Saturday, August 6, 2011

Further Comment on the Censorship Issue

I asked Bruce Stewart to take a look at my postings about censorship of his art and asked for his comments. Here's his response:

I feel that in this situation everyone involved did their work well.

I made a piece that provoked, challenged and was truly hot button. This on the heels or Norway and Australia.

A certain individual was concerned enough to call the police. They checked me out and determined that I was not a threat - nor was my object of art. There were no threats, bullying or censorship issues on their part, none at all. Frankly, I can sleep better knowing that someone actually cares enough to watch all our backs.

The only reason it was not in the show was because I pulled it.

Why: because if anyone at that opening had called the police concerning the thing - a Tac. Unit and the Bomb Squad would have turned up. These are not gentle people.

The Gallery and the block it is situated on would have been evacuated, and very possibly a water cannon would have been brought into play to disarm the device. IN the gallery.

So considering that,  I would of course pull the thing.  I am not going to jeopardize The Gallery, The Art in it or the people attending the opening, for the sake of one bit of my work.

That is the end of the story.

Update on Censorship Issue

I may have jumped the gun in as much as Bruce Stewart says that the entire situation was handled with calmness and diplomacy by the police and that it was his choice to not show the work that was a replica of a bomb. Seeing as how it might have hung next to his painting of a prosthetic leg, this would have been a double-whammy or at the very least, point-counterpoint.

And no matter how reasonable the police were, it still begs the question, who should censor what appears in an art gallery or what is delivered by a slam-poet or what we watch in the privacy of our own homes?

And when we, as artists, feel compelled to self-censor, what does this mean for the integrity of art?

War - Experiment

War. This exhibition is very much an experiment. Let me explain.... I am an artist. I have been painting for 18 years. As an artist I have visited many galleries in the past 20 years. I have been rather bored with pretty flowers and happy colour paintings. To say I am bored is an understatement.

As an artist, I am only showing one painting in this War exhibition. There are approximately 50 art works in the show. So I am only 2% included in this show. So 98% of my involvement is as a gallery owner.

I consider this show to be one of the strongest exhibitions that gallery has hosted since I opened four years ago. War is an intense subject. The work in the exhibition has a great deal of dept and substance. Most of the art is heavy in content.

The marketing of the show consisted of: one page review in the Ottawa Citizen in the Arts Section in a Saturday paper, Bruce Stewart was interviewed on CBC Radio One, 2,100 posters were put up all over the city for a month, over six thousand invites were sent, 400 people attended the grand opening, and there have been numerous blogs, websites, newspapers and other reviews. In short, I would consider this show has been marketed very highly.

So now I sit back and wait to see the results of this experiment. As a gallery owner I ask the question, "Will the public buy this... will this art be supported, will it sell? Is there a market for this kind of art?" . Or, "Do people simply wish to purchase safe, colourful, happy, flowers, landscapes?"

My vision is not measured in terms of sales and profits. As I write this blog... the exhibition only started three days ago. I consider this to be one if not the best show the gallery has organized. I am simply curious as to results to the experiment.

My vision of running an art gallery is... Art is Art. Art is about expression. Art is from the soul. Art is communication. Art is Pure. Art is what an artist needs to create. Needs to share. Needs to express. This is what I hope to encourage. Thought-provoking, stimulating, honest. We need artists to be real and pure.

Please visit the online preview to the art on display.

with love

When Art Does Not Hang on the Walls

Anyone else catch this at the WAR show? (Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading.)

Appears to be a bit of censorship coming from the police.

How legitimate is this?

As artists, when is it OK for external bodies to have a say in which way our creative muse moves us?

Or is it ever OK?

Something to think about and discuss.

Friday, August 5, 2011

War Show Praised by Ottawa Citizen

This is a partial reprint of an review of the WAR show that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen.

Canada’s last official war artist is the star of a new show that captures the changing nature of the art form

Grey-haired and bearded, the 79-year-old Zuber claims that title because he says he is the last person to hold a military rank and, simultaneously, to be deployed officially as an artist with Canadian troops in a wartime situation.

