George Bellows, American (1882-1925), The White Hope (detail), 1921, Lithograph on paper, 48.5 x 60.8 cm, Collection of the Art Gallery of Hamilton; gift of Mr. and Mrs. J.A. McCuaig, 1965, Photo credit: Michael Lalich

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.

Oshawa named as the host of the boxing events for the Pan Am Games served as the catalyst for the exhibit based around the sport commonly referred to as The Sweet Science (a term coined by the British journalist and sportswriter Pierce Egan in the early 1800s). The city has a rich history in the sport as home to three-time Canadian featherweight champion Grant O’Reilly who operated two boxing clubs here in Oshawa. The dramatic nature of this heavy-hitting sport has ignited a passion among artists throughout history, dating back to the Mesopotamian era that includes literature, art and drama.

A knowledge as vast as the Rocky series is not need in order to appreciate the works in Boxing: The Sweet Science. The exhibit features 12 artists whose works, spanning over 100 years, align with the centralized theme of the art and spirit of boxing.

In British photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s work Boxing, open hand printed in November 1887, the physical intensity and athleticism of boxing is captured in 16 separate frames. While this piece is more of a literal interpretation of the sport, John J. A. Murphy’s Shadowboxing, 1924 adorns an abstract vision of boxing.

In addition to history works, Boxing: The Sweet Science features contemporary pieces that capture the essence of the sport.

In Stop Beating Yourself Up, Montreal-based performance artist Coral Short addresses the stigma that boxing is a man’s game. For the video, created in 2013, Short is donned in a boxer’s uniform while beating herself unconscious using “semi-believable” moves she learned while training with boxers. The graphic nature of this video is hard to watch but contains a message with a powerful punch.

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Coral Short, Stop Beating Yourself Up, 2013, Video still

“I think [the work] is about learning to love ourselves more as women and queers. To bring awareness to the negative and damaging thought patterns that exist within us. Women often tend to make a sport of self-deprecation internally,” says Short. “I wanted to briefly jolt and re-hardwire our neutral pathways so they become less automatic habits. I want us all to move into a place of peace, self-acceptance and love.”

Similar to Short, Toronto photographer Pete Doherty uses boxing as a way to depict the war inside the artist. A part of the boxing scene for several decades now, the sport and its community helped lift Doherty out of years of depression. He began to photograph what he was experiencing as both the artist and the subject, giving viewers a look on the inside of boxing. The black-and-white photographs in Boxing: The Sweet Science depict a ringside and in the ring view including images of trainers and boxers alike, capturing the key moments of the sport.

Pete Doherty, The Docks Nightclub, Toronto, Ontario, Gelatin Silver Print, 2005. Photo credit: Pete Doherty.

Whether it is as an exercising method in World War I as depicted in an anonymous photograph or cubist depictions of pugilists, boxing depicts the exterior and interior battle we fight as humans.

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Anonymous, Boxing competition at Shorncliffe, Brigadier-General MacDonald, D.S.O. and Lieutenant-Colonel Mayes, inspecting classes, April 1918. Photograph.

 

Boxing: The Sweet Science is on from May 30 to September 13 with an opening at RMG Fridays, June 5 at 7-10 pm and a Talk and Tour on Sunday, June 28 at 1-3 pm.

 

By Raechel Bonomo

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.

 

Image at top: George Bellows, American (1882-1925), The White Hope (detail), 1921, Lithograph on paper, 48.5 x 60.8 cm, Collection of the Art Gallery of Hamilton; gift of Mr. and Mrs. J.A. McCuaig, 1965, Photo credit: Michael Lalich.

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Puppet Act: Manipulating the Voice

This month at the RMG, we are unveiling a new exhibit where the art will speak to you. Literally.

Popularized by the likes of the legendary Kermit and Miss Piggy from the gabbling crew, The Muppets, puppets have been a popular form of entertainment throughout history. This personification of an object dates back to Ancient Greece in 5th century BC where the oldest written documentation of puppets is in the works of historians Herodotus and Xenophon.  Puppetry ranges from different types of mediums and are used as a source of entertainment and education all around the world including the Bunraku puppet from Osaka, Japan (1684) to the common finger puppet style used today by children and adults everywhere.

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 May 23, also includes contemporary work from six artists. These puppeteers convey humanistic motifs of fear, manipulation, irony, humour and the battle between good and evil.

Among this work is a drawing by Coast Salish artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, graduate of the Emily Carr School of Art and Design. Threaded in his work are personal experiences and powerful socio-political messages used to document and promote change in Indigenous communities. Yuxweluptun sheds light on the diminution of the culture’s land and rights emulated through Native masks and imagery depicting environmental degradation.

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Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Untitled, 1996. Ink and graphite on paper.

 

Diana Lopez Soto is a performance artist based in Uxbridge, Ontario. In Puppet Act, she uses sheep-headed dancers to portray the relationship between man and animal. Lopez Soto’s performance catalyzes on human experimentation in animal cloning and the use of human genes to develop sheep that produce clotting protein in its milk.

