Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Shadow of Protest

The cod fishery is indisputably a shadow of what it was. Most of the areas shut down in 1992 remain closed, with Atlantic cod still considered a threatened species. The landed value of cod in the province was just fifteen million last year.

CBC News, Newfoundland & Labrador, July, 2010

Towards Clarenville, (Dories on a Road), o/c, 30" x 48", Steven Rhude, Emma Butler Gallery  

Clarenville, 2003

Fish workers burn Canadian flag in Nfld. protest 
Last Updated Mon Apr 28 19:08:34 2003

ST. JOHN'S-- Angry fish workers burned a Canadian flag on Monday as rallies were held at federal Fisheries Department offices in at least two centres in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The protest, organized by the Fish, Food and Allied Workers, brought about 75 people to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans offices at Clarenville, where they took down the Canadian flag and burned it. They sent the Newfoundland and Labrador flag up the mast to replace it. The protesters say they're reclaiming the fishery from Ottawa Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault announced last Thursday that the already much diminished cod fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Maritime provinces and Quebec would be shut down. Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Roger Grimes is meeting with federal politicians in Ottawa on Monday. He says federal officials don't understand how the closure will affect the region.

"We're asking them to take one more look, because we think they've made a grievous mistake," Grimes told CBC Newsworld on Monday. The protesters say they aren't interested in Ottawa revisiting its decision.

 "It's time for us to control the fishery and the resources around this province," one said.

 DFO staff weren't at the offices when the demonstration began.
At the DFO offices in Corner Brook, protesters said they were hoping to close federal offices throughout the region.

Kevin Hardy, a fisherman and the mayor of Burnt Islands, says the department has shut the fishery, so the workers plan to shut the office.

TOPICS: Business/EconomyCanadaForeign AffairsFront Page NewsGovernment
KEYWORDS: canadacodcodfisheriesfishingflagburninglabradornewfoundland

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


"Food is the most important acquisition in life and is man's primary instinct."

I.E. Allison,
 Trawler Cookery, H.E. McCann, Kingston Upon Hull, Nautical College   

Breadline, oil on panel, 20"x 24", Steven Rhude, Gallery 78

"It is believed the term 'Breadline' entered the popular lexicon in the 1880's. It was during those years that a noteworthy bakery in New York's Greenwich Village, Fleichmann Model Viennese Bakery, instituted a policy of distributing unsold baked goods to the poor at the end of their business day.


Over Christmas a friend an I were discussing an upcoming food show of paintings I wished to be involved in at Gallery 78 in Fredericton, NB. His Father was a cook on a Trawler, and so over some wine and shrimp we talked about food and what it was like to feed the crew and the related responsibilities. As the discussion evolved I started to think about food inspired paintings and art. Bread came to mind and I filed the notion away.

The history of bread is unique in that it tends to embody so many human issues and emotions all at once. It is at the same time social, political, spiritual, economical, geographical, and physical. It seems to come in as many shapes and sizes as people do, and contains a special meaning to each. As an object it connotes thanksgiving, beauty, sexuality, humility, nourishment, and transcendence. As a food it can be sweet or sour. Warm or cool. It can be associated with the simplest of meals, or the most excessive. It easily crosses over the boarders of both rural and urban - and in the history of visual art, it has become one of the most powerful symbols of human objectivity. The first time I saw Picasso's large etching The Frugal Repast, it sent a shiver up my spine. It made me think of how influential this black and white work was on western visual expression. Few works evoke the importance of bread and its conveyance in the history of the human condition as that singular etching produced during Picasso's Blue Period. It encompassed the dark decent of Europe in the 20th century, and for Americans, it was a visual forerunner to the great depression years. 

While working on these paintings, and thinking about bread, a memory was triggered of a favourite meal I experienced many years ago. The meal did not contain several courses, or numerous guests, or any kind of serious planning. I had no role in its  preparation. It was the simplest of offerings but meant so much. It was the result of haste, and a fortuitous encounter during the best way to travel in Europe... by train.

   Simone and I were travelling throughout Italy. We were planing on taking a train from Rome back to Florence when we realised a schedule change and needed to rush if we were to get to the station on time. Usually we would pack some food for the journey but under the circumstances, we arrived and boarded the train unprepared, and with no food other than a few snacks to keep us going. Since we were quite hungry, the most reasonable option was to purchase some sandwiches from the train vendor as we progressed to Florence, but some unexpected visitors in our car changed all that.

Breadline #2, oil on panel, 24"x 20", Steven Rhude, Gallery 78

Two sisters, casually dressed in jeans and autumn sweaters, who appeared to be in their late fifty's or so, asked if they could share our car and we agreed without doubt. They were travelling back to Florence, where they were to meet some family who would escort them onward to their country home at the outskirts of the city. We soon discovered they were obviously better prepared for the journey than we were. 

One of the sisters (sis #1) was quit talkative and enquired where we originated from. As I mentioned Canada and exchanged some insignificant chit chat, I noticed the other sister (sis #2) seemed quite reticent, and so we just let the conversation drift. A man with a vending cart passed by our door but when I checked out the food trolley, sis #1 shooed him away with a wave of her arm.

"Much has been written and published about the transformation of a happy ship into a cauldron of discontent, merely because of badly or indifferently cooked meals."

H.E. McCann - Trawler Cookery, Kingston Upon Hull, Nautical College

 She then got out a large bag and set about  preparing the most simplest of meals. Sis #2 suddenly jumped in and made sure the following ritual was observed with order and good cheer. Whatever her concerns were she quickly forgot them as the meal progressed on the moving train. Later I would understand that what we would eat is called Fettunta, or at least a variation of it; a way to celebrate and taste the new Tuscan olive oil of the season.  She started with home made bread - the kind with a tough Italian crust that needed a strong serrated blade to cut. As the bread was passed around we were told that some olive oil (first cold pressed) was to be poured over the bread. Some Pomodori San Marzano was passed out and it was explained that we were to just take a bite of the tomato and squeeze some of the contents onto the oil soaked bread. Some sea salt was then also passed around and we each sprinkled a bit on our creation and then enjoyed it immensely.

 Next, a bottle of home made wine was proffered and the cycle continued. Sis #2 mentioned how important it is to celebrate with strangers the simple pleasures in life. Simone and I let the ambiguity dissolve with other thoughts. Later, we stumble our way through some stories about each others country. We mentioned that we were on our honeymoon, and both sisters toasted us with a last glass of wine. 

Canadian Gothic, oil on panel, 20" x 24", Steven Rhude, Gallery 78

A Tim Hortons stop can seem like a million miles from the romance of a Tuscan train ride. However, the breadline has changed and evolved from those depression era "Ash Can" images of men in fedoras, lined up and shivering from the cold in the Bowery or Bryant Park. The works of Everett Shinn comes to mind in connection with Fleishmanns and those dark days of the "dirty thirties"In Novas Scotia, soup kitchens and food banks are a regular fact of life; their profile raised during the build up to Christmas via the CBC's Information Morning support of Feed Nova Scotia.  

 We all have to stand in lines, be what they may.Today, the line is also market driven. I'm reminded of the ubiquitous nature of  the franchise and the commodification of Canadian culture through our never ending love affair with doughnuts and the road trip, and everything we can connect with it - from hockey to Mary Walsh and This Hour Has 22 minutes. But I'm as guilty as the next person standing in line, and have a significant lifetime average  to prove it. I still enjoy a Canadian Maple on occasion while on the road... but for now, they're just going to have to be good enough to paint!  

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS