Backroads Nova Scotia: Old Chevy Truck

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Vintage Chevrolet Truck, Backroads of Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

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I’m always thrilled when I come across a rusty old truck or auto from the early era of transportation and I have my camera handy.  This vintage Chevrolet truck, from about the late 1930s (my guess), was perfectly situated near a weathered garage down a meandering country road.  The distinctive front-end of this truck features an oversized grill, exaggerated fenders with standout headlights, and an iconic sleek hood ornament.  I spoke with the owner, who explained that he restored old vehicles.  So this vintage beauty may yet roll along the road again and turn a few heads as it does.

Vintage Chevrolet Truck, Backroads of Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

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Vintage Chevrolet Truck, Backroads of Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

 

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~ Cool Vintage Junkyard for Sale

~ Old Farm Tractor Along Charlevoix / St. Lawrence Shore

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Building the Toronto Subway: John DeRinzy’s Art

John DeRinzy, Three Men With Jack Hammers (1950)

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Unless you were around when it was built (I wasn’t, by the way!), it’s difficult to imagine how massive an undertaking it was to build Toronto’s subway system.  Shortly before it’s opening in 1954, local artist John DeRinzy, who worked as a graphics designer for Simpson’s department store (later part of the Hudson’s Bay chain), documented the progress of this major public works project in a series of watercolor and charcoal landscapes.  His inclusion of workers in these images helps the viewer to connect emotionally to the scenes depicted.  They are reminiscent of the style displayed by public art of the New Deal era a couple of decades earlier in the U.S.   (DeRinzy’s work also brings to mind Caven Atkins’ painting “Arc Welder Working on Bulkhead” (1943), which can be seen in this 2013 O’Canada post.)

More background on these images can be found in the City of Toronto Archives here.

John DeRinzy, Underground Utilities, Yonge Street (1949)

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John DeRinzy, Welder (1950)

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John DeRinzy, Men Excavating in Timber Lined Trench (1950)

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John DeRinzy, Man With Jack Hammer (1950)

 

Image Credits: John DeRinzy; City of Toronto Archives

Up-and-Coming Band: The Dead South

The Dead South is a terrific band from Saskatchewan that is up and coming.

They have a great sound that is tinged with roots, blues, folk and traditional country.  If you haven’t heard of them before, I think before long all of us will be hearing a lot more of their wonderful music.

Eric Goggin’s Inviting Travel Posters of Atlantic Canada and Beyond

Travel posters at their best showcase memorable places in distinctive ways as well as the talent of remarkable artists.  A case in point is the beautiful series of travel posters by Salisbury, New Brunswick-based graphics designer Eric Goggin.  The stylized design, bright colors and buoyant fonts are all fun.  Many of Goggin’s posters have a pleasing vintage feel to them and focus on locations throughout Atlantic Canada.

While well-known cities and areas, such as Gros Morne, St. Andrews By the Sea, Cape Breton and the Bay of Fundy, are featured, Goggin also directs some of his artistry to lesser-known but still picturesque locales, including Cape Forchu, N.S., Shediac, N.B., and Cavendish, P.E.I.  Of course, because they are travel posters they fulfill their principal purpose by inviting curiosity and wonder about the places depicted and make the viewer itch to get on the road to see these sites.

You can see more of Goggin’s terrific poster designs on his DestinationArt website here.

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Eric Goggin, Shediac

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(Images Credit: Eric Goggin)

Similar posts on O’Canada:

¤ Cameron Stevens’ Vintage-Style Canada Parks Posters

¤ Magnificent Travel Art of the Canadian Pacific Railway

¤ Retro Winter Recreation and Travel Ads

Islandmania!

Graffiti At Ferry Terminal, Freeport, Long Island, N.S.

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Way out in the country you don’t often see graffiti, and certainly not the artistic variety. So this painted statement near one of Nova Scotia’s most remote ferry terminals (in Freeport, Long Island) stood out for its vivid colors, its possibly enthusiastic statement about its location, and the fact that it took someone more than a little time to complete this.

Similar posts on O’Canada:

Θ Shades of Toronto Graffiti (Part 3 – Designs)

Θ “Three Things . . .”

Θ Wall Art a la Montreal

Along the Wharfs of Westport

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Lobster Traps, Westport, Brier Island, N.S.

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Colorful buoys, rusted anchors and long coils of rope strewn hither and yon, and vibrantly painted sheds dotting the rugged shore of Westport on Brier Island, N.S., provide unmistakable signs that this place is a longtime fishing village.  Situated as the westernmost part of  Nova Scotia, this compact but charming island is just a modest drive (and two short and scenic ferry rides) from the much larger port of Digby, which is a little to the east up the the gorgeous Bay of Fundy coast.  People routinely make the trek here for the beautiful coastal vistas, to go whale watching or just to meander to and through a quieter place and time.

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Fishing Boat Buoys, Westport, Brier Island, N.S.

 

Virginia Mak: The Art of Soft Focus

Virginia Mak, On One’s Own #9

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Soft-focus photography might appear easy to execute but doing it well and in a way that conveys feeling and meaning in the image is quite difficult.  In her photos Toronto photographer Virginia Mak skillfully uses this technique to give her images a distinctly moody and ethereal effect that is more evocative of painting.  In contrast to photographs rendered in sharp relief, viewers of Mak’s carefully blurred images are able to contemplate various possibilities of meaning and emotion suggested by her elegant minimalist compositions.  The sampling shown here conjures up feelings of serenity, mystery, vulnerability, desire, longing and wistfulness.

Mak is represented by Toronto’s Bau-Xi Gallery and Calgary’s Newzones Gallery and more of her exquisite images can be seen on the sites for each of these galleries.

Virginia Mak, Hidden Nature #7

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Virginia Mak, Character Reference #1

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Virginia Mak, Character Reference #12

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Virginia Mak, Small Song For the Firefly #6

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Virginia Mak, Small Song For the Firefly #12

 

Image Credits: Virginia Mak

Signs of Vibrant Charlottetown

Charlottetown is a delightful city on Prince Edward Island, whose residents are blessed to live in such a vibrant place and beautiful province.  Small cities and towns throughout Canada often struggle to sustain a thriving economy and a high quality of life.  To its credit, Charlottetown appears to have figured out a formula that works well.

On a recent visit to its city center, I was amazed at the evident diversity of its wonderful shops, eateries and arts and music scene.  These shop signs are a small reflection of that.  Although PEI may be the smallest province in terms of geography and population, it holds its own quite nicely.

Similar posts on O’Canada:

» Annapolis Royal Through Its Signs

» On the Street Toronto: Fun & Unusual Signs

» Colorful Montreal Shop Signs

Vintage Magic in PEI: Ice Boat Rarities and Island Uniquities

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Not far from the Confederation Bridge on the Prince Edward Island side of that engineering marvel a scenic backroad leads to the cozy town of Cape Traverse and two of the best antique shops in all of Canada’s Maritime Provinces: Ice Boat Rarities and Antiques and, its sister shop, Island Uniquities and Antiques, which is just a few hundred yards away down PEI Route 10.   Both shops are housed in 19th century buildings — one an old church  and another a former masonic lodge — that have been masterfully restored and updated by owners Larry and Jane Dugdale.

The exceptional assortment of antiques, curios, artwork and furniture on offer started as a personal collection of the owners that eventually morphed into the well-organized groupings that seem intentionally curated for visual delight.  The Ice Boat building features the former church’s simply designed but stunning original red, blue, green and yellow stained glass windows, which cast a warm, luminous glow throughout the place.  These shops deserve to be called galleries as much as anything else.

If you’re into stylish old or reclaimed furniture, these shops have you covered; automotive and industrial neon, check; vintage toys, thermometers, oil cans, model boats, duck decoys, postcards and ephemera, tools or farm implements, check to all that too — and a great deal more!  Of particular note is the collection of whimsical painted wood sculptures and other artworks by noted PEI folk artist, Kerras Jeffery, who sadly passed away last year at way too young of an age after battling a long illness.  The Ice Boat Rarities shop serves as almost a museum of some of his brightly colored pieces and the shop also features a marvelous cloud-painting by Jeffery on the ceiling of its largest room.