Despite the lack of Chuckie-esque puppets in this exhibit, there are metaphors treading on the darker side riddled within the subjects they convey.

“Taken together, the work in this exhibition strives through the inanimate, to ignite discussions that help reflect who we, the animate, are,” says Jansma.

Toronto-based Suzy Lake was one of a pioneering group of artists in the ‘70s to implement performance, video and photography as a means of human expression. For Puppet Act, Lake personifies herself as the marionette in her mid-1970s performance piece depicting powerlessness. Infused in her work is politics of gender, the body and identity.

Spring Hurlbut is another artist who articulates social presence throughout her work. Born in Toronto, Hurlbut studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and in 1988 completed a Canadian Council-awarded residency in Barcelona to study architecture. In this exhibit, Hutlbut emulates the human condition through vintage ventriloquist dummies. Catherine Heard’s skeleton sculptures dance to the artist’s fascination with the “strangeness of the monstrous form”. Including scenes of torture and rural history, the fabric curtain made from a mixture of antique redwork embroidery and “fake” redwork imitates the style of the antiques.

Like Heard, Tim Whiten, born in Michigan and resides in Toronto, is a sculptor who expresses both the sacred and the profane within his work. His glass sculpture Saga-Ra-M references the human experience of reality using puppets and their shadows.

Tim Whiten, Saga-Ra-M, 2013. Handcrafted crystal clear glass, sandblasted mirror, aluminum rods, stainless steel LED lamps, MDF plinth.

Puppet Act: Manipulating the Voice is on May 23 until September 1 with a reception and Artist Talk on Sunday June 7. Come see the exhibit sure to get mouths moving.

 

By Raechel Bonomo

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.

 

Image at top: Spring Hurlbut, Dizzy, 2009-2010, installation of nine vintage amateur ventriloquist dummies circa 1930-1950. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.

 

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Grand Opening of “Reverb” Sculpture Commission at the GM Centre

Join us for the Grand Opening of Reverb at the GM Centre on 1 June at 7:30pm!

Reverb will be installed in the spring of 2015, adjacent to the General Motors Centre (GM Centre), Durham Region’s premier sports and recreation facility, and the venue of the boxing and weightlifting events at next year’s TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games. The work was purchased with the financial support of the RMG Acquisition Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program.

The sculpture is impactful, standing at 19’ high, and will become a meeting place. The curved form implies a megaphone, an amphitheater and stage, a net or goal, as Reverb reflects the activities that occur in the GM Centre. The ‘blurb’ shapes on the structure represent the fans and are positioned like a rake of seats. Projections of coloured light will be created in the sculpture when sounds inside activate lights within the steel structure. Reverb is full of meaning and references. The laser cut stainless steel references industrial production and the facets align Oshawa’s history as a port city and as an industrial capital.

In addition to celebrating the City’s participation in the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, the project will reflect narratives that have meaning to the community and the public space that the work will occupy. The work will also respond to the RMG’s statement of purpose: Dedicated to sharing, exploring and engaging with our communities through the continuing story of modern and contemporary Canadian art. This new work becomes the fourth sculpture commissioned by the RMG, and will be added to the RMG’s permanent collection of over 4,500 works. Recent public art commissions include Douglas Coupland’s playful Group Portrait 1957 installed on the façade of the gallery in 2011.

The commission installation is set to take place in early May, 2015 and the RMG will be posting updates about the commission as it develops.

Follow #Harding2015 and #Reverb2015 on Twitter!

About Noel Harding

As an artist, Noel Harding produced video art in the 70’s, video projection and installation in the 80’s, kinetic installations and sculpture as theatre in the 90’s. His work for the last 20 years is in public art where landscape and environment are paramount. In general, his work is an engagement in public urban realities: planning, envisioning, and mapping. He has exhibited and lectured internationally and his work is included in collections at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the City of Amsterdam and the Hara Museum, Tokyo.

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Collections Corner: Ray Mead

This blog post comes from the desk of Senior Curator, Megan White, Assistant Curator.

The number of works by members of Painters Eleven in the RMG’s permanent collection just got a fair bit larger. The curatorial team at the RMG have been working on processing 496 drawings by Painters 11 member Ray Mead, into the permanent collection. In 1999, this wonderful collection of drawings and sketches by Mead were donated to the RMG. The collection of drawings include 292 loose drawings and 4 sketchbooks including 204 drawings, mostly in pen/pencil, ink or mixed media. This treasure trove of artwork has been patiently waiting in the RMG Archives for a chance to formally enter the permanent collection. This year, with funding from a Collections Management grant through the Department of Canadian Heritage, the drawings have been catalogued, photographed, matted and re-housed in our vault’s brand new rolling storage system.

