Museum Week Fun

Samantha Pender and Jessica Moffitt are second year Public Relations students at Durham College and the RMG’s communications interns for the winter.

 

It’s that time of year again! Museums and art galleries around the world will be coming together on the Internet to celebrate one of the most exciting calendar weeks. That’s right, it’s time for #MuseumWeek!

exterior of gallery

Photo by Michael Cullen

Museum week is a social media gathering of museums and galleries across the world to share cool things with their audience. There are seven days with seven hashtags, each a different theme that dictates the tweet/fact about the museum. Here is this year’s lineup:
Monday – #SecretsMW

Tuesday – #PeopleMW

Wednesday – #ArchitectureMW

Thursday – #HeritageMW

Friday – #FutureMW

Saturday – #ZoomMW

Sunday – #LoveMW
Our communications interns, Jessica and Sam have been preparing for this exciting week, learning all the in’s and out’s of the RMG to share with you on Twitter. With about three to five tweets a day, fans of the RMG can expect to learn plenty of new and exciting things about their favourite Oshawa art gallery!

Monday through Wednesday was researched and planned by Sam, who had a great time digging into rich, Oshawa history and learning about architecture. The gallery is deeply rooted in the McLaughlin family history, so you can expect to learn a bit about one of Oshawa’s most famous families and their affiliation with the RMG on Tuesday’s #people.

Queens Hotel, Oshawa

Queens Hotel, Oshawa

The building itself is also touched by fame, designed and built by a famous Canadian architect – don’t worry, you’ll find out who during Museum Week on Wednesday’s #architecture! Sam was able to really learn about the bare bones of the building, exploring not only the physical architecture, but also the culture of the building and architect as well.

Sam also searched up some little known facts about the RMG that we will be sharing to kick off the week on the first day of #secrets!

Unidentified Portrait

Unidentified Portrait from the Thomas Bouckley Collection. Collection of The Robert McLaughlin Gallery.

Jess, who planned out Thursday through Sunday, had fun diving into her hometown #heritage and learning all about Oshawa! Seeing old black and white photos from The Thomas Bouckley Collection was a highlight for her, getting a glimpse of what the city looked like long before we were here.

After going back in history, Jess looked forward to the #future of the RMG – we don’t want to ruin anything, but it the future looks bright. She also digs deep into a few key pieces in the gallery for #zoom, sharing interesting stories while she takes a closer look. Sunday is all about #love, and Jess had plenty of that to share. What’s not to love about the RMG?

RMG Friday

Museum Hack. Photo by Mat Calverley.

Jess and Sam can’t wait to share everything they learned about the RMG with you during #MuseumWeek! Make sure you check out our Twitter feed @theRMG so you can learn it all too!

The RMG Celebrates Hometown Hockey

This holiday season, visit the RMG as we celebrate Rogers Hometown Hockey in Oshawa with a special display in our lobby! We have gathered together artworks and historical photographs from our collection, as well as incorporated a display of hockey-inspired artwork by Peterborough artist Jeffrey Macklin. Learn more about the display below and visit us with your family (and hockey fans)!

Photos from the Thomas Bouckley Collection:

vintage photo

Dupont Hockey Team, c. 1919

Dupont Hockey Team, 1919
Eleven team members pose for their photograph on the open-air ice rink at the General Motors plant at Division Street and Elgin Street. This hockey team was the American Championship Team, 1919-20.

photo of hockey team

Cedar Dale Hockey Team, c. 1925

Cedar Dale Hockey Team, c. 1925
The official team picture is photographed by G. Potter, a professional photographer. All team members are identified.
Back row, left to right: Wes. Kirkpatrick, Howard Gunn, Matthew Redmond, Bill Jackson, Lou King, Charles Barriage.
Second row, left to right: Bill Lloyd, Willfred Whalen, Tom Riordan, Fred King, Norman Mallett.
Seated in front is Hugh King, probably the mascot, and a cocker spaniel dog.

photo of hockey

Bishop Bethune College outdoor hockey rink, c. 1925

Bishop Bethune College outdoor hockey rink, c. 1925
A girls’ hockey team plays at the back of Bishop Bethune College. The private school for girls was sponsored by the Church of England, and operated from 1889 until 1932 at 240 Simcoe Street South.

