Brian Deignan: Memory, Imagination and Wonder

Barn, Nova Scotia

Brian Deignan, “House with View, Nova Scotia”

Because it is so unusual, the work of a highly-skilled photographic artist who intentionally seeks to blur his images stands out to me.  Such are the mysterious images produced by Brian Deignan, a Toronto-area fine art photographer originally from Montreal and who also has lived in several parts of the U.S.  Unlike typical bokeh photographs — where the subject is in focus against a blurred background — Deignan’s entire subject is out of focus.  The resulting impressionistic images resemble paintings and conjure up deeper thoughts that often elude sharply focused photographs.   Deignan hints at this with the following observation from his portfolio website:  “People, places, things are what I photograph; memory, imagination, wonder are how.” Very nicely stated!

See more of Deignan’s images at his site here.

CROSSWALK#28

 Brian Deignan, “Crosswalk #28″ (High Noon in Mississauga)

Winter Wonderland #10

Brian Deignan, “Winter Wonderland #10″

School Bus, Route 332

Brian Deignan, “School Bus, Route 332 — Nova Scotia”

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Brian Deignan, “Sunday Drive #25″

Sunday Drive

Brian Deignan, “Sunday Drive #20″

Friday Night, Queen Near Spadina

 Brian Deignan, “Friday Night — Queen Near Spadina”

(Image Credits:  Brian Deignan)

Lisa Brawn’s Vibrant Woodcuts

Bluebird

 Lisa Brawn, “Bluebird”

Lisa Brawn is a Calgary-based artist who painstakingly creates exquisitely vibrant woodcuts.  Her subject matter ranges from wild animals to celebrities to pop culture icons.  Shown here are some of her amazing images of wild birds, each with an abstract background carving that nicely complements the main subject.  Brawn’s annual “Wild Bird Woodcuts” wall calendar is gorgeous and is a hot collector’s item, having quickly sold out its 2014 and 2015 print runs.  More of her fabulous art can be seen at her website here.

Blue-Jay

Lisa Brawn, “Blue Jay”

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Lisa Brawn, “Vermillion Flycatcher”

Puffin

Lisa Brawn, “Puffin”

Gray-Jay

Lisa Brawn, “Gray Jay”

Geese

Lisa Brawn, “Geese”

Image Credits: Lisa Brawn

Related Posts on O’Canada Blog:

Laurence Hyde’s Southern Cross

Backwoods Lumbering During the 1880s

Go By Air With TCA

TCA -- Go By Air

Before it was known as Air Canada, Canada’s major airline was called TCA or Trans-Canada Air Lines.  The leading railway companies in Canada — particularly Canadian Pacific and Canadian National — played an early major role in connecting the far-flung dots within that country’s vast borders. In 1937, one of those rail companies, Canadian National, in an effort to diversify, formed TCA thereby filling another vital transportation niche to serve Canada’s expansive geography as well as beyond.   In 1965, TCA changed its name to Air Canada.  These stylish travel posters from before 1965 (when its name was changed to Air Canada) harken back to TCA’s first few decades as a national flag air carrier.

Distillery District Door and Window Combo

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This smallish window and nearby door in Toronto’s Distillery District caught my eye both because of their curves and the forest green shared by each opening.  In addition to the well-preserved historic buildings, this area of the city features a wide range of exceptional restaurants, bars and small shops.

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Dreamy Illusions: The Surreal Art of Rob Gonsalves

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“The Phenomenon of Floating”

Toronto-born Rob Gonsalves is a surrealist master whose marvelous paintings depict dreamlike illusions. It’s almost like a mashup of M.C. Escher and Rene Magritte.  But, of course, Gonsalves’ style is the result of his own creative synthesis of many artistic strands.  Many of his paintings feature wide landscapes and young children — which seems appropriate for both the whimsical joy and philosophical reflection conjured by this painstaking artwork.  More of Gonsalves’ art can be seen on his official site here and at the site for Huckleberry Fine Art.

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  “Stepping Stones”

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R. Gonsalves 5

“Written Worlds”

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“Tabletop Towers”

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R. Gonsalves 6

“Nocturnal Skating”

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“Towers of Knowledge”

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R. Gonsalves -- Beyond the Reef

“Beyond the Reef”

Image Credits: Rob Gonsalves and Huckleberry Fine Art.

They’re Giving Away Land!

