Highlights

Tony Scherman
The Wealth of Nations, 1985
encaustic on canvas
overall: 152.4 x 198.12 cm
Gift of Jared Sable, 1997

Tony Scherman is a Toronto-based artist. Much of his work is figurative and references historical themes and subjects, including Napoleon, the French Revolution and the American Civil War. The Wealth of Nations (1985) is a disturbing, dreamlike portrait of a child crawling through a shadowy space. Painted in encaustic, the surface is thick and appears almost wet. The figure in this image is modeled after American photographer Eadweard Muybridge, best known for his photographically illustrated book Animal Locomotion (1887). This volume comprised 781 plates documenting isolated, serial movements of animals and people...

Alice Teichert (Canadian, French)
Footings, 1999-2000
acrylic on canvas
81 x 81 cm
Gift of Ken Carpenter, 2003

Canadian artist Alice Teichert is known for her abstract paintings and mixed-media works that explore the formal qualities and suggestive potential of language. Abandoning the signifying function of the written word, Teichert mines the enigmatic space between textual perception and interpretation. This vocabulary enters her work as glyph-like inscriptions and abstracted forms melded between layers of rich colour and pigmented glazes.

In Footings, Teichert employs her signature automatist technique: an intuitive method of mark-making that hovers between painting and writing. The work is characteristically illusionistic and...

Andy Fabo (Canadian, b. 1953)
Portrait of a Young Man with Zipper, 1981
acrylic on canvas with vinyl, metal studs, underwear and blue jeans
175 x 56 cm
Gift of Janusz Dukszta, 2003
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie

Portrait of a Young Man with Zipper (1981) is a mixed-media painting of a young, blond man. He stands, half-smiling, his torso presented to us, the viewers. He wears a pair of real blue jeans, slightly faded and softened through wear. His challenging stance invites us to choose whether to leave his top button and fly undone, revealing or concealing his leopard-print underwear beneath. Life-sized and presented in an aggressively vertical frame, he appears as much like a lover as he does an idealized self, mirrored...

David Craven (Canadian, 1946-2016)
Circulating Rumours, 1985
mixed media on canvas on plywood
213 x 221 cm
Gift of Ms. Barbara Stringer, 1998
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie

Canadian artist David Craven (1946-2016) is widely recognized for his energetic, distinctive painting practice that spanned a forty-year career. Circulating Rumours was made in the early 1980s, a period during which Craven moved away from abstraction and began to experiment with figuration and narrative elements. After moving to New York City from Toronto in 1980, Craven was deeply affected by the tension and commotion of urban life, which is reflected in these works. Much like in film stills, Craven’s characters are frozen in time, flinching and...

Edward Burtynsky (Canadian, b. 1955)
Vermont Marble Company #5, Abandoned Granite Section, Rochester, Vermont, 1991
chromogenic colour print, AP1
102 x 127 cm
Gift of the artist, 2002
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie

One of Canada’s most celebrated photographers, Edward Burtynsky was born in St. Catharines, Ontario in 1955. He holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Photography from Ryerson University, and studied Graphic Art at Niagara College in Welland. Burtynsky has achieved worldwide recognition for his large-scale photographs that explore the environmental and social impacts of industrial production around the world. In 2006, he was the subject of the award-winning documentary film Manufactured Landscapes. Burtynsky...

John Gould
Untitled, n.d.
MacLaren Art Centre Permanent Collection

This untitled, undated portrait by John Gould captures some of the drama and romanticism that this accomplished draughtsman was known for: half of the subject’s face is in shadow, thick and precise cross-hatching obscuring any identifying details on the left-hand side of their face. The face is androgynous, and the ambiguity of its presentation prevents any easy identification. The remaining details—the subject’s shirt, the background—are left either blank or loosely sketched in, the coloured paper adding rich tone in the absence of any marks. What this portrait suggests, it suggests in innuendo. Typical of Gould’s work of the 1980s and 1990s, this portrait captures the...

Geoffrey James
The Studio (1,2,3,8), 1994
Gelatin silver prints
Gift of Alan and Alison Schwartz, 1998

In the fall of 1994, writer Georges Bogardi and photographer Geoffrey James profiled Betty Goodwin’s studio practice for Canadian Art magazine. Geoffrey James’ The Studio 1, 2, 3 and 8 result from this collaboration, functioning both as illustration and standalone works. The feature story highlights Goodwin’s restless search for meaning and the ways in which her studio was a site of endless experimentation, refinement and revision. Bogardi remarks, “in the studio, Goodwin is an indefatigable worrier who “burrows”—her favourite expression—into the material till the result is right...

