE via BlogTO

This past week’s vacation started off with art, but, after that, was deliberately meant to be a no- art holiday. The first Saturday saw us heading to the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE), an annual ritual. Along with the wonderful art by both emerging and established artists, it’s always interesting to see what’s trending—in the past, it’s been “Marcel Dzama” style drawings; painting on wall paper, and there’s always loads of painting with encaustic (the smell of wax being particularly aromatic on hot days in July). This year the trend was anthropomorphic drawings and paintings— animal heads on humans. Animals have been somewhat topical over this past year—the RMG hosted the exhibition Animal that dealt with our relationship with animals, while Montreal’s musée d’art contemporain is hosting Zoo this summer, an exhibition about the place of animals and nature in the universe.


Our non-art holiday began on Monday. We headed out on the 401 east bound to Vermont and the next morning got up to make the rest of the drive to New Hampshire and a few days of hiking, golfing and reading. We drove for a couple of hours before stopping for breakfast at the Dancing Goat Cafe in Plainfield, Vermont. Our meals ordered at the counter, we turned to find a seat. Imagine my surprise on seeing four framed lithographs on the wall: two by Inuit artist Ashevak Kenojuak and two by West coast artist Bill Reid. Plainfield, Vermont has a population of around 1300 people and it wasn’t a place where I expected to see some really wonderful Canadian prints. The proprietor, who was scrambling up our eggs, said that yes, they were part of his collection.



A conversation followed with his childhood recollections of standing in line in the 1970s with his parents when he was a small boy, waiting for the coming editions of prints to be released at their local gallery. He was both passionate and knowledgeable about his collection speaking about his preference for myth-related imagery in the works he owned.  His wife took over the breakfast-making duties while we chatted about the RMG collection and the 2013 exhibition that will feature some of its Kenojuak prints.


It’s great when a non-planned art moment can sneak into a no art holiday.


Making History

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery is pleased to invite young writers and artists to enter our MAKING HISTORY: Youth Art & Writing Contest. Candidates will submit a creative writing or art project inspired by an historical image in the Thomas Bouckley Collection.

Here are some options to give you some inspiration:


Many more options can be found by browsing our online database. Click here.

Click here to download our entry form, which must accompany entries.

This event is open to all students in the Durham Region from Grades 7 through 12, and the chosen students’ work will be included in an exhibition alongside Thomas Bouckley Collection photographs at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in 2013. There will also be cash prizes of $200 each for the best overall writing and best overall art submissions. The contest will be adjudicated by the Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection, Sonya Jones, and Curator of the RMG, Linda Jansma.

Submissions must be received at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery no later than December 10, 2012 at 5pm. Chosen submissions will be notified by December 12.

General Guidelines

Entries must be inspired by a specific image from the Thomas Bouckley Collection. Participants are asked to choose from 30 images available to view here, or can explore the collection which is searchable online.

Participants must be enrolled in Grades 7 through 12 in the Durham Region.

The deadline for entry is December 10, 2012 by 5pm.

Submissions will be accepted at the lobby of The Robert McLaughlin Gallery located at 72 Queen Street West, Oshawa, Ontario no later than 5pm. Writing submissions may be submitted by email to [email protected]. Late entries will not be accepted.

As well as being included in an exhibition alongside the corresponding Thomas Bouckley Collection image, the best overall art submission and the best overall creative writing submission will each receive a cash prize of $200.

Prizes will be awarded at the judges’ discretion. The decision of the judges is final.

Failure to follow the guidelines and to provide complete, legible and accurate information on the entry form will disqualify the submission.

Winners will be asked to provide an electronic copy of their submission to be used for promotional purposes only.

Guidelines for Artwork Submissions:

Each participant may enter one 2-dimensional work of art, no larger than 24” by 30”, in any medium (e.g. graphite, watercolour, ink, acrylic, oil, pastel and charcoal.)

Entries must be the original work of the submitting student.

Pastel and charcoal works should be protected with a fixative.

Artworks must have hanging hardware on the back for exhibition purposes.

All works on paper must be framed.

The completed entry form must be included with the artwork.

Submissions will be returned after exhibition.

Guidelines for Creative Writing Submissions:

Each participant may enter one poem, short story or non-fiction essay.

Entries must be the original work of the submitting student and may not have been previously published.

Entries must be no longer than 500 words and must not exceed one page of a standard 8.5” x 11” sized paper

If an entry is handwritten, it must be legible and fit onto a standard 8.5” x 11 sized paper

Submissions must be submitted unfolded.

Submissions can also be sent by email to [email protected] no later than December, 10, 2012 by 5pm.

