Meet Parvathi Bhat Giliyal – Our New Gallery Educator

Parvathi Bhat Giliyal is the RMG’s new Gallery Educator. Prior to joining us, she was working as a visual artist and graphic designer, as well as art gallery management and art education. Drop by the RMG and say hello!

 

RMG: What were you up to before the RMG?

Parvathi: In the last 5 years I’ve been Gallery co-ordinator, educator, graphic designer and curator besides actively exhibiting my paintings in India. When an opportunity to move to Canada came up, I jumped at the new and exciting possibilities that may open up to me in the art and museum sector of Ontario. So far, the RMG has been everything I’d imagined my life here to be!

RMG: What drew you to the museum sector?

Parvathi: As an artist, the gallery and museum life was my calling. My father and I would spend a lot of time in museums and we believed in engaging with every piece of art. From a very young age, I believed that I could grow into a better artist through awareness and exposure to art of any kind.

RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Parvathi: The National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore, India, the city I grew up in and The Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France. The former for its vast collection of my favourite Indian art works and the many hours of talks and lectures that I attended; and the latter for the fantastic opportunity it gave me to experience all the European greats that I had only read about until that point.

RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Parvathi: My first memory of art would have to be watching my father work on his oils in our tiny living room, randomly throwing tips at me on the hows and whys of oil painting. It is funny how I was always surrounded by art but took me until my last day in college to realize I needed to be in the art world.

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

Parvathi: The RMG has something for everyone. The spectacular permanent collection on display, Art classes, Art workshops, Residency programs, RMG Fridays with its live music and film features, the list is endless! I feel it is all about taking that first step inside the gallery and never wanting to leave!

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Meet our new CEO Donna Raetsen-Kemp

Donna Raetsen-Kemp is the RMG’s new Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining us, she was managing the Station Gallery in Whitby. Stop by and welcome Donna to the RMG!

The RMG: What were you up to before the RMG?

Donna Raetsen-Kemp: For the past ten years I spent my days leading the arts and culture charge at Station Gallery in Whitby. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work together with the community to transform the gallery to a thriving people place. We set our sights on creating a warm and welcoming cultural hub. A gathering place with opportunities for people to engage with art in ways that were meaningful to them – a place for everyone. I’m immensely proud of the work we did there.

RMG: What drew you to the museum sector?

DRK: There were fascinating local and global things at play. Globally, the museum sector was on the cusp of a sweeping change. I found that notion exciting. Locally, there was a small, once bustling art gallery that I took classes at as a kid that had become quiet. It had just undergone a significant renovation. The opportunity to breathe life back into Station Gallery was compelling.

RMG: What is your favourite museum?

DRK: In 2012 I was part of a Canadian delegation of arts leaders on an exchange to Venice and Florence. We visited more museums than I can count, but the museum that left its mark was the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. It’s one of those great museums that you’ve probably never heard of. Their approach is bold and innovative. They take a unapologetic stance about putting their community at the forefront of programming and redefining the museum experience. They invite the community to participate in simple and delightful ways. Palazzo Strozzi houses some of the most visited exhibitions — and has a reputation as the cool place to hang out. Their courtyard is open morning until evening with a wild array of activities that bring people together and connect them with artists and exhibitions. They bring stories to life. I still check in online regularly to see to what they’re up to.

RMG: What is your first memory of art?

DRK: It’s hard to pin down one defining moment. It’s a wonderful confluence of events and experiences.

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

DRK: I simply want to invite everyone in. Our doors are wide open. Drop by for 5 minutes or stay for hours. Let’s get to know each other a little better. What would you like to see in your RMG? I can’t wait to get the conversation started.

 

Image: Donna poses a the RMG with Director of Finance and Administration, Olinda Casimiro.

Interview with Motor City Stories Artist Dani Crosby

“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator. Sam caught up with Motor City Stories artist Dani Crosby to discuss her project in the upcoming exhibition. 

In partnership with the Motor City Boxing Club, the RMG has invited regional artists to produce new works inspired by the sport of boxing. Selected artists were invited to visit the Motor City Boxing Club (Oshawa), observe athletes in training, work in situ at the club and produce new work based on their observations. The exhibition runs from July 14 – August 2 in gallery A.

RMG: Why were you interested in the Motor City Stories project?