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Back in the day, Canada needed more people to build up its country and, in particular, in its vast western inland plains. With lots of land and not so many people, the federal and provincial governments and land companies starting in the late 1800s on into the early twentieth century launched  recruitment campaigns  around the world, especially in Europe, with the lure of free land grants and the potential for prosperity.  The distance was far and farm life was (is!) tough, but the appeal drew many new immigrants to Canada’s west.   I love the variety and details in some of these posters! (Click on images to enlarge)

“Now God be praised. I will die in peace.”: Early Canadian Military Heroes

Stricken at the battle for Quebec City in 1759, Major General James Wolfe uttered those words as he lay dying just as his troops’ victory was assured.  Imposing bas relief sculptures of Wolfe and three other early Canadian military heroes — Samuel de Champlain, John Graves Simcoe and Isaac Brock — grace the facade of the Archives and Canadiana Building at the University of Toronto.  Like their real-life counterparts centuries earlier, these sculptures keep a watchful and weathered gaze upon the surrounding landscape.

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Samuel de Champlain (1574-1635)

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James Wolfe (1727-1759)

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John Graves Simcoe (1752-1806)

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Isaac Brock (1769 -1812)

Toronto Public Art: Barbara Hepworth’s “Parent 1″

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“Parent 1″ (1984), by Barbara Hepworth — Her modern work calls to mind Inuit forms.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

                                                                                     ~~ Thomas Merton

“Having a swell time . . .”: Vintage Hospital Postcards

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Postmarked 1913.  A cozy looking place.

Hospitals seem a peculiar and dreary subject for postcards.  But back in the day — before routine outpatient procedures and hospitals speedily freeing up beds — time in hospital (as patient or visitor) regularly spanned several days or longer, so penning a brief note to update absent friends or loved ones was probably not so odd.  And what better way to do it than with one of the colored cards conveniently available at the hospital!

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 Postmarked 1945. The note starts out: “Having a swell time.”  Love those roadsters!

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About 1948.  Yikes — looks more like a prison!

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About 1910.  Regal digs.  Notice horse and buggy to bottom left.

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 Postmarked 1935.  Street car or bus passing by.

Urban Art: Bronze Cows in Toronto

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Art in urban settings is great to bring us out of ourselves and to refresh our minds.  A wonderful example is artist Joe Fafard’s The Pasture, a group of bronze cows posed lazily resting in the bucolic setting of the Toronto-Dominion Centre office park (designed by Mies van der Rohe), is perfect for providing an unexpected feeling of being far away from the nearby hustle and bustle of the Financial District.

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“Woke Up This Morning” on CBC Radio

Although I’ve not posted much about music on O’Canada, exploring music and its many genres is one of my favorite pastimes.  While I’ve been clued in to some great Canadian music through CBC Radio over the years, the diverse programming of CBC Radio One is such that I’ve also discovered from time to time new (for me) American pieces. Such was the case earlier this week as I listened to “As It Happens” , which is hosted by Carol Off and Jeff Douglas.  On that particular evening, the show payed homage to Claude Sitton, a journalist who passed away this week and who covered many of the key events of the early 1960s civil rights movement, by closing out with “Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind on Freedom)” performed by The SNCC Freedom Singers.  It’s a powerful song. Video below.

Whack A Canadian

Whack-a-Canadian

A weekly treat is reading through the offerings in each new issue of The New Yorker, one of my all-time favorite magazines and one that is so consistently excellent.  Their cartoons are an indispensable hallmark of that magazine’s style and over the years their cartoonists occasionally have focused their good-natured humor at Canadians or Americans’ general (mis)perception of Canada.

In keeping with that tradition, the most recent issue of The New Yorker, which celebrates the publication’s 90th anniversary(!), the above cartoon by P.C. Vey plays on the notion of Canadian politeness.  It’s funny but probably goes a bit too far — yes, Canadians are generally polite but certainly not meek.  Of course, it’s all in good fun and not to be taken too seriously, and, as previous commenters about such cartoons have noted, if you have to have a reputation, that of being overly polite isn’t a bad one to have.

Image Credit: P.C. Vey, The New Yorker

Related posts on O’ Canada:

More American Cartoons on Canada

Another Amusing Take on Canadian Politeness

“You First. I Insist”:  A Canadian Standoff

The Great Canadian Outdoors: Vintage Rockies Postcards

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 Lake Louise & Victoria Glacier — About 1949

It’s safe to say that when many Americans think of Canada they visualize vast expanses of nature and, in particular, the Canadian Rockies.  These vintage postcards — most of which are colored photos — feature scenes of the Rockies in Alberta, spanning the early 1900s up to the early 1960s.

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Athabasca Glacier — About 1960 (Love that funky snow bus!)

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Bow Valley, Banff — About 1950s

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Bow Valley, Showing Golf Course — About 1950s

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Cascade Mountain, Banff — Early 1900s  (This was quite a ride then in a horse drawn carriage.)

