Oshawa embarks on its first Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan

Today we received a Media Release from the City of Oshawa. It’s a project that we are proud to be part of. The release mentions opportunities to participate, and if you continue to visit this blog you’ll learn more about your opportunities here at the RMG in the coming months. Read the full details below.

Media Release
The Corporation of the City of Oshawa
For Immediate Release, July 26, 2013
Oshawa embarks on its first Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan
Community forums and surveys to begin this fall

OSHAWA – The City of Oshawa is embarking on the development of its first Arts,Culture and Heritage Plan aimed at guiding cultural development in the community over the next five to ten years.
A project team of City staff along with a steering committee comprised of members of the cultural community, City staff and a representative from City Council will collectively oversee the development of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan.

“To continue to encourage a thriving Oshawa economy, we need put a spotlight on our strong arts, culture and heritage communities. These people represent the rich cultural life which is essential to attracting high-paying jobs and investment in the new creative economy,” said Councillor Amy England, Council representative on the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan Steering Committee.

The purpose of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan is to establish a longer-term vision and set of strategies and actions to guide cultural development in the Oshawa community. The Plan will support the City of Oshawa’s strategic plan, Creating our Sustainable Tomorrow, with a focus on economic prosperity, social equity, cultural vitality, environmental responsibility and accountable leadership.

A series of community engagement activities will gather community and stakeholder input into the development of the vision and the direction of the Plan. Community forums and surveys will begin in fall 2013.
“While the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan Steering Committee has been working on the development of a vision and appropriate strategies, community and stakeholder input is critical to ensure the Plan will meet Oshawa’s needs,” said Councillor Bob Chapman, Chair of Community Services Committee. “I encourage maximum participation in our forums and surveys.”

The City has engaged the consulting firm AuthentiCity (a division of Millier Dickinson Blais) to support the City in developing the plan and to work collaboratively with Public Interest on upcoming community engagement activities. The City of Oshawa has received financial support from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s Creative Communities Prosperity Fund toward the development of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan. The project will conclude by March 2014.

For more information and updates, visit www.oshawaculturalplan.ca.
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Media Contacts:
Councillor Amy England
Council representative, Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan Steering Committee
905-436-5614; [email protected]
Councillor Bob Chapman
Chair, Community Services Committee
905-436-5619; [email protected]
Jag Sharma
Commissioner, Community Services
905-436-3311 ext. 2259; [email protected]
Ron Diskey
Director, Recreation and Culture Services
905-436-3311 ext. 3880; [email protected]
Julie MacIsaac
Manager, Centralized Recreation Services, Recreation & Culture Services
905-436-5633; [email protected]

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The Intern Files: Celebrating Canadian Artists through Wikipedia

This post for the Intern Files is written by Madison Cawker. Madison is an intern this summer with our communications team and is a Candidate for Diploma in Arts Management at the University of Western Ontario.

Painters Eleven are a powerful force in Canadian art history on both a local and national scale. In an era of predominantly landscape art, they helped raise the profile of abstraction and inspire the next generation of modernist artists.

Their influence has directly touched the RMG through our connection with Painters Eleven (P11) member Alexandra Luke. Her significant donations have, in part, given the gallery the largest Painters Eleven collection in Canada and the ability to continue inspiring our community through art.

Alexandra Luke (Canadian, 1901 - 1967) Symphony 1957 oil on canvas Gift of Mr. and Mrs. E. R. S. McLaughlin, 1972  This painting is very large – 246.7 x 208.3 cm or 97.126" x 82.007874"

Alexandra Luke (Canadian, 1901 – 1967)
Symphony 1957
oil on canvas
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. E. R. S. McLaughlin, 1972
This painting is very large – 246.7 x 208.3 cm or 97.126″ x 82.007874″


Painters Eleven are celebrated online through biographical websites, online collections and web encyclopedia entries. Upon examining popular resource Wikipedia, however, we noticed a gap in information. While P11 members such as Jack Bush, Jock McDonald and Kazuo Nakamura had in-depth articles written about them, the women of the group, Alexandra Luke and Hortense Gordon, did not have any published information available.

Inspired by the work of the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative and the Global Women Wikipedia Write-in (#GWWI), I sought to fix this information gap. I wanted to share the lives and works of these important Canadian women artists not only because of their impact on the RMG but also because of their important contributions to the development and reception of abstract art in Canada.

Using a variety of references from our Joan Murray Artists’ Files and the RMG research library, I researched Alexandra and Hortense then put together two Wikipedia articles that reflect the vitality and impact of their arts careers. It was a time consuming process but it was ultimately very interesting work. I also got to learn some fun facts about the women. For example, did you know Hortense Gordon had an intense sibling rivalry with her artist sister Marion?

As of early July, both articles have been published and are available to read on Wikipedia.  

