General Motors Strike, 1937

New Acquisition to The Thomas Bouckley Collection – Oshawa Strike

This post comes to us from the desk of Sonya Jones, Associate Curator and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection. The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in Oshawa, Ontario holds the Thomas Bouckley Collection. The Collection was donated to the RMG by the late Thomas Bouckley, amateur historian and collector of Oshawa’s history. The entire computerized collection comprises over 2,300 historical photographs of Oshawa and about 100 works are featured in three exhibitions per year. 

Earlier this year, the Thomas Bouckley Collection received a donation of images that capture the General Motors Strike of 1937. The gift, from the McGrath family, includes 57 images, 37 of which depict the famous strike. Prior to this wonderful addition to the collection, there were only 3 images of the strike in the Thomas Bouckley Collection.

General Motors Strike, 1937

General Motors Strike, 1937

What’s interesting about these images is that they capture candid moments between strikers on the picket line. They weren’t just taken to document the strike but seem to be snap shots between friends, giving a general sense of what the mood was like during this time.

On April 8, 1937, 3,700 GM workers punched in as usual and then walked off the job. They didn’t return to the assembly lines until a settlement was struck two weeks later.

For a little background as to why the strike began, an interview with Arthur Shultz, who had worked on the assembly lines in GM from 1922–1937, describes the conditions of the plant and community prior to the 1937 strike:

“Work on the assembly lines was hell, speed ups, no rest periods, afraid to complain for fear of permanent layoff.  The pay was good while you worked but yearly earnings were in the $600 range.  Work was only available for six to seven months of the year and many employees were forced to apply for City welfare.” – Arthur Schultz, 1951

Female Employees, General Motors Strike, 1937

Female Employees, General Motors Strike, 1937

The Toronto Star reports the strike as an orderly event:

 “A stand-up strike not a sit-down strike” with 260 women joining the men on the picket line. It begins quietly with workers first filing into work as usual at 7 a.m. and then five minutes later, just as peacefully, exiting the plant. Simultaneously, 400 pickets are flung up around the works with pre-arranged precision” – Toronto Star, April 8, 1937

While these photographs depict an important event in Oshawa’s history, the smiling faces and sociable atmosphere give it a human side.

 

Top image: General Motors Strike, 1937

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Meet Carla Sinclair – the RMG’s new Manager of Community and Volunteer Development

Carla Sinclair is the RMG’s new Manager of Community and Volunteer Development. She has pursued her love of storytelling to build community across Canada working in radio, television and film. Stop by and welcome Carla to the RMG team!

RMG: What were you up to before the RMG?

Carla: I have been partner at Empty Cup Media for the past 7 years where I spent my time as a cinematographer, editor and graphic designer. My greatest accomplishment to date is having directed and produced my first independent feature documentary, a project that spanned 9 years!

RMG: What drew you to the museum sector?

Carla: Having worked with the RMG on a number of video projects, I came to know the inspired team that run this incredible space. The sense of community fostered here compelled me to be a voice in Oshawa’s expanding creative culture.

RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Carla: The Old Library of Trinity College Dublin. The architecture alone captivated my attention, but walking through the ancient volumes housed in this building, including the Book of Kells, was absolutely magical.

RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Carla: It was on a school trip to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, N.B. I vividly recall standing in front of Savador Dali’s Santiago El Grande, mesmerized. I remember being struck by the size, beauty and majesty of the enchanting painting.

RMG: What is the one thing you most want to share with people about the RMG?

Carla: RMG Fridays! If you haven’t already been out to this awesome monthly event, I encourage you to come soon. Bands, artist talks and local partnerships create an atmosphere unlike any other you will find in Oshawa. I love the crowd it attracts and it’s accessible, creative hub for entertainment, education and networking. I’m thrilled that RMG Fridays will now include short film screenings in the Lookout. Enjoy popcorn and experience Friday Film Features!

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Introducing Friday Film Features

NEW! RMG Fridays will soon be screening short films!

Introducing Friday Film Features, a community initiative telling the stories that live in the creative minds of our local filmmakers.

We invite you to submit short narrative, experimental, animation or documentary films (under 15 minutes) to be screened in the Lookout during RMG Fridays. Fall Deadline: 2 November.

Find out more at http://www.rmg.on.ca/friday-film-features.php

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Interview with Co-Op student Swetha Srikanth

Swetha Srikanth is a grade 11 student at O’Neill C.V. I. and this summer she completes her placement with the RMG. She sat down with the RMG to discuss her experience at the gallery this spring.

The RMG: How did you get involved with volunteering at the RMG?

Swetha: I got involved with the RMG through the co-operative education program, which is an amazing opportunity that I got through school. I was interviewed last year and started my placement this February. I was familiar with the gallery before then, but working here for the past five months has really allowed me to fully appreciate and learn about the many areas of this gallery.

The RMG: Why were you interested in volunteering in an art gallery?

Swetha: I was interested in this placement specifically because it relates to the work that I would love to do in the future. I have always been passionate about visual arts, and am hoping to become an interior designer and manage my own design firm. This environment has allowed me to start to understand how businesses work.

The RMG: What have you been doing during your placement at the gallery?

Swetha: I started working with Norah O’Donnell in February and Carla Sinclair in the past few weeks. I have done so many creative and administrative tasks to help improve the system that is in place for the volunteers, as well as provide services for the public through event preparation and RMG Shop management.

The RMG: What is one thing you want to share about the RMG?

Swetha: The sense of community within the workplace. The employees are extremely welcoming, positive, and show appreciation to the other workers and volunteers. There were many collaborative tasks that I was involved in, which made me feel like a part of the community. They also allowed me to feel comfortable and be seen as a co-worker, rather than a high school student.

The RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Swetha: I’m not sure that I have a favourite place, but one of my favourite memories is when the Specialized Visual Arts Program at O’Neill took a trip to Buffalo, NY and visited the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. It was the first time I was with some of my best friends and had the opportunity to experience incredible artwork and discuss it with them in depth. It was nice to be around likeminded people while visiting a new gallery, and I’m really glad that I have experienced that feeling multiple times since then.

The RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Swetha: My first memory of art is something that I remember creating when I was about four or five years old. I had painted an elephant, and I remember it being framed on the wall for people to see and feeling really proud of what I had done.

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Beat the heat this summer at the RMG!

Beat the heat by hiding away in what Mayor John Henry calls one of his “favourite places in Oshawa”. This summer we have something for everyone from amateur art critics and social butterflies to little artists and music aficionados. If a mayoral stamp of approval isn’t enough, here are eight reasons why you should head into the RMG this summer.

1.     Puppet Act: Manipulating the Voice

Cantastoria, or puppet storytelling, is the theme of the latest exhibit at the RMG curated by Linda Jansma. Puppet Act: Manipulating the Voice features marionettes from the Peterborough Museum & Archives collection whose historic puppets, retired from the Peterborough Puppet Guild, present as disturbing caricatures waiting to come to life once more. The exhibition, set to open up at the gallery until September 1, also includes contemporary work from six artists. These puppeteers convey humanistic motifs of fear, manipulation, irony, humour and the battle between good and evil.

2.     Boxing: The Sweet Science

Entering the ring at the RMG just in time for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games is an exhibit that is sure to be a knockout. Boxing is a metaphor for life, filled with battles lost and won. In Boxing: The Sweet Science, curator Linda Jansma captures this expression through pieces that convey the movement, power and elegancy of the sport. Whether you’ve got a ticket to the match at the GM Centre or not, come in to see this great exhibit. Up at the RMG until September 13, 2015.

3.     RMG Fridays

On the first Friday of the month, the gallery is open 7 – 10 p.m. for RMG Fridays. The gallery buzzes with live musical performances from local and emerging talent, interactive art experiences, open gallery spaces, social mingling and more. This FREE (need not to be convinced further) is suitable for music lovers and art enthusiastic big and small. Every RMG Fridays is a family-friendly event and is a hotspot for youth, families and culture-vultures.

July 3, 2015
A Canadian Celebration:
Canada is old. It deserves more than one birthday. At the RMG we’re keeping that maple syrup, apologizing, igloo-dwelling spirit going with indie rockers Canvas and Chris Doucett & The Way Out. Join local artist Monique Ra Brent in Gallery A and chat with Teri Lipman about her collection A Visionary Journey. We’re joined by local arts collective Broken Arts as they gear up for the annual Broken Arts Festival on July 18 in Memorial Park! The PanAm Cruiser will also be stopping by for the evening – learn more about the games!

August 7, 2015 
Summer Sounds
We’re taking a night to celebrate the exhibition that has everyone talking, Puppet Act: Manipulating the Voice. The sounds of Goodnight Sunrise and locals Ivory Park, will occupy the main galleries while Father and son duo Matt and Joe will join us in Gallery A. Join us in learning more about the upcoming Durham Festival.

4.     Gallery A

If you didn’t know already, Gallery A is a professional exhibition and studio space provides accessible opportunities for artist-driven initiates at the RMG.  Each month, the gallery is occupied by a wide range of solo and group projects, curated exhibitions, artist and community collaborations, special events, film screenings, symposiums, and community art projects. And this summer, the talent in Gallery A is shining brighter than the sun!

