RMG Fridays October: Culture Counts

RMG Fridays October highlights Culture Counts: The Oshawa Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan. We’ve invited City Council candidates to come and discuss what “Culture Counts” means to them!

Local duo Darling and the Fox perform followed by a not-to-be-missed performance by First Nations poet and singer Tara Williamson.

This evening also celebrates the opening of “Reading the Talk.”https://rmg.on.ca/reading-the-talk.php

Tara Williamson www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Williamson/399395516760266

Darling and the Fox www.facebook.com/darlingandthefox?ref=br_tf

Join us on Friday, October 3 from 7-10pm – entry to RMG Fridays is free of charge.

Go Figure

Vol ‘n’ Tell is an ongoing series of blog posts written by RMG Volunteers. Raechel Bonomo is an Oshawa native, art enthusiast and second-year Print Journalism student at Durham College.

The new permanent installation at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, entitled Go Figure, features work from the gallery’s extensive collection. As the title suggests, the collection demonstrations various aspects of human nature and how this concept is perceived by artists.

The collection features works by Canadians artists, both contemporary and historic, and one borrowed piece by American artist Kevin Wolff. According to Linda Jansma, curator of Go Figure, Wolff’s piece was included because the piece introduced a subject with a disability.

I had the opportunity to further discuss the exhibit and it’s predominance with Linda.

How long has this exhibit been in the making?

I thought of the theme last year when we were installing the 2014 Permanent collection exhibition Objects May Be Closer Than They Appear – so it’s been in the works for a year.

What is the meaning behind the Go Figure exhibit and how it is important to the RMG?

When I was thinking about the theme, I liked the throw away feel of the term “go figure”. Taken literally of course, it’s a way into our collection through examining the figure both in an historic and contemporary context and revealing the depth of a collection of over 4500 works. When people think of the RMG’s collection, Painters 11 often comes to mind. But, as this exhibition shows, the collection goes beyond mid-century abstraction.

Is there a certain piece in the collection in which the exhibit was built upon?

I have spent years going by Joan Krawczyk ‘s painting Dirty Linen in the vault – and wanting a good reason to bring it out. When the theme came to me, that was the first work I thought of including.


Joan Krawczyk (b. 1951); Dirty Linen; 1984; acrylic on canvas; Purchase, 1986

Do you have a personal favourite piece?

Depends which day it is! I fluctuate between works that are new to the collection like the Itee Pootoogook works on paper that are absolutely breathtaking, to the beautiful, delicate studies of nude figures by William Blair Bruce that have been in the collection for years.


William Blair Bruce (Canadian, 1859 – 1906); Untitled (female nudes); pen and ink on paper; Purchased with the assistance of the Government of Canada through the Cultural Property Export and Import  Act, 1986


The collection features both contemporary and traditional styles of art, how did you marry the two to create cohesiveness in the exhibit?

The RMG has a very rich and deep collection and it’s important, within any given theme, to present both historic and contemporary work. Art works across the ages and by showing a single theme from multiple vantages, we can see societal, artistic and aesthetic changes more easily. We spend a good deal of time working with placement both before the actual installation week and during it to come up with an exhibition that works both intellectually and aesthetically – and yes, that can be challenging!

Why are the two wooden statues by Ivan Eyre facing inward to each other rather than outward to the audience?

Those sculptures seem to have more of a relationship to each other rather than to the visitor; we wanted to give them their private moment within the larger exhibition!

The exhibit is predominately composed of two types of figures, posed (such as Portrait of Lillian Krans 1870 by Wyatt Waton) and candid (scenes like Three Hunters Canoeing During Foggy Day by Itee Pootoogook). How do you think this contributes, if so, to the theme of the exhibit?

The figure has been used in art for thousands of years – and in very different ways. The posed portrait comes from a certain time within a certain socioeconomic context, while someone like Itee Pootoogook is less interested in the individual than the milieu that he or she is in. Interestingly, both tell particular stories in their own way.


Go Figure is currently on display in the Permanent Collection Gallery until August, 2015..

Raechel Bonomo
Volunteer Blog Writer
Robert McLaughlin Art Gallery

Gallery A

Things are changing around here.

As some of you may have heard, we’re undergoing renovations right now and one of the biggest changes is the creation of Gallery A.

Aileen’s Legacy

The space is named for one of our major funders,  the Aked Endowment, which was created from funds donated by the late artist Elizabeth Aileen Aked, who lived in Tyrone, Ontario. Aileen and her parents frequently traveled between Tyrone, Bermuda, Florida and England and Aileen documented every moment of it. Throughout the spring, I worked with Christine our Special Projects Assistant, to go through Aileen’s archive which totaled over 10 banker boxes filled with a lifetime of slides, photographs and 16mm films. (Aileen’s gift also included her 1928 Kodak Kodascope, which was lovingly restored to full working order by Pickering Audio Visual). The films, which date as far back is the early 1920’s,  are probably my favourite – these rich black and white silent films, depict her and her family on long rambling road trips in their classic antique Buick, pet parrot in tow. The films include scenic vistas of Gaspe, a road trip to Banff National Park, road-side picnics and sun-filled summer swims.


During all of these trips, Aileen spent a lot of her time painting, and she was an accomplished painter. As an artist, her donation to The Robert McLaughlin Gallery was quite purposeful – she wanted the endowment to support local artists in their professional development and provide opportunities for them to advance their practice.

A Place for Artists

In addition to being the Manager of Public Programs here at the RMG, I’m also an artist and when I came into this position almost 2 years ago, we started thinking about how best to achieve Aileen’s vision. I know that for myself, professional spaces to exhibit are not easy to come by and are often programmed far in advance. I’m always looking for opportunities (and space!) to experiment with new ideas and work with large materials and I want more opportunities to talk with other artists critically about my work.

After surveying and speaking with local artists, the concept of Gallery A was born. We decided to keep the use of the space flexible, to allow artists options in how they wanted to use it. I am imagining most will want to use it for solo or group exhibitions, but there is room for creativity, and thinking outside of the box. We also set up the Art Lab artist residency program so artists can use the space for experimentation, collaborations, new directions and this will hopefully lead to some new exciting work.  Gallery A artists will be invited to give public lectures and tours, and we’ll be hosting a slew of professional development workshops, including grant writing, documenting your work, peer-to-peer feedback sessions and hands-on studio retreats.

The letter A is a starting point.  It represents a new beginning, and a priority.

It represents our commitment to supporting local artists, which are at the center of Durham Region’s arts community. It all starts with artists. Gallery A can be a starting place for emerging artists as a new generation emerges from Durham Collage’s Fine Arts program. It can be a place for established artists, to exhibit their work, collaborate with peers, and perhaps even take some risks. And it can be a meeting place for communities to work with artists to engage in the arts in ways they had never imagined before. The possibilities for the space are wide open – all you have to do is get started.


Information Sessions:

Thursday 18 September 7pm

Sunday 19 October, 1pm


To find out more and to access the guidelines and application form, please follow this link: https://rmg.on.ca/gallery-a.php