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!


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.


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.

Gabrielle Peacock gives keynote address at Sustainable Economies: Regional Public Art Galleries and Art-Vibrant Scenes

On Friday, 27 March, the RMG will send two team members to the Art Gallery of Windsor to speak at Sustainable Economies: Regional Public Art Galleries and Art-Vibrant Scenes, a one-day professional development exchange presented by the Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG). This event gathers directors, curators, and emerging arts professionals together to explore the role and sustainability of public art gallery collections in today’s fluctuating economies.

With a focus on gallery impacts arising from the 2008 and 2009 recession in the automotive-based economies of Oshawa, Windsor and Detroit, presenters and panelists will share examples of ongoing and sustained artistic innovations undertaken during depressed and changing economies. Gabrielle Peacock, the outgoing Chief Executive Officer of the RMG, will present Making Culture Count: A Case Study in the Role of the Museum Leadership and City Revitalization.

Communications and Social Media Coordinator, Sam Mogelonsky, will present on the gallery’s monthly program, RMG Fridays. For four years, on the first Friday of the month, the gallery comes to life at night with musical performances and interactive art experiences. With continued support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, this free program showcases local talent while providing an avenue for the RMG to expand its audiences and engage with community partners.

OAAG aims to empower Ontario public art galleries through advocacy, professional development, and network building. Attendees of OAAG’s event will have the opportunity to discuss how galleries have adapted, opportunities and barriers for artistic innovation existing in each community, as well as share regional funding and revenue strategies that can help sustain public art gallery collections. Joining Peacock as a keynote speaker is Catharine Mastin, Director, Art Gallery of Windsor, who will speak on support for arts and culture through municipal funding.


(Left) Border Cultures part 3 (security, surveillance), 2015, installation view, Art Gallery of Windsor.
(Right) Exterior view by Michel Cullen, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery.

Meet Evin Lachance, Gallery A Co-ordinator and Technician

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

The RMG caught up with Evin Lachance, Gallery A Co-ordinator and Technician to discuss his new role at the gallery.


The RMG: Hi Evin. We are thrilled to have you as a member of the RMG team. Can you tell us briefly about who you are and how you got involved with the RMG?

Evin Lachance: I am a fairly recent grad from Ryerson University. I started my RMG journey after my graduation back in May 2014. Being raised in Oshawa I wanted to inject myself into it  Arts community so naturally I became a volunteer here at the Gallery. After 5 months or so of volunteering  I was approached by Elizabeth Sweeney and asked if I would like to work with Gallery A as a coordinator and technician. It was dream come true and an opportunity I could not pass up.

RMG: What drew you to the museum sector?

Evin: When I did my undergrad in New Media at Ryerson University I learned a lot about myself and my practice which ultimately lead me to the museum sector. In the program I learned a lot about user interaction with art and how people respond to what they see/touch/hear and it got me interested in how we as a community experience art. I suppose it ignited a spark to begin to facilitate community art in order to explore it. The best place for me was the museum sector because it was a central hub for all of these things.

RMG: How has Gallery A evolved since you began working on the project? What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?

Evin: Since I was brand new to the museum the guidelines had already been established for Gallery A. However, since it is new too I have a chance to help it grow into something special. I will say that it has evolved into this weird sibling I have to take care for:  I have to clean it, make sure it looks nice to the public, feed art into, and correct any problems it may cause. Sometimes it can be stubborn but over all its totally worth it and I strongly believe in its existence!

Overall, I am the most excited to have the space constantly being in a state of flux. We went from Painted abstract walls with Pete Smith to etchings of plant life and mixed media from Ruth Greenlaw. Every time there is a new artist in Gallery A and in the ArtLab the atmosphere becomes new and electric. I am also looking forward to the new work being created within the ArtLab and seeing Gallery A being  moulded into something new for each individual artist or group.

RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Evin: Can I say The RMG? I mean I am a little biased but it is an important establishment for art in the Oshawa community and also in my own life. I enjoy the work being done by the staff and the spectrum of artist we show here.

Other notable places that I enjoy to attend is 401 Richmond in Toronto. Though not a specific museum it houses a ton of amazing Gallery Spaces like The Red Head Gallery, A Space, Vtape, etc. I can spend hours within the building walking through all the spaces seeing all the art and become inspired by the use of space.