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When I think of Ray Mead, I immediately think of the work he produced as a member of Painters 11: striking abstract paintings in solid, bold colours.  Although many of the drawings (mostly untitled) are abstract in style, the collection also includes a number of portraits of both men and women, female nudes, animals, and several sketches that look like they could be blueprints for future paintings. It has been a lovely experience being able to go through each of Mead’s drawings.  Flipping through his drawings and pages of his sketchbooks can reveal part of his thought process, giving us a rare window into the mind of the artist. It is possible to track the development of a motif or design through five or six sketches, to see the different stages that Mead went through as he worked out his ideas.

Ray Mead (Canadian, b. England, 1921-1998); Untitled; 1986; charcoal on paper; Gift of the Estate of Ray Mead, 1999

Ray Mead (Canadian, b. England, 1921-1998); Untitled; 1986; charcoal on paper; Gift of the Estate of Ray Mead, 1999

Now that the artworks have been digitized and are available to search on our database, the drawings can be accessed in a much easier way by both RMG staff and the public. The drawings/sketches can be viewed digitally using our online database by searching “Ray Mead” in the Artist Name search bar.

Ray Mead (Canadian, b. England, 1921-1998); Untitled (study); n.d.; charcoal on paper; Gift of the Estate of Ray Mead, 1999

Ray Mead (Canadian, b. England, 1921-1998); Untitled (study); n.d.; charcoal on paper; Gift of the Estate of Ray Mead, 1999

 

Ray Mead (Canadian, b. England, 1921-1998); Untitled (figure with hat); n.d.; felt pen on paper; Gift of the Estate of Ray Mead, 1999

Ray Mead (Canadian, b. England, 1921-1998); Untitled (figure with hat); n.d.; felt pen on paper; Gift of the Estate of Ray Mead, 1999

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RMG Fridays June: PanAm Torch Relay

Following the Pan Am Games 2015 torch relay on Friday June 5, National Hum and Steady Hussle start the party as we open Boxing: The Sweet Science, David Rokeby: Very Nervous System, A Visionary Journey and Lynn McIlvide in Gallery A..

For more information:
Boxing: The Sweet Science – http://www.rmg.on.ca/boxing-sweet-science.php
David Rokeby – http://www.rmg.on.ca/rokeby-very-nervous-system.php
A Visionary Journey – http://www.rmg.on.ca/lipman-visionary-journey.php
Steady Hussle – https://www.facebook.com/steadyhussle
National Hum – https://www.facebook.com/NationalHum

On the first Friday of the month, join the RMG in celebrating local talent. The gallery buzzes with live musical performances, interactive art experiences, open gallery spaces, social mingling and more. Suitable for music lovers, youth, families, date nights, and culture-vultures.

Free to attend | 7-10pm | Cash Bar | All ages welcome.

Follow the twitter feed at #RMGFridays!

The RMG is grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their support of this programming.

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Reflections on the Thomas Bouckley Collection

Assistant Curator Megan White reflects on her year at the RMG and shared with us her favourite photos from the Thomas Bouckley Collection. For more photos from the collection, follow vintageoshawa.tumblr.com

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Town Clerk’s Office, 1912
I love the photographs in the Thomas Bouckley collection that strongly capture a single fleeting moment. Even though this photograph was taken over 100 years ago, the connection made between the subject and photographer in this split second is so striking.

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King’s Family Residence, 1890
There are so many great things about this photograph. The great outfits, the women posing with their bicycles, the beautiful house and plants on the porch, and of course the dog!

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R.S. Williams Piano Workers, 1910
Oshawa has an incredible history of industry. The photographs taken inside some of the old factories, such as this one, are simply remarkable.

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Looking East at Harmony Corners, 1909 
This is a photograph that I can look at again and again- it reminds me of a still from an old film. Like many photographs in the collection, I would love to know the story behind why this photo was taken!

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide

There are few jobs in the world that require you to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week with no breaks. The candidate in question must be a multi-tasker, organized and have superhero-like powers. Did I mention this is an unpaid gig?

Mother’s Day is the perfect time to reward your mom for the chicken soup when you were sick, the priceless advice for your broken heart and the bedtime stories filled with princesses that rivalled the heroine who lifted those words off the page.

We may never be able to truly repay our mothers, but a unique present from the RMG’s gift shop is a great place to start. Check out our mother-approved gift ideas:

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A signature piece of jewellery

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Fantastic body products!

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A catalogue or art book

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Delicious tea

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A great card

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A mug for MOM!

– Raechel Bonomo

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.

Treat the special women in your life to our Mother’s Day Brunch on May 10th. In association with Pilar’s Catering, Arthur’s on the 4th (located in the upstairs of the gallery) will be filled with delicious signature dishes such as French toast with French vanilla whipped cream and raspberry maple syrup or a seared, slow roasted pork loin stuffed with hickory smoked bacon and aged applewood cheddar. Just as good as momma’s cooking!

mothers day menu

Tickets are $42.99 for adults, $29.99 for children and kids under four eat for free (gratuities and taxes extra). RSVP to Cheryl-Ann at 905-576-3000 ext. 103 or by email at czamulinski@rmg.on.ca.

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