As the RMG celebrates its 50th anniversary, it is appropriate to focus on who the Painters 11 were as individual artists. The group was eclectic: Hortense Gordon and Jock Macdonald were born in the 19th century, while Tom Hodgson, the youngest of the group, was born in 1924. Most were commercial artists, including Jack Bush, Oscar Cahén, Tom Hodgson, William Ronald, Kazuo Nakamura, Walter Yarwood, Harold Town and Ray Mead. Macdonald and Gordon were educators, influencing generations of artists at the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, the Ontario College of Art and Hamilton Technical School. While she may not have seen herself as such, Alexandra Luke was a curator, organizing the first travelling exhibition of Canadian abstract painting in 1952 (originating at Oshawa’s YWCA) among many other exhibitions.
The artists banded together less because of a common philosophy, but rather to increase their opportunities to show their abstract paintings. As Macdonald noted: “The meaning of our group is the fact that we think alike about creativeness in art and the unity established is our power.” That unity was at times tested with minutes of one 1956 meeting stating that two members “nearly came to blows.” The group was, however, genuinely unified in their appreciation for each other’s work and promoting this new form of art.