Interview with Pete Smith – The first Gallery A A.I.R.

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From December 1, 2014 to February 1, 2015, Gallery A will welcome its first Artist in Residence (A.I.R.) Pete Smith. The RMG caught up with Pete to discuss his upcoming residency and plan of work while at the RMG. Keep watching this space for updates on his project or visit the gallery! For more information about his project, visit

RMG: Hi Pete! Firstly, who are you? What is your work about?

PS: I am an artist, writer and educator who lives in Bowmanville. Primarily rooted in painting (and the discourse that surrounds it’s contemporary production), my work negotiates the intersection between the analogue and digital, the painterly and the graphic, the human and the post-human. In this sense, I consider my works metaphors for the overall digital presence in contemporary life.

RMG:  What inspired you to make work?

PS: My current interest in digital technology as a conduit for image making came through a course I was asked to teach at OCAD University. In this class, I was required to learn the Adobe Flash animation program. It ended up completely changing my art practice (and really my life, quite frankly.)


RMG: Why were you interested in the Gallery A residency at the RMG?

PS: I was approached about the program last winter, and it sounded like a lot of fun. As an educator and a parent, I’m pretty limited in terms of artist residency opportunities. Consequently, I’ve never done one before. The fact that it was at such an amazing public institution with such a rich history of supporting Canadian abstract painting made the opportunity even more exciting. It sounds kinda trite and cliché, but I really am just so happy to be here.


RMG:  What will you be doing during your residency? What do you hope to achieve?

PS: Hopefully a whole lot. Elizabeth Sweeney, (Manager of Public Programs and ArtReach), asked me to do something I hadn’t done before… So I’m definitely doing that here. The basic idea is that I will be remixing the RMG’s permanent collection of works by Jock Macdonald. Originally, my show was supposed to run in February concurrently with that exhibition. Things have changed a bit from that (it now opens in January), but there will still be some overlap with the Macdonald survey show. Linda Jansma and I will be giving our talks on same day.


RMG: Can you tell us a bit more about your Jock Macdonald re-mix video? What was the inspiration for it and how did you make it?

PS: The Jock Macdonald animation is called “JMDRP_2(Double Parker Mix)”. It was made in flash animation. The music is a mash-up I made of a Charlie Parker song. It’s two versions of the same song that have had their time signatures manipulated played over top of each other at the same time. All of the imagery that I make during my 9 week residency will be rooted in still imagery selected from this animation. JMDRP stands for Jock Macdonald Remix Project.


Video stills taken from: Copyright Pete Smith, 2014.

Pete Smith is an artist, critic and sometimes curator based in Southern Ontario. He has exhibited his work extensively since completing his BFA from York University in 1998 and his MFA from the University of Guelph in 2007. Recent solo exhibitions include: Blind Carbon Copy at P | M Gallery in Toronto (2012), New Drawings at Colorida Gallery in Lisbon (2012), Newspaper Drawings at Joan Ferneyhough Contemporary in North Bay, Ontario (2010) and Proverbs for Paranoids at Elissa Cristall Gallery in Vancouver (2009). Smith has given public presentations on the state of contemporary painting as well as on his own work at The University of Western Ontario (2009), OCAD University (2007), The University Art Association of Canada Conference (2007) and the University of the Fraser Valley (2008). His writings on art have appeared in Canadian Art and Border Crossings magazines. He has held teaching positions at The University of Guelph, The University of Western Ontario and The University of Toronto. Currently, he is a lecturer in the Drawing and Painting Department at OCAD University. Visit