#MuseumSelfieDay at the RMG

Wednesday January 20, 2016 was #MuseumSelfie Day and the RMG’s staff and guests got into it by snapping some pretty fabulous and creative photos in the gallery.

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Carla Sinclair, Manager of Community and Volunteer Development, gets expressive with Rita Letendre.

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Donna Raetsen-Kemp, CEO, gets up close and personal with Jock Macdonald.

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Leslie Menagh, Manager of Public Programs and Art Reach, poses with work by Gallery A artist Janice McHaffie.

Staff from the Oshawa Public Library get a sweet selfie with a photo by Holly King.

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Steve Dick, Manager of Protection Services, does his best Vanna White impersonation with our new banner.

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Senior Curator Linda Jansma mimics a work by Michael Snow.

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Sam Mogelonsky, Manager of Marketing and Communications, gets mysterious with a photo by Holly King.

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Olinda Casimiro, Director of Finance and Administration, hanging out with Elvis by Tony Scherman.

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Sonya Jones, Associate Curator, gets a bright idea from a Ray Mead drawing.

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Curatorial volunteer Alessanra Cirelli, takes a selfie while framing.

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Parvathi Bhat, Gallery Educator, poses with her favourite Jack Bush.

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RMG enthusiast Cassy Goulding dropped by for this quick snap in the lobby.

Ray Mead: Living Within

Ray Mead: Living Within came together quickly as a result of a change in the RMG’s programming schedule. Whenever I go through the racks in the vault, Mead’s work begs for my attention so organizing this exhibition was an incredible pleasure.

Bringing together over thirty works by Mead that range from the 1940s to 1990 has solidified what I’ve always known: Ray Mead is a fabulous painter and a wonderful colourist. While it’s impossible to talk about favourites, I do have works that I’m drawn to more than others. One of these is Door. It’s a large (203 x 173 cm), post painterly oil on canvas work that was painted around 1961. Mead has spoken about his love of black: “black is a delightful colour—it has so many variations.” The blacks in Door have their own tonal variations: deeply saturated in parts, and less so in others. But it’s that orange—just visible beneath the circular element on the left and hugging the centre on the right margin that ties the work together for me.

In writing about Door, Mead says that metaphorically the work “was a door for me to pass into a new era of experimentation.” This fabulous painting has existed for over fifty years and still draws one in towards that new era.

Linda Jansma
Senior Curator
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery

 

Fall On The Move

This fall, we are exploring how artists have conveyed the overlapping themes of memory, migration and movement with two exhibitions: Moving Image and Beyond Measure: Domesticating Distance.

In Moving Image, Senior Curator Linda Jansma explores how the theme of movement manifests itself in the RMG’s permanent collection. Selected from our collection of over 4,500 works, this exhibition examines not only physical movement of objects and people, but also those images that emotionally move us. With our permanent collection, we continue to tell the story modern and contemporary art across Canada.

The RMG is thrilled to partner with SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) to present Beyond Measure: Domesticating Distance. Curated by Ambereen Siddiqui, this exhibition explores contemporary South Asian perspectives on the notion of absence within diasporic communities and dislocation within the experience of migration. Featuring performance and installation, photography and sculpture, the artists in this exhibition use their multidisciplinary practices to echo the diversity of their layered experiences.

In conjunction with these exhibitions, we are pleased to offer complimentary programming. Please join us for a symposium featuring a panel discussion by the artists in Beyond Measure: Domesticating Distance on Saturday 12 September. As well, join artist Tazeen Qayyum on Sunday, 15 November in the studio for an introductory workshop to Miniature Painting of Persian and South Asian tradition, outlining the different traditional styles and schools, and contextualizing contemporary practices.

On view:

Moving Image
Works from the Permanent Collection
August 22, 2015 – August 20, 2016
Opening: RMG Fridays: 11 September, 7-10pm

Beyond Measure: Domesticating Distance
Surendra Lawoti, Tazeen Qayyum, Meera Margaret Singh, Asma Sultana and Abdullah M. I. Syed
September 5, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Opening: RMG Fridays: 11 September, 7-10pm

Programming:

Symposium
Beyond Measure: Domesticating Distance Symposium
Saturday 12 September, 11am-3pm

The symposium will include a tour of the exhibition with guest curator, Ambereen Siddiqui followed by a panel discussion with the participating artists; Surendra Lawoti, Tazeen Qayyum, Asma Sultana and Australia-based Abdullah M.I. Syed. This will be an occasion for viewers to ask questions about the process and multidisciplinary practices of each artist, as well as an opportunity for the artists to expand upon the layered and subtle meanings within the artworks.

