The Process of Imagination: An Interview with Jay Dart

by: Raechel Bonomo

How many times have you gone to write a story or paint a picture to find yourself staring at a blank screen or canvas for what seems like eternity?

This process of an artists struggle to grasp a familiar but unique concept within their work is the underlying theme of Jay Dart: Greetings from Yawnder!, exhibiting at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery.

In order to further explain his creative process, Dart formulated words such as “Yawnder”, which describes a mystical place where ideas are born. This imaginative world sets the scene for the exhibit where we follow Jiggs, Dart’s lumberjack-esque alter ego, through lands riddled with Geist Trees and Foredad Clouds. These mythical elements seeded in Dart’s mind are brought to life through not only his illustrations, but through installation, allowing you to embody Jiggs as you walk through alongside the protagonist.

Viewing this exhibit left me in my own state of Yawnder, inspiring me to dig deeper into the artist himself and what creative process means in its most primitive and natural essence.

Raechel Bonomo (RB): What is your first artistic memory?

Jay Dart (JD): I drew a lot as a kid. I had a lot of time to myself. I often recall the floor plans that I made for imaginary estates and mansions – probably influenced by the blueprints that my dad had lying around. Those were some of my first paracosmic pieces.

RB: Has creativity been something you’ve struggled with or something that has always come naturally to you?

JD: There have definitely been times when the airwaves were silent. And quite often these days, I’m too busy to go over Yawnder. But it’s always been apart of my life. Lots of sketchbooks filled with ideas over the years. Nowadays, when I get time to work on a drawing, I have a log jam of ideas that are just waiting to get done.

RB: Explain your creative process, how do you reach your Yawnder?

JD: This is your toughest question for me to answer. Inspiration strikes all the time… driving to work, playing with my kids, listening to music, surfing the internets. I make a lot of scrawls in notebooks, sketchbooks and sticky notes. When it comes time to make a drawing, usually for a looming deadline, then I look over my scrawls and figure out how to translate them into an image. Sometimes, I use an old photo as a starting point and turn that world into my own. Other times, it’s like something I’ve never seen before so I have to rely completely on my imagination to create the scene. One thing’s for certain, there will be lots of erasing cuz if the line ain’t just right, erase er’!

RB: Have you always wanted to be an artist?

JD: These are the things that I remember wanting to “be”… ninja, hockey player, animator, photographer, filmmaker, art director, artist. In most of those cases, art is the common denominator.

RB: I read you’ve created more than 200 illustrations in the Wanderer of Yawnder series, when did you start this series and what initially sparked it?

JD: I began drawing again a few years after graduating from art school following many years of neglecting the medium I spent so much time with growing up. I believe my drawing of Barry the Mannalo, circa 10 years ago, set me on this path towards Yawnder. Following that, I was inspired by antique photos, my watercolour test swatches and the landscapes of north Durham. These are just some of the many influences that got planted in my mind and eventually grew into the various elements in the Wanderer of Yawnder series.

RB: Who is Jiggs and how do you and the viewer relate to him?

JD: Jiggs is my alter-ego, my muse and the main character of the WoY series. He’s a real good guy and very open to sharing his thoughts. He spends a lot of time by himself so he appreciates any visitors whether you’re a wonderer, an acquirer, a lumberer, an inspirer or a referrer.

RB: There are a lot of beards in this exhibition. What do they represent to you and why are they so prominent throughout your work?

JD: Whether you’re in the middle of the woods or the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a noble beard can represent a time of intense experience. But they can also represent a fashionable trend. For Jiggs, the magical mystery beard was the first idea that came to mind when he procured a geist from the Yawnder Lights. He wore the beard and contemplated the spirit that it bequeathed him. Eventually, he realized that this idea was too easy and he dug deeper, literally, into the ground and planted his beards to see what would grow.

RB: You discuss taking yourself away from technology and into more of a simplistic process of creating art, why is this and how do you feel it benefits you work? How does it hinder it?

JD: I just feel most comfortable with a pencil as my medium but it does work with my intention to tell a timeless tale relating to the nature of inspiration and creation. However, I’m very much interested in the ways that current technology affects the way creators make and share their work; this is a major theme of this series. Thus, I refer to photos from the past when settlers were forging their way on the frontiers of new found lands (to them at least) but I introduce magic realism elements that allude to cloud computing and social networking. To me, these innovations seem to present just as many challenges as opportunities. But I’m still learning.

RB: What are you hoping RMG visitors take away from your exhibition?

JD: Inspiration.

Linda Jansma on the cartographer’s mistake: marigold map

Last October, I was put in touch with Dru Chillingworth, the Manager, Parks Maintenance Services for the City of Oshawa. I asked him if he could grow a map of marigolds for the RMG in the summer of 2016. He didn’t seem phased by the request, which left me hopeful! He and I, along with his colleague, Leo Stafford, the city’s Supervisor of Horticulture, met in December and walked around the Civic Centre, dreaming of spring. In May, Charlie Simms, another amazing employee of the city, began to plant the marigolds that he had started from seed in the previous months.