Joseph Hartman (Canadian b.1978)
Shed with Hand Prints, Collins, ON, 2010
chromogenic print, ed. 1/9
101.6 x 127 cm
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre
Gift of the artist, 2012

Born in Barrie Ontario in 1978, Joseph Hartman received an MA in kinesiology and gained entrance to medical school before deciding to become a photographer. Largely self-taught, he also apprenticed under Edward Burtynsky for four years, from 2005 to 2009.

Shed with Hand Prints, Collins, ON is part of the series Return, in which Hartman revisits and documents sites from his early childhood to determine whether his memories reflect what he finds there today. This takes him to Heron Bay and Collins, Indigenous communities in Ontario’s north....

David Urban (Canadian, b. 1966)
Untitled 91 #3, 1991
oil on canvas
164 x 122 cm
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre
Gift of Claude Laberge, 2003

David Urban is an accomplished Toronto painter known for his large-scale abstract paintings that combine linear connectivity with rhythmical structure. Untitled 91 #3 is an early canvas, painted in 1991 by Urban prior to receiving his MFA at the age of 25. Uncluttered, it invites the viewer’s eye to run freely through a field of organic shapes floating amongst blue and red accents. Like much of Urban’s work, the painting references childhood and the primacy of the imagination, as well as the experience of being downtown and the impersonal character of city culture. While the colouration in this...

Seding, Volker (German-Canadian, 1943-2007)
Oranges, 1976
hand-tinted gelatin silver print
overall: 26.7 x 39.4 cm
Gift of Lynn and Stephen Smart, 2000

Oranges is a hand-tinted gelatin silver print depicting an overflowing basket of oranges. An early artwork by cinematographer-turned-photographer Volker Seding, this piece speaks to Dutch still life and advertising photography while highlighting the artificiality of the photographic medium. Seding has shaded the eponymous oranges in varying tones of orange and the basket a faint yellow, giving both a visual weight that the remainder of the scene lacks. This is partially an artefact of the artist’s process—hand-tinted photographs are often lightly underexposed—but this...

Dora de Pédery-Hunt (Hungarian-Canadian, 1913-2008)
Portrait of Shimano, 1961
Bronze
13 x 25 x 10 cm
Gift of the artist, 2001. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre

Dora de Pédery-Hunt was an internationally known sculptor and medallion designer. Born in Hungary in 1913, she fled her home country during the Second World War and immigrated to Canada. By 1948 she had settled in Toronto, where she honed her artistic practice in a variety of media including clay, wood, bronze and plastic.

Portrait of Shimano demonstrates de Pédery-Hunt’s expert ability to render the human face. Elegant and understated, the portrait’s skewed features and a solemn gaze imbue it with a strong sense of mystery. In addition to impeccable...

Stu Oxley (Canadian, b. 1950)
Untitled, 1998
Drawing on paper
Frame: 68.7 x 70.5 cm; support: 45.4 x 46.9 cm
Gift of the artist, 1999. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre

Stu Oxley is a highly regard printmaker and painter and central to Oxley’s practice is drawing. As the artist notes, “Drawing, for me, is an expression of a moment… In my studio I'll make a mark, and the relationship between one mark and another mark is important, and that's not specific to the marks themselves, but it’s the relationship that I arrive at between the marks.” In this drawing, Oxley presents a simple but compelling image. Evocative of sunlight burning through fog, a gradated black and gray ether refuses to allow a birdlike form resolve...

Duane Linklater (Canadian, b. 1976)
Tautology, 2011-2013
neon, wall-mounted box, 184.5 x 184.5 cm.
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre.
Purchased with the support of the York Wilson Endowment Award, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, 2014.

Duane Linklater is Omaskêko Cree from Moose Cree First Nation on James Bay. Winner of the 2013 Sobey Art Award, Canada’s pre-eminent award for contemporary art, Linklater has participated in exhibitions across North America. He currently resides in North Bay, Ontario.

Tautology (2011-2013) is from a suite of five neon sculptures depicting the thunderbird, a legendary creature in various North American Indigenous cultures. Linklater appropriated this specific...

Jane Ash Poitras
Caribou Heaven, 2000
mixed media on canvas
91.4 x 121.9 cm
Gift of Reginald Bennett, 2001

It was only in early adulthood that Jane Ash Poitras began to investigate her Cree heritage. Born in the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta in 1951, at age six Poitras lost her mother to tuberculosis and was placed in the foster care system. She soon found a permanent home with an elderly German-Canadian widow, who integrated her into Edmonton’s public school and Catholic Church communities. Poitras went on to attend the University of Alberta, where she earned a B.Sc. in microbiology and a BFA in printmaking. These were followed by a MFA in Printmaking from Columbia University in New York City.