Sculpture from our Collection

hockey player

Donna Gordon (Canadian, b. 1942), The Save, 1992, painted papier-maché with wood, stainless steel

The Save
Donna Gordon (Canadian, b. 1942)
painted papier-maché with wood, stainless steel
1992

“Donna has embraced the often misunderstood and little known art of papier machĂ©. She feels the medium has, as yet, untapped potential for creative expression and innovation. She believes that…paper machĂ© is a building process that artistically evolves, growing almost organically to take on a shape which is meaningful to both the artist and her audience.” – The Russell Gallery of Fine Art

Contemporary Hockey Puck Artwork by Jeffrey Macklin

artwork display

Jeffrey Macklin is a Peterborough based artist, working primarily with relief printing (letterpress) and mixed media. He often employs words as visual triggers, as well as Canadiana and present-day/historical pop-culture icons and figures in both his print work and his mixed media pieces.

Macklin prints relief from the raised surfaces of hand-set wood and lead type. When he requires an image for a broadside or chapbook project, he carves from lino-block, plywood or end-grain hardwood. He also uses old neglected wood boards and rough cut plywood for backgrounds or texture, and in 2014 he begun using found hockey pucks.

Hockey pucks are resilient, pliable, and easy to carve. Printing from the surface of unusual materials has always been a primary driver in Macklin’s letterpress shop.

Ghosts of the Gallery

Public call for Ghost Stories about The Robert McLaughlin Gallery! After almost 50 years in the community, Oshawa’s art gallery has some history behind it, as do the many artifacts, paintings, sculptures and curiosities housed in our gallery vault.

The RMG is currently producing a short documentary titled “Ghosts of the Gallery” set to launch on October 2nd at RMG Fridays in our Friday Film Features screening room. In the spirit of Halloween, gallery staff are sharing their supernatural experiences on camera and we invite the public to participate as well!

A chill on the back of your neck, unexplained perfume smells, objects moving without the help of human hands, strange apparitions, orbs captured in photographs – we want to hear them all! Telling your story does not mean you have to go on camera, there are many ways we can include it in the film!

Please submit your stories by September 15th to:

Carla Sinclair, Manager of Community and Volunteer Development
Email: csinclair@rmg.on.ca
Phone: 905-576-3000 x106

Hidden Mothers and “Tall Tale” Postcards

This post comes from the desk of Associate Curator and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection, Sonya Jones.

Researching and selecting images for the exhibition Mindful Manipulation was fascinating! Not only did I learn about darkroom manipulation processes but I also discovered some interesting things about early studio practices. For example, hidden mother photography. In the Victorian era, with long exposure times, mothers would often disguise themselves in different ways to hold their children still. Photographers would try to put the focus on the children by camouflaging the mothers as chairs, couches or curtains.

John Aubrey Morphy Portrait, 1891, Oshawa Public Libraries

John Aubrey Morphy Portrait, 1891, Oshawa Public Libraries

There is one example of this in Mindful Manipulation where the mother is draped to look like a chair. The photographer went even further in drawing attention away from the “chair” with a white vignette. This was done by dodging, a process that decreases the exposure for areas of the print that the photographer wished to be light. As a mom, I know firsthand how difficult it is to capture a squirming baby even with today’s technology, and I guess I’m technically hiding too, but behind the lens versus disguised as a couch! The example of the Morphy baby isn’t as creepy as other examples from this time period. If you Google hidden mother photography the results are hilarious and spooky.

"How We Do Things At Oshawa, ONT.", 1911, Oshawa Public Libraries

“How We Do Things At Oshawa, ONT.”, 1911, Oshawa Public Libraries

The other subject I found interesting in my research was Tall Tale postcards. These postcards began around the turn of the 20th century, and were especially popular in smaller communities where they would exaggerate food sources specific to the region. In Oshawa’s case, the tall-tale is that Oshawa’s rich soil produces gigantic turnips, and that fish were an abundant food source. Photographers would take two prints, one a background landscape and another a close-up of an object, carefully cut out the second and superimpose it onto the first, and re-shoot the combination to create a final composition that is often ridiculous but fun.

Join me on November 17 for a lecture about the history of manipulated images as well as the emerging field of digital forensics by Deepa Kundur.

For more information please visit https://rmg.on.ca/mindful-manipulation-tbc.php

 

Top image: “How We Do Things At Oshawa, ONT.”, 1917, Oshawa Community Museum and Archives

Their Stories – Call for entries!

Deadline: 1 December, 2015

Help tell the stories of 10 unidentified portraits in the Thomas Bouckley Collection. Whether it is a fictional diary entry, poem, letter, short story, storyboard, or character sketch, imagining an identity to these unknown portraits brings the characters to life.

Submissions will be reviewed by a jury, and selected entries will accompany the photographs in an exhibition at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery or displayed on our website. Please click here to submit.