In addition, the staff in both places are super friendly and helpful and the prices are about the fairest I’ve seen for antique shops anywhere.  These places are definitely worth a visit if you find yourself nearby.

More information about these terrific shops can be found at their respective Facebook pages here: Iceboat Rarities and Island Uniquities.  More about Kerras Jeffery and his art is available on the Backroad Folkart blog here, which was formerly written by him and is now maintained by one of his relatives.

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

  Cool Vintage Junkyard for Sale

♥  An A++ for Toronto’s Gadabout Vintage

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Elyse Dodge’s Imaginative Geometric Landscapes

Elyse Dodge, “The Stawamus Chief”

 

When I first came across the geometric landscape paintings of Vancouver’s Elyse Dodge, the towering mountain images composed of colorful polygons brought to mind The Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.  That song’s not-so-veiled allusions to psychedelic and kaleidoscopic visions seems fitting for the vibrant playfulness exhibited in Dodge’s art.

In an artist statement, she notes that her “work aims to capture the vibrant beauty of the landscapes that we call home.  . . . The contrast between the crisp geometric lines of the mountains and organic textures of the trees has become my signature aesthetic. The polygonal shapes transform the peaks from being something that is recognizable as a mountain to a faceted, diamond-like form. These surreal scenes encourage the mind to imagine what an alternate and more vivid world could look like.”

Dodge’s work as a professional illustrator (you gotta pay the bills!) and the techniques she borrows from that undoubtedly informs her expressions as a fine artist and her deft manipulations of the iconic landscape of western Canada.

I love the compositional aesthetic of Dodge’s art, but even more I appreciate the deeper ideas about perception that she explores through her paintings.  Her work is a wonderful example of how a talented artist can use her art to challenge us to see our world in a different way and conceive of possibilities we might not have considered otherwise.

Her artist site here provides more insight into and examples of her art and links to some lovely video interviews and profiles.  Vancouver’s terrific Ian Tan Gallery also showcases Dodge’s work.

Elyse Dodge, “Vermillion Lakes”

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Elyse Dodge, “Squamish”

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Elyse Dodge, “Elfin Lakes”

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Elyse Dodge, “Cleveland Dam”

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Elyse Dodge, “Emergence”

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Elyse Dodge, “Vermillion Reflections”

 

(Image Credits: Elyse Dodge)

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

→  Cameron Steven’s Vintage Style Canada Parks Posters

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

→ David Pirrie: Mapping Western Terrains and Our Sense of Place

Cameron Stevens’ Vintage-Style Canada Parks Posters

Cameron Stevens is a hugely talented graphics designer working in Ontario.  Several years ago he embarked on a project to design vintage screen-printed-style posters for a number of Canada’s national and provincial parks.  A few years later he’s now up to 58 gorgeous posters, each of which is characterized by a spare, consistent layout and muted pastel tints as evidenced by the sampling shown here.  Whether intentional or not, most also include a body of water, which is certainly reflective of the vast number of lakes, rivers and sea coasts throughout the country.

On his official Canada’s Parks poster art site, Stevens notes that he was inspired by the artwork produced by the U.S. Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s and 1940s to promote America’s National Parks.  His Canada Parks posters clearly harken back to that earlier era, as well as the time when the Canadian Pacific Railway blanketed the country with its highly stylized travel posters.  These contemporary posters with a vintage feel are beautiful to behold while bringing well-deserved attention to many of Canada’s spectacular outdoor treasures across its provinces and territories.  Stevens sells these as posters and prints, which can be accessed through the above official poster site and his graphics site.

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(Images credit: Cameron Stevens)

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

~ Retro Winter Recreation and Travel Ads

~ Magnificent Travel Art of the Canadian Pacific Railway

~ Let’s Visit Ontario

~ Go By Air With TCA

Shades of Toronto Graffiti (Part 3- Designs)

On the walls of Toronto some of the street art exhibits strong elements of design, such as these examples. I especially like the piece just above, which is painted on a piece of plywood tacked onto the side of a building.