The painting montage ...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Artwork of the Month, David Bolduc, Rodchenko

David Bolduc (Canadian, 1945-2010)
Rodchenko, 1998
watercolour and graphite on paper
overall: 76 x 56 cm; sight: 46.5 x 35.5 cm
Gift of Ethan Bolduc, 2003

David Bolduc was one of Canada’s foremost abstract painters, deeply invested in the Canadian cultural scene. Born in Toronto, Bolduc studied at the Ontario College of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts School in Montreal. In Montreal, he was featured in his first solo exhibition at the Elysée Theatre in 1966. Bolduc moved back to Toronto the same year, a city that would remain an anchor for him as he spent years travelling the world, living for periods of time in Mexico, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India and China, amongst other places. Closer to home, Bolduc was also acutely...

Tim Zuck (American-Canadian, b. 1947)
Flying Loon (#13), 1981
oil on canvas
61 x 61 cm
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of Ms. Barbara Stringer, 1997

Striking and graceful, the loon is a familiar inhabitant of lakes across Canada. Its distinct call is often associated with the beauty and solitude of northern wilderness. Every October, the loon can be seen migrating from northern regions to areas of open water father south.

Flying Loon is an oil painting by leading regional artist Tim Zuck. Completed in 1981, it depicts the elegant bird suspended in movement above a placid body of water. In the act of being witnessed, the loon acquires a mysterious narrative role. Silhouetted and devoid of detail, there are no clues as to...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Artwork of the Month, David Sorensen

David Sorensen (Canadian, 1937-2011)
Passage for V, 1990-1993
Oil on canvas
Diptych, 195.58 x 304.8 cm
Gift of Richard Corso, 2003

David Sorensen was a Montreal based artist, known for his bright colour palette. Born in Vancouver in 1937, he began attending the School of Architecture in Vancouver in 1958, where he studied under renowned architect Arthur Erickson. From 1960 to 1964, he attended the Vancouver School of Art, studying under painter Jack Shadbolt, who would become his lifelong mentor. After graduating he went on to study bronze casting in Mexico, a country he would visit and exhibit in frequently. He settled in Montreal in 1966.  He taught at the Saidye Bronfman Centre and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, retiring from the Fine Arts...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Art of the Month, Frances Thomas

Frances Thomas
August Heat
Acrylic on wood panel
91.5 x 91.5 cm
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre, 2010
Purchased with the support of the Canadian Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance program and a bequest from John Reesor.

Frances Thomas is a respected regional artist known for her distinctive abstract paintings and prints. In August Heat, Thomas combines gestural forms with a bright palette to evoke a sense of time, temperature and emotion.

The piece, which alludes to traditions of modernist painting, was a response to the extremely hot weather at the time of its making. Thomas’s bold strokes and layered composition portray a simple moment of clarity through a haze. Her mark making extends the...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Artwork of the Month, July 2015

Belokopvtov
Third Year Students of Moscow Regional School of Physical Culture; Rimma Rodomtseva & Vladimir Afonin
gelatin silver print
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. 

In honour of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games in Toronto, the MacLaren Art Centre is featuring works from our Sovfoto Archive in an online exhibition. The Sovfoto Archive comprises over 23,000 vintage photographs documenting life in Soviet Russia between the years 1930 and 1959, and includes many photographs highlighting Soviet physical culture. As evidenced by this photograph, the Soviet government emphasized physical fitness within sport, work & liesure. The ideal Soviet Man and Woman would embody these qualities which in turn would reflect the...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Artwork of the Month, Francis Kagige

Francis Kagige (Canadian, 1929-2014)
Moose, 1977
silkscreen on board
60 x 75 cm (24 x 30 in)
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of Beverley and Boris Zerafa, 2003

Born on the Wikwemikong Reservation on Manitoulin Island, Francis Kagige was a self-taught Ojibwe artist best known for his distinctive pictographic painting style. A contemporary of Norval Morrisseau, Kagige subscribed to the Woodland School, a style of painting and printmaking characterized by vibrant, contrasting colours and bold, flowing contours. Kagige’s artworks, like those of Morrisseau, represent various facets of indigenous cultures including spirituality, the interconnection between all living things and the importance of family.