Unidentified portraits are not commonly displayed. By bringing these images forward, we hope to engage the creative side of the public of the public, and possibly in the process discover a clue as to their true identity.

For more information contact Sonya Jones, Associate Curator and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection at sjones@rmg.on.ca

To for more information and to submit, please visit https://rmg.on.ca/their-stories.php

New Acquisition to The Thomas Bouckley Collection – Oshawa Strike

This post comes to us from the desk of Sonya Jones, Associate Curator and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection. The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in Oshawa, Ontario holds the Thomas Bouckley Collection. The Collection was donated to the RMG by the late Thomas Bouckley, amateur historian and collector of Oshawa’s history. The entire computerized collection comprises over 2,300 historical photographs of Oshawa and about 100 works are featured in three exhibitions per year. 

Earlier this year, the Thomas Bouckley Collection received a donation of images that capture the General Motors Strike of 1937. The gift, from the McGrath family, includes 57 images, 37 of which depict the famous strike. Prior to this wonderful addition to the collection, there were only 3 images of the strike in the Thomas Bouckley Collection.

General Motors Strike, 1937

General Motors Strike, 1937

What’s interesting about these images is that they capture candid moments between strikers on the picket line. They weren’t just taken to document the strike but seem to be snap shots between friends, giving a general sense of what the mood was like during this time.

On April 8, 1937, 3,700 GM workers punched in as usual and then walked off the job. They didn’t return to the assembly lines until a settlement was struck two weeks later.

For a little background as to why the strike began, an interview with Arthur Shultz, who had worked on the assembly lines in GM from 1922–1937, describes the conditions of the plant and community prior to the 1937 strike:

“Work on the assembly lines was hell, speed ups, no rest periods, afraid to complain for fear of permanent layoff.  The pay was good while you worked but yearly earnings were in the $600 range.  Work was only available for six to seven months of the year and many employees were forced to apply for City welfare.” – Arthur Schultz, 1951

Female Employees, General Motors Strike, 1937

Female Employees, General Motors Strike, 1937

The Toronto Star reports the strike as an orderly event:

 “A stand-up strike not a sit-down strike” with 260 women joining the men on the picket line. It begins quietly with workers first filing into work as usual at 7 a.m. and then five minutes later, just as peacefully, exiting the plant. Simultaneously, 400 pickets are flung up around the works with pre-arranged precision” – Toronto Star, April 8, 1937

While these photographs depict an important event in Oshawa’s history, the smiling faces and sociable atmosphere give it a human side.

 

Top image: General Motors Strike, 1937

Reflections on the Thomas Bouckley Collection

Assistant Curator Megan White reflects on her year at the RMG and shared with us her favourite photos from the Thomas Bouckley Collection. For more photos from the collection, follow vintageoshawa.tumblr.com

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Town Clerk’s Office, 1912
I love the photographs in the Thomas Bouckley collection that strongly capture a single fleeting moment. Even though this photograph was taken over 100 years ago, the connection made between the subject and photographer in this split second is so striking.

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King’s Family Residence, 1890
There are so many great things about this photograph. The great outfits, the women posing with their bicycles, the beautiful house and plants on the porch, and of course the dog!

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R.S. Williams Piano Workers, 1910
Oshawa has an incredible history of industry. The photographs taken inside some of the old factories, such as this one, are simply remarkable.

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Looking East at Harmony Corners, 1909 
This is a photograph that I can look at again and again- it reminds me of a still from an old film. Like many photographs in the collection, I would love to know the story behind why this photo was taken!

Interview with artist Margaret Rodgers

“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator.

The RMG caught up with artist Margaret Rodgers to discuss her new exhibition Closeups.

The RMG: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Margaret Rodgers: As an Oshawa-based artist I am especially interested in local history but my work ranges across subject and medium quite extensively. Recent exhibition activity includes No Man’s Land (Erring on the Mount festival, Peterborough), The Tree Museum: Easy Come, Easy Go (AGP), WhiteOut, TAC Art/Work Gallery, Toronto, and  OshawaSpaceInvaders, 2013-14. Earlier works relative to the Closeups exhibition include Out of Time at Oshawa City Hall, Money etc. (installation in a bank vault at 20 Simcoe N Oshawa), and (site/cite/citĂ©/city) SPECIFIC: “The Shwa” a downtown Oshawa project exhibited as RENEWAL at Red Head Gallery Toronto.

I founded the IRIS Group, a collective of women artists, taught at Durham and Centennial Colleges, and was Director/Curator at VAC Clarington. My writing includes Locating Alexandra (Toronto: ECW, 1995) about Painters Eleven artist Alexandra Luke, and various reviews and essays for catalogues, journals and blogs.