Shades of Toronto Graffiti (Part 2 – P.S)

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I realized after I shot these four images that the faces had similar characteristics and they were all tagged “P.S” and were likely done by the same street artist.   Their creator  favors funky, angular faces and there’s definitely a certain style going on with these.

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Similar Posts:

~ Shades of Toronto Graffiti (Part 1 – Overview)

Seen Its Better Days

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Antique Farm Combine, Near Clarence, Nova Scotia

 

In Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley wintery weather maintains its grip late into March as the province bounces back from the fierce winds and driving snow of this past week’s Noreaster.  Although this old relic of a farm combine sits in a forlorn state shortly after the storm, it’s a beautiful piece of machinery with its pops of orange-red on the wheels and threshers contrasting nicely with the muted colors of the rest of the combine and the bleak surroundings.

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The Daring Canadian Pulps: Oh, My!

Spurred on by a wartime ban on the importation of non-essential foreign goods, including the lurid magazines from below the 49th parallel commonly referred to as “pulps”, the Canadian pulp magazine industry flourished during World War II and the decade after.  Like all good pulp publications, the featured stories often blurred the lines between fiction and reality and routinely served up tales that were risque, grisly, shocking and as often true as not.  Avid readers ate up this stuff!

Adding to its diverse holdings, Library and Archives Canada acquired in the late 1990s a core collection of pulp magazines dating back to the golden post-War era of such publications.  These cover images are from the Archives’s fascinating “Tales From the Vault” exhibition.  Of these covers, I think my favorite might be the fairly simple red-and-black layout above that promises dirt on a Vancouver cult and Winnipeg’s pock-marked Frankenstein. I’ll bite!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shades of Toronto Graffiti (Part 1 – Overview)

Toronto, being the big city that it is, has more than its share of diverse street or wall art, more commonly called graffiti.  This isn’t every one’s cup of tea, but it’s hard to ignore the creative expression that goes into these highly stylized works.

Among the varieties to be found gracing the corner wall of an old building, on either side of the occasional alley way or wherever else you may find these quirky pieces are classic graffiti tags, the enigmatic or humorous character scenes, the images laden with social or political messages, and designs that are as much about vibrant colors as anything else.  I took a lot of shots of these recently, so have broken them up with some being posted here and others planned for a later set of shared images.

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Similar Posts on O’Canada:

∅ Ossington Avenue Graffiti

∅ Montreal’s Vibrant Walls of Graffiti

∅ Wall Art a la Montreal

The Good Old Days: Rural Life in Vintage Postcards

Hay Making, Nova Scotia (about 1960)

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Out in the country people work hard, and back in the proverbial good old days they worked even harder.  Whether on a farm, a fishing village or in the forest, rural folk have always had to put their bodies and souls into their labors to eke out a living.

As these vintage postcards from the eastern parts of Canada attest they at least did so amidst beautiful settings.

River Saguenay at Chicoutimi, Quebec (about 1940)

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Ox Cart, Rural Quebec (about 1940)

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Spinning in Rural Quebec (1950)

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Back of Spinning in Rural Quebec (1950):   “Dear Ma – That’s you and me working. Lots of little farms and little houses here. Horses do most of the work. Farms are very small. In winter the men work in the lumber business, in summer farming. Women do fancy work in winter to sell it in the summer. Love Helen”

 

 

Similar posts in O’Canada:

⊕  Quebec Charm in Vintage Postcards

⊕  “Dear Auntie . . don’t be cross”: Scenic British Columbia in Old Postcards

⊕  Moonlit Views of Yesteryear Canada

“Three Things . . .”

Graffiti Sunburst, Kensington Market, Toronto

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.”                          

                                      ~ Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)

“I’ll Meet You There”

Can’t help but smile about this quirky handmade sign stumbled upon recently in the Kensington Market district of Toronto.

