RMG Exposed Photo Picks – Sonya Jones

In the lead up to RMG Exposed 2015,  the RMG’s fundraising auction of juried photography, our staff will be sharing their favourite photos on our blog. View all the photographs at rmgexposed.ca

Sonya Jones is the RMG’s Associate Curator and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection.

“One of my responsibilities for RMG Exposed is to manage the submissions, which gave me first glimpse at all 407 images that came in. What a treat! I’m also the jury facilitator, so I was in the room with the jury while they chose the finalists. It was so rewarding to observe the process, and to review the images again.

Obviously, I have insight into the thoughts of the jury, however, this did not impact my top 3 choice selections. I decided to choose ones that jumped out at me when they were first submitted, prior to the jury’s meeting. I was thrilled when they chose these ones.” – Sonya Jones

Sonya’s picks for RMG Exposed are:

Lindsay Lauckner Gundlock - Wind on the Ferry

Lindsay Lauckner Gundlock – Wind on the Ferry

I find this work ripe with narrative, with lovely colours and lines. The image makes me curious about the destination of this ship, the passengers who are on it, what the exterior view from that window would be, and where those stairs go.

Oliver Steins - Manhattan

Oliver Steins – Manhattan

This photograph jumped out at me for its conceptual approach. The contrast between the typical city street view of overflowing dumpsters with the natural picturesque landscape billboard is interesting, especially with the shadows of the tree. I also love the geometric shapes throughout.

Chad C. Kirvan – When the Machine Dies

Chad C. Kirvan – When the Machine Dies

The colour was what first drew me to this image. Looking closer, it actually had an emotional effect on me. There’s a sadness to it (that the title also instills) and a commentary about our disposable society. I have to admit that it reminded me of the movie Wall-E, which also comments on waste management and the effect on the future.

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RMG Exposed Photo Picks – Linda Jansma

In the lead up to RMG Exposed 2015,  the RMG’s fundraising auction of juried photography, our staff will be sharing their favourite photos on our blog. View all the photographs at rmgexposed.ca

Linda Jansma is the RMG’s Senior Curator. She has written essays for catalogues dealing with both historical and contemporary art and has been the supervising curator of over 165 exhibitions for the RMG. She is the chair of the City of Oshawa’s Art and History Committee and Art Policy Committee and is an Advisory committee member of Durham College’s Fine Art programme.

Linda’s top picks for RMG Exposed are:

Jordyn Stewart - Displaced 2

Jordyn Stewart – Displaced 2

There’s something about this image… We’ve all seen dishes piled in a sink, ready to be washed. But a bobber? And the bobber isn’t just floating, the string is being held in place by something, or someone. Which adds an element of mystery—the photographer could as easily have just popped the bobber in, but he wanted to control where it was—and hence control the composition. I also love how the bobber is surrounded by a delicate halo of bubbles.

Tom Ridout - Machine Age

Tom Ridout – Machine Age

This post-apocalyptic industrial scene is simultaneously frightening and fascinating. I want to know where this is, but I suppose it could exist in any industrial country. The photographer has set up his shot in a way that we can’t see the end of this building: this scene, is, in effect, never-ending which adds to the tension.

Jen Yearman Big Beach

Jen Yearman Big Beach

This incredibly saturated beach scene is fascinating to pour over. Every time I look at it, I see another detail—from the flower-shaped beach umbrella to the lone red chair in the centre of the image–everything seems to have been purposely placed by the artist. The pink sky in the background ties it all together for me.

 

José Seoane’s, Untitled

Linda Jansma’s Reflections on Today

I am not a particularly emotional person. Just ask my family, friends and colleagues who can attest to the fact that my stoic, Northern European roots run deep.

But this afternoon was different. Jason Dankel, the RMG Preparator, had installed the last work in the exhibition Moving Image. The lighting wasn’t done, nor the cards up, but the work was on the wall by mid-afternoon. I was in the space, on my own, and stood in front of Cuban-Canadian artist José Seoane’s Untitled oars that represented the experiences of those who risked their lives in small boats with handmade oars to make the treacherous trip across the open waters from Cuba to Miami. As I reflected on that work, the sound of avante-garde composer William Basinki’s video Disintegration Loop played behind me. Basinski had completed his composition on the morning of 9/11 and was playing it to a friend on the roof of his New York City apartment when the Twin Towers were hit. He set up a camera and recorded the waning hours of daylight with plumes of black smoke drifting across the sky as the sun set. He combined the music of the Disintegration Loops with the video to create an elegy to that unforgettable day.