In 2008 I organized IRIS in the North Country at BluSeed Studios and Hotel Saranac, Saranac Lake, NY, and showed there again in 2010 and 2013. For 2015, I am Guest Curator of Crossing Borders, an exhibition exchange with BluSeed for VAC Clarington. International exhibition activity includes Deviant Detours, Kunsthaus Gallery, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and the Beijing World Art Museum, with seven Durham artists.

As a member of Heritage Oshawa I worked on DOORS OPEN and organized Heritage Week events at the Oshawa Centre.

Margaret Rodgers’ studio

RMG: Where did you get the idea for Closeups?

MR: I have always found it interesting that our photos are peopled with strangers who happen to be there in the background and to speculate on where our own images have ended up incidentally. In the IRIS at Bola show and later in Out of Time at City Hall I drew from images that included the 20 Simcoe N. environs–once a bank, then Burns Jewellers, Tribal Voices, and Bola. There was also a photo of a pub that existed there before the bank, and in all of the pictures there are people on the street, rarely posing but caught anyway, tiny and frequently blurred images that I found fascinating to contemplate.

In 2011 I installed Money, etc in the vault there. Subsequently we held an IRIS at Bola show in the store, and the following year The IRIS Group rented the space to create our own work and hold a series of workshops. Through exploring the building I found these old battered jewellery trays that had been used when Burns Jewellers was the owner. It was IRIS member Jan Prebble who suggested hanging them by their handles, and with permission from the manager we used a few in the workshops. When I was asked to make art relating to the Bouckley collection I thought that the trays would make perfect bases for the historic subject matter and got permission from the owner John Aquilina to take them.

RMG: What other artists have influenced your career/artistic practice?

MR: I am a huge Joyce Wieland fan for her gutsy exuberance and her use of any medium that fit her purpose. Also Gerhard Richter, but who isn’t? I studied with Krzysztof Wodiczko in a tiny Trent class that he called The Crown Donut School of Cultural Studies . His projected interventions were just becoming famous, and his brilliance was obvious. I think the idea of using unconventional methods and media probably comes mostly from him.

RMG: What is your favourite image from the Thomas Bouckley Collection?

MR: I loved all of the ones I worked with, since I pored over the collection trying to make choices, the images of children are particularly appealing but the entire collection is engrossing.

Margaret Rodgers, Fireman and Fan, Prospect Park 1900, 2014

Margaret Rodgers, Fireman and Fan, Prospect Park 1900, 2014

RMG: What draws you to using historical photographs in your work?

MR: I think it comes from looking at similar photographs in my family collection, trying to see into the past and think about those long gone relatives, who they were and what they were like. I have inherited albums from a dear aunt who was born in 1890 and who told me many stories about her early life. In the 1980s I did a series based on this personal history, and have been thinking about it again.

Also my son and I visited Thomas Bouckley one time when he lived in Bond Towers. I remember his apartment being crowded with photo equipment and his stories about bribing the garbage collectors to watch for any discarded photographs. We were thrilled to meet him since we loved his books.

Working on Heritage Oshawa also brought home the great loss that the city has suffered in the destruction of its earlier architecture. While there is definitely something about sentiment and nostalgia, both frowned upon in the art world, incidentally, there is also this desire to reach into the past and establish a connection to what once was.

RMG: What do you hope visitors will take away from seeing the exhibition?

MR: In terms of the photographic work of art, consideration is also given to point of view, to the photographer’s choices, to the overall cultural construct in play. It’s always interesting to contemplate the unseen, the undocumented. We are given images that show a busy prosperous city, or families at leisure. I tried to find that person off to the side, or engulfed in a crowd. I would like people to think about the images within the context of a comfortable middle class, but to understand that this would have been only a part of society.

Aside from simply appreciating the artworks of themselves, I hope they will have fun with it, make a game out of trying to match the Bouckley pieces with the figures I have pulled from them, and enjoy a bit of our local history.

 

Closeups: Margaret Rodgers
Selections from the Thomas Bouckley Collection

23 January – 7 May, 2015
Opening: RMG Fridays, 6 February, 7-10pm
Artist talk with Margaret Rodgers: Sunday 22 February, 1-3pm

 

 

Interview with Running On Empty Curator Heather Nicol

“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator.

The RMG caught up with Running on Empty’s guest curator Heather Nicol for a quick chat about the exhibition and her artistic practice.

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RMG: Firstly, please tell us a bit about who are you and your curatorial/ artistic practice?