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Cascade Mountain, Banff — 1920s

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 Wind Mountain, Alberta — About 1910s

Artist Appreciation: Richard Thomas Davis

Richard Thomas Davis -- 65 Volvo

Richard Thomas Davis, “65 Volvo” (2012-13)

I truly love so many styles of art, but photo-like realism in painting is a style that often leaves me speechless by the skill and patience required of the artist to achieve such exceptional detail and still add that extra emotional touch to a scene that painting brings to the table.   I recently came upon the work of Richard Thomas Davis, an American born artist who is now a Canadian citizen living in Nova Scotia.  Davis’s choice of subject matter is terrific and captures bits and pieces of life in small town Canada.  I particularly like that while his images are nicely composed and perfectly rendered many of them incorporate elements of wear and tear and slight decay, each suggesting the passage and ravages of time and the living of life.

More of his works can be seen at Davis’s website here and at Toronto’s Odon Wagner Gallery and Halifax’s Studio 21 Gallery.

Richard Thomas Davis -- Storm Doors

“Storm Doors” (2010-11)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- Red Dot

“Red Dot” (1995)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- Hallway

“Hallway” (1994-96)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- Cold Front

“Cold Front” (1974-76)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- 4.30

“4:30″ (2010-11)

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 Similar posts on O’Canada:

—  Artist Appreciation:  Andrew Horne

—  Sean Yelland’s “Distant” and “Stop Everything”

—  Artist to Appreciate:  Christopher Walker

Welcoming Another Year of Wonder

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Lichen-Covered Rocks and Windblown Pine, Kejimkujik Seaside, Nova Scotia

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”

                                                                                                   ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Magical Winterscapes by Group of Seven

A.J. Casson -- Rooftops

A. J. Casson, Rooftops

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As the chill of wintry winds, snow and ice continues, a compilation of Canadian winterscapes by the Group of Seven artists seems in order.  As always, the scenery by these talented artists is captivating!  (Click on image to enlarge)

Similar posts on O’Canada:

→  The Group of Seven’s Landscape Explosion

→  The Very Vital Canadian Group of Painters

Winnipeg’s Cozy and Artful Warming Huts

Woodpile HutWood Pile Hut

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Skating on the frozen surface of the Assiniboine River, a popular winter pastime, will work up quite a chill.  Recognizing this, makeshift warming huts have long been used along the river to provide a temporary respite from the cold.  Several years ago (2010), a local art-and-architecture competition was started in Winnipeg to see how the simple warming hut might be creatively rethought.  The result has been an annual showcase of fun and function that does Winnipeg proud, as these images attest!  More about the warming huts can be found at the site for the annual competition.

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The Hole Idea Hut

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Fir Hut

Fir Hut

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The Five-Hole Hut

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Ha(y)ven Hut

Ha(y)ven Hut

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Hygge House Hut

 The Hygge Hut

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Ice Pillows Hut

Ice Pillows Hut

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Red Blanket Hut

Red Blankets Hut

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Rope Pavillion Hut

Rope Pavillion Hut

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Windshield Hut

Windshield Hut

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Image credits:   Warming Huts Competition Site

Let’s Visit Ontario!

Ontario Lakelands

This nifty selection of vintage travel posters do a nice job capturing many of the wonders to be experienced in Ontario.

Bungalow Camps Ontario Vacation Ottawa

Toronto United Air

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

—  Retro Winter Recreation and Travel Ads

—  Magnificent Travel Art of the Canadian Pacific Railway

Janis Woode’s Thought-Provoking Sculptures

J. Woode -- Personal Tornado

Janis Woode Personal Tornado

While reading a recent issue of Arabella magazine I was captivated by the intriguing and thought-provoking sculptures made from steel, wire and other metals created by Salt Spring Island, B.C. artist Janis Woode.  Although some of her works suggest a whimsical element, Woode also manages to convey an array of deep emotions to which I expect many of her viewers can readily relate.  See more of her cleverly crafted art at her website here.

J. Woode -- Cupid

Janis Woode, Cupid

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J. Woode -- Root

Janis Woode, Root

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J. Woode -- Stilted Walker

Janis Woode, Stilted Walker

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J. Woode -- The Musician

Janis Woode, The Musician

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J. Woode -- Boat

Janis Woode, The Boat

(Image Credits: Artist Website)

In Memory of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo & W.O. Patrice Vincent

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Cumberland County Soldiers Memorial, Amherst, N.S.

What a sad and tumultuous past week it’s been for Canada.  South of our shared border our hearts go out in sorrow and sympathy to the country and the families of slain Canadian Forces members Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.   May they rest in peace.

(I had been saving this image to post on Remembrance Day, but now seems as fitting.)