The Curator’s View: Revealing Spaces

Sonya Jones is the RMG’s assistant Curator and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection. In this post she shares a reflection from artist Kate Wilhelm.

Revealing Spaces, is a current exhibition featuring three emerging Durham Region artists, Kate Wilhelm, Shaun Downey and Andrea Carvalho. One of the woman depicted in Kate Wilhelm’s photographs of derby girls sadly passed away just this past April. 

Here’s the artist’s reflection about Kiss My Ashlinn:


Kiss My Ashlinn
July 2, 1957 – April 5, 2012


She was in treatment when we first connected by email. We had to keep rescheduling visits because my family was a walking petrie dish all winter and her immune system was in no shape to protect her. If it wasn’t me suffering pinkeye, it was my six-year-old’s scratchy cough and runny nose or my baby’s diarrhea. When I finally managed to squeeze a visit in between illnesses, she told me her lung cancer was incurable. She also said she would skate again. “I just need to get off this damn oxygen, and then I will.” The way she said it, I believed her.

I photographed her and Thom just before Christmas. I was about to reschedule because I was still coughing, but she encouraged me to just wear a mask. She couldn’t keep her eyes off my baby, and she wrote me about a month later to tell me how much she enjoyed having him in her home. She had one granddaughter, whom she adored, and she couldn’t wait for more. 

I did see her once more, before she died, at a party. I hadn’t been expecting her or I’d have brought the copy of Spontaneous Healing I’d been meaning to give her for months. The book sat on the floor by my front door for ages so I wouldn’t forget. Around the end of March, I dreamed about her. I can’t remember now what happened in the dream, but I know I didn’t want to tell her the details. I think I dreamed she died before I gave her the book and I felt awful. I woke up determined to give it to her that week and thinking of another woman’s miraculous recovery from cancer. I tried to make a time to drop the book off, but she never replied. I found the silence ominous, and sure enough, 5 days later she had passed.


I only put the book back on my bookshelf a couple of weeks ago. As I type this, the mask I wore when I photographed her hangs on the window right next to me. I don’t know why I’m keeping it.

Revealing Spaces is on at the RMG until August 26.



Hot Topics – Artists Come Home to Durham Region

Hot Topics come from the desk of Jacquie Severs, Manager of Communications & Social Media

Durham Region is home to a multitude of artists, craftspeople, designers, and musicians. With a blossoming creative community gaining momentum, it is interesting to see artists and musicians who have moved to other communities return to their roots, even if for a brief visit.

Artists move for many reasons; post-secondary education, adventure, to seek new audiences, for love, for opportunity. Rare is an artist who stays in one place their whole career, though equally rare is an artist that doesn’t have a fondness, of one sort or another, for their home town.


Tonight the RMG officially opens Revealing Spaces, Curated by Sonya Jones, that is an exhibition of works by three artists who each have personal ties to Durham Region.  Andrea Carvalho spent her formative teen years in Uxbridge, where her parents still reside today, though she now lives and works in Montreal. Carvalho’s work is contemporary and highly conceptual installation work that explores space and human relationships within it.

Shaun Downey, Oshawa born-and-raised, paints portraits of people in his life, in spaces he inhabits, in incredible colour, light, and realism. His artistic practice is now located in Toronto, though his work has taken him as far abroad as the BP Portrait Gallery in London, England. Some of his works in this exhibition directly reference his former and current homes, for example his self portrait, titled Oshawa Shirt, Toronto Jacket. Shaun made a video promoting this exhibition: 


Kate Wilhelm, who grew up with her family in Orono, is a photographer who offers a glimpse at the public and private lives of the women of Roller Derby. Now living and working in Guelph, Kate’s photographs explore how public identity is constructed, while domestic private lives can present an entirely different picture.

Each artist’s work can be viewed within a concept of space; physical space, private space, public space, our relationship to spaces past and present, even our relationships to spaces we transition through.  The artists will be present tonight  (Friday 6 July, 2012) at the opening reception event for Revealing Spaces, held from 7 to 10pm as part of the monthly RMG Fridays event series.


Two bands are performing at the event, each with their own links to Durham Region. SPORTS are a four piece band that play out of Toronto, but members of the band grew up in Bowmanville. They play swirly pop-rock that some have compared to Fleetwood Mac or Flaming Lips. In addition, The Mark Inside, a four piece rock band originally from Whitby, but who are now based out of Toronto, are visiting the RMG event to play a set, bringing their rock and roll energy home again.