Heather Nicol: I’m an artist and independent curator based in Toronto. I’ve created exhibitions for gallery spaces, but more often I work in what might be considered off-site locations, such as underutilized or repurposed urban spaces. My installations often are cited in public places, such as large atriums or, for example, in the great Hall of the Union station. Also in unusual exhibition venues, such as an crumbling rail terminus in Buffalo, a three-story carriage house in upstate New York, or in a château, in France. I am very excited about a large-scale public art project coming up in March, in lower Manhattan’s Winter Garden, an enormous barrel vaulted interior space opposite the new World Trade Center.

RMG: What was the inspiration behind Running On Empty? Oshawa has a long history with the car – does this play into your exhibition at all?

HN: Architecture or geography serve as a point of departure in my curatorial work. I am interested in ways that the histories and physical properties of exhibition spaces impact the reception of the art that is presented in them.

So, yes, Oshawa’s, and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery’s history with the automobile industry afforded me the opportunity to pursue an idea that had been percolating concerning cars as a mediating force in our relationship with the landscape.

RMG: How did you select the artists in the exhibition?

HN: I seem to have a strange habit of keeping a lookout for potential off-site exhibition venues as I go through life, whether it’s a vacant warehouse or decommission school. I have thought that a wonderful old-fashioned gas station near where I live would be a terrific place to create a show about cars, and have kept an eye on it for years, wondering it it might close or be up for rent. Ironically, it’s up for rent right now!

From from the beginning of my thinking about this show, I hoped to include the famous traffic jam sequence from Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 film “Weekend”. I saw the film in my early 20s, and that particular imagery has apparently been tucked away in my mind for years.  It is quite fantastic.

Monica Tap_6

Early on, I thought of some of the artists that are in Running On Empty, including Kim Adams and John Massey. I met Elinor Whidden while on a residency in Newfoundland, and Ioved the way she links cars and highways with historical notions of landscape. Her work inspired a shift in my musings about this possible show, away from auto bodies, toward the idea of the car as transportation device, particularly in relationship to the vast landscapes of Canada. I have previously worked with Monica Tap and Seth Scriver, both of whom have works that are very well suited to this idea – Seth’s film was made in collaboration with Shayne Ehman. I saw Asphalt Watches at its premier at TIFF, and was especially enthusiastic about the way it links with the Godard movie. I was interested in locating an artist who worked with taxidermy animals, in part inspired by a close friend’s terrifying account of hitting a bear, and the ensuing encounter with the animal’s body. It was through online research that I discovered Montreal based Kate Puxley, whose work “TransCanada” is a wonderful addition to the project.

RMG: We love the exhibition play list – can you please tell us more about it?

HN: It began with the titles for the show, Running On Empty, which is a 1977 song by Jackson Browne. That tune captures the groove of road trips, and for me, memories of listening to songs on car radios. At the same time, it refers to the ominous under belly of our relationship to cars – our reliance on fossil fuels, the environmental impacts, etc. The idea of running out of gas, both figuratively and metaphorically, seemed perfect for this show.

Last fall I spent an enjoyable afternoon with three dear friends with whom I took a road trip to the Maritimes thirty years ago. It was actually a cycling trip, but who’s counting wheels! the four of us began brainstorming the rich history of songs on the subject. Solidifying this spontaneous list-making experience, with the song’s names hastily written on paper towel, into a document for the exhibition catalogue felt like a wonderful extension of the way I approach curating, which is from the position of an artist. I take pleasure in bringing form to whimsical notions, and hope our readers will enjoy it. The playlist is not historically researched, it is a simple expression of our collective memories at that particular moment in time.

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Images
Stills from film Asphalt Watches, Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver
Monica Tap, One-second Hudson no. 4, 2007
Kate Puxley, from the series Trans-Canada, 2011-ongoing

Vintage Oshawa Photo Blog

“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator.

Have you visited vintageoshawa.tumblr.com? Every Thursday for #ThrowBackThursday we will be posting a photograph from the Thomas Bouckley Collection on the blog, as well as on our facebook page. These are amazing images that show the exciting history of our community.

The Collection was donated to the RMG by the late Thomas Bouckley, amateur historian and collector of Oshawa’s history. The entire computerized collection comprises over 2,300 historical photographs of Oshawa and about 100 works are featured in three exhibitions per year. Click here to Browse the online database.

The Vintage Oshawa blog is a place to share Bouckley historical images, as well as a place for residents of Oshawa to share their vintage photographs of Oshawa’s past, helping to create a visual history of the city. Please submit your images and caption information to help us grow this online collection. Questions? Submit your photo!

 

Image: R.S. Williams Piano Workers, 1910