A resident of Seeley’s Bay, near Kingston, Zuber served as a parachutist with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment during the Korean War, 1950-53. Although there were no official war artists in that conflict, Zuber sketched battlefield scenes and later turned those rough drawings into oil paintings. In fact, he finished one just a few weeks ago. (More on that later.)


Both the old and new kinds of war art are on view at an exhibition, simply titled War, that opened Aug. 4 at Patrick John Mills Contemporary Fine Art Gallery, which is part of the ever expanding Wellington West art scene. The show includes more than 40 paintings and sculptures from more than a dozen artists.
Zuber is the undisputed star of the show. He has 10 paintings in the exhibition, dating back to his Korean days.

Another great catch for this gallery on the fringe is Ottawa’s Karen Bailey, who is represented by one painting showing a very pregnant Afghanistan veteran. Bailey spent time in Afghanistan with the military a few years ago.

Most of the remainder of the artists in the show are relative unknowns, except for Mathieu Laca, a Montreal-area artist infamous for his life-size, generously endowed, neon-coloured male nudes. (“He’s my best-selling artist,” says Mills.)

Among the emerging artists, be sure to check out Ottawa’s Bruce Stewart, whose paintings from the series called Road Walkers show soldiers trudging along misty paths to the unknown. These are some of the most powerful and haunting works in the exhibition.

Stewart started painting military-themed art a few years ago after becoming inspired while watching Afghanistan veteran Cpl. Mike Trauner run by his home on two artificial legs. Stewart is a regular at the Mills Gallery and can take credit for convincing Mills to organize the War show.

Read the entire article here: /Soldier+artist+Canada+last+official+artist+star+show+that+captures+changing+nature+form/5211525/story.html

Photos from the WAR Vernissage

Hundreds of people were fascinated by the variety of artist interpretations of the theme, WAR, at the opening of this month-long show at Patrick John Mills Gallery.

Forthwith, a random scattering of some of the art on display for the grand opening of WAR. Please click on any of the photos to enlarge and see detail.
By Bruce Stewart
By Michele LeCourtois
By Dane Atkinson

By Ted Zuber
By Graeme Welch
By Mathieu Laca

By Harry Beauchamp

Patrons enjoying Ted Zuber's work.

An appreciative crowd.
By Patrick John Mills

War sign by Shannon Lee and Joe Pacheco's collage.

By Ted Zuber

 By Harry Beauchamp

Looking towards the door leading to the sculpture garden.

By Shannon Lee

Il ya a la guerre masi il ya aussi la vie by Karen Bailey

By Bruce Stewart

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Juan Manuel Vasquez Paintings
Techniques mixtes sur toile
30" x 24"

The New War

This month, the Patrick John Mills Gallery is featuring a group exhibit on the subject of war. For the first time in history, social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have given populations the ability to join forces and take on suppressive government regimes with the simple click of a button. These networks allow the average citizen to share his or her firsthand account and cellphone videos with the masses; thus, making any form of government censorship or propaganda more difficult to accomplish.

On February 17, 2011, the Libyan population joined the Middle Eastern uprising and challenged their dictator, Muammar Gadhafi. Thanks to technology, their plight is not going on unnoticed. As a Canadian artist, I feel fortunate to live in a country where I can communicate my thoughts without fear of censorship or reprimand. The following paintings express my impressions of the destruction of war.

A Libyan woman and lawyer named Iman al-Obeidi very bravely came forward and reported that she and many others had been gang raped by Gadhafi soldiers and that this form of brutality was occurring regularly. Since then, credible networks have reported that Gaddhafi has been issuing Viagra® to his soldiers in order to destroy the Freedom Fighters by targeting what is most precious to them – their families. Reports have also stated that girls as young as eight years old have been the victims of these gang rapes. Gadhafi is using Viagra®, a medication designed to enhance sexual performance, as a chemical weapon of war with the intention of inflicting devastating physical, psychological and social pain on his adversaries. In the following painting, the Viagra® medication is repackaged. The bottles are painted a military green and are lined up in row like soldiers standing shoulder-to-shoulder at attention, ready for duty. The medication is also relabelled, “Viagra® - Chemical Weapon”. The new label describes how its effects are now exploited for the purpose of destruction.

