Monday, 20 February 2017

Canada 150

Canada 150, oil on canvas, 24" x36", Steven Rhude

Some history behind the sweater:  In the 1950’s, my mother Margaret Rhude knit the sweater for my father to wear outdoors (I consider this to be somewhat prescient since our current Canadian flag had yet to be designed and approved by parliament). Later on I inherited the sweater and wore it through art school. I also wore it throughout Europe and while studying renaissance art in Florence, Italy. I even loaned it to a friend who wore it hitchhiking through Germany. Some how it always made its way back to me.

 Back in Canada, it was worn and modelled by Simone Labuschagne, my wife, for my painting Woman and Dog painted in 1995. Unfortunately, later on the sweater was inadvertently lost through a clothing drive for the Diabetes foundation. (I hope whoever owns it now is warm!)

 Strange how things work out. In the fall of 2016, I was contacted by Sally Melville, a knitter, who saw the painting of the woman and dog at a friends house in Ottawa, and kindly knitted me a replacement in what she believes to have been the original yarn from Briggs and Little in New Brunswick. Ironically the new sweater arrived through Canada post. Sally now has designed a pattern for my cherished sweater, also in honour of our sesquicentennial. http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/margarets-gift

Something old is now new again, and in these bleak months of winter, with the post colonial drum beating our political and racial sins into the rhythm of everyday life, the thought of a maple leaf has become a complicated thing. It would be an understatement to say that there has been some resistance to Canada's celebration. Invariably, the idea of Canada 150 brings up the history of trying to define the Canadian identity, and will no doubt continue to be considered well into the future - politically from the right and left, and artistically within Canada's Indigenous community. http://canadianart.ca/news/artists-resist-canada150-social-media/

 However, it has been said that our identity is related to really not having an identity. When George Stanley designed the Canadian flag he warned in a memo to John Matheson, MP, House of Commons, 23 March 1964 on the history of Canada's emblems, that any new flag "must avoid the use of national or racial symbols that are of a divisive nature". http://people.stfx.ca/lstanley/stanley/flagmemo2.htm 

  So then who has not, whether they are a child, teenager, adult, male or female, not picked up a maple leaf and pondered it for its infinitely varied characteristics in terms of shape, size, colour, texture etc, and yet not sensed its apparent collective configuration? In essence, is this maple leaf not in fact the same leaf seen and pondered by indigenous people a thousand years ago?  Like it or not, it is no coincidence it became emblematic of our country. The question now is what will we learn from this celebration? 

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Friday, 10 February 2017

Small Etchings

The Last Light

The Last Light
soft ground etching on copper
6" x 6"
Edition of 20

Winter Orchard

Winter Orchard
soft ground etching on copper
3" x 4.5"
Edition of 20


Cape Spear Stairs

Cape Spear Stairs
soft ground etching on copper
6" x 4.5"
Edition of 20


Cod's Eye

 Cod's Eye
soft ground etching on copper
6" x 6"
Edition of 20


Post Cod (Apparition)

 Post Cod (Apparition)
soft ground etching on copper
6" x 12" (2 plates)
Edition of 20


Steven Rhude
www.stevenrhudefineart.com



Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Woman with Canada Buoy

Woman and Canada Buoy, oil on canvas, 36" x 24", Steven Rhude


I can honestly say any sense of who a typical Canadian is will continue to elude me - and so it should. I was born in Quebec, raised in Scarborough, and have lived in Nova Scotia for the last twenty seven years. My experience with Canadian culture (particularly through art)  tends to resonate more with me even though my ancestors settled in Nova Scotia. One could say our art mirrors our Canadianess -  our good and bad qualities, the ordinary and the exceptional. Art is what we turn to when we seek answers to  difficult questions regarding the Canadian narrative, and why it takes the form it has today.

 
Steven Rhude, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
   www.stevenrhudefineart.com

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Red Fan


Red Fan, Forbidden City, oil on panel, 24" x 24", Steven Rhude

As a painter, the intensity of crowds, and the ubiquity of digital photographers struck me at times as an advantage in the Forbidden City. Everyone photographing each other in some respects, however for what reason - one only knows. There is a binary quality between humanity being ignored and blending in, and those being observed yet unaware of the observer, who is indeed also being observed. It is a place of intense motion, and also stasis - a place where one can feel elation in the presence of an ancient culture, and trepidation at the chaotic prospect of how fragile it all is. There is at once peace and solitude, and if one looks down  and forfeits control, the stones reveal tragedy. 

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS
www.stevenrhudefineart.com

Monday, 9 January 2017

Artist's Studio

The Artist's Studio, Wolfville, NS,  Joseph Hartman, Photograph Copyright Joseph Hartman

A little over a year ago, a photographer named Joseph Hartman http://josephhartman.ca/index.html called me and asked to photograph my studio as part of a book project he was working on documenting the studios of artists across our fair land. The objective was to make a record of how an artist's space really is, and not something doctored up for the likes of a home design publication for instance, with the artist in their Sunday best poised in front of a painting executing a final detail.

 In accordance with consistency, the artist must be missing in action as were all the other artists chronicled up to the point of Joseph's visit to my studio crypt, and as all the other artists would be until the exercise is completed. I'm not normally one that likes people in my creative digs (cat and family excluded), but after viewing an exhibit he did on the artist's studio, http://momus.ca/a-portrait-of-the-artist-as-a-young-professional-joseph-hartmans-artist-studios/  I realised the uniqueness of his thought process. I recommend reading the Momus review on his work and the contemporary studio - it sheds much light on the nature of the artist - from the industrial studio workshop replete with a multitude of assistants like that of Kent Monkman, to the more humble and monastic space like that of Ron Shuebrook.   

  Joseph uses a 4 x 5-inch camera and film.He took about two hours or so before he completed his assignment and then moved on to the next town or city, to another veiled industrious space, and another artist in absentia.

Joseph Hartman's book on the artist's studio should be published and available this May.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS.
www.stevenrhudefineart.com