Dani Crosby: I love drawing from life, I find Boxing to be beautiful and brutal, and I could not resist the challenge of capturing that duality on site at the Motor City Boxing Club.

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RMG: What have you been doing at Motor City Boxing Club?

DC: A lot of quick gesture drawings. I am treating my visits to Motor City Boxing Club like great big life drawing sessions. I try to scurry around the space and capture as many interesting poses and expressions as possible within the time frame of each visit. I have also been taking some video clips so that I can work from my studio in a similar manner. I’m going to be sad when this project comes to an end. As a big fan of drawing from life I would love to keep drawing at Motor City Boxing Club indefinitely.

RMG: What has been the most interesting part of the project so far?

DC: The close proximity to the action and the people. Motor City Boxing Club members range from children to seniors and all members seem so supportive and respectful of one another. Everyone has been very friendly and often inquisitive. I have had the pleasure of listening to stories from several individuals describing their reasons for training, their interest and involvement in the Visual arts. I have been made very comfortable on the premises and I am thrilled to have made Motor City Boxing members comfortable enough to approach and converse.

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RMG: What are the next steps for your project before the exhibition?

DC: I will continue to crank out as many drawings as possible. My contribution to this exhibition consists of many small pieces, each piece illustrating a different state of training, to be arranged in Gallery A in a pattern representative of The Square Circle. All of my work for this exhibition will focus on a blend of frantic mark making and deliberate ink work, reflecting the cycle of energy ongoing within the Motor City Boxing training space.

A side from that I am working with local vinyl artist Gant Cole who will be printing a number of vinyl wall decal ‘photo corners’ I have designed in order to securely and inconspicuously mount each small piece directly onto the gallery wall. Oh and talking. I will continue sharing my own excitement in regards to this exhibition and the other artists my work will be neighbor to, through word of mouth and social media.

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Dani Crosby is an Illustrator, Fine Artist, and Art Instructor. With a body of work ranging from observational studies to imagined interpretive conceptual projects Dani works to capture personality and develop thoughtful narratives in her diverse fine art work. As an Illustrator Dani brings a highly organized, consistent, and punctual working style to her clients. Her goal is to visually captivate and emotionally involve her audience. Dani’s main areas of focus as a visual artist have been: fine art, editorial, art for albums, merchandise, images for web and devices, posters, logos and icons.

Dani is always looking forward to exploring new subject matter, experiencing with new media, challenging concepts, meeting new clients, nurturing on-going professional relationships, taking on new commissions, and creative adventures in general. Graduate of the Sheridan College BA Illustration Program, Dani believes visual art is powerful enough to change anything from a person’s perception of a brand to a person’s perception of the world at large.

All images courtesy of Dani Crosby and the Motor City Boxing Club.

Interview with Artist Noel Harding

“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator.

Sam sat down with Noel Harding, the commission winner, to discuss his project “Reverb.” Noel received the TORONTO 2015 Public Sculpture Commission at the GM Centre: a site-specific sculpture commission in collaboration with the City of Oshawa, in celebration of the City’s participation in the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

The sculpture will be installed in the spring of 2015, adjacent to the General Motors Centre (GM Centre), the venue of the boxing and weightlifting events at next year’s TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. Join us for the unveiling ceremony on June 1st at 7:30pm.

The GM Centre, Oshawa

The GM Centre

The RMG: How did you become an artist?

Noel Harding: I always admired artists but never thought I would become one. It was almost by default. I left high school at 18 (achieved grade 10) subsequently working for my father’s engineering firm until I decided I had to do something with my life. I went to trade school, became an architectural draftsman, then an architectural construction technologist. I was employed as a construction estimator for which I was readily fired for lack of interest.

I landed at university as a mature student studying philosophy and working in the university video studio part-time. My involvement with video expanded from running cables, to camera operator, to tv studio director and educational script writing. Without really thinking of myself as an artist, though jealous of such, I decided to create something in video and submit it to the university’s competition for art works. To my surprise, I won first prize and my resulting video works started to travel to many different countries.

In that time, video was a brand new medium – so many things had never been done before and it was a great realm to work in. However, I never like making the same thing twice. After a while, that little screen, that shape, it was just boring. I didn’t look at it like storytelling because I treated it as a visual and time full medium. From there, I moved onto installation and projection works, where you walk inside of film and I treated the projection as a sculptural surface. In doing so, I could play with time and the interaction of people.

