Thursday, 28 February 2013

Local gallery show feeds the creative soul

Please click the link below to read the full review of Gallery 78's Food Show

Local gallery show feeds the creative soul

Canadian Gothic, o/p, 20" x 24", Gallery 78

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Cabot's Window

Cabot's Window, o/p, 20" x 24", Steven Rhude

Perhaps the twentieth century tried more than any other era to define painting, or at least to analyse the act of painting. It says a lot about the self consciousness of the times. It obliterated the representational image - and then went and retrieved it from the rubbish bin. It divorced itself from the use of the human figure in painting - and then scurried to make up again and bring it back into the post modern pantheon of representation. It ushered in several emblems of contemporary culture from Campbell Soup cans to the grids of Mondrian. Which brings us to windows.

One of the longest living emblems of the painting act, the window and its meaning can carry us backwards or forwards depending on our current conventions. As a flat surface it can propel us easily into the illusion of space. Or, conversely, be abstracted into a barrier to reality, allowing the viewer to attain their own aesthetic experience within a rigid two dimensional space.

Windows can open us up to infinite depth, or convey a sense of entrapment  or enclosure - a kind of psychological imprisonment. They are commonly used as divisions between the spiritual and the material worlds, and have been used by some of the twentieth century's  most celebrated 'bad boys' for the purposes of anti-art; in effect expressing the turbulent dreams of a chaotic century seen through the motif of a shattered window. Duchamp comes immediately to mind. However we see windows, they are very much an extended paradox. At once revealing the different states of our  being (ie; existential, the human condition, or our various activities and actions), and yet still, as physical structures, mediating our relationship between the interior and the exterior world.

The window portrayed in this painting is located in the Cabot Tower in St John's Newfoundland. The Signal Hill where flags were once the means of conveying the identity of incoming ships, for among other things, a means of security. It is the high point of the city and, by positioning oneself at this window, one can easily move from thoughts of the past to ones of the present, mediated by a window at least three to four feet in depth.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

A Room Without a View

A Room at Cape Spear, o/p, 20" x 24", Steven Rhude

It appears to be a room easily described.
It is a view of a room, but not what one would consider
a room with a view.
Is it early morning light?
Or, is it the dusk of evening shapes that recede?
We will never no because there is no visible light source. 
The room is minimalist, a grayish silver.
A post modern reformation decor,
more suited to a contemporary gallery,
with nothing in it...
but a concept no one believes in.
It has been declared surplus.
Stand back far enough and the colourless walls,
may limit ones freedom.
Even the brick chimney is concealed by white washed planks.
Yet, the room may also buttress our imagination. 
Our viewpoint is specific.
We stand in the rooms center.
There is no other occupant to share the flatness of the white wooden walls with us.
The slightly open door is "our" door,
it is neither open or closed; just slightly ajar.
It merely delineates the flow from one room to the next. 
Really, it is a room between rooms.
A vaccum between purpose and reality,
where there is little definition save for the door handle
 and the linearity of the planking.
The room must have a past.
Since it was a Keeper's room,
that past is now its future.
As I leave, I bid the ticket attendant "good day".

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

When Henry Hall Looked Up

Stairs, Cape Spear, o/p, 35" x 24", Steven Rhude

Early one morning the sun was late
Henry Hall looked out to sea
a forerunner of fate.
The rise was a flame
the sea it was dark,
later he would discover
it took just one tiny spark.
For a keeper who is old
tired and worn,
he raised his arms
he raised his head 
 to the next one born.

The Halls were a family
keepers of light.
South of Rame Head
the  rocks were a fright.
A reef just off Plymouth,
a mariner's gate
a place for destruction 
damnation and hate.
The wars were a plenty
between England and France
The first tower rose
nothing left to chance.
By surprise one morning
a privateer did show
off with the architect
off they did go.
Now Louis XIV was angry
tired and worn.
He raised his arms
he raised his head
to the next one born

Rudyerd's was built 
in 1709
The shape of a cone
They said it looked fine.
A roof made of lead
between the light,
the years kept on passing
until winter was right.
So on December the second, 
Henry Hall looked up
to see fire was alive.
How it got started
would have to wait
water was needed
before it was to late.
But he paused for a moment
because he was old,
tired and worn,
he raised his arms
he raised his head
to the next one born.

Now water's a liquid 
that runs on down hill.
when tension runs high
it's to precious to spill.
Every drop it is needed
when fury's at hand,
to throw it on upwards
was to much for the man. 
His breath it was taken 
he  gasped for clean air
the lead roof was melting
it pelted his hair.
In one tragic moment it spattered his mouth,
rained down like a gale
come out of the south.
He wished he were drifting 
alone in a boat,
as the molten lead trickled
right down his throat.
He swallowed hard 
though he was tired and worn,
he raised his arms
he raised his head
to the next one born.