In this original silkscreen...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Permanent Collection, Lucius O'Brien, Doon

When Lucius O’Brien painted Doon, Ontario, 124 years ago in 1891, he could not have anticipated the ways in which light, fluctuations of temperature and humidity, atmospheric pollutants and a backing board of unpurified woodpulp would deteriorate this intimate work over time. Nineteenth century watercolours are notoriously delicate, and this one was no different. Stained and yellowing, paint loss in key areas of the image and mounted poorly, Doon, Ontario and eight other works by O’Brien require major work from a specialist conservator to stabilize them for exhibition and to preserve them for future generations. In the summer of 2014, MacLaren curators selected Doon to be the first of O’Brien’s work for treatment. Over the course of...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Artwork of the Month, Mark Ruwedel

May's Artwork of the Month is presented in celebration of Earth Day 2015

Mark Ruwedel (b. 1954)
Michael Heizer: Double Negative, 1969-1970, from Earthworks Portfolio, 1996
gelatin silver print, ed. 4/12
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre, 2002

Mark Ruwedel (BFA, Kutztown State College, Pennsylvania and MFA, Concordia) is a prominent Canadian photographer based in British Columbia and Los Angeles. His interest in photography was piqued during his formal studies, and he quickly turned his attention from painting to the large-format camera during his undergraduate years. His work is in numerous public collections, including the Tate Modern in London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Artwork of the Month, Charles Meanwell

Charles Meanwell (Canadian, b. 1946)
Gravel Swirl, Nanisivik, 1991
oil on board
60 x 80 cm
Anonymous gift, 1997

Charles Meanwell is a Hamilton, Ontario-based painter known for his muted palette and pared-down compositions. He finds visual intrigue in humble subjects and in the accidental arrangements of forms he encounters in his surroundings. His landscapes—based on keen observation and usually painted en plein air—are subtle, poignant portraits of specific places.

Meanwell painted Gravel Swirl, Nanisivik after a trip to Baffin Island in June of 1991. He was enraptured by the arctic landscape’s undulating vastness and the primordial pull of the continuous summertime daylight. As the artist notes: “The...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Renée Van Halm, Artwork of the Month

Renée Van Halm (Dutch-Canadian, b. 1949)
Reconstructions: The Past, 1986
oil on panel
sight: 62.23 x 101.6 cm
Gift of Alison and Alan Schwartz, 1997

Renée Van Halm’s Reconstruction: The Past (1986) weds two of Van Halm’s enduring concerns: Renaissance art history and modernist space. In this work, two painted panels are framed together and share a common chestnut foreground. The first panel depicts a modernist building with the cantilevered roof and bold linear elements that are typical of the design of that period. The building sits in a grey rectangle, sitting atop the image plane like a photograph. A ribbon flutters across the sky behind it, evoking the decorative flourishes discarded by minimalist architects. In the second...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Art of the Month, Ron Shuebrook

Ron Shuebrook (Canadian, b. 1943)
Untitled, 2000
charcoal on paper
76 x 56.5 cm
Gift of the artist, 2003

Building on the legacy of twentieth-century Modernism, Ron Shuebrook combines the conscious analysis of space with an intuitive expression of line. Though best known for his large-scale abstract paintings, Shuebrook’s drawings are of equal note, featuring carefully orchestrated geometric forms and curvilinear configurations. Untitled (2000), from the MacLaren’s Permanent Collection, is characteristic of his abstract drawings; though non-representational, its stark contours and architectural forms conjure a map of an imaginary wintry space.

Shuebrook makes drawings not only by marking but by erasing. Strokes of charcoal shimmer across the...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Art of the Month, Doris McCarthy

Doris McCarthy (Canadian, 1910-2010)
Rock Movement #4, 1969
oil on canvas
overall: 122 x 151.5 cm
Gift of the artist, 2003

In the late 1910s and early 1920s, when her future mentors J.E.H. MacDonald and Arthur Lismer were making yearly treks up to Georgian Bay to paint, Doris McCarthy was growing up in the Beaches neighbourhood along the shorelines of Lake Ontario. A precocious young woman with an abiding interest in the natural world as well as fine art, she was taking part-time classes at the Ontario College of Art by fifteen. At sixteen McCarthy was awarded a scholarship to study there full-time. Her years in college were charmed ones, and the inspiration of the Group of Seven on her artistic practice was enduring.