A complimentary light lunch will be included. Space is limited. FREE! Register by Thursday 3 September at rmg.on.ca. Registration required.

Workshop

Miniature Painting: Art Workshop
with artist Tazeen Qayyum
Sunday, 15 November, 11am – 3:30pm

An introductory workshop to Miniature Painting of Persian and South Asian tradition, outlining the different traditional styles and schools, and contextualizing contemporary practices. The workshop includes an illustrated lecture, demonstrations of various techniques, including the making of qalam (brush). Participants work through a drawing assignment to reinforce a number of different techniques, including Siyah Qalam (drawing with a brush), the charba method of drawing (image transferring), creating a jidwal (traditional border), and preparing and adding rung (colour). All materials provided, but please bring your own lunch.

Space is limited and registration is required. $20 Members / $30 Non-Members

 

Above Image: Walden Pond/Mirror (detail): From the exchange between artists Surendra Lawoti and Meera Margaret Singh for their project “Of Light and Longing, 2014-2015.” Credit to Surendra Lawoti.

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

Conversation Pieces by Ramune Luminaire and Judith Mason

Since 2011 Ramune Luminaire and Judith A. Mason have been working on a series of collaborative drawings that explore experiences of relationship through mark-making.  Through a series of non-verbal exchanges, each artist takes their turn adding to what is on the paper. In time a composite image emerges; a visual dialogue of call and response.  The work organically grows into an art object, a visual text, saturated with traces of exchange, intuition, growth, development, collapse and re-development.

Extensions of this project have included staging the Conversation Pieces Café at Artspace in Peterborough, where artists were invited to work on several large collaborative pieces.  Luminaire & Mason see this as a potential model for building healthier personal and community relationships, a model requiring interdependence, not self-sufficiency.  Luminaire & Mason also facilitated workshops at RMG Culture Days in 2013 and 2014, inviting members of the pubic to converse on paper, co-creating mini-artworks in silence.

During the month of May Luminaire & Mason were the artists in residence in the RMG’s Art Lab. Their proposal was to create artwork in conversation with pieces from the gallery’s permanent collection. They selected works from the Go Figure exhibition. Below are extracts from the journal of their process.

Image above: Conversations #1 & 2, Ramune Luminaire & Judith A. Mason, mixed media on paper

Ramune: how do I have a conversation with an existing, completed, piece of work? By Morrisseau, an artist I love and admire?

Sacred Journey, Norval Morrisseau, 1977

Sacred Journey, Norval Morrisseau, 1977

 

Take my paper up to the gallery – blissfully silent, I am alone. Sit in front of the picture and meditate for 10 minutes, then open my eyes and just look at it for 10 minutes, breathing it in. My hand starts drawing a vessel, then I put in a shape familiar to me, the way I draw spirits in my journal. Two more figures and I realize I have drawn my mother, who died on Good Friday. The others in the boat are her (now dead) father and grandfather. I am drawing her journey into the afterlife. The bird is her totem animal, the snake a thing she feared. Decide to use Morrisseau’s colours and technique of framing each segment of the image in black paint. Makes me cry.

Nika’s Journey, Ramune Luminaire, 2105

Nika’s Journey, Ramune Luminaire, 2105

 

Judith:  Where to start?  Start with what is familiar.  Follow my hands, intuitions, thoughts – suspend judgement – no beginning, no end….. 

A. Y. Jackson, Indian Home (1927)

A. Y. Jackson, Indian Home (1927)

 

I once copied a drawing of  A.Y. Jackson’s – a pencil sketch of dog team.  What I remember about my drawing was my father’s excitement about how well I had copied it.  My father, a good place to start.  I chose Jackson’s Indian Home, (1927) as my first conversation. I use three sheets of paper – a triptych.  I begin by drawing a house, my Cape Breton summer home, not unlike the house in Jackson’s painting.  I remember the gentle rolling hills, the sea, the wind, Island storms – Island weather.   I draw the pond just below the house, the fire pit, the sound of the nearby poplars, the apple tree, the sharp needled hawthorn that supported my clothes line, the large maple trimmed to allow for the hydro line.  I draw from memory across three sheets of paper, bits and pieces, scattered here and there, without applying the proper rules of perspective.  My memory is scattered, it flints about, hardy landing before jumping to the next. 