Back down the stairway
pushed out by the fire 
Henry retreated
from a funeral pyre.
The waves they were pounding
the water was cold,
caught between elements
to much to behold.
To go down would be freezing
to go up was to hot,
from real to surreal
it was time he took stock.
But voices were shouting
far off in a boat,
through the darkness he stumbled
he crawled  and he hoped.
The voice became clearer
"Henry we can't get to close",

how could this have happened...

to be so near yet so far.
Several ropes they were thrown
 up to the stars,
one landed beside Henry
the captain did boast.
Dragged through the cold water
back to the coast. 
too much when so old
tired and worn
he raised his arms
he raised his head
to the next one born.

Henry hung on then
 for twelve days he did drift,
it can't be explained by science
or myth.
His dreams they were frenzied, 
frantic and fast,
so much came back to him 
his loves, the lights of his past.
Secrets he'll take
 from the cradle to the grave,
no one will know 
the mariners he saved.
The last one to see to him,
to stand by his bed,
was a doctor of postmortem,
who found seven ounces of lead.
They didn't believe him
no way was he alive,
so long weighed down
he shouldn't have survived.
And how could this be 
the doctor was told
that his last words were symbolic,
a forerunner  retold.
You don't have to believe it
but Henry said this to me.
On the morning of the fire 
he looked out to sea.

"It didn't seem like a normal day
 the sun was late
I looked out to sea
a forerunner of fate.
The rise was a flame
the sea it was dark,
later I would discover
it took just one tiny spark.
For a keeper who is old
tired and worn,
I raised my arms
I raised my head 
 to the next one born."

Henry Hall was the Light keeper at Rudyerd's Light which lasted 47 years until the tragic fire which took Henry's life in 1755. Eddystone Rock is located 13 miles south west of Plymouth, England.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville 


Sunday, 17 February 2013

From Beijing

A Child's life is like a piece of paper upon which every person leaves a mark.

Chinese proverb

From Beijing, oil on panel, 24"x 18", Steven Rhude

This portrait, is the third one applying a primary colour as an abstraction for what we in the west refer to as "background".
As overt as it appears, it is the most telling of the young boy's true background - not one of space, but one of culture, geography, history, and place.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville  

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Anatomy; Still an Option

Head, Dissecting Rooms, U of T, chalk and ink, Steven Rhude

Modernism's divorce from the human figure did not go unchallenged. The Ontario College of Art and Design maintained a very good fine arts program throughout those difficult years, with the option for drawing and painting students to study anatomy at the University of Toronto's Anatomy Museum and Dissecting Rooms. Anatomy was also discussed in relation to the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp, and on to the Eakins master work The Gross Clinic. 

Head #2, Dissecting Rooms, U of T, chalk and ink, Steven Rhude

The following drawings were executed at the University or Toronto's Anatomy Museum and Dissecting Rooms in 1982. The experience left a indelible effect on my approach to painting and the expression of realism (regardless of the subject).

Torso, Dissecting Rooms, U of T, Chalk, Steven Rhude

Fetus, Anatomy Museum, U of T, graphite, Steven Rhude

Fetus, Anatomy Museum, U of T, graphite,  Steven Rhude

Man, Anatomy Museum, U of T, graphite, Steven Rhude

Arm, Dissecting Rooms, U of T, chalk,  Steven Rhude

Fetus Skeleton and Adult Skull, Anatomy Museum, U of T, graphite, Steven Rhude

Fetus Skeleton,  Anatomy Museum, U of T, chalk, Steven Rhude

Fetus Study, Anatomy Museum, U of T, chalk, Steven Rhude

Steven Rhude, Wolfville

Friday, 15 February 2013

More Thoughts on Drawing

"At moments of intense aesthetic experience we see not only with our eyes but with the whole body...
Jack Chambers

Colosseum, graphite, 8" x 14", 1986,  Steven Rhude 

Colosseum, graphite, 8" x 10", 1986, Steven Rhude

It still seems to me that the mind of the artist travels out through the eyes; a journey of sorts in order to navigate the nature of objects, or people - and especially the nature of place. There is a reliance on reality and imagination that takes place when coaxing a work into existence.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Time to Walk the Dog

Dog and Field in Wolfville , digital photo, Steven Rhude

The Pope resigned the other day
and the streets of Rome was full of tears,
no one new exactly why,
hadn't happened in six hundred years.

