Sunday, 17 August 2014

Linda Dell

“My husband is so wonderfully supportive, I can’t say enough good about him,” says Linda Dell. Among many attributes, “. . .he helped me build the crates when I had to send the paintings to Toronto,” Linda explains. “And he’s put up with me for the last six months.” Linda had one easel in each of two bedrooms and one in the living room where oil paintings progressed, or dried, or were varnished, all in preparation for her show at the Baggage Building at Prince Arthur’s Landing.
     This summer Linda made a brave start in Toronto where she had her floral works appraised in order to sell them at a fair price at the Twist Gallery on Queen Street. The paintings in her show, Boreal Dream which opens tomorrow with a reception for all at 7pm and running till September 10, will have prices ranging from $300.00 for smaller works, up to $2,200.00 for larger paintings. Linda will be at the opening, and then painting on site from August 14th to the 16th.
     Linda Dell is more commonly known for her large and beautiful flower paintings. Lesser known are her paintings where she played with her style in order to better make her paintings “dance.” For three years Linda experimented in her studio she once had in the Ruttan Building on Court Street.
     Much of the influence in experimentation comes from music. “There are similarities of music to painting,” Linda states. “A painting does move through time and changes. There’s the passage to arrive at [when painting] and then an intent for the eye to move around the painting, like music when the painting is completed.”
     Although Linda flirts with different styles, there are obvious similarities that make will make her show cohesive without being dull. There is certainly a lot of repetition within each work, but it’s an exciting game of intersecting lines and colours with clever and not so linear perspectives to draw you into the subject matter which is typically a magical forest where a game of shapes takes place, battling for your attention.
      Bright colours, if handled badly can make a painting look naïve, unsophisticated, but Linda handles the paint and subject matter expertly with amazing finesse, simultaneously incorporating the styles of Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and that of the great Canadian artists, Tom Thompson and Lauren Harris without making grandiose statements of power or to threaten you with “the cruelty of nature,” as we so often hear in the news. And with the styles of other artists referenced in Linda’s work they become more complex than they first appear, larger than life. With some knowledge of the history of painting you might enjoy spotting the influences where you might get little epiphany bounces, those “aha” moments that make you feel smart and give you more respect for the artist.

      The dark spaces in a couple paintings appear less a threat and more like an invitation to go deeper into another mystery. And the mysterious abstract shapes of another painting reference the chemical compounds of the rich soil. Even the deer have something to say about the forest.

Greg Dubeau

Every once in a while a purist will take control of a major arts institution. Their strong ideological belief system will rule over all else, as did the rule of one director of the National Gallery of Canada who is said to have never allowed for the purchase of a single drawing for the gallery walls. It’s certainly no crime, but an odd choice.
     Drawing is one of the most essential ways in which you, the lay public, can discern whether an artist actually has any raw talent, which is why the ability to draw is often downplayed by defenders of contemporary art, where quite often no drawing skills are required.
     Drawing however is only one part of the process and many artists in the last hundred years have shown that is certainly possible to skip it entirely and continue to produce valuable works. But once in a while it’s great to see drawing fully employed by a talented artist.
        It’s been a bit of a round trip for Greg Dubeau. He left Thunder Bay not long ago for Sheridan College in Oakville to study animation for 4 years. Then moved to Victoria, B.C. for two years to study graphic design at Vancouver Island University. Back in Thunder Bay, he has worked for two years as a graphic designer for Generator, a local design company.
     At only 28 years of age he’s shown a remarkable professionalism not only with his drawing abilities, but also thematically in his work, making commentary with still life paintings and portraits. It’s clear he is a remarkable draftsman, but he is employing his skills to follow his heart, which is unusually inspired by an understanding of the basics of both popular culture and fine art. This means he is mixing traditional functions of art and managing to express himself as well. The results are clever detailed works with a good deal of thought.
     “I guess you could consider it fine art,” Greg states. “I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in. The gallery scene is kind of new to me. I think I can do well there if I found the right mentor or opportunity.”
     What will help Greg get into the gallery scene, if he chooses to do so is that he is also interested in avoiding easy subject matter. “I love the idea of commentary, of having a message behind the image. It’s easy to paint something beautiful. In my mind there’s a lot of typical beauty in art, but the shot glass with the rusty nails is different. There’s beauty in stuff that’s rough around the edges.”
     Greg says that his professors drilled the importance of allegory and metaphor into him. Illustrators are trained to fully enliven text for an article or to sell a product. They employ techniques that reveal the underlying functions, meaning and even humour of their subject to create associated or even disassociated imagery to not only reveal what the text or product is about but to make the text or products appear more valuable than they actually are. Illustrators use traditional persuasion and conviction techniques that have been used by artists for thousands of years . So Greg is a bit like Don Draper of Madmen, but Greg is taking a more humane and personal route rather than trying to sell you Lucky Strike cigarettes.
     Greg recently had a show of a few pieces at the Baggage Building Arts Centre, currently has a couple pieces at the group show in the Definitely Superior Art Gallery on Park Street and a couple pieces hanging at Gargoyles. He’s becoming active in the arts community, made prints of his works and will show at local festivals. He’s working towards a solo show that he might host next year. You can see his work at