(I’m a little bit of a fixture junkie. I love seeing how art work is presented.)

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

Evin: One thing would have to be the new instalment of Gallery A and the Art lab within the RMG. We finally have a space that will properly showcase Durham Reign artists. I want people to be excited about coming and seeing new works by people they potentially live down the street from.

RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Evin: It is kind of sappy but when I was incredibly young  I remember going into my basement and searching in old boxes to find “artifacts” from my parents past. In one of the boxes with my Mother’s name on it I came across a couple of  8.5″ x 11″ acrylic animal caricatures she had done when she was a teenager.  Among them was one of a fish was blow a heart bubble to another fish. I can recall trying to recreate it about a hundred times. Even though my mom claims to never have had any talent her work is a fond memory and inspiration that I will take with me throughout my life.

RMG paints a picture of Canada

Vol ‘n’ Tell is an ongoing series of blog posts written by RMG Volunteers. Raechel Bonomo is an Oshawa native, art enthusiast and second-year Print Journalism student at Durham College.

Rolling Canadian hills dominate the walls of Robert McLaughlin Gallery’s (RMG) main gallery space. In a corner, tiny fish can be seen swimming through space while totem poles hang on the opposite side of the room.

As part of the gallery’s Talk and Tour series, curator Linda Jansma took the public through a look into the career and life of one of Canadian’s prominent painters Jock Macdonald in Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form.

Jansma said the exhibit came together through a long process that began in spring 2011.

“This exhibit traces the artistic transition [Macdonald] underwent,” said Jansma. “His career as an artist journeys in a perpetual state of evolution.”

In 2012, Jansma was in the process of writing a grant to receive funding from the Department of Heritage for the exhibit when she received a strange email.

The sender was Jock’s nephew, Alistair Macdonald.

He asked Jansma about the collection of Macdonald pieces at the RMG for an exhibit he was curating at the Edinburgh Gallery in Scotland. During their correspondence, he notified Jansma about 40 letters written by his uncle stored in the Scottish gallery’s archives.

This was the missing piece to Jansma’s puzzle, she said. That fall, she took a five-day trip to Scotland to view the letters. The content of the letters led her to uncover the lost work of Macdonald.

She explored the various styles and periods of Macdonald and brought back with her paintings, drawings and methods unseen before by Canadian audiences.

Macdonald was born in 1897 in Thurso, Scotland. After his time in the army, he studied design at the Edinburgh College of Art. Macdonald immigrated to Canada in 1926 to take up a teaching job as head of design at the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts.

One of his greatest contributions is as a founding member of Toronto-based abstract group, Painters 11 formed in 1953.

In the early stages of his career, Canadian Group of Seven member Lawren Harris’s work inspired Macdonald to paint abstract landscapes. This influence is visible in his work In the White Forest, 1932. This piece, among 92 other original works, is currently up in the RMG.

“Intuitively artists create within the structural forms of nature,” is a quote from Macdonald posted above his landscape works in the exhibit. There is a notable predominance of nature as his main influencer in the majority of his work, Jansma said.

“Jock always painted the fourth dimension of nature,” said Jansma. “It is how we’re suppose to feel about it, not how we see it.”

In the 1940s, Macdonald met British surrealist artists Dr. Grace W. Pailthorpe and Ruben Mednikoff. According to Jansma, they taught Macdonald surrealist painting methods such as automatics. This technique involves painting in quick-paced series, and dating work down to the very time it was created. Macdonald was diverting away from his traditional landscape work and producing surrealist-style paintings such as Fish Family, 1943 included in the RMG exhibit.

Many art historians credit 1957 – 1960 as Macdonald’s pre-eminent years as a painter. During this time, he painted an average of 50 paintings per year until he died suddenly from a heart attack on Dec. 3, 1960.

Jansma described Macdonald as the “pioneer of post-war abstraction in Canada.” According to her, he had a substantial influence on Canadian painters then and in future generations.

Pete Smith, Postscript, 2014

Pete Smith, Postscript, 2014

Bowmanville painter Pete Smith credits Jock Macdonald as one of his biggest influences and the catalyst to his current exhibit Postscript in Gallery A, located in the lower half of the RMG.

Smith told the RMG his exhibit is “an aesthetic research project into the work and life of Jock Macdonald. In this sense, it will function as a postscript: a sprawling, artistic labyrinth of additional information and my idiosyncratic response to the concurrently held exhibition, Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form.”