Read about Alexandra Luke on Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandra_Luke

Read about Hortense Gordon on Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hortense_Gordon

Window Wednesday March 30, 2011   Isabel McLaughlin (Canadian, 1903-2002)  Above the Rooftops n.d.  oil on canvas  Gift of the estate of Isabel McLaughlin, 2003

Isabel McLaughlin (Canadian, 1903-2002)
Above the Rooftops n.d.
oil on canvas
Gift of the estate of Isabel McLaughlin, 2003


I believe that it is important for women to be included in the narrative of Canadian art history. I have now gone on to create and edit several more articles on Wikipedia including entries for Joan Murray (art historian and former director of the RMG), Isabel McLaughlin, and the Canadian Group of Painters.  I feel proud to have helped support Canadian art history in a small way.

The Curator’s View: The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic

This post is from the desk of Linda Jansma, Senior Curator.

I experienced an interesting art crossover a couple of weeks ago during Toronto’s Luminato Festival. We had purchased tickets for The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic when they first came out last fall and were looking forward to the North American debut of Robert Wilson’s take on the life of the internationally renowned performance artist. We went into Toronto early on Saturday after realizing that the AGO’s Revealing the Early Renaissance exhibition was closing and this would be the final opportunity to take in the opulence of early 14th century Florentine art.

The Virgin Mary with Saints by Bernardo Daddi

The Virgin Mary with Saints by Bernardo Daddi

The Renaissance exhibition was beautiful in every way—the crucifixes, manuscripts, alter pieces, stained glass—hard not to find something that wasn’t worthy of contemplation. The installation, of course, lent itself to a considered study: benches that resembled pews, rich wall colour from which the gold leaf shone, and heavenly choral music drifting through the spaces. The stage was expertly set.

Willem Dafoe and Marina Abramovic

Willem Dafoe and Marina Abramovic

Not unlike Wilson’s adaptation of Abramovic’s life. When entering the theatre, three “Marina’s” were lying in repose on coffin-shaped structures with three Doberman Pinschers wandering around and through the sarcophagi. Talk about setting the stage. From there the story unfolded, expertly narrated by Willem Dafoe, of Abramovic’s survival of her cruel mother and eventual rise to the highest respect of the international art world. There was heart-wrenching tales of physical and emotional abuse endured by the respected performance artist known for her incredible feats of endurance (her most recent performance at the Museum of Modern Art where she sat facing various visitors for 736 hours and 30 minutes—every hour that the museum was open during the run of her retrospective exhibition, comes to mind. It was simultaneously unnerving and fascinating to watch her motionless engagement).

The interesting thing was some of those crossovers that I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. Both the exhibition at the AGO and Abramovic’s performance were visually lavish, demanding the audience’s full attention. The narratives were similar: Abramovic’s suffering could easily be equated to Christ’s as well as his followers. In the latter case some of the renaissance artists seemed to relish depicting the decapitation and stabbing of the saints, while Wilson did not shy from the various forms of abuse heaped on Abramovic by her mother. It was one of the final scenes in the stage performance that was strikingly similar to the AGO’s exhibition. Three “Marina’s” were suspended above the stage, arms outstretched in obvious crucifixion fashion. Then the red-dressed artist was rolled across the stage on a platform (more visual spectacle!). Having experienced the Renaissance in the morning, it was difficult not to see Abramovic’s “resurrection” from her past life, one which she left through the endurance of her symbolic crucifixion.

Read more:

Revealing the Early Renaissance: The Art

About Revealing the Early Renaissance via Globe and Mail

About the production of The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic via CBC

About the exhibition Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present

About the documentary film Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present

Hot Topics: Community Curates II

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

At the RMG our statement of purpose indicates we are dedicated to sharing, exploring and engaging with our communities through the continuing story of modern and contemporary Canadian art. There are many ways in which we do this, but from my office, a large part of the sharing, exploring, and engagement I work on is digital and social.

I recently worked with Assistant Curator Sonya Jones on developing our second Community Curates project. Last time, we developed a weekly survey through our blog, and voting determined the outcome of an exhibition. We felt that approach was successful but getting people to come back and vote every week for ten weeks wasn’t the easiest task. When managing a social community it isn’t advisable to drown people in repetitive requests week after week! So this time, we decided to make the voting a one-time survey that we could host on our website.

We’re a few weeks into promoting the survey through social media and gathering responses. I love looking over some of the data that is collected. We’ve had responses from Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. That means we’ve engaged international audiences in our Canadian art collection, and I think that’s a very important part of what makes social media so powerful for museums and galleries. Going back to the original intent, engaging with our communities, it is important to recognize that for art museums our communities is defined not just as our local community of Oshawa, the Durham Region, the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario and beyond, it is also the larger international community of people interested in art.

Social media has changed how museums and galleries can communicate and share art with fans and friends around the world. And we want to hear from you!

Have your say in the Community Curates II survey, and help select the works for an exhibition at the RMG.

Community Curates II

Community Curates II