The words are from a poem by Rumi that is generally understood to be about putting aside judgments that divide people and instead to focus on appreciating the wonders of being and the things that connect us all.

William Kurelek and Winter on the Prairie

W. Kurelek, "Home on the Range" (1967)

W. Kurelek, “Home on the Range” (1967)

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On previous visits to the AGO in Toronto I’ve noticed William Kurelek’s paintings but for some reason his artwork stood out more notably on my most recent visit.  Perhaps this was because my trip there was during a week of extreme cold just before year-end and many of Kurelek’s scenes on display at the AGO are prominently set during the winter.

Kurelek’s parents were Ukrainian immigrants to Canada and settled in the prairie regions, initially in Alberta and later, after his parents lost their farm during the Great Depression, in Manitoba.  Winters can be harsh in much of Canada, but the vast unpopulated stretches of the country’s midsection make for a particularly stark cold season.  While a viewer of his paintings can find other themes in his work (for example, his Catholicism or the influence of Hieronymous Bosch in Kurelek’s “Harvest of Our Mere Humanism Years” below), the experiences of his family and his youth on the Canadian prairie permeate many of his paintings, often in dichotomies. Thus, one can glean the tough slogging of farm work during winter (such as in “Child With Feed in Winter” below) as well as the whimsy and high-spiritedeness of childhood even in the midst of endless snowscapes or the as yet unknowable worries of the adult world (such as with “Reminiscences of Youth” and “After the Blizzard in Manitoba”, both also below).

Kurelek was a prolific painter and other aspects of life on the Canadian prairies can be found in his extensive body of work, but at this time of the year his “winter works” speak most clearly to me.   The collaborative art site William Kurelek / The Messenger is a terrific resource for more background on this notable artist and his distinctively Canadian art.

W. Kurelek, “Reminiscences of Youth” (1968)

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W. Kurelek, “Untitled (Child With Feed in Winter)” (1967)

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W. Kurelek, “After the Blizzard in Manitoba” (1967)

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W. Kurelek, “Sunset Cape Dorset Airstrip” (1968)

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W. Kurelek, “Harvest of Our Mere Humanism Years” (1972)

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W. Kurelek, “Wintertime North of Winnipeg” (1962)

 

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♦  Bob Pitzel’s Art of the Vanishing Prairie

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Go Fish!

During the week after Christmas Toronto’s temperature plummeted to a 57-year record low.  Brrrrr!  Bundled up tightly against such crazy wintery weather, the day was slightly brightened by coming across this group of colorful sculptures of fishing bobbins.  Situated in Canoe Landing Park in the CityPlace neighborhood, these cheerful works were created by noted Vancouver artist Douglas Coupland.  Elsewhere in the park there is an oversized sculpture of a red canoe (also by Coupland), in which park-goers can sit and look out across Gardiner Expressway toward nearby Lake Ontario.  Clever and fun subject for sculptures and another great example of the vibrant public art that can be found throughout metro Toronto.

 

Fred Herzog’s Vintage Vancouver

Fred Herzog, Bogner’s Grocery (1960)

I’ve seen the street photography of Fred Herzog previously but a brief essay by Geoff Dyer in today’s New York Times Magazine prompted me to look anew at Herzog’s work.  Herzog came to Canada in the early 1950s from Germany and from the late 1950s through the 1960s pioneered color street photography in his adopted city of Vancouver.  His candid shots provide a splendid if unvarnished documentary of the city and its people during that period.  The vintage images also subtly illustrate many things that have changed in Vancouver and other urban areas throughout Canada (and America) in the past several decades.

More of Herzog’s work can be seen at Vancouver’s Equinox Gallery and on its website.

Fred Herzog, 2nd Hand Store Boy (1959)

 

Fred Herzog, Alexander Street (1967)

 

Fred Herzog, Granville Street from Granville Bridge (1966)

 

Fred Herzog, Granville/Robson (1959)

 

Fred Herzog, White Lunch Granville (1959)

 

Photo Credits:  Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery

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⊕  Vintage / Mod Design: The City Bus

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Hello, Yellow . . .