Quiet Autumn Sunset, New Brunswick

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Near Sunset, Looking Across the Lubec Narrows, Campobello Island, New Brunswick

“The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.”

                                                                                              ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Crisp Maritimes Morning

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Rusted Tiller Wheel, Annapolis Valley, N.S., Along the Bay of Fundy Coast

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”

                                                                                       ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Appreciating Each Precious Moment

Butchart Gardens -- Water Leaves

Floating Fall Leaves, Butchart Gardens, Victoria, B.C.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

                                                                      ~ Henry David Thoreau

Early Fall, Kejimkujik Seaside, Nova Scotia

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“Make each step with intention and surrender and you will move forward on your path. Be kind to others.  Honor the mystery and wonder that surrounds us at every moment.”                                                                                                                                              ~ Nicola Barsaleau*

(*Nicola Barsaleau is a talented artist I recently met at an art fair who makes exquisite linocut prints, several of which incorporate wonderfully inspiring words of wisdom such as the above and can be seen on her site here.)

Love These Vintage Neon and Bulb Signs!

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Mixed in among modern urban streetscapes, the look and feel of the rare classic neon and bulb-lit signs are distinctive. I spied these in Toronto and one in New Brunswick (the fabulous sign for Mel’s Tea Room!), which happily stand the test of time.

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Splendid Farm Offerings at the St. Lawrence Market

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Since the early 1800s, the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto has been a traditional marketplace for fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and all manner of other agricultural products.  It’s a colorful and happily bustling scene that has the distinction of being named by National Geographic in 2012 as the world’s best  market.  Even if a matter of opinion, that’s high praise!  Snapping these shots between bites of a warm croissant graced with some local honey provided a relaxing hour’s idyll.

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

⇒ Abundance at the Saint John City Market

⇒ Kensington Market, Toronto: Fresh, Funky and Fun

⇒ Early 1900s Town Markets

Robert McAffee — Artist to Appreciate

R. McAffee -- The Foot of the Falls

Robert McAffee, The Foot of the Falls

Toronto-based Robert McAffee’s contemporary landscape art is striking in many ways.  His lush scenes of the Canadian wilderness pay homage to the influences of several Group of Seven artists — notably Lawren Harris, Tom Thomson, A.J. Casson and Arthur Lismer.   McAffee seems to have internalized aspects of each with a resulting style that is wonderfully distinct from any one of them.  More about McAffee’s beautiful artwork and links to galleries that carry his pieces can be found at his website here.

R. McAffee -- The Three Sisters

Robert McAffee, The Three Sisters

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R.McAffee

R. McAffee, Fishing By the Rocks

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R. McAffee -- North Shore Twisty

Robert McAffee, North Shore Twisty

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R. McAffee -- Waterfall

Robert McAffee, Waterfall

(Image credits:  Artist’s website)

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

> David Silcox’s Exquisite Book on The Group of Seven

> The Group of Seven’s Landscape Explosion

> Amazing Landscape Artistry of Philip Buytendorp, Jennifer Woodburn and Steve Coffey

 

 

Broke-Down Dodge Truck

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Situated along one of the wide pathways in Toronto’s Distillery District, this tired old Dodge truck  from the 1940s exudes character with its highly stylized chrome grill cover brightly shining against varied shades of surrounding rust.

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Ossington Avenue Graffiti

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Crisscrossing the streets of Toronto, it struck me that I had to look harder there than in Montreal to find graffiti or street art.  But what’s to be found in Toronto is every bit as varied and creatively expressed, as shown by these two examples, both in the Ossington Avenue area.  I’ll post more later.

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Let’s Play!: Gaddabout Vintage Part II

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Following up on a recent post about Toronto’s Gaddabout Vintage, here’s another installment of wonderful baubles — this time toys and the like — that can be found in this perfect little shop with something for every taste (and age).

 

Bridges As Depicted on Vintage Postcards

High-Level-Bridge,-Edmonton

 Steam train crossing as onlookers leisurely enjoy the vista.  Postmarked 1921. 

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Even with sophisticated modern equipment, bridges are marvels of engineering skill.  Bridges from earlier periods, such as the array of Canadian ones featured on these vintage postcards, built without the benefit of such conveniences and often at the cost of many lives and injuries, are that much more impressive!

Heading into Canada from Detroit.  About 1940s, when cars featured many curves.

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Victoria-Jubilee-Bridge

Love the simplicity of this image and the partial reflection. Postmarked 1906.

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Similar posts:

•  Beautiful Old Railway Bridge, Near Clementsport, N.S.

•  Canada-U.S. Friendship Postcard and Stamps

•  Vintage Quebec:  Ox Carts, Dog Carts and Sleighs

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