Judith A. Mason, Response to A. Y. Jackson, pastel on paper 2015

Judith A. Mason, Response to A. Y. Jackson, pastel on paper 2015

I go back to Jackson.  I scan, then, study, his landscape.  I look at the colorful and shapely vegetation, the crudely painted pine trees, the clouds, the wind, the buildings, and finally the three figures standing outside their home. 

I mix up the order of my triptych.  Then, on top of my chalk pastel landscape I paint out areas in black, break the scape, make abstract what began as representation, create dead areas, deep space.

I look again at Jackson’s painting.  What is interesting here?  Can I honestly say, not “the Canadian landscape”?  That strange preoccupation has ever interested me. I am much more interested in the inner world – a place of relationships – the world of feelings, emotions, sensations, connection.  My eyes settle on the small figures caught in the all-encompassing landscape – is this a mother with her two children?

My eye is drawn to these three figures.  I draw them on two sheets of my disordered triptych, on the surface of my blacked out and coloured pastel abstract – immediately the abstracted landscape becomes a home and a family.  But who’s that lurking in the bushes, in the vegetation out front?  On the third sheet of paper I draw a window blind.

I begin a sketch of a section of the painting, getting to know all its relationships every curve, shape, form, mass.  My eyes fluctuate back and forth between the positive and negative.  I need to know both spaces in order to get this drawing right.  I need the dark and the light.

Judith Mason, Response to A.Y. Jackson2015, pastel and acrylic on paper

Judith Mason, Response to A.Y. Jackson2015, pastel and acrylic on paper

Ramune: I decide to work with Suzy Lake’s photographic piece because I really don’t like it, it makes me angry.

Impositions Maquette, Suzy Lake, 1978

Impositions Maquette, Suzy Lake, 1978

These photos are too calm, not enough struggle, she’s not really trying to get free. Even the graphite bindings Lake’s drawn on the prints look weak. You want to feel bound? I’ll show you how that looks. I make a gel medium transfer of one of Lake’s figures onto my page and scribble it solid. Her images are extended upward, mine becomes a column. A structure that’s preventing the women bound to it from moving forward. Nice girl trying to free herself. Even angrier, I keep working and my image becomes a frenzy of energy. If I draw myself free, can I extend the gesture to Lake?

Ramune Luminaire, Response to Suzy Lake, mixed media on paper, 2015

Ramune Luminaire, Response to Suzy Lake, mixed media on paper, 2015

Judith: I have been looking at both the Georgia O’Keefe photograph and the large blue painting of the young woman on the staircase.

Ramune: I find this portrait compelling.

Kevin Wolff, Shoes, 1995, acrylic on canvas

Kevin Wolff, Shoes, 1995, acrylic on canvas

It’s a portrait of an activist for people with disabilities. He’s wearing a built-up shoe. I just bought a pair of sandals to wear to a wedding with platforms that are almost identical, but I wear mine in an effort to look more beautiful. They are my first response to Wolff’s image – to draw my own leg in the wedding platform. I won’t work from a photo as I think it deadens the image. Why didn’t this artist just exhibit the photo? I’m never sure about the point of photo realism. One leg drawn, who else am I? A lot more than the woman in the debilitating girlie shoe… I find the boots I bought when I first went to art school. I wore them with a mini skirt because I thought that would make me look like a real artist. Then they became my sculpture studio boots. Now they’re my motor bike boots. The leg wearing them looks entirely different – more masculine. When I look at Wolff’s laces I realize he’s photographed his subject’s feet upside down. Why? Now I have to work from a photo, not the real thing. Feels so different, but I love who I am when I see the finished image. Wonder if Wolff’s portrait made his subject love himself more.

Ramune Luminaire’s feet, pastel on paper, 2015

Ramune Luminaire’s feet, pastel on paper, 2015

 

Judith: I find myself working with these two images simultaneously.

Shaun Downey (2013)   

Shaun Downey (2013) Large blue painting of a young girl descending the staircase at the Drake Hotel in Toronto.

Photograph of Georgia O’Keefe in her studio

Photograph of Georgia O’Keefe in her studio

I paint two paintings on the 3 ft X 3 ft canvases I brought into the studio.  Each of my paintings relate to one of these artworks.  A gift has been bestowed.  I step out of the way.

One painting is a modernist abstraction that I might call ‘a copy’ though it’s not a copy in the sense that I copied it. It’s a modernist looking painting.  And it is now that I realize there is an uncanny relationship between photography (the O’Keefe photograph) and modernist painting (the one I am painting).  It is a relationship between the flatness of the photographic image and the flatness of modernist abstraction painting.  I wonder if twentieth century modernist abstraction is the bastard child of design and photography?

