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Public Art

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery is dedicated to sharing, exploring and engaging with our communities through the continuing story of modern and contemporary Canadian art.

We engage our community in art and explore opportunities for public art, to increase the community’s interaction with, and awareness of, contemporary art. For the full Public Art Guide of Oshawa, Oshawa Public Art Map to download a PDF of the map.

public art

  • Douglas Coupland, Group Portrait, 1957

    Douglas Coupland sculpture

    Douglas Coupland, Group Portrait 1957, aluminum, steel, paint, 2011

    Douglas Coupland is an internationally renowned, Vancouver-based Canadian artist. Educated in both art and design, he first rose to prominence in the 1990’s after publishing the generation-defining fiction book Generation X. Thirteen novels later, Coupland resumed his fine art practice with similar focus as his written work: visual and popular culture, and in particular, Canadian identity.

    The RMG approached Coupland in the spring of 2010 with the idea of commissioning a major outdoor sculpture. His personal relationship with Arthur Erickson, the architect of the 1987 gallery expansion, and his ongoing interest in mid-century modernism, made the proposal particularly appealing to Coupland.

    The approximately 27′ x 11′ (8.1 x 3.3m) relief sculpture entitled Group Portrait 1957 was permanently installed on the north/west facade of the RMG in September 2011.

    Douglas Coupland’s Proposal:


    Douglas Coupland, Group Portrait 1957, 2011

    “For the RMG I propose a work that reflects the Gallery’s curatorial mandate to transmit forward to future generations the work and ideas of its collection, specifically the work of Painters Eleven. To do this I’ve taken the seminal portrait of the group, Peter Croydon’s 1957 group portrait, and have used it as a framework on which to place abstract forms that represent each member. These forms and their colours are derived from a key piece of each of the eleven members’ works in the Gallery’s collection. The forms are circular containing concentric rings which are then placed above a painted white metal framework so that in symphony, all eleven forms become ‘transmitters.'”

  • Clement Meadmore, Upstart II

    Upstat Sculpture

    Clement Meadmore, Upstart II, aluminum, 1987

    Upstart II was provided to the RMG as part of an extended loan to gift agreement from Toronto-based collectors Marla and Edward Schwartz, who approached the RMG to propose the arrangement in the spring of 2011. The work is situated in the park to the south of Oshawa’s City Hall and directly across from the RMG.

    Upstart II is a 25-foot-tall aluminum sculpture that Meadmore created in 1987. A distinctive abstract sculpture, it is formally simple, but by bending the form Meadmore adds a dynamic element that reads as a heroic punctuation mark.

    Clement Meadmore was born in Australia, where he studied aeronautical engineering. He created his first welded sculpture in the 1950’s, moving to New York in 1963 and eventually becoming an American citizen.  Highly respected as a sculptor, he combined the influences of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. His work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, (NYC) Art Institute of Chicago, Detroit Institute of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, Columbia University, Rhode Island School of Design Museum and the National Gallery of Australia, among many other public and private collections.

  • Mary Ann Barkhouse, Grace

    sculpture of beavers

    Mary Ann Barkhouse, Grace, bronze, 2007

    Mary Anne Barkhouse is a nationally acclaimed artist. She belongs to the Nimpkish band, Kwakiutl First Nation and currently lives in the Haliburton Highlands of Ontario. Her work examines environmental concerns and indigenous culture through the use of animal imagery—wolves, ravens, moose and beaver are juxtaposed against a diversity of background situations.

    Unveiled in 2007, Grace was commissioned by the RMG. It features three beavers, sitting on a piece of Canadian Shield granite, the top of which is highly polished. The sculpture is named Grace after Italian sculptor Antonio Canova’s The Three Graces, depicting three svelte goddesses, Beauty, Mirth and Good Cheer.

    On land, the beaver is anything but graceful, but in the water and in its energy and efficiency, it’s a different story. Beavers are capable of reinventing their territory and the surrounding landscape through hard work. By placing Grace on a piece of the Canadian Shield, Barkhouse places them as valuable players in the ecosystem of the boreal forest and survivors of the European Fashion industry.