23 June – 12 July, 2015
Gallery A: Monique Ra Brent: The Painted Soul
Art Lab Studio: Adam White

14 July – 2 August
Motor City Stories
Home to Home

5 – 30 August, 2015
Gallery A: Matthew and Joseph Catalano: Arbor Nimbus

5.     OPG Second Sundays

Every second Sunday of every month, the RMG hosts an afternoon of free family activities. Families of all kinds and sizes are invited to explore exciting exhibitions, art materials and fun hands-on activities together! You will discover things to do throughout the RMG, so you can follow your imagination and experiment with new ideas and projects. Projects suit art lovers of all ages and skill levels. Ideal for children 3 and up, however kids work with their parents & art instructors. Drop-in between 1 and 3 p.m., no registration required!

July 12, 2015
Go Team!

We will be celebrating the 2015 Pan Am Games, RMG style! We will make medals, noise-makers and party decorations to cheer on the athletes.

August 9, 2015
Calling all Artists!
This month we will explore 2D and 3D artworks, from raised salt paintings to mini sculptures, we will create artworks that will surely inspire the artists in all of us!

6.     Talks and Tours
Art education for all ages is both valuable and important here at the gallery. This summer were hosting several talks exploring the messages, themes and meanings within our current exhibitions.

Sunday, June 28, 1 – 3 p.m.
Join us for this lively and entertaining talk with Sean O’Meara – a former amateur boxer, current Oakville city councillor and the sport-organizing chair for boxing at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games! You will also have an opportunity to join Senior Curator Linda Jansma for a guided tour of the special exhibition Boxing: The Sweet Science.

In Gallery A, join artist Monique Ra Brent to learn more about her work and exhibition, The Painted Soul.

Sunday, July 19, 1 – 3 p.m.
Motor City Stories and Home to Home Opening Reception
Join us in Gallery A and celebrate the works and artists features in Motor City Stories and Home to Home.

Sunday, July 19, 1 – 3 p.m.
Spirit of Sport Exhibition Tour
Join Associate Curator Sonya Jones for a tour of Spirit of Sport: Selections from the Thomas Bouckley Collection.

7.     The Permanent Collection

At the RMG, we have an extensive collection of permanent works totalling more than 4,000 works. Often pieces are incorporated into exhibits from our archives. Our current exhibition, Go Figure, was curated by Senior Curator Linda Jansma and explores various aspects of human temperament and how this conception is professed by artists.

8.     Painters 11

Painters 11 began in the fall of 1953 in Oshawa, launching them as Ontario’s first abstract painting group. The group includes members such as Alexandra Luke, Jock Macdonald and Jack Bush – Luke being the catalyst of the group’s formation. The group held their first exhibit under the name “Painters 11” in February 1954 at Roberts Gallery in Toronto, Ontario. The RMG has had a long-term relationship with Painters 11, which explains why the gallery is the owner of the largest collection of the group’s work.

Our Isobel McLaughlin Gallery occupies works by Painters 11, interchangeable from our extensive collection. Be sure to stop by the gallery to see the iconic abstract works by the Canadian group.

 

To stay in the know about all the great events by signing up for our newsletter here http://www.rmg.on.ca/exhibitions-and-events.php.

 

Vol ‘n’ Tell is an ongoing series of blog posts written by RMG Volunteers. Raechel Bonomo is an art enthusiast and writer from Oshawa, Ont.

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Interview with Summer Gallery Interpreters Austin and Hannah

Austin Henderson is a second-year Fine Art student at Queen’s University and Hannah Kramer is a third-year Fine Art student at Queen’s University. They are both working with the RMG this summer as Gallery Interpreters, supported by the Young Canada Works Program, and sat down to discuss their experiences at the RMG.

The RMG: Why were you interested in working in an art gallery this summer?

Austin: In the spring, I was searching for jobs that matched my interests and field of study. I visited local galleries, handed out my resumes, and hoped for the best. Art galleries have been of great interest to me since I started getting serious about my artistic endeavours. My current dream job would be to work in a gallery as a curator some day, so this is a great opportunity. So far, I’ve learned a lot about how an art gallery works and I know I’m in a comfortable environment with many people who are willing to lend their professional advice towards my future, so I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

Hannah: I worked at the RMG last summer, and I was super excited when I was offered the position again this year. As a university student, I feel very lucky to not only have a full time job, but to have one that combines my favourite things.   Everyday I am immersed in a positive and energetic environment, where I am exposed to a mixture of contemporary and historical art.  Working at an art gallery, especially the RMG is an opportunity I never expected as a student.

The RMG: What will you be doing during your placement at the gallery?

Austin & Hannah: Our responsibilities for the summer are broken down by month for the most part. During June, we plan the summer programming based on loose themes advertised for registration.  As well as designing a schedule, we are responsible for composing a materials list, and training our volunteers.  During June we also assist with any remaining school tour groups, and demo activities as well as prep materials.  July is camp! We teach and run the entire camp for 5 weeks, with the help of our wonderful volunteers.  We really appreciate everything they do for us because we would not be able to manage without them!  The first 4 weeks we have a range of kids aged 5-11, and during the 5th week, we run a toddler and teen camp.   For the two weeks that we are still here in August we clean and organize the studio in preparation for the fall.

austin

The RMG: What is one thing you want to share about the RMG?

