In 1973, I first attended the Ottawa
[Ontario] Municipal Art Centre where I was much influenced by
Pat Durr, my life drawing teacher. I also took classes in oil
painting and sculpture. I followed this up by auditing an anatomy
class at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa. Personal
interest then took me to Amsterdam, where I took part in life-drawing
workshops and taught a class in life drawing.
On my return to Montreal in 1978, my
mother and her husband and I moved to Toronto, where I put to
use my degree in library science and worked as a librarian part-time.
This was a period of identify politics, with gay activism following
on the heels of feminism and the civil rights movement. Two artists
and I formed a collective called JAC and we "documented",
in our collaborative way, the goings on in the gay community,
be it beach scenes, picnics, dances, as well as ideas as AIDS,
relationships, sexual practices. We also ran a gay drawing workshop.
We showed widely in Toronto, once in Chicago, and were given
a Canada Council grant to exhibit in an Ottawa gallery and give
a demonstration of our method of working. JAC existed between
1980 and 1988.
By this time I had also begun to build
up my own body of work, in acrylic painting and wood sculpture
(really assemblages, sometimes painted). One big theme that caught
my imagination was the Old Testament story of the life and fall
of King Saul which I pursued in all media. And it was at this
time that I met my life partner, also an artist, and we had a
series of two-man shows (where I showed my King Saul work), at
Kozak Gallery in Toronto, and Sydenham Gallery north of Kingston,
where I installed, outdoors, a large sculpture and several large
paintings on galvanized steel distributed on a wooded slope leading
to the lake.
My partner was widely knowledgeable
about art and we travelled around the U.S. visiting museums.
Back in the studio one project that kept me busy for a while
was a commission by a man whose partner died of AIDS: he wanted
to commemorate him by a painting of a man on a swing. By the
time I finished the project he too had died. My attention then
shifted to what I saw around me in the studio: pots, an iron,
especially chairs. I used charcoal on large sheets
of paper for this work. Painting soon followed when a friend
brought me a stunning amaryllis which I painted many times, and
then turned to paint my collection of house plants. And I also
found life outside the studio when I began to cycle to the north
shore of Lake Ontario and paint everything around me on small
primed boards. Painting en plein air was exciting and rewarding.
Towards the end of the 1990s I shifted
my focus to family history. Two large shows came of this: one
of long painted and stamped banners and another of small and
medium sized drawings/watercolours with mixed media At this time
I also started my many rounds of chemotherapy until I had a stem
cell transplant in 2004 (thanks to brother Serge's stem cells).
My work shrank to smaller works on paper, and my interest shifted
to man and technology, using pen and ink with collaged images
pulled off the web. These works were shown in Gallery 1313, a
space run by an artists' collective (I joined in 1999). My second
in my pipeline series was shown there in June 2013, in one of
the smaller spaces.
Toronto, June 2014