Now, each morning when I come into the RMG, I’m thrilled to see the colourful map, in orange and yellow marigolds, grace the main garden in the Civic Centre.

marigolds

the cartographer’s mistake: marigold map, Sarindar Dhaliwal, marigolds, 2016

And the map? Well, it’s part of a larger exhibition of work by Toronto-based artist Sarindar Dhaliwal called The Radcliffe Line and Other Geographies that runs until August 21 at the RMG. The map shows the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan by a British bureaucrat named Cyril Radcliffe. Radcliffe wasn’t given the greatest tools for the task—inaccurate maps, contradictory instructions and a tight timeline of five weeks to complete the work of making two nations out of what had been British India since the mid 19th century. The result was disastrous: displacement and extreme violence that continues today. Dhaliwal’s exhibition touches on the broad implications of this division, as well as how it affected both her and her family.

Sarindar Dhaliwal recreates part of the sub-continent with marigolds, a healing plant that has been referred to as the Rose of India. They are meant to symbolize the mending of the scars of partition–nation states that are rethought with flowers rather than passports.

flowers

the cartographer’s mistake: marigold map, Sarindar Dhaliwal, marigolds, 2016

That the City of Oshawa supports initiatives such as these, speaks volumes to their commitment to arts and culture in its many forms. It’s all about engaging our publics, making us think about the world in a new way. Enjoy the flowers before the fall’s frost!

 

Linda Jansma

Senior Curator, RMG

 

 

National Museum Month is Here

The month of May hosts the celebration of the Ontario Museum Association’s Museum Month, with International Museum Day falling on May 18. This special celebration happens every year around the world and the International Council of Museums coordinates the day. Each year is home to a theme for International Museum Day, this year is museums and cultural landscapes.

We will be celebrating International Museums Day with a special mid-day tour of the gallery with our Senior Curator, Linda Jansma. The tour will give you a look at the permanent collection and the architecture behind the building, designed by Arthur Erickson. The tour is on May 18, drop in at noon to learn more about the Gallery

Linda leads a tour

Linda Jansma leads a tour of The Other NFB at an RMG Friday

According to the OMA, Museum Month celebrates Ontario’s museums and history. The RMG will be giving you a look into the history of the building, as well as its cultural background and connection to the group of artists known as the Painters Eleven.

The RMG

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery exterior. Photo by Michael Cullen

The RMG is one of Oshawa’s cultural landmarks and it stands as the largest gallery in Durham Region with 36,000 square feet of notable Arthur Erickson architecture. We feature a permanent collection of over 4,500 works and five galleries of contemporary and historical exhibitions. Among the permanent collection, the RMG has the largest holding of works by the Painters Eleven. The Thomas Bouckley Collection is an archival record of over 3,000 photos of Oshawa and Durham Region, giving a look into the local history of our community.

The RMG circa 1970's

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery circa 1970’s

The RMG was founded in 1967 when Ewart McLaughlin and his wife Margaret, also known as Alexandra Luke the painter, saw a need for a permanent space for the arts. An exhibition of local artists held by Oshawa designer William Caldwell piqued the interest of the McLaughlin’s and spawned their idea for an expanded public art gallery.

The gallery took the name of Robert after Ewart McLaughlin’s grandfather, founder of The McLaughlin Carriage Company. Isabel McLaughlin joined the gallery as a life-long patron who provided generous financial support and gifts of over 100 Canadian and international works.

General Motors Strike, 1937

General Motors Strike, 1937

The RMG is also home to a large collection of archival photos from historic Oshawa and surrounding region. We received the Thomas Bouckley Collection from Thomas Bouckley, collector and history enthusiast of Oshawa. The computerized collection has over 3,000 photographs of historic Oshawa and Durham Region for over 100 years. The collection is a remarkable resource in understanding the past and engaging with the local history surrounding Oshawa.

Painters Eleven

Douglas Coupland Group Portrait 1957, 2011

The group, now known as Painters Eleven, first met each other at an exhibition of abstract and non-objective paintings held by Simpson’s Department store in Toronto. The exhibition, Abstracts at Home, only had seven participants: Jack Bush, Oscar Cahén, Tom Hodgson, Alexandra Luke, Ray Mead, Kazuo Nakamura and William Ronald. The additional four artists: Jock Macdonald, Harold Town, Walter Yarwood and Hortense Gordon met with the former seven artists to discuss becoming a group of artists. The eleven artists came together for the first time under the name of Painters Eleven at an exhibition in February of 1954 at the Roberts Gallery in Toronto.