Evolving Form is the first major retrospect of Macdonald’s work in more than 30 years and can be viewed at the RMG until May 24.


Top Image credit: Jock Macdonald, Rim of the Sky, 1958; oil on canvas; Collection of The Robert McLaughlin Gallery.


Curator’s View: Jack Bush and Jock Macdonald

This blog post comes from the desk of Senior Curator, Linda Jansma.

This is an unprecedented time in the history of Painters Eleven. Two of its members, Jack Bush and Jock Macdonald are simultaneously having major retrospective exhibitions. Jock Macdonald: Evolving Form, which debuted at the Vancouver Art Gallery last fall and has now just opened at the RMG runs concurrently with Jack Bush, an exhibition organized by and featured at the National Gallery of Canada.

Image Credit: Jock Macdonald in Nootka Sound, c. 1935-36, Vancouver Art Gallery Archives

Image Credit: Jock Macdonald in Nootka Sound, c. 1935-36, Vancouver Art Gallery Archives

As a co-curator of the Macdonald exhibition, I have been immersed in the project for three years and yesterday’s final touches on the installation were a satisfying experience. I’d seen the exhibition installation in Vancouver, and ours, because of the spaces we’re using, looks quite different. It’s interesting to see how work changes dependent on the height of galleries or the juxtaposition with different work—it’s the stuff that keeps curating fresh for me.

The experience I had with the Jack Bush exhibition was completely different. Two RMG works were included in the show and one of its principal curators, Sarah Stanners spent a good deal of time in our vault and with our archives. But that was extent of my knowledge of the exhibition.

The painting to greet visitors on entering the exhibition is a majestic sash painting—indeed, the entire first part of the exhibition concentrates on work that Bush did after 1961. These are paintings to which his international reputation is attributed. A room of his 1950s abstract expressionist work is one in which I felt particularly comfortable. He produced these paintings when he was a member of P11 and while they might not be considered as accomplished as his later work, I love the energy that spills from them. The majesty of these later works cannot however, be denied: expansive areas of colour, the brush strokes, unlike many other colour field painters, he allows his audience to see, as well as many of the works’ expansive sizes that envelope you when standing in front of them make for an incredible experience.

Portrait of Jack Bush at Park Gallery, 1958, The New Studio Photography, Gift of the Feheley Family, 2013

Portrait of Jack Bush at Park Gallery, 1958, The New Studio Photography, Gift of the Feheley Family, 2013

There are interesting similarities to the Bush and Macdonald stories. The NGC retrospective highlights the importance of Bush’s relationship with New York critic Clement Greenberg (although puts to rest the myth that Greenberg all but guided Bush’s brush), while the Macdonald exhibition shines a light on the relationship he had with British Surrealists Dr. Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff. The Bush family gave unprecedented access to their father’s diaries giving a personal voice to the project. The Macdonald project saw the inclusion of both a previously unknown diary that he kept while roughing it with his family in Nootka Sound, as well as close to forty letters that he’d written to his mentors Pailthorpe and Mednikoff. These primary sources have enriched both projects.

As a curator who has worked with a collection by members of Painters Eleven for many years, seeing both of these exhibitions is particularly satisfying for me. It also makes me realize how much has yet to be done: as a start, Ray Mead or Walter Yarwood retrospectives anyone?

Interview with artist Margaret Rodgers

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

The RMG caught up with artist Margaret Rodgers to discuss her new exhibition Closeups.

The RMG: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Margaret Rodgers: As an Oshawa-based artist I am especially interested in local history but my work ranges across subject and medium quite extensively. Recent exhibition activity includes No Man’s Land (Erring on the Mount festival, Peterborough), The Tree Museum: Easy Come, Easy Go (AGP), WhiteOut, TAC Art/Work Gallery, Toronto, and  OshawaSpaceInvaders, 2013-14. Earlier works relative to the Closeups exhibition include Out of Time at Oshawa City Hall, Money etc. (installation in a bank vault at 20 Simcoe N Oshawa), and (site/cite/cité/city) SPECIFIC: “The Shwa” a downtown Oshawa project exhibited as RENEWAL at Red Head Gallery Toronto.