Sun Carving by Local Artists David Taylor, Black Rock, N.S.

A collection of yellows from various photo outings across Canada to brighten the impending blue of winter.

Similar posts on O’Canada:

→ Green With Envy

→ Joy of the Blues

Seeing Red 

Weathered Blue Barn

Rustic Old Barn, Phinney’s Cove, N.S.

Aside from its overall weathered appearance and striking shades of blue, this barn stands out for its second-story house-style doors and its slightly asymmetrical design with an upper window thrown in for good measure.

Artist to Appreciate: Miyoshi Kondo

M. Kondo, Take Off 2011

Miyoshi Kondo, Take Off (2011)

Many of Miyoshi Kondo’s brightly colored gouache paintings may appear at first to convey images of pure whimsy, but looking deeper there is very thoughtful and wry commentary at work in her art.   Among the themes that Kondo explores in her recent art are concepts of home and place, our relationship to the environment, and how technology influences us in ways both positive and less than desirable.  Overall, I discern a strong sense of optimism that comes through in her art, which I think is reflective of this highly personable artist herself.

Originally from Toronto and a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Kondo’s distinctive style is a wonderful example of the vibrant arts scene in and around the charming town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where she resides, and the province generally.  She is also among the many fine artists represented by the very progressive Argyle Fine Arts in Halifax.

More of Kondo’s terrific work can be seen at her official artist site here and at Argyle’s site here.

M. Kondo, Take Me Home 2016

Miyoshi Kondo, Take Me Home (2016)

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Miyoshi Kondo, Life is A Highway (2017)

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Miyoshi Kondo, Seaside (2013)

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Miyoshi Kondo, Flight (2017)

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Miyoshi Kondo, Excess Baggage Messenger (2017)

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Miyoshi Kondo, Holdout (2015)

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Miyoshi Kondo, Hung to Dry (2013)

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Miyoshi Kondo, Over the Edge (2010)

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Miyoshi Kondo, Red Rooves (2010)

(Image Credits: Miyoshi Kondo)

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall . . .

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Walking Path Along the Shore, Kejimkujik Seaside, N.S.

“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”

                                                    ~ Henry David Thoreau

Vintage Cover Art: The Goblin

Prior to the great stock market crash at the end of the decade and the ensuing economic chaos, the prevalent mood of the 1920s in many places was upbeat and carefree. Magazine covers from the era typify this, including these fabulous illustrations from Canada’s Goblin, a monthly humor magazine.  Launched in 1921, it was in print for about ten years during which time its highly stylized, and at times witty, covers helped it to become Canada’s then most widely circulated magazine.

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(Image Source:  University of Toronto Archives)

“Maudie”

Before seeing the acclaimed “Maudie,” I knew a little about Maud Lewis and her folk art but I was unaware of her life story and the everyday struggles that she faced from a very early age.  Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke each give deft performances in this emotionally touching movie about persevering and finding happiness in the face of difficult circumstances.  There are notes of grace here, along with a number of tear-jerker moments.

Lewis received some early art instruction as a child from her mother, with whom Lewis would make homemade Christmas cards to sell.  From this basic foundation, Lewis’s many, mostly smallish paintings of bright-colored animals, plants and farm and shore scenes provided her solace in the face of a hardscrabble life in rural Nova Scotia.  The occasional sale of her artworks eventually provided a modest income for her and her husband, Everett, in the later years of their lives.  The movie does a nice job exploring the initially reticent relationship that the two shared and the deep interdependent love that they came to nurture.  A more thorough overview of Lewis’s life can be found in the online Canadian Encyclopedia.

(On a side note, for those familiar with the Maritime Provinces, the rocky shoreline and cozy coastal villages featured in the film will be recognized as distinctively those of Newfoundland, which is where much of the movie was filmed.  Quite ironic given the subject matter and that there are, of course, many beautiful vistas in Nova Scotia.  The explanation for the filming in a different province appears to be the greater availability of film production tax credits in the more northern province.)

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Denny Lunn’s Buoyant Folk Art

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