Saturday, July 14, 2012


Today, I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to see the Picasso Exhibit. It was incredibly well done! The exhibit is spread over seven rooms. There are about 150 works on display. It is definitely a must see.

Room 1 : From Spain to Paris, 1900 - 1905. This period covers Picasso's early years in Spain to his bohemian beginnings in Monmartre in Paris.This period is also known as Picasso's Blue and Rose Periods.

Room 2: Making Way : Ancient, African and Oceanic Inspirations, 1906 - 1909. During this period Picasso was influenced by African and Oceanic part which ultimately lead to Les Demoiselles d'Avignonalthough the actual painting is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art  (MOMA) in New York, it was fascinating and insightful to study the preparatory works that were on exhibit at the AGO. This work lead the way to Cubism.

Room 3 : Cubism, Collage and Constructions, 1909 - 1915. By 1909 Picasso was becoming well known and wealthy. He opened a studio and started working with Georges Braque. Between the two of the, they developed Cubism, one of the greatest innovations in 20th century art.

Room 4 : Classicism, Marriage and Family, 1914 - 1924. Never one to be confined by a fashion or a school of art, even one he helped establish, Picasso returned to a more classical style during WWI. It was a happy time for Picasso; his marriage to Olga Khokhlova.


Room 5 : Surreal Anxiety and Desire, 1924 - 1934.  During the 1920s Picasso was influenced by the Surrealists. The Surrealists were one of the only school's of art that Picasso had any association with. It was also during this period that Picasso's work was infused with an almost tangle eroticism that is amply evident to even a casual observer.

Room 6 : War Paintings : Of Love and War, 1936 - 1939.  The 1930s were tumultuous for Picasso, his marriage to Olga broke down, His mistress Marie - Therese gave birth to his daughter, Maya and later he started an affair with Dora Maar, a Surrealist writer and photographer. Dora's involvement in left wing politics eventually affected Picasso which resulted in the painting Guernica. Guernica was my first introduction to Picasso when I was a teenager.

Room 6 : War Paintings : World War II to Korean War, 1940 - 1951. During WWII Picasso lived and worked in Paris under the German occupation. Although he was harassed from time to time he was left more or less alone. Maybe it was because of admirers or because the Germans did not want the bad publicity of persecuting the great artist, Picasso. the war eventually seeped into his work, symbols of death, skulls, bulls that signify vulnerability. this was the period when Picasso's reputation as a great artist was established.

Room 7 : The Joy of Life, 1950 - 1972 The period of Picasso's life was much brighter than all the preceding periods. And why not? He was permanently established in the south of France which was reason enough. He married a young woman who was some 40 odd years his junior and totally devoted to Picasso and his art and he has two small children later in life.

Picasso was more backward looking during his last period of creativity, which is not unreasonable. He reworked paintings by Delacroix, Velazquez and Manet. He even paid homage to the only artist that he ever considered to be his equal: Henri Matisse( my favorite artist).

I am including a few sketches of my own not because I think they even come close to anything that Picasso drew but that they were inspired by what I saw, at the exhibit and what  I saw within myself.

This is a sketch that I did for my friend Xiaoxiong. She is going through a bad patch right now. As I viewed the many mother and child drawings and paintings by Picasso I thought of her difficulties.

The guitar figured into so many of Picasso's works. It is also an important theme and element in my life so Picasso's guitar works resonant strongly within me. I thought about my cousin Denis who I will always associate with the guitar. For some time. I have been thinking about a work that incorporates the guitar. the idea is even stronger now.

The Picasso exhibit was an important artistic experience for me. I left the AGO feeling much richer artistically and more motivated creatively. I will be drawing on this experience for a long time to come. I would urge everyone who is even the least bit interested or curious about Picasso, if you love him or hate him (especially if you hate him!), go the exhibit. You will be impressed and glad that you went.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


In my first post about stained glass I wrote about how I started working with stained glass, it was more or less by accident. We wanted to have a couple of stained glass windows on either side of our fireplace and like everything else that we do, we decided that we would do it ourselves. I learned how to work in stained glass. My wife and I designed the windows and I make the finished windows. There are pictures of the two windows in my first post about stained glass.

I am not sure how many years I have been working in stained glass but it is more than five. I do not work constantly with glass and there are long periods that I do not do anything. Mostly, I make things out of stained glass for my wife and I, my family and sometimes for friends. Most of my creative time is taken up with wood carving.

Over the last few years I have started working with beach glass or found glass, much as I work with found wood. I am a strong believer in taking everyday materials, found materials, recycled materials and creating art out something that has been considered to be garbage. There is a special kind of satisfaction in doing this. Having said that, I have been working on a piece that is entirely made of found glass over the last three or four years. Again, it has been off and on. There were long periods where I did not touch the piece because I did not know where it was going. The piece grew organically, a few pieces at a time. As I got more and more into the piece I because to develop a vision of what it might look like when it was finished. It was that vision that guided me to finishing the piece.

I finished assembling the piece a few weeks ago but with traveling to Quebec and all the other activities in my life right now it has laid on a shelf waiting for me to give it the finishing touches. finishing the piece mainly involves adding reinforcement to make the piece strong and rigid. Right now it is very fragile and easily come apart if it is not handled carefully. When I have time, probably this coming weekend I will add thick copper wire around the entire perimeter to strengthen the entire piece. As well. I will weave wire in the back of the piece to give it strength across the piece as well.

Here is what the piece looks like at the moment.

Close up of top right hand corner - text

I chose and positioned specific pieces of found glass that contained text in prominent locations so that they would stand out.

Other pieces were included because that had markings that were script like without being intelligible words. They are more like phonemes, or pieces of words or text.

I also like using pieces of glass that are similar to create effects like clouds.

I especially like putting these bottle tops together simply because i liked the way they looked together and the effect that they created.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


This was the first time in five years that I was able to take part in the Canada Day celebrations in Burlington. All of the five previous years I was outside of Canada on business. That's just the way it was.

Since Canada Day was on Sunday this year we drove down to Spencer Smith park in the morning and found a parking spot relatively close to the park. All the parking spots are free on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. I had wanted to see the Joseph Brant museum because I have never been there, besides it was free on Canada Day. There were a lot of things set up in the morning on the Joseph Brant Museum grounds in the morning, mostly for children.

We saw the Queen's impersonator. she was a reasonably good facsimile.

The inside of the museum we saw a recreation of an encampment of the war of 1812, a display of Edwardian clothing and accessories and a display on Joseph Brant. I took a couple of pictures of a bust that was done of Joseph Brant. Unfortunately, it is inside a protective glass case so some of the glass is reflected back in the picture.

In the evening, we returned to Spencer smith park to listen to Ashley McIsaacs, a fiddler from the East Coast of Canada who is a prodigious musician. It was a wonderful evening. The sky was clear. The almost full moon hung like a giant silver disc in the sky. The temperature was warm without being hot or humid. We listened for about three quarters of an hour then decided to go home.  All in all, it was a wonderful Canada Day.