They chased him and they hounded him

they had to know before he was dead,
Cornered and pressed for an answer
he could only hang his lonely head

The seconds they ticked by
truth and wisdom was at hand.
Great secrets would be revealed. 
There was calm across the land.

His cross it was much too heavy
his robes they had turned to red.
His soul was a churning crimson,
When he looked up this is all that he said. 

"Well there's a  time to take the dog for a walk,
time to pick up the leash and that collar.
Clear your head and restore the balance,
forget the almighty dollar.
Put down the incense and take off your mitre,
Take to the path and forget the clock,
Gotta leave the Vatican behind
just taking my dog for a walk." 

Well, I went to a school board meeting,
to listen in or maybe have my say.
But I didn't like my options,
Seemed more like church
and the Judgement Day.

Now the meeting it started right on time,
I noticed no one else was there.
But a few concerned for the children,
and a multitude of paid educrats 
governed by the chair.

Now that chair  she kept on saying 
you only have ten minutes - then be done.
Can't you see, we have more important business,
than saving schools
when there's a system to run.

 I wondered at her impatience,
her rules and her tone.
when it comes to those who govern,
they'd rather you just stayed at home.

Well there's a  time to take the dog for a walk,
time to pick up the leash and that collar.
Clear your head and restore the balance,
forget the almighty dollar.
Take to the path, the wood or the field,
even when the mercury is falling
she'll return to you every time
 when it's you who does the calling.

Dog in Orchard, Wolfville, digital photo, Steven Rhude

Went to the postmodernist's party
there were people from all over town.
I saw doctors and academics,
lawyers who wore a frown.

She said she loved that new installation
"there's a message here
do you get the gist?"
I said I didn't but it really didn't matter
It's sure to make the Sobey's short list. 

It had a cart and plates and ashtrays
cigarettes and bottles of beer,
It had computers and lap tops to go with it
tar and light bulbs
 and a voice you could just hear. 

The talking head on skype was the postmodernist
he wore black from head to toe,
said he was sorry he had to miss such a fine party
Said he had to make a train to Toronto.

But first I have more important business,
than art and awards and galleries,
I need someone to walk my dog while I'm in hog town,
It's sure to relieve your boredom,
loneliness and sad reverie.

Well there's a  time to take the dog for a walk,
time to pick up the leash and that collar.
Clear your head and restore the balance,
forget the almighty dollar.
Take to the path, the wood or the field,
even when the mercury is falling
she'll return to you every time
 when it's you who does the calling.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Monday, 4 February 2013

Boy with Yellow

Boy with Yellow, oil on canvas, 14"x 16", Steven Rhude

It never ceased to amaze him. That act of scrubbing oil paint around long enough on a canvas or panel, until finally  creating a mental dialogue with his subject. Who was this child? Who is he now? And who will he be?  Simultaneously sensing an expression evolve, like a ship advancing out of the fog, the painter grappled with shape analysis and proportions. The child's eyes changed with every blink - or when gazing down at the concrete floor, and then back up; staring strait at him. Highlights moved back and forth from the white of the eye to the pupil. Eventually, the afternoon light, obscures the brown eyes as they turn into black marbles, like pools of the deepest value imaginable. He wiggles and squirms to much for the painter, but even though the sitting is short, the experience is long.

Well then he ponders why he would want to... no, how could he transcribe the secrets the boy was already whispering in his left ear. Certainly no painting could achieve this. How could the layers contain such literal honesty through the brush of a painter whose mirror of innocence cracked long ago?

They take a break, and the boy draws - or as he says: 'make a scary dinosaur', with paper board and paints. Then another drawing of a house, with a man and his dog. Another of a man and a rainbow with the sun. Heroes and bad guys; soon the floor is littered with calligraphic images of the boy's thoughts. Every drawing contains a verbal addendum, explaining the drama and characters involved in the drawings to the painter.

Scary Dinosaur by Sam

Dinosaur on the Move by Sam 

Later, the boy is watching Tree house. The painter returns to the studio and veils the painting with traces and layers of modernist drips, spattering and a convoluted webbing of linear colours. He has been doing this to his paintings for years. Securing his initial impression of the subject beneath an unpremeditated abstraction of the primary colours. He moves around the painting 360 degrees. The familiar introduction of  The Octonauts resonates down from the TV room below to the basement studio. He then restores the painting to the easel.

Detail, Boy with Yellow

Later the boy sees the painting in progress. Curious why his image lies beneath such a colourful chaos, yet more pleased to know something tangible is being created. From him, with him, and about him. In the following days, the painter goes into the studio to work on it some more. The boy won't sit for long; he wants to make drawings and paintings himself to give to his friends.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, Nova Scotia