Rock Movement #4...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Marlene Hilton Moore, Bound Hand

Marlene Hilton-Moore
Bound Hand, 1990
charcoal and conté on paper
100 x 70 cm
Gift of the artist, 1995

Marlene Hilton Moore is a regional artist best known for her work in the arena of public art and monuments. Winner of the 2014 Barrie Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts, Hilton Moore also produces smaller-scale works in sculpture, photography, drawing and various other media. Generally, her practice draws on themes of spirituality and nature through experimental investigations of the human form.  She lives in Hillsburgh, Ontario.

Bound Hand (1990) is part of a larger body of work called the Bound Series, which consists of charcoal and conté studies of various body parts including the hand, foot and leg. In this...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Sir George Scharf, Artwork of the Month

Sir George Scharf (British, 1820 - 1895)
Shipping Moonlight, n.d.
Oil on board
1989.1.7
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre

Sir George Scharf was a British art critic, historian and director of the National Portrait Gallery in London. His father, George Johann Scharf, was an illustrator, lithographer and painter most famous for illustrating some of Charles Darwin’s works before falling out with the famous naturalist later in his life. While Sir George Scharf is best known for his leadership of the National Gallery and his role in promoting British Art, he too had a parallel career as an artist. Shipping Moonlight is a moody oil painting on board, fairly conservative in its composition and presented in a salon-style frame. There is...

John Scott, "Untitled," 1995, mixed media on paper 60.5 x 90.5 cm

John Scott (Canadian, b. 1950)
Untitled, 1995
mixed media on paper
60.5 x 90.5 cm
Gift of Lynn and Stephen Smart, 2002
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre

John Scott is best known for marrying a childlike visual vocabulary with biting political, historical and personal commentary. Untitled (1995) is typical of his works on paper of this period: raw and angry, populated with his characteristic bunny figure and annotated with random numerology. Its dark energy is matched with a total lack of preciousness, reinforced by the presence of dusty bootmarks in the iconic Doc Marten tread—an artefact of his studio process during this troubled period, when works were often discarded on the floor before the artist returned to complete them...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Art of the Month, Margaret Priest

Margaret Priest (Canadian, b. 1944)
Workers Monument Suite - Aluminium Conduit, 1994
etching on paper, P.P. ed. of 7
overall: 49.5 x 49.5 cm
Gift of Stu Oxley, 2000
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre

Towering over Toronto’s Cloud Gardens Conservatory is Margaret Priest’s Monument to Construction Workers, a distinctive landmark in the city’s bustling financial district. The vertiginous, glimmering structure consists of a grid of oxidized steel members filled in with abstract square panels, some of which represent skilled trades in the construction industry. Ranging from carpentry to glazing to concrete, Priest portrays the trades in what she refers to as an “architectural quilt”.

As part of her...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Art of the Month, Max Alpert

Max Alpert (Russian, 1899-1980)
Sun Terrace of Artek Pioneer Camp, July 1951
gelatin silver print
Anonymous gift, 2001

Three boys lounge indolently on wicker chairs while another stands behind, resting his hand on the back of his companion’s chair. The boys, ostensibly in conversation, are arranged in a loose semicircle open to photographer Max Alpert. They and two others behind are all situated on a gravelled walk, its white railings and beach view recalling the better known Promenades des Anglais at Nice. All are campers at Artek, the pre-eminent summer camp for Soviet youth.

Alpert, a combat veteran from World War I and an embedded photojournalist in World War II, took these photographs on assignment for Soviet press agency Novosti. The...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Art of the Month, William Ronald

William Ronald
Henry Moore’s Garden, 1994
Oil on canvas
91.4 x 91.4 cm
Gift of Brian and Susan Lahey, 2000
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre

Internationally recognized as one of Canada’s most influential artists, William Ronald is revered as a cultural icon and forerunner of Canadian modernism. While his extensive career encompasses a diversity of stylistic changes, he is perhaps best known for his central image paintings: expressionistic abstract works that contain bold, central vortexes of colour exploding out to the edge of the canvas. Henry Moore’s Garden, highlighted this month in honour of the MacLaren’s Etrog/Moore exhibition opening July 10, is an excellent example of Ronald...

Guy Montpetit, À La Recherche du Temps Perdu, 1992, acrylic on parchment paper o

Guy Montpetit (Canadian, b. 1938)
À La Recherche du Temps Perdu, 1992
acrylic on parchment paper on board
overall: 79.6 x 121 cm
Gift of Richard Corso, 2003

Guy Montpetit borrows his title from Marcel Proust’s À La Recherche du Temps Perdu (translated to English, variously, as In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past) for this organic and gestural painting. In it, white parenthetical arms embrace two red orbs, which hover in pink space like twins in utero. The pastel palette, green accents and biomorphic forms suggest the saturated and feverish countryside described by Proust’s narrator while maintaining ambiguous and lively psychosexual motifs. Of this work, Montpetit notes “This lyrical series is an...