Austin: I’ve taken some studio classes at the RMG in the past, and I knew that it was a gallery that was close-by that housed some really interesting work, but what I didn’t know until starting this job was how big the gallery’s collection is! It houses over 4000 works in its permanent collection alone, and reaches out to local and international artists, and many other galleries’ collections. I think it’s also important for the public to know how much the RMG cares about its community. Numerous programs are run throughout the year that works to enhance the gallery’s relationship with its visitors, and I think that’s crucial in a smaller city like Oshawa.

Hannah: Working at the RMG doesn’t feel like a job to me. It’s very strange but awesome when you love coming to work. Everyone on staff is so interesting, and creates a welcoming and engaging environment. The RMG always has a very positive energy, and I think that is a rare thing.

The RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Austin: It’s really cliché, but March of last year, I had a chance to go to Paris with my high school. It was my first time in the city, and everything about it blew my mind. Needless to say, I’ll definitely be returning. Of course, we paid a visit to The Louvre on our first day, and being an art history fanatic, I freaked out. I think most of my amazement had to do with the building’s opulence, history, stature, and of course the mere fact that it was The Louvre! My whole experience was so overwhelming; despite the fact I was only in there for a couple hours. To me, it felt like a small honour to be able to walk around that incredible gallery with so many celebrated surprises inside.

Hannah: My favourite museum is the MoMA. I’ve been twice, once when I was ten, and the second time last fall with my school.  It’s really incredible seeing all the work that you learn about in art history – seeing the real thing is such a different experience than looking at a picture on a slide.  Monet’s Water Lilies were unexpectedly my favourite.

hannah

The RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Austin: My first memory of art comes from my love for Disney movies and The Wizard of Oz. When I was little, I would always be drawing my favourite Disney characters and the entire Oz cast (on my Magna Doodle and on paper). Admittedly enough, I still draw them today! Those movies provided me with an outlet to a colourful imagination, where I believe my love for art came from.

Hannah: My first memory of art isn’t a specific place or time. I just remember my granddad used to take me to different art events and galleries throughout Toronto.  I have a faint memory of one specifically, I don’t remember where or what it was for, I just remember not wanting to leave.  In my memory we stayed there creating art all day.

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Donna Raetsen Kempcrop

Donna Raetsen-Kemp appointed the new CEO of The Robert McLaughlin Gallery

Following an extensive search, the Board of Trustees of The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) is pleased to announce Donna Raetsen-Kemp will be the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The search was conducted by the Board of the RMG, with assistance from Peter Spratt, Vice President of Collins Barrow.

“Over the past five years, the RMG has made great progress in sharing and engaging with our communities in the continuing exploration of modern and contemporary art,” said Dr. Christine Castle on behalf of the RMG Board. “As The RMG enters the next phase of its development, we are delighted to welcome Donna Raetsen-Kemp as CEO. We are confident Donna¹s cultural vision and leadership will guide the Gallery in new and exciting directions by inspiring our enormously creative staff and volunteers.”

Raetsen-Kemp was selected from a diverse and high profile pool of individuals who had a strong knowledge of Canadian art, demonstrated cultural leadership, as well as an ability to engage and connect with their communities.  Additionally, candidates were considered on the basis of their ability to secure funding and connect with businesses, the Board and other stakeholders.

Previously, Raetsen-Kemp was the CEO of the Station Gallery, Whitby (2005-present) where her cultural vision saw overall attendance increase, six fold to 40,000 annual visitors, as well as the development of a robust education program offering 400 classes annually. Her implementation of fund development strategies saw revenue increase, while maintaining the delicate balance of artistic integrity and business stability. Additionally, Raetsen-Kemp is well connected within the cultural sector and involved with the International Council of Museums, the Canadian Association of Museum Officers and Directors, the Canadian Museums Association and the Ontario Association of Art Galleries.

“I enthusiastically welcome Donna as our new leader. I know her to be talented and thoughtful and I am confident in her abilities and excited for the future of the RMG,” said Olinda Casimiro, Interim CEO and Director of Finance of the RMG.

“The RMG is not only one of the leading public art galleries in Ontario, it’s a cultural hub and people place. That’s compelling to me.” said Donna Raetsen-Kemp, “I’m truly honoured to follow in the footsteps of progressive RMG leaders.  The visionary Board and brilliance of the RMG team have set the stage beautifully for this next phase of transformation.”

Raetsen-Kemp’s people-first leadership philosophy will engage the community and mobilize the staff of the RMG to further expand and develop bold programming that continues to tell the story of modern and contemporary Canadian art.

Raetsen-Kemp will begin at the RMG on 17 August 2015.