I look at Georgia sitting in that seemly dark room accompanied by two large organic objects.  I want a make her and these two objects out of clay?  I begin to sculpt them.  There are obstacles.  I am looking at a two-dimensional photograph and sculpting a three-dimensional object.  There are missing bits of information; the object I am forming is not fully formed.  I remember Rodin’s Gates of Hell, I think about reliefs – as objects in the midst of transformation.  As Hannah Arendt suggests, as objects manifesting.

I look again at the photograph and decide to fold black paper back and forth like a fan. This gesture leads me to the image of an old fashioned camera – of her husband’s camera?  I decide to make an old-fashioned camera out of board, paper and masking tape.  I want to place the three sculptural forms inside the camera.  I want to place her inside the camera.   My whole life feels as if I am living inside a camera.  As a woman I live a life under constant scrutiny.  Even if no one is still watching, I am watching myself.

Make ten large old-fashioned cameras.   Set up the space inside each camera as an interior room in a house.  In each room place a woman with objects from her life. 

We are all living inside a camera.  Surveillance and Servitude.  A future exhibition.

Keep moving…..

The girl stands on the landing in the stairway casting a shadow on the wall.  I only notice the shadow after days of looking at the painting.  She looks like a cut out, a paper doll, a childhood activity I loved as a young girl.  On holidays, buying a book of paper dolls.  The delight of following the bold black lines with my scissors, first the dolls, then the clothes, each outfit complete with folding tabs. 

I go up to the exhibition and look at the painting again.  I am interested in the shadow.  I begin to paint the young woman with her shadow on my abstract ground.  Then a third figure appears, this one unclothed, raw and vulnerable. Then, I think about painting her out of her dress, leaving her dress suspended in air, having her standing naked beside it.  

The conversations stop, the residency is over.

Judith Mason, Three Dancers, acrylic 

Judith Mason, Three Dancers, acrylic

Judith Mason, Abstract O’Keefe, acrylic

Judith Mason, Abstract O’Keefe, acrylic

 

For more information:

www.ramuneluminaire.com

judithamason@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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!

The Curator’s View: Louis de Niverville visits the RMG

This blog post comes from the desk of Senior Curator, Linda Jansma.

To say that I was remiss in not taking a notebook and pencil along is an understatement.

Louis de Niverville looking at his work Madame Takes a Bath #1

Louis de Niverville looking at his work Madame Takes a Bath #1

The artist Louis de Niverville came to visit the RMG a couple of weeks ago with friends. Jason, our Preparator, and I had taken some time in the morning to open the vault racks and pull out solander boxes that housed some of his works on paper in order to make viewing the fourteen works from our collection as easy as possible. Louis was absolutely charming, examining each work like it was a long lost relative—and his memory was remarkable. We stood in front of Mother and Child, a painting of what I’d always thought of as an imposing woman holding a crying baby. I knew the child was a two-month old Louis and knew that he had painted the work from a 1933 photograph. I’d always assumed that the woman was quite stern as she sat so monumentally within the picture frame. Not at all. In fact, Louis’s mother was a gentle woman with many children who constantly worked to keep the family organized. Louis’ reminiscences made me re-think a painting I’ve known for many years.

Louis de Niverville  Mother and Child 1970

Louis de Niverville Mother and Child 1970
oil on canvas 183.1 x 91.5 cm Purchase, 1977

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louis recalled the technique he used for his multi-media works and let us know that the beautiful and delicate Untitled print from 1979 was the first print he’d ever produced and how he used a spray gun to develop his technique. There were other notes to add tohis files: Still Life with Abundance #2 was one of four large collage works representing the seasons, and Mother and Child from 1970 was the last oil on canvas painting that he completed; he also gave us more detailed comments on the medium he used forhis collage works. All of this information is not only useful for RMG staff, but also for researchers who come to access our collection.

Louis de Niverville Untitled 1979 lithograph on paper 46.1 x 55.0 cm Gift of Peter and Susan Swann, 1994

Louis de Niverville Untitled 1979
lithograph on paper
46.1 x 55.0 cm
Gift of Peter and Susan Swann, 1994

 

While Louis was incredibly grateful for the tour of his work, in reality, the pleasure was all ours. What a privilege to a have such a respected Canadian artist tour us through our collection of his work!

Louis de Niverville and Senior Curator Linda Jansma examine Sunset Farm #3

Louis de Niverville and Senior Curator Linda Jansma examine Sunset Farm #3