Abdullah M. I. Syed, Rug of Flying Drones, 2009

Abdullah M. I. Syed, Rug of Flying Drones, 2009

So I listened to it, while looking at José’s oars, knowing that Abdullah Syed’s Rug of Drones, an installation of 107 planes in the exhibition Beyond Measure, and constructed of blades from box cutters—and which also clearly referenced 9/11, was on the other end of the gallery. And the oars were no longer specific to fleeing Cubans, but to the thousands of refugees who are risking it all to seek a safer and better life away from their homes in Syria, Iraq, Libya …

And the picture of a three year old boy flashed in my mind.

And how could one not be moved.

 

Linda Jansma
Senior Curator
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery

 

Above Image: José Seoane’s, Untitled

Hidden Mothers and “Tall Tale” Postcards

This post comes from the desk of Associate Curator and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection, Sonya Jones.

Researching and selecting images for the exhibition Mindful Manipulation was fascinating! Not only did I learn about darkroom manipulation processes but I also discovered some interesting things about early studio practices. For example, hidden mother photography. In the Victorian era, with long exposure times, mothers would often disguise themselves in different ways to hold their children still. Photographers would try to put the focus on the children by camouflaging the mothers as chairs, couches or curtains.

John Aubrey Morphy Portrait, 1891, Oshawa Public Libraries

John Aubrey Morphy Portrait, 1891, Oshawa Public Libraries

There is one example of this in Mindful Manipulation where the mother is draped to look like a chair. The photographer went even further in drawing attention away from the “chair” with a white vignette. This was done by dodging, a process that decreases the exposure for areas of the print that the photographer wished to be light. As a mom, I know firsthand how difficult it is to capture a squirming baby even with today’s technology, and I guess I’m technically hiding too, but behind the lens versus disguised as a couch! The example of the Morphy baby isn’t as creepy as other examples from this time period. If you Google hidden mother photography the results are hilarious and spooky.

"How We Do Things At Oshawa, ONT.", 1911, Oshawa Public Libraries

“How We Do Things At Oshawa, ONT.”, 1911, Oshawa Public Libraries

The other subject I found interesting in my research was Tall Tale postcards. These postcards began around the turn of the 20th century, and were especially popular in smaller communities where they would exaggerate food sources specific to the region. In Oshawa’s case, the tall-tale is that Oshawa’s rich soil produces gigantic turnips, and that fish were an abundant food source. Photographers would take two prints, one a background landscape and another a close-up of an object, carefully cut out the second and superimpose it onto the first, and re-shoot the combination to create a final composition that is often ridiculous but fun.

Join me on November 17 for a lecture about the history of manipulated images as well as the emerging field of digital forensics by Deepa Kundur.

For more information please visit http://www.rmg.on.ca/mindful-manipulation-tbc.php

 

Top image: “How We Do Things At Oshawa, ONT.”, 1917, Oshawa Community Museum and Archives

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

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!

Curator’s Choice – Puppet Act

On 23 May, the RMG will open Puppet Act: Manipulating the Voice. We asked Senior Curator Linda Jansma to share with us her inspirations behind this exciting and dynamic summer exhibition. Join us for the opening on Sunday, 7 June from 1-3pm.

An April 2010 article in the Walrus magazine, profiling internationally renowned Canadian puppeteer Ronnie Burkett, got me thinking. Then, a fall 2010 visit to Uxbridge artist Diana Lopez Soto sealed it. I had to curate a show on puppets. And now, five years later, here we finally are.

My “puppet” file is four centimeters thick and I can assure you that listening to my latest amazing puppet find has even tested the patience of some RMG staff. But the project kept being pushed back as other exhibitions came along that were more time-sensitive. I could as easily have kept putting it off—once the final selection of artists and works were made, I continue to be contacted about other possible inclusions.

Puppet Act: Manipulating the Voice is comprised of both historic and contemporary work including two works that are being created specifically for this exhibition by Diana Lopez Soto and Catherine Heard. Spring Hurlbut’s words, while specific to ventriloquism, are appropriate: “It is such a curious and complex relationship one has with the inanimate becoming animated.” Within this exhibition, the inanimate are given voice—complex and multi-layered ones that for me, were worth the wait.

– Linda Jansma, Senior Curator

Image: Diana Lopez Soto, Human Factor IX; threads and variations, 2015, Installation: video and mixed media