Those works began in the 70s. Then I began working with more diverse materials: kinetics, pumps and air compressors. By this time, I was involved in galleries in New York, LA, Toronto, Vancouver, Japan, Holland, Germany and England.

Working Model, Noel Harding

Working Model, Noel Harding

RMG: What was your inspiration for your public sculpture at the GM Centre?

NH: When you approach a competition, you approach it with a pragmatic consideration, you read and see what is being requested. You are responding to a desire on behalf of the funder or organization. Which is your starting point, in a way it dictates the way you think.

I like to look at how the location’s identity is operating, where its physicality sits, where its actions of energy are, how it is populated. There is an effort to extracting the site and looking at its needs. The GM Centre is an auditorium, a place where people gather regarding numerous events of community interests. As such, the work required itself to cooperate with the public use and enhance the location. We are not taking about meaning at this point, other than how you frame your movement forward with a set of ideas.

Working Model, Noel Harding

Working Model, Noel Harding

RMG: What was your process for creating the concept of the sculpture? Can you explain the idea if the “blurbs” and how they relate to the final piece?

NH: If you look at the detailing in the work, you’ll see a number of what we call “blurbs”, like the speech bubbles one sees text in a comic book. Those are references to the audiences inside but also, to the community of Oshawa. They are not filled in, but abstract enough to allow diversity of opinions and views and, you might say, the intensity of an array of feeling – a reference to the emotions of audience.

It’s hard to say how you get an idea, you wait to see something – you’re playing. The blurb kind of kept coming after me. You try diverse elements; you model them up on paper, put them on a table and you start to either like it or dislike it. In most instances, it just doesn’t carry and you throw it away. Something evolves until a click occurs.

RMG: Please tell us more about your choice of materials for this project.

NH: I’ve been using stainless steel for my last few works. Its permanence makes it ideal for outside installations. Its ability to appear and disappear, because it is reflective, is really a great advantage. I cut a blurb out of a flat piece of paper and curved it up. Then something was starting… and then you start to see the shapes you can read in a sculpture.

There’s another element, I think of my work as making a personality rather than making a thing. What I mean by personality, is a thickness of character or meaning. As complex as a personality can be to build: humour, seriousness, interactive engagement.

Working Model, Noel Harding

Working Model, Noel Harding

RMG: Lights will animate the sculpture at night. Can you please explain how?

NH: I was on the site and I noticed that there was a hockey game going on inside but you couldn’t tell what was going on outside. It was quite a moment of inspiration. You go to the site to inspect it and realize it’s all dark at night, even though there are 1,000 people inside. How is this possible?

If I could bring the energy of what’s going on inside, outside to the sculpture, then I’ve got a very interesting way of bringing the audience into the work. The lighting then became responsive to the activities that go on inside the centre. When there is a concert, a hockey game, or other activities, the microphone picks up that sound and influences or programs the lighting outside. As a conical shape, you might say there’s an inside and an outside to the work, that shape holds light within it and reflects where the blurbs are, giving it a kind of life.

RMG: The shape of the sculpture is very inviting – what was your thought process behind it?

NH: The shape evolved as a direct result of the GM Centre being an arena. The shape mimics an arena podium. You could also suggest that it appears as a stage, or a goalie’s net or a hockey mask. It is the best response to a work when people describe different images as they are then bringing their definitions to it. It’s what is fascinating about a work in that it can be interpreted differently depending on the viewer. I like each work to link to its location. This location was rich in providing stimulus to present an idea.

The work faces the GM Centre entrance, it operates in an interesting way for the audience because normally you’d stand inside the work as a performer looking outward, but the way the mirrored surfaces of the blurbs works is if you’re outside you see yourself as the performer inside. It creates a strong interactive dynamic. I can see people wanting to play in front to see the light and their image moving.

RMG: We are very excited about this project; can you let us know what else you are working on to make it a reality?

NH: We have just completed stamped structural drawing and detailed shop drawing which in a way take longer than the actual physical creation of the work. We have ordered the shipments of steel and are within days of being able to prefabricate the components. Stainless steel has some great advantages but it is an extraordinarily labour intensive process to gain a nice even mirrored or polished finish. It is terribly consuming and requires an enormous skill base. You really have to respect the process and the people you work with.