But what is the message of this return-to-roots story? I believe it is the creation of opportunity and the offering of inspiration. By creating spaces and venues for artists and musicians to return home to, we help to encourage our community development. We show that not only is there something to return for, but we also show that there is a world beyond our door step. For young artists this is an essential message; and in turn it encourages emerging local talent by providing motivation and a foundation for their careers.  

Can’t make it? Revealing Spaces is on at the RMG from July 6 to August 26.

Missed the bands? Follow them on facebook to stay up to date with their upcoming shows:

the mark inside



Hot Topics – Creative Social comes to the RMG

Hot topic posts come from the desk of Jacquie Severs, Manager, Communications & Social Media

The RMG was proud host to Creative Social: Oshawa, last Thursday, 28 June. This came as a result of a conversation I had with Dana Jackson, the very first time I met her at an RMG Friday event. She was enthusiastic about that event series, and knew the RMG would be the perfect Oshawa host for this event that travels through the Region of Durham. Dana told me that Creative Social events encourage entrepreneurs, artists and other members of Durham Region’s creative community to come together to connect, inspire one another and develop new business opportunities.


The Oshawa event was fortuitously timed. Our CEO Gabrielle Peacock, along with RMG Curator Linda Jansma, City of Oshawa staff, engineers and City Council had been working on a plan to arrange and accept an extended loan-to-gift of a significant outdoor sculpture called Upstart II by Clement Meadmore. For my part, I had been using Photoshop to imagine where the sculpture might end up and how it would look. Also, I was doing my best not to spoil the surprise by telling, or tweeting, the news to anyone. Here’s one of those photo composites.


The sculpture will be conserved and prepared for installation over the summer, with its official unveiling during Culture Days this fall, on Friday 28 September at 2pm. It will be approximately located as pictured above.


Photo by Marina Osmond: Gabrielle Peacock announcing Upstart II

The event was jam packed, with presentations from Oshawhat Magazine editor Erin Elliott, Oshawa Downtown Development Office David Tuley, Members from the Spark Centre, Skopworks, and of course Dana from Creative Social and Kerri King, Tourism Manager for Durham Region, who partnered in the event.


Photo by Marina Osmond: Erin Elliott talks about the immediate and overwhelming popularity of

David Tuley has been working on bringing a Creative Centre to downtown Oshawa for some time. It first hit my radar two years ago when the RMG hosted a workshop by Artscape, who are a Toronto-based organization who help transform old properties (like the Wychwood Barns for example) into new, creative spaces. I was able to participate in this event and some of the discussions that have followed, and have been hoping and wishing the right pieces would fall into place. These sorts of spaces allow for small not for profit organizations, artists, craftspeople, designers and others to rent small spaces for varying amounts of time. There are examples across the world of successful shared spaces like this. It’s exciting to see one come to Oshawa.

With the addition of Independent Project Managers, David was able to announce the shared space would become a reality. A naming competition was announced, and the $500 prize was awarded at the event to the winning entry from local artist Margaret Rogers, for her name The Core.


Photo by Marina Osmond: David Tuley talks about his big ideas.

After the talks, a film collective called The Goldfish Pool showed their time lapse film of Oshawa called Oshawacentric.

[vimeo w=500&h=283]

The crowd stuck around to mix and mingle, share ideas and come up with ways to collaborate. And eat some of Mad Café’s treats.


Photo by Marina Osmond: Treats from Mad Café

The next Creative Social is to be held in Ajax at another creative space reuse example, the St. Francis Centre for Community, Arts & Culture. This centre, built in the former St. Francis deSales Church (built 1871) is newly retrofitted and can serve as a community performance, meeting, and reception space. I am looking forward to attending to check out the beautiful building it all its restored glory. This community project had team members two years ago at the Artscape event I mentioned. They were excited to launch this space.


Photo of the St. Francis Centre via Toronto Observer

In industrial communities, creative thinking about space reuse serves as just one symbol of transformation. Public sculptures serve as symbols as well. These symbols aren’t just visual references though. They are physical examples of revived communities, ones whose members pull together to create action, to improve lives, and to bring arts in culture into the day-to-day experiences of all community members. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the revitalization of Oshawa, especially in the downtown core. See some of the links below to learn more about some of these projects.

Learn about the artist Clement Meadmore and Upstart II

Creative Social


The Art of Transition

St. Francis Centre for Community, Arts, and Culture

Spark Centre

The Goldfish Pool

Marina Osmond Photography

Mad Café

Archibald’s Estate Winery

Downtown Oshawa in Transition:

Downtown Oshawa Farmers’ Market

Downtown Oshawa Sidewalk Sale

Downtown Oshawa BIA

The City of Oshawa