The RMG proudly holds Canada’s largest collection of works by Painters Eleven, primarily as a result of significant donations to the permanent collection from Alexandra Luke. At least eleven of these works are on display at all times in our Painters Eleven gallery.

Isabel McLaughlin

Isabel McLaughlin

We are also celebrating important founders and influences of the gallery this month like Isabel McLaughlin and Aleen Aked.

Isabel McLaughlin was born in Oshawa, growing up in Parkwood Estate, but later moved to Toronto. She was the third daughter of Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin, president of General Motors from 1918 to 1945. McLaughlin is considered one of Canada’s most important modernist painters.

McLaughlin had a strong background in the arts with an excellent education. She studied in Paris, at the Ontario College of Arts under Arthur Lismer, at the Arts Student’s League in Toronto, and the Scandinavian Academy in Paris. She contributed to some Group of Seven exhibits, who had a large influence on her, and she later became a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters after the Group of Seven disbanded.

Isabel has made large donations of artwork and books from her personal collection to the RMG and the RMG Library, as well as substantial monetary donations to help expand the gallery building and programs.

photo of Aleen Aked

Aleen Aked

Elizabeth Aleen Aked was an accomplished artist and had a strong sense for the history and culture in the places she lived. Throughout her life, Aked maintained a rigorous practice for painting which let her expand her reach throughout North America.

Aked’s last important art exhibition was held at the RMG in 1989. She later died in 2003, but left a generous portion of her legacy as a gift to the RMG. Aked’s legacy to the gallery, called the Aked Endowment, permits exciting initiative for education and outreach, notably the Imagination Station for children.

To learn more about the gallery, join us for a special International Museums Day tour with Senior Curator Linda Jansma on May 18 at noon.

RMG Fridays April – HIP HOPera, what?!

Next month, RMG Fridays is on April 1st, and the killer line up is no April Fools joke! We are combining two classic genres of music for one amazing night. This April, RMG Fridays is bringing together hip-hop and opera, the ultimate mash up!

This exciting mash up will be a one-of-a-kind experience for RMG Fridays guests, and the music and dancing will be bringing down the house! Turning the RMG into an opera house will be Jennifer Mizzi, a Soprano singer, and Kristine Dandavino, a Mezzo-Soprano, from the Oshawa Opera Association.

RMG Fridays - Opera Singers

Jennifer Mizzi – Soprano; Kristina Dandavino – Mezzo-Soprano. From Oshawa Opera Association

Switching gears, we have an awesome emcee Shaheen rapping in the gallery. We’re also turning the space into a dance floor with Judi Lopez, a b-girl who will be breakdancing. That’s not all, though; DJ Mark V. Campbell will be demo scratching as well!

RMG Fridays - Judi Lopez

B-girl Judi Lopez. Photo from www. keeprockinyou.com

We have a little visual art tying into our theme as well as some interesting themed history for you curious folks. Paul Paget (Praxis) will be explaining the roots of graffiti, and will also be doing a collaborative art project as our studio activity for the night! Showing the same love to our opera fans, Friday Film Features will be screening a short documentary about opera that night.

Durham Folklore Storytellers will also be joining us with a performance as we say goodbye to our exhibition Their Stories: Unidentified Portraits from the Thomas Bouckley Collection. You will also have the chance to meet our new ArtLab resident Ruth Read!

vintage photo

Unidentified Portrait from the Thomas Bouckley Collection

On top of the amazing music, rapping, dancing, and scratching, we have some community partners appearing at RMG Fridays. Crayons for Change will be in the gallery, where you can donate your used crayons that night as well as the City of Oshawa, launching their “Our Oshawa” Campaign, where our guests are encouraged to participate and take a photo, revealing what Oshawa is to you.

crayons

Bring your used crayons to Crayons for Change at RMG Fridays in April

So bring out your favourite MC Hammer parachute pants, your strongest singing voice and best tagging paint, the RMG is turning into a graffiti and HIPHOPera house!

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 maché. She feels the medium has, as yet, untapped potential for creative expression and innovation. She believes that…paper maché 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.

Important changes to parking for the RMG: December 22 to 28 for Rogers Hometown Hockey

Rogers Hometown Hockey is coming to Oshawa City Hall over the holidays. The free hockey festival will wrap around City Hall, the McLaughlin Branch of the Oshawa Public Libraries and The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG).

The Rogers Hometown Hockey crew will roll into Oshawa on Tuesday, December 22 to set up for the event. As a result, parking restrictions and road closures will be in effect.

map

Beginning at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 22 until 1:00 a.m. on Monday, December 28:

  • Road closure: Bagot Street, from Centre Street to Queen Street will be closed.
  • Parking access: To access public or employee parking, use John Street (enter via the Durham Continuing Education – E.A. Lovell school). There will be no through-traffic from Bagot or Queen Streets.
  • On-street parking spaces: on Bagot Street, from Centre Street to Queen Street (in front of the OPL, the RMG and City Hall entrance) will not be available.
  • Public and employee parking: will be available in Lot 50 behind The RMG (enter from John Street).
  • Overflow Parking: will be available at the Durham Continuing Education – E.A. Lovell school (enter from John Street).