I founded the IRIS Group, a collective of women artists, taught at Durham and Centennial Colleges, and was Director/Curator at VAC Clarington. My writing includes Locating Alexandra (Toronto: ECW, 1995) about Painters Eleven artist Alexandra Luke, and various reviews and essays for catalogues, journals and blogs.

In 2008 I organized IRIS in the North Country at BluSeed Studios and Hotel Saranac, Saranac Lake, NY, and showed there again in 2010 and 2013. For 2015, I am Guest Curator of Crossing Borders, an exhibition exchange with BluSeed for VAC Clarington. International exhibition activity includes Deviant Detours, Kunsthaus Gallery, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and the Beijing World Art Museum, with seven Durham artists.

As a member of Heritage Oshawa I worked on DOORS OPEN and organized Heritage Week events at the Oshawa Centre.

Margaret Rodgers’ studio

RMG: Where did you get the idea for Closeups?

MR: I have always found it interesting that our photos are peopled with strangers who happen to be there in the background and to speculate on where our own images have ended up incidentally. In the IRIS at Bola show and later in Out of Time at City Hall I drew from images that included the 20 Simcoe N. environs–once a bank, then Burns Jewellers, Tribal Voices, and Bola. There was also a photo of a pub that existed there before the bank, and in all of the pictures there are people on the street, rarely posing but caught anyway, tiny and frequently blurred images that I found fascinating to contemplate.

In 2011 I installed Money, etc in the vault there. Subsequently we held an IRIS at Bola show in the store, and the following year The IRIS Group rented the space to create our own work and hold a series of workshops. Through exploring the building I found these old battered jewellery trays that had been used when Burns Jewellers was the owner. It was IRIS member Jan Prebble who suggested hanging them by their handles, and with permission from the manager we used a few in the workshops. When I was asked to make art relating to the Bouckley collection I thought that the trays would make perfect bases for the historic subject matter and got permission from the owner John Aquilina to take them.

RMG: What other artists have influenced your career/artistic practice?

MR: I am a huge Joyce Wieland fan for her gutsy exuberance and her use of any medium that fit her purpose. Also Gerhard Richter, but who isn’t? I studied with Krzysztof Wodiczko in a tiny Trent class that he called The Crown Donut School of Cultural Studies . His projected interventions were just becoming famous, and his brilliance was obvious. I think the idea of using unconventional methods and media probably comes mostly from him.

RMG: What is your favourite image from the Thomas Bouckley Collection?

MR: I loved all of the ones I worked with, since I pored over the collection trying to make choices, the images of children are particularly appealing but the entire collection is engrossing.

Margaret Rodgers, Fireman and Fan, Prospect Park 1900, 2014

Margaret Rodgers, Fireman and Fan, Prospect Park 1900, 2014

RMG: What draws you to using historical photographs in your work?

MR: I think it comes from looking at similar photographs in my family collection, trying to see into the past and think about those long gone relatives, who they were and what they were like. I have inherited albums from a dear aunt who was born in 1890 and who told me many stories about her early life. In the 1980s I did a series based on this personal history, and have been thinking about it again.

Also my son and I visited Thomas Bouckley one time when he lived in Bond Towers. I remember his apartment being crowded with photo equipment and his stories about bribing the garbage collectors to watch for any discarded photographs. We were thrilled to meet him since we loved his books.

Working on Heritage Oshawa also brought home the great loss that the city has suffered in the destruction of its earlier architecture. While there is definitely something about sentiment and nostalgia, both frowned upon in the art world, incidentally, there is also this desire to reach into the past and establish a connection to what once was.

RMG: What do you hope visitors will take away from seeing the exhibition?

MR: In terms of the photographic work of art, consideration is also given to point of view, to the photographer’s choices, to the overall cultural construct in play. It’s always interesting to contemplate the unseen, the undocumented. We are given images that show a busy prosperous city, or families at leisure. I tried to find that person off to the side, or engulfed in a crowd. I would like people to think about the images within the context of a comfortable middle class, but to understand that this would have been only a part of society.

Aside from simply appreciating the artworks of themselves, I hope they will have fun with it, make a game out of trying to match the Bouckley pieces with the figures I have pulled from them, and enjoy a bit of our local history.


Closeups: Margaret Rodgers
Selections from the Thomas Bouckley Collection

23 January – 7 May, 2015
Opening: RMG Fridays, 6 February, 7-10pm
Artist talk with Margaret Rodgers: Sunday 22 February, 1-3pm