Shirley Wiitasalo, Collection, 1984, Oil on canvas

Shirley Wiitasalo
Collection, 1984
Oil on canvas
122 x 183 cm
Gift of Gluskin, Sheff and Associates Incorporated, 1999
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre

Toronto-based artist Shirley Wiitasalo is well known for her abstract and figurative paintings that combine complex imagery with billowing, illusionistic space. Her work questions the relationships between image and subjectivity, figure and ground, and the real and the imaginary. While remaining loyal to the traditional medium of painting, Wiitasalo embraces an uninhibited vocabulary and an intuitive, experimental approach to mark making. While more recent work focuses on abstraction and the physicality of the painted surface, her early work contains elusive figurative elements that emerge from...

At the Barber's, San Cristobal Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, 1987/1991, chromogeni

At the Barber's, San Cristobal Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, 1987/1991
chromogenic print
overall: 48 x 48 cm
Gift of the artist, 2003

Rafael Goldchain’s Nostalgia for an Unknown Land was the book and exhibition project marking the end of an exploration into Goldchain’s roots in Chile and Latin America. At the Barber's, San Cristobal Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, is a characteristic image from the series, an environmental portrait in reverse that uses the barbershop mirrors to foreground the decorative wall of the room and place its four male subjects in the background. By doing so, Goldchain asks the viewer to consider the ways in which the figures in the scene contribute meaning to their setting, rather than the ways in which the...

Rita Letendre  Untitled (A Dream), 1969 acrylic on canvas 153 x 204 cm Gift of B

Rita Letendre
Untitled (A Dream), 1969
acrylic on canvas
153 x 204 cm
Gift of Beverley Zerafa and Boris Zerafa, 2002

Rita Letendre is a distinguished Canadian painter and printmaker known for her independent spirit and intensely personal artistic vision. Letendre’s painting style evolved continuously throughout her long career, but dominant themes of light, energy and a strong focus on expressiveness have always been palpable. Her signature use of intense colours activates her paintings in space, taking them beyond the two-dimensionality of the canvas and offering a participatory experience for viewers.

In Letendre’s Untitled (Dream), a set of diagonal rays of hard-edge yellow and orange emanate from the bottom left corner, divided...

17129: Anonymous photographer, Wayland Rudd in his election section, gelatin sil

The MacLaren Art Centre is home to the Sovfoto Archive, 23,116 vintage silver gelatin prints of the Soviet Union from the 1936 to 1957. A working press archive, this collection is organized by topics considered newsworthy at the time. In honour of Black History Month we present Binder 172, sequenced as it was at the New York offices of Sovfoto in the mid-1950s. Titled, simply, “Blacks” this binder contains twelve photographs representing the lived experience of some 400,000 black Soviet citizens.

From the 1920s onwards, the Soviet government actively promoted itself as a place where racism had no foothold. Prominent African-American artists like Langston Hughes and Paul Robeson visited the USSR to see for themselves the utopian society that Soviet propaganda...

Walter Bachinski Love Song, 1993 pastel on paper sight: 203.2 x 325.12 cm Gift o

Walter Bachinski
Love Song, 1993
pastel on paper
sight: 203.2 x 325.12 cm
Gift of the artist, 1998

Walter Bachinski’s triptych Love Song is, at first glance, deceptively flat. The one-legged artist’s easel in the middle, the flower-bearing table in the left, and the red silhouette of a half-sketched Pan in the right panel: all are relentlessly two-dimensional, defying shading and linear perspective. There are, however, hints of dimensionality. The towel-wearing woman and the artist both have a volume and presence that their backgrounds lack; they are both subjects that do not take to their setting comfortably.

This conflict is reinforced by the vivid palette, with glowing red outer panels flanking the dark and cool interior scene...

John Massey, Twilight's Last Gleaming #1, 1987-88

John Massey
Twilight's Last Gleaming #1, 1987-88
photo object on paper, ed. 1/1
68.5 x 78.5 cm
Gift of Alison and Alan Schwartz, 1999

John Massey is a senior Canadian artist known internationally for his prolific career in photography, sculpture, video and mixed-media installation. His work explores the psychological dimensions of interior spaces and the parallels between a person’s subjectivity and the enclosures of a particular space.