  • Douglas Bentham, Crown


    Douglas Bentham, Crown, bronze, 1987

    Crown is a welded steel sculpture by Saskatchewan artist Douglas Bentham. The sculpture was first loaned to the gallery in the late 1970s and later donated in 1986.Crown is a controversial piece and has raised many discussions about the practice and creation of art.

    One of Canada’s most prominent sculptors, Bentham’s work can be found in public and private collections in Canada and the United States. With over forty solo exhibitions and over 100 group exhibitions in public and commercial galleries, his work has gained national and international recognition.

    The sculpture was executed in 1978 in Toronto. The artist wrote: “I first became interested in displaying in this work a sense of the origins of metal making. At that time plate steel was not being produced in Saskatchewan and therefore these rich “mill ends” were only available to me in Toronto. A mill end results when in the early stages of rolling out molten steel, wonderful free-form shapes squeeze out the ends and are cropped off in much the same way we trim off excess pie crust.”

    Bentham developed an extensive series of large-scale sculptures which elaborate on the nature and character of Crown. In this way Crown has become a key sculpture in the development of his work since 1978.

  • Reinhard Reitzenstein, River Tree/Bench


    Reinhard Reitzenstein, River Tree/Bench, bronze, 2002

    Reinhard Reitzenstein was born in Uelzen, Germany, in 1949, and was educated in Toronto after his family immigrated to Canada in 1956. Reitzenstein’s work has consistently taken him into processes exploring ways to interconnect nature, culture, science, and technology. He works in several parallel areas: indoor installation and sculpture using cast, spun and welded metals, wood, glass, photography, digitally processed images; large-scale drawings; outdoor tree-based installations and sound art.

    The sculpture consists of a twenty-four foot bronze Ironwood tree lying on its side, its position due, perhaps to high winds, or the ravage of time. River/Tree’s curved “spine”—the juncture from the roots has protrusions reminiscent of a backbone—and delicate root system, speak to a sublime beauty in nature that can only be truly appreciated through sympathetic understanding of what has been lost.

    River Tree/Bench was selected by the Jury Committee of the RMG and was commissioned. The sculpture is installed at the rear of the building by the Oshawa creek.

  • Ron Baird, Silent Bells


    Ron Baird, Silent Bells, aluminum, 1981/84

    Silent Bells was originally designed for a survey show in 1984 and donated to the Robert McLaughlin Gallery by the artist for installation in the atrium lobby. The sculpture is motorized and slowly rotates.

  • Noel Harding, Reverb

    Harding sculpture

    Noel Harding, Reverb, Steel and lights, 2015. Purchased with the financial support of the RMG Acquisition Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program.

    Reverb is installed adjacent to the General Motors Centre (GM Centre), Durham Region’s premier sports and recreation facility, and the venue of the boxing and weightlifting events of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games. The work was purchased with the financial support of the RMG Acquisition Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program.

    The sculpture is impactful, standing at 19’ high. The curved form implies a megaphone, an amphitheater and stage, a net or goal, asReverb reflects the activities that occur in the GM Centre. The ‘blurb’ shapes on the structure represent the fans and are positioned like a rake of seats. A microphone positioned above centre ice inside the GM Centre will transmit a signal to the lights within the steel structure, transforming the sound into coloured beams of light around the sculpture that will be triggered every time the crowd inside cheers.

    Reverb is full of meaning and references. The laser cut stainless steel references industrial production and the facets align Oshawa’s history as a port city and as an industrial capital. In addition to celebrating the City’s participation in the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, the project reflects narratives that have meaning to the community and the public space that the work occupies.

    Noel Harding produced video art in the 1970’s, video projection and installation in the 1980’s, kinetic installations and sculpture as theatre in the 1990’s. His work for the last 20 years is in public art where landscape and environment are paramount. In general, his work is an engagement in public urban realities: planning, envisioning, and mapping.  He has exhibited and lectured internationally and his work is included in collections at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the City of Amsterdam and the Hara Museum, Tokyo.