Galerie Le 1040
1040 Rue Marie-Anne Est, Montréal, Québec H2J 2B4 • (514) 525-3736
“Située au coeur du Plateau à Montréal, au croisement des rues Christophe-Colomb et Marie-Anne”
After graduating from Queen’s University in 1958 as an electrical engineer, I began my working career in Montreal with Northern Electric. My first residence was on Mctavish Street at a McGill University fraternity, which was available during the summer months for rent. I immediately met a bunch of other new grads from across Canada, also using this as a first residence. Through this meeting of minds, we met some Montreal residents who introduced us to nurses at the Royal Victoria Hospital. At the same time, one fellow from our group had contacts with incoming trainees for Air Canada Stewardesses. Needless to say, most of us ended up in Montreal marrying a nurse or stewardess.
In the process of living in Montreal for the first 5 years, I lived in several locations: overlooking Windsor Station, near the Portal Heights Train Station, on University Avenue at Prince Arthur, and in NDG.
I discovered hot smoked meat sandwiches at Schwartz’s, glamour on the streets on my walk to and from work on Rue de la Gauchetière, unique housing designs and intimate back yard alleys. The latter reminded me of the alleys where I grew up in Windsor, Ontario. I started to try and capture some of these settings in oils, being influenced by a friend who was taking art classes at Les Beaux Arts on Sherbrooke Street. This lasted six months during my artistic retreat, after which I returned to wine, women and song.
Years later, son Bill attended McGill University as did daughter Siobhan. Bill lived on rue Saint-Hubert and Siobhan on Aylmer. During their times in Montreal, I had a number of occasions to visit the Plateau area as well as the McGill Student Ghetto. I found myself even more attracted to Montreal back yard housing and living: clothes lines, garbage cans, gardens and all the paraphernalia that comes with intimate and private living situations.
My professional work as a telecommunications product design engineer placed me squarely into an environment of design, creating solutions to various challenges in communications. I also was heavily involved in the process of design and building a new town from a municipal politician’s vantage point. I then started to look at artistic opportunities to extend my strong interest in design.
More recently, I returned to the back alleys of Montreal to rediscover and try to capture the feeling that these back yard settings evoked in me. By this time, many back yards had been fenced in for privacy and security, with car garages, and fewer clothes lines. Garbage pails still added the character I sought. These visits provided the stimulus to create paintings that were driven by my long standing feelings for Montreal.
Quebec has been the source of inspiration for most of my paintings, many en plein air. Outdoor painting started in the Gatineau, moved through the Outaouais, Laurentians, Charlevoix, Old Quebec City, Sutton and the Eastern Townships. Most of the journeys were with a group of painters called “Plein air ensemble”. What attracted me to these sites were the hills, rivers, rapids, waterfalls, urban and rural landscapes, agricultural and forested lands and snow. Spring and fall provided the most beautiful scenes with the contrast of snow against the changing colours of the forested landscapes. Temperatures were usually in the range of 0 to -5°C. As long as we dressed very warmly, cold was not an issue. The oil paint could still be pushed out of the tubes. Painting was done behind my minivan with additional protection from rain and snow with umbrellas and the rear lift gate. Rural gravel roads were preferred sites with less and slower traffic for safety. Painting outings usually lasted for about a week, staying at auberges in the countryside, with social evenings.
The return to Montreal was a great inspiration for another set of alley paintings, a confirmation of my deep attraction to back yard living and all things Montreal.