We will be doing some pre-testing of the sound equipment before it is installed. We are beginning light programming now. As well, we are working on all the pre-production planning for the site work, which will be longer than usual, in part, because it has to be broken down into numerous components, which then need to be polished on site. We will be onsite for a month actually placing the work.

Working Model, Noel Harding

Working Model, Noel Harding

RMG: What do you enjoy most about working in the public realm?

NH: What I love about the public realm, it’s that it’s obvious. It’s such a beautifully free space to work in, you’re not arbitrated by curation in the same way.

 

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. 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. 

Meet Heather Bulman: Communications Student

Heather Bulman is a communication student at Durham College and this winter she completes her placement with the RMG. She sat down with Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications Coordinator to discuss her experience at the RMG.

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

Heather: I began volunteering at the RMG in the summer of 2014. I knew I was interested in completing my non-profit placement here and decided volunteering would be a good way to get to know everyone beforehand.

RMG: Why were you interested in working in the museum sector?

Heather: I believe it’s important for people to experience culture in their community. By visiting galleries and museums, people can gain a better understanding of Canada’s rich cultural history. 

RMG: What has been the focus of your internship at the gallery?

Heather: My position as the Communications Intern at the RMG has allowed me to expand on my public relations education with real-world experience. I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of tasks but have been focusing my efforts on the upcoming Volunteer Youth Leaders Symposium. I am honoured to help plan and execute an event that highlights the importance of youth volunteerism in Durham Region.

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

Heather: The people. I am blown away by not only the kindness of every individual working in the gallery, but also by their passion for art and culture. They are always eager to share stories about their art experiences, both here at the gallery and abroad. By working alongside the gallery staff, I have become more knowledgeable and invested in Canadian art.

RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Heather: My favourite museum is the Canadian Canoe Museum, located in Peterborough, ON. As an elementary school student in Peterborough, I visited this museum multiple times. This was the first museum that enriched my cultural understanding. I remember hearing the rhythm of the indoor waterfall as I imagined myself portaging across the great Canadian landscape.

RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Heather: Although I remember creating art throughout elementary school, I also remember visiting the Whetung Ojibwa Centre with my mother and grandmother, where I was exposed to Indigenous crafts and fine arts for the first time. I immediately fell in love with the elements of nature and rich colours used in these works. Trips to the Curve Lake Reserve shaped my appreciation of Indigenous art and became a tradition in my family.

An interview with outgoing CEO Gaby Peacock

“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator.

As our CEO Gaby Peacock departs from the RMG, Sam spoke with her about her great accomplishments over the last five years. We all thank Gaby for her enthusiasm and innovations at the RMG and wish her all the best for the future!

Gaby at RMG Fridays February 2015

Gaby at RMG Fridays February 2015

The RMG: Looking back on five years at the RMG, what would you say has been the biggest change to the gallery from then until now?

Gaby Peacock: Working to change perceptions about the gallery and our greater role in the community has been a real priority for me from the beginning. We have tried very hard to insure that our internal staff culture, and public persona are accessible, inviting and inclusive. We have also somewhat redefined the role of museum as it relates to the needs of our community. No one size fits all. It has required us to listen to what people want and think about our work in terms of audience-driven programming. I also felt like we could do more in terms of unconventional partnerships and supporting other not-for-profits.. We have tried to repositioned the RMG as a leader and collaborator within the region.

RMG: What do you feel will be your lasting contribution to the RMG community?

Gaby: It is so important to be responsive to the changing needs of your audience. For now, RMG Fridays has a tremendous following, and I am proud to have been a part of its creation. It has made a huge impact on our ability to welcome new people to the gallery each month, and rerally connected us with the growing population of Millenials in Durham.

Perhaps more tangible (and lasting) contributions will be the public sculpture projects we initiated. I loved working with Doug Coupland to realize “Group Portrait 1957”, and the Meadmore in front of City Hall is very near and dear to my heart. Noel Harding’s commission for the GM Centre will not be installed before I leave-but I will be back to see it unveiled!

Gaby at RMG Fridays February 2015

Gaby at RMG Fridays February 2015 with Dr. Tim McTiernan, UOIT, Leo Groarke, Trent University, Don Lovisa, Durham College, Mayor John Henry and Dr. Colin Carrie, MP Oshawa.

