I have always loved drawings. My admiration for great drawing preceded my appreciation for painting. As a child it was drawing that I first encountered, and it was drawing, my own capacity for the medium, that seemed so elusive. To this day, my dismal hand-eye coordination removes the art of drawing from my personal repertoire. Perhaps this accounts for my fascination with those that do it so well.
The two works on paper above are by members of the same family, Cathy Ross, the daughter and Fred Ross, the father. The quality of these two pieces would suggest genetics as a factor, however, I have come to believe that ability at this level must also involve proper training and serious hard work. These two works are part of the exhibition that I have just installed at the gallery, Works on Paper.
As the owner of a commercial art gallery, I know that painting is still the big draw. Of course, I love painting, and I own several that I would be loathe to sell. However, if I were truly a collector, not a seller, and if I was just starting out, I would set my sights on paper works. There is such depth and breadth available with regard to works on paper, and generally at a better price than paintings on canvas. What an opportunity to build a significant collection.
A favourite book on our shelves at home is one published by the Museum of Modern Art (New York) in 1983. It is entitled The Modern Drawing, and it provides a very fine survey of important works on paper collected by the Museum since its first drawing purchase in 1929. The introductory essay claims that, “Of all our modern arts, drawing is the most resistant to definition.” Such a claim may require a reconsideration in the current era, where we find ourselves awash with myriad new media. Nevertheless, drawing continues to require a rather broad definition, including not just pencil, ink and charcoal, but watercolour, pastel and collage.
Above is a fine example of a recent watercolour drawing by David Umholtz. This work is included in our current exhibition, as is the much earlier work below, a watercolour by Frank Allison, from the 1930s. I enjoy mixing the contemporary with the historical, particularly within an exhibition such as this one, which purports to explore a range of work on paper.
I have focussed so far on drawing, however, this exhibition is called Works On Paper, a title which does open the door a bit wider. I have chosen to include also prints and photo-based works.
One could certainly argue that printmaking, in particular the etchings of Dan Steeves, involves drawing as central to the process. Last week we celebrated Dan with a one day exhibition of his works, in honour of his national and international successes of late. I have decided to keep some of these works on display as part of the current group. I am especially pleased that Dan has left me with the plate used to create the etching, I hope you have moments when you take heart. This is the print that was selected as the top print in Canada at Open Studio (Toronto) this year. You may notice the line scratched through the plate, the artist’s guarantee that the edition of 15 will remain as such. Last week there were five of this edition left. This week there are four.
This exhibition has also given me the opportunity to properly highlight a series of monoprints, Falling Soldier, by Nathan Cann. Nathan was the regional winner of the BMO Emerging Artist Series in 2012.
I have included two strong photo-based works, one by James Wilson, Black Tulip #2, and one by Peter Powning, Book Series: Frozen in Ice. Both works are on paper, and both have been mounted on aluminum, but to differing effect.
This exhibition will remain up at the gallery until June 28. The following artists have been included:
Toby Graser – David Umholtz – Fred Ross – Cathy Ross – Dan Steeves – Suzanne Hill – Christine Koch – Colin Smith – Nathan Cann – Elizabeth Grant – Frank Allison – Herzl Kashetsky – Peter Powning – James Wilson – Stephen Scott – Mathieu Leger