As an artist born in the mid-20th century, Massey claims to have inherited modernist space: the perfect, white enclosures of contemporary galleries and the pure, sparse aesthetics of minimalism. These influences ring clear in the cold, modern interior of Twilight’s Last Gleaming #1, which is at...

Takao Tanabe

Takao Tanabe (Canadian, b. 1926)
Pines and Hills, 1960
Sumi ink on paper on masonite
56 x 83.5 cm
Gift of Professor and Mrs. Otto Weininger, 2002

Pines and Hills (1960) represented a stylistic departure for Takao Tanabe, made at a key moment in Tanabe’s life. Born in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, in 1926 and moving to Vancouver at 11, he was exposed at an early age to the vivid coastal landscapes of western Canada that would dominate his work throughout his life. Interned during World War II, he was relocated to a settlement in Hastings Park, and later to the Lemon Creek internment camp in the Kootenays of southeastern British Columbia. He had yet to complete high school at the time of his internment and soon lost interest in his...

Will Gorlitz, Still Life and Portrait, 1984

Will Gorlitz
Landscape, Still Life and Portrait, 1984
oil on canvas
91 x 274 cm
Gift of Ms. Barbara Stringer, 1998
[1998.1.7]

Will Gorlitz is a prominent Canadian artist based in Guelph, Ontario, who has been active in the arts for over three decades. Gorlitz is well known for his figurative paintings that critically engage with issues of representation and interpretation. In this particular work, Gorlitz mines the territories of landscape, still life and portrait painting—three genres that historically played a major role in the canon of Western art.

The landscape genre was particularly significant in the development of Canadian painting, from the maps of the first explorers to the canvases of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. In...

Tony Urquhart (Canadian, born 1934)
French Road Piece IV
oil and mixed media on plywood, 1994–1995
Permanent Collection MacLarenArtCentre
Gift of the Artist, 2003

Tony Urquhart gained recognition early in his career as an abstract painter, exhibiting at the renowned Isaacs Gallery in Toronto when he was only twenty-two years old. He also exhibited with the influential London, Ontario artists of the 1960s that included Jack Chambers, Greg Curnoe and Murray Favro. His practice of “boxing”, as he terms it, began in 1965. These mixed-media works assembled from wood and found objects manifest his fascination with landscape, especially as it is cultivated, built and inhabited. Inspired by extensive travels through France and Ireland and...

MacLaren Art Online at the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie

Joseph Drapell
Hudson’s Bay, 1995
acrylic on canvas
193 x 183 cm
Gift of Chantal Laberge, 2003

This large canvas by leading Canadian artist Joseph Drapell invites the viewer to consider how it was made. The central element, a single circular sweep of colour, evokes the iris and pupil of an eye; the drama of its scale, composition and palette also calls to mind a majestic fan of plumage, or a bird’s eye view of a desert volcano. The wavy strips of blue at the outermost edges of the yellow ground destabilize its otherwise centrifugal composition, giving the work a mirage-like quality. The terminus of the circle doesn’t meet its origin, however; instead a pool of paint trails off the edge of the picture plane, an index of the mechanism...

MacLaren Artwork of the Month, Jane Ash Poitras, Permanent Collection, Barrie ON
This month's highlighted work is in celebration of National Aboriginal Day on June 21st.
 
It was only in early adulthood that Jane Ash Poitras began to investigate her Cree heritage. Born in the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta in 1951, at age six Poitras lost her mother to tuberculosis and was placed in the foster care system. She soon found a permanent home with an elderly German-Canadian widow, who integrated her into Edmonton’s public school and Catholic Church communities. Poitras went on to attend the University of Alberta, where she earned a B.Sc. in microbiology and a BFA in printmaking. These were followed by a MFA in Printmaking from Columbia University in New York City. 
 
The painting...
Julius Griffith, Stairway at the Met, 1975, watercolour on paper, 79.5 x 58.0

Julius Griffith
Stairway at the Met, 1975
watercolour on paper
79.5 x 58.0 cm      
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre
Gift of Rachile Griffith, 2001

Stairway at the Met by Julius Griffith features an iconic view recognizable to all who have visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This work from the MacLaren’s Permanent Collection was selected this month in support of International Museum Day on May 18th. The largest art museum in the United States and one of the most visited in the world, the Met’s permanent collection comprises more than two million artworks divided across seventeen curatorial departments. Its Great Hall and Grand Stairway, as seen in this watercolour, were...

MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario, Art of the Month, Doris McCarthy

Doris McCarthy
Untitled, 1969
acrylic on canvas
123.2 x 152.4 cm
Gift of the artist, 2003

Doris McCarthy produced over 7,000 works over the course of her seventy-year career as an artist. To the exclusion of virtually all else, landscape was her constant source of inspiration. In the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, McCarthy depicted the landscape in a primarily representational mode reflective of her study with members of the Group of Seven. In the 1960s and ’70s, this approach gave way to experimentations in hard-edge abstraction.  The subjects that compelled her, however, remained unchanged.

This particular work is unique in the degree of ambiguity in its relationship to landscape. Clear points of reference to horizon, islands, rocks,...

Phil Richards, Grand Illusion, Artwork of the Month, MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie

Phil Richards
Grand Illusion, 1985-87
mixed media
18-part installation work; dimensions variable
Collection of the MacLarenArtCentre        
Gift of Jennifer and Phil Richards, 2004

Grand Illusion by leading Canadian artist Phil Richards is a large-scale, multi-part installation work that uses kites, kite-flyers and awed spectators to express the artist’s fascination with the experience of flight. Originally created as a commission for the Yonge and Dundas Street atrium of Toronto’s Eaton Centre shopping mall, Grand Illusion quickly became a downtown icon. Its Chinese, Japanese, Balinese and Maori kites, many based on traditional designs, became emblematic of the energy and...

Artwork of the Month, Arnaud Maggs, Scrapbook (1), MacLaren Art Centre

Arnaud Maggs
Scrapbook (1), 2009
chromogenic print, edition 1/5
48.5 x 67.5 cm
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre
Purchased with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance program and a bequest from John Reesor.

Scrapbook is a four-part photographic work by award-winning Canadian photographer Arnaud Maggs (1927 to 2012). These four pages were selected from an unfinished scrapbook begun by Maggs in 1975 at the outset of his career as a fine artist, and photographed by him thirty-six years later. They represent his most personal body of work.

Arnaud Maggs was born in Montreal in 1926. His life as a fine artist began in the mid-1970s after many successful years of work in graphic design and commercial...

Artwork of the Month, Christopher Pratt, Victoria Regina, MacLaren Art Centre

Christopher Pratt
Victoria Regina, 1971
serigraph on paper, artist's proof
77.3 x 57.1 cm
Gift of Mira Godard, 1999

This single-colour serigraph is based on a 6¢ Newfoundland stamp released at intervals between 1868 and 1875 featuring a portrait of Queen Victoria.

Portraits of Queen Victoria appeared on hundreds of different stamps issued across the Commonwealth throughout her sixty-four-year reign. The stamp design that Pratt references in this serigraph features a portrait of Queen Victoria dressed in "widow's weeds". This was at the Queen's own insistence − her husband Albert had died of typhoid fever in 1861, and she wore mourning clothes every day thereafter until her own death forty years later in 1901....

The MacLaren Art Centre's Spirit Catcher at the Barrie, Ontario waterfront
The care of artworks in our Permanent Collection is a high priority. We are indebted to PowerStream for making it possible to undertake the annual inspection of the Spirit Catcher (1986), Ron Baird’s public sculpture installed at the foot of Maple Street and the most well-known work in the MacLaren’s collection. The conservation, the inspired growth and the astute management of our collection are at the top of our goals for the next decade.

September update: Repairs to the Spirit Catcher

Every year, the MacLaren undertakes a routine maintenance and review of the Spirit Catcher. In June 2016, the technicians noted that several of the ball bearings, now thirty years old, were in need of replacement. On the advice of the technicians, we fenced off the sculpture as a precautionary measure. The MacLaren brought on mechanical engineers from CC Tatham, who completed an on-site review of the structure in July. Their report noted that three quills required new ball bearings, and recommended undertaking non-destructive safety testing on the internal assembly to ensure that the Spirit Catcher remained safe. The report identified other issues—including...

Photo from the Sovfoto Archive

In 2001 the MacLarenArtCentre became the recipient of the Sovfoto Archive, an extraordinary archive comprising 23,116 vintage Soviet press photographs. This archive contains the most comprehensive photographic portrayal of the Stalinist USSR that exists outside of the state archives in Moscow. The Sovfoto Archive consists of two distinct halves: World War II and Militaria (approximately 10,000 photographs) and Images from Daily Life (approximately 13,000 photographs) organized into 52 categories and 162 sub-categories. Covering a wide range of areas from Soviet society, these state-sanctioned photographs tell the official story of the Soviet Union from 1930 to 1959. Republics and nationalities, economy, industry and agriculture, politics, the sciences and the arts,...