Unfortunately, wives and children are often forgotten in reports of war because they are not at the frontline of the battle. The effect on them, however, is very real, profound and long lasting. In the following portrait, I acknowledge these unsung heroes of war and the strength of character they must require to live through such difficult times. The colours of the flag are used in the woman’s face to reveal how her focus is now on freedom. When the civil war ends, I hope the technology that has helped bring this crisis to the forefront will also help families find the resources and support they need to heal as they rebuild a nation together.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Seven Dwarfs, Seven Days of the Week, Seven in the Group

And here they are, in a photo taken in 1920, wearing suits and looking fairly staid by today's standards. There isn't even anyone smoking and the only beverage on the table appears to be a cup of coffee. Perhaps the photographer made them look more serious that what they were in their intimate lives.

As seen in Toronto more than ninety years ago, six of the Group of Seven, plus their friend Barker Fairley, in 1920. From left to right: Frederick Varley, A. Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris, Fairley, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, and J. E. H. MacDonald. It was taken at The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

War Exhibition

War Exhibition

The planning of this exhibition started ten months ago. I asked Bruce Stewart if he would be interested in helping put together an exhibition on WAR. He was very interested.

The difficulties of putting on a show with such an epic / significant theme is not easy. A lot of stress is involved. It can be very damaging if the gallery does not deliver a proper show. I was very stressed... as I am sure Bruce will confirm. Bruce was also concerned that some of the art work in the gallery would be offensive to his audience. So the battle field in the gallery was pretty tense.

Bruce and I had to take a step back from the vision of the exhibition and have a beer. Just to build bridges.

After a lot of stress, hard work, trust, vision... I am very proud to say that this exhibition is an extremely solid show. Bruce Stewart's are work is outstanding. 25% of the gallery show features his work.

The show consists of 15 artists.

The gallery has ten works by Ted Zuber. A very significant Canadian War Artist. (15 of his works are in Canada's official heritage art of Korean War, curated at the Canadian War Museum).

The War exhibition is now online preview.

very best wishes

Monday, August 1, 2011

Getting Ready for WAR Opening

The vernissage is this Thursday, August 4, 2011, 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm.

This afternoon, the gallery was chaotic with people picking up their art from last month's show, Pretty Ugly Art, and others bringing in their art to be hung for this month's show, WAR.

Patrick measuring to ensure proper positioning of Mathieu Laca's canvas.

Panel one of a triptych by Bruce Stewart.

Click on any of these photos to enlarge them. 
By Ted Zuber
VTAC - La Gana Hawk by Bruce Stewart.
Featured artist in this show, Bruce Stewart, hung his work earlier, as did Ted Zuber, former war artist during the time of the Korean War for the Canadian government. Watch for an article about Mr. Zuber and his career as a war artist in the Ottawa Citizen this coming week.
Painting of a prosthesis by Bruce Stewart.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Big Art Party, Big Success

Urban Legends Poetry including 
Sean O'Gorman, Hyfidelik, SenseSay, and PrufRock
Urban Legend Poets, singers, dancers, and a host of artists and their entourage were present for the Big Art Party yesterday evening.. Participants enjoyed an eclectic mix of entertainment and art talk.
Jean Comeau, Mathieu Laca and Michele LeCourtois enjoy a convivial moment in front of the gallery.

Dance piece choreographed by Erika Mills..

The gallery's next event is the vernissage for WAR, Thursday, August 4, 2011.
Live interactive Art: by Ali Sztepa.
One thing about art that irks me is that it is viewed as elitist. It instills fear in people, they think they can't make art. For Big Art Party I will bring all sorts of supplies for making drawings, paintings and collages. Everyone will be free to add their piece to a large canvas producing a group art piece that is at once disjointed and cohesive. To break down barriers to creation is what I hope to do. Everyone's an artist, creation is unlimited, art has the power to heal.

          Interactive art

The group art opportunity drew many people. It'd be interesting to see how this endeavour turned out.