Saturday, September 26, 2009
Mrs. Marion Johnson is a very vibrant and alive ninety-one year old.
Every day for the last fifty-five years, she has greeted customers at the legendary Penrose Fish and Chips shop on Mount Pleasant Road near my studio which she manages with her sons.
Today, I stopped by to say hello to Mrs. Johnson and she dashed to the counter to greet me. These days, business is booming at Penrose. For ten dollars, one can feast on perfectly-fried halibut with freshly cut french fries- the best in town. The place was full and Mrs. Johnson said appreciatively that business has never been better as people revert to simple, inexpensive eating to feed their families.
One evening not long ago, Barbara Streisand's entourage stopped by to pick up for take-out. The following night at her sold-out concert, she dropped mention of Penrose Fish and Chips, telling a packed house of 20,000 that she hasn't had better. That couldn't have hurt sales.
I invited Mrs. Johnson into the studio about two years ago to have her portrait taken. A few months later, she would discretely walk by the studio window to check herself out on display, too embarrassed to draw much attention to herself but curious to see how she looked all the same.
Mrs. Johnson told me how she had grown up, on a farm in rural Southern Ontario with her large family of eight brothers and sisters. Everyone looked out for one other, she said, and with a big sigh looked at me and said, "Oh, times have changed..." Yes they have, Mrs. Johnson. But let's not reflect on that but instead celebrate a life well lived and deserved right here on Mount Pleasant Road.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thoughts On Why The Canadian Portrait Gallery Is No More
Yesterday it was announced that the much talked about plan (10 years of wrangling) to build a permanent home for a National Portrait Gallery of Canada was eliminated.
My thoughts on this are first, what a sad day for Canadian portraiture. And secondly, what does this mean for the future of a permanent Gallery?
It is obvious that there has been much political interference in the decision. The current Government has made no secret that it does not support funding the arts as it feels it is elitist and not in the interests of the country at large. How sad and how misleading a direction to go in! Work that deserves a home will continue to be stored in a warehouse in Hull and exemplary director of the Gallery, Dr. Lily Koltun, was relieved of her post. The new Chief Librarian and Archivist has been quoted as saying that "the challenge to stay relevant in the digital age is colossal." This probably means that the entire catalogue will be digitized and be offered to Canadians on a web portal for viewing purposes.
But does art not deserve to be viewed in person and up close? Apparently the feeling is different by the decision-makers. As the digital revolution stabs itself firmly into the heart of works of art, the respect for the past is being put aside for lack of money and political initiative. I feel that the future is but a reflection of the past and we must recognize and honor it appropriately. Not in a digital catalogue, but in a permanent home of its own. Maybe someday our leaders will see it this way.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Post No. 1
This is my first blog posting which is quite a blast of the present delving into issues surrounding a blast of the past.
I hope to post some insights and observations, thoughts, generate feedback on my work once in awhile, talk about the state of photography.. where I see it is going.. where it has come from.
I love photography. It has been a part of me since I was a young teenager which was a long time ago! But over the last few years there has been an incredible amount of change in the way things are done. Some for the better, some not. What all this means is that the evolution continues but at the same time, embrace the past. The way of the darkroom, the beauty of film, the roots of photography.