Thank you for your patience regarding these parking interruptions.
For more information on the Rogers Hometown Hockey festivities (December 26 & 27), visit www.oshawa.ca/RHH.

Public Art Guide of Oshawa

Have you picked up your Public Art Map of Oshawa yet? This guide features images and maps of public sculptures and murals through the city!

We are proud to have partnered with the City of Oshawa, Parkwood Estate, the Oshawa Community Museum, Durham College and University Institute of Ontario (UOIT) to realize this project!

Meet Parvathi Bhat Giliyal – Our New Gallery Educator

Parvathi Bhat Giliyal is the RMG’s new Gallery Educator. Prior to joining us, she was working as a visual artist and graphic designer, as well as art gallery management and art education. Drop by the RMG and say hello!

 

RMG: What were you up to before the RMG?

Parvathi: In the last 5 years I’ve been Gallery co-ordinator, educator, graphic designer and curator besides actively exhibiting my paintings in India. When an opportunity to move to Canada came up, I jumped at the new and exciting possibilities that may open up to me in the art and museum sector of Ontario. So far, the RMG has been everything I’d imagined my life here to be!

RMG: What drew you to the museum sector?

Parvathi: As an artist, the gallery and museum life was my calling. My father and I would spend a lot of time in museums and we believed in engaging with every piece of art. From a very young age, I believed that I could grow into a better artist through awareness and exposure to art of any kind.

RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Parvathi: The National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore, India, the city I grew up in and The Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France. The former for its vast collection of my favourite Indian art works and the many hours of talks and lectures that I attended; and the latter for the fantastic opportunity it gave me to experience all the European greats that I had only read about until that point.

RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Parvathi: My first memory of art would have to be watching my father work on his oils in our tiny living room, randomly throwing tips at me on the hows and whys of oil painting. It is funny how I was always surrounded by art but took me until my last day in college to realize I needed to be in the art world.

RMG: What is one thing that you want to share with people about the RMG?

Parvathi: The RMG has something for everyone. The spectacular permanent collection on display, Art classes, Art workshops, Residency programs, RMG Fridays with its live music and film features, the list is endless! I feel it is all about taking that first step inside the gallery and never wanting to leave!

Oshawa Cultural Summit

Under the theme of Creative Spaces, this year’s annual Cultural Summit is an opportunity to share ideas, learn about what’s going on and celebrate culture in Oshawa!

Highlights Include:

  • Keynote speaker: Tim Potocic, Director – Hamilton Supercrawl!
  • Community presentations:
    • Laura Suchan, Executive Director, Oshawa Community Museum + Dr. Helen Haines,  Assistant Professor Department of Anthropology , Trent University Durham discuss their recent archeological project partnership at the museum.
    • Donna Raetsen-Kemp, CEO, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery and Gallery A artist (TBC) presents the newly renovated community gallery space at RMG.
    • Filmmaker Carla Sinclair,  explores LGBT culture in her recent documentary Heal Myself.
  • The City of Oshawa will present on Culture Counts:Oshawa’s Arts, Culture & Heritage Plan and 2015 achievements.
  • Special performance to be announced shortly!
  • Refreshments and Networking Opportunity!

Visit the Cultural Summit webpage for more information: www.oshawa.ca/culturalsummit

Have a question? Please ask! Send an email to [email protected]

WHEN
Thursday, October 22, 2015 from 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM

WHERE
Arts Resource Centre – 45 Queen Street Oshawa, Ontario CA

TICKETS
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oshawa-cultural-summit-tickets-18977026798

RMG Fridays 2 October: Harvest Moon

Enjoy the captivating folk rock sounds of Jesse Parent and Birds of Bellwoods. Learn about the history of manipulated images as we open our Mindful Manipulation and glimpse into the spirit world with our Ghosts of The Gallery documentary. Also joining us will be our community partners – Culture Counts!

For more information:
Jesse Parent: http://www.jesseparentmusic.com/
Birds of Bellwoods: http://www.birdsofbellwoods.com/

On the first Friday of the month, join the RMG in celebrating local talent. The gallery buzzes with live musical performances, interactive art experiences, open gallery spaces, social mingling and more. Suitable for music lovers, youth, families, date nights, and culture-vultures.

Free to attend | 7-10pm | Cash Bar | All ages welcome.

Follow the twitter feed at #RMGFridays!

The RMG is grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their support of this programming.