RMG: You have also contributed to the community at large. Please tell us why these initiatives have been important to you?

Gaby: Being a part of the Culture Counts team for Oshawa’s first culture and heritage plan was incredibly rewarding. It was a real exercise in grassroots democracy. People came together and collectively made something really significant happen. It is one thing to get a plan funded and approved, but another to see that it has legs to get things done. I think a lot of people felt that they have seen other plans come and go, without much progress. There is a real desire from City staff and Council to make things happen and see the plan executed. That is half the battle. It was also really important to me that I was part of project that would create a tangible roadmap in alignment with the work we were doing at the RMG. It is all about creating a critical mass of cultural initiatives. Gradually, perceptions begin to shift.

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Senior Curator Linda Jansma, artist Douglas Coupland and CEO Gaby Peacock in front of “Group Portrait 1957”

RMG: What will you miss most about the RMG?

Gaby: I am going to miss the incredible team of people I work with everyday. Staff, and volunteers that are committed to providing visitors with amazing interactions and experiences around art and art-making. I will also miss my community colleagues who are so invested in helping Oshawa promote its rich cultural assets and change negative stereotypes.

Interview with Gallery A artist Toni Hamel

“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator.

The RMG caught up with artist Toni Hamel. Her exhibition, The land of Id is, on view in Gallery A from March 3 to 29. She will speak about her work on Sunday 29 March from 1-3pm.

The RMG: Hi Toni! Please tell us a bit about yourself?

Toni Hamel: I am an Oshawa-based visual artist. I received my BFA from the Academy of Fine Arts of Lecce, Italy in 1983, but my career as a visual artist is still considered ’emerging’ in that my first public show took place only about six years ago, in 2009. However, in these short years I have been fortunate enough to achieve some level of recognition, having received three Ontario Arts Council grants and many other awards. More recently, one of my artworks has been purchased by the Archives of Ontario for inclusion in the Government of Ontario’s permanent art collection, certainly a great honour of which I am extremely grateful.

RMG: What materials do you work in?

TH: As an inter-disciplinary artist the material utilized in my work is varied. I am fond of vintage and recycled objects for instance, which I often use in my installations and sculptural pieces. Their inclusion is never gratuitous however, as these objects need to carry either an aesthetic or a semantic function. Thus far my practice has been focused on drawing, but painting will also be part of my oeuvre in the near future.

RMG: Why were you interested in Gallery A’s Art Lab residency? What have you made while working as an artist in residence for the month of February?

TH: Originally my intention was to create a large site-specific installation for Gallery A, and that was in fact the reason why I had originally applied for the Art Lab residency. Unfortunately scheduling oversights prevented me from utilizing Gallery A during that period of time, an event that forced me to revise my plans at the last minute. Eventually I decided to work on large-scale paintings that are part of “The land of Id” series, a body of work funded by the Ontario Arts Council. However, the three-week residency period was not at all sufficient to bring these oil paintings to completion, therefore I continued working on them while in Gallery A. It was also my intention to experiment with mechanical flip-book animations, but lack of time has prevented me from doing so.

RMG: Can you please tell us a bit about your exhibition The Land of Id, on view in Gallery A?

“The land of Id” continues my discourse on human behaviour, focusing on our misguided relationship with the natural environment. In a nutshell, It looks at issues of land exploitation and its repercussions.  For more information, please visit http://www.rmg.on.ca/gallery-a-toni-hamel.php.

RMG: What inspires you? Is there a particular artist’s work that has influenced your practice?

TH: Life inspires me – if not my own, then it’ll be that of others. I am unfortunately a news-junkie and also watch too many documentaries. I find it important for an artist to be knowledgeable and well-versed in the issues of the day, as I feel that Art must bear witness. I deal with the culture of my time, trying to raise awareness about particularly pressing topics which I feel are deserving of attention. ‘The land of Id’ is just an example of that.

There are many artists that have influenced my work or admire greatly. From contemporary figures like Victor Mann,  Adrian Ghenie and Michael Borremans, to historical figures like Velasquez and Goya. I am attracted to works that have something to say, rich in content and meaning. I’m definitely not interested in ‘pretty images’ or ‘decor art’.

 

Image: Toni Hamel

The artists acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council for this exhibition.

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