Saturday, 27 December 2014


Temple Sleep, Beijing, o/p, 24" x 48", Steven Rhude

"China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world."

Napoléon Bonaparte

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Equilibrium #3

Equilibrium #3, oil on canvas, 48" x 36", Steven Rhude

This completes the "Three on Three" series of stacked buoys by the ocean. It will go off to Gallery 78 in New Brunswick in the new year.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


Three Stacked Buoys by the Sea, oil on canvas, 50" x 42", Steven Rhude, private collection

The objective of achieving balance in life is constantly being assessed owing to our knowledge of opposing forces. From family, friends, to community. The human body, diet, the life cycle - existence and mortality; the idea of spirit. Our place in the Maritimes, church, state, and equality. Relationships, close or long distance, personal or political, are forever subject to the vicissitude's of external and internal forces. Forever being analyzed, scrutinized, and catagorized.

While working on this painting, my youngest son Samuel, observed that he would hold the water back, because he liked the idea that something so seemingly difficult to balance could be achieved.  I asked him how long he thought he could hold back the advancing ocean?  He replied: "for at least as long as it takes you to finish the painting."

Sam has a way of leaving me at a loss for words.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

From the Chronicle Herald

Laura Kenney, Bedside

Steven Rhude, Burning Light


AT THE GALLERIES: Rugs, paintings shine light on architecture of coastal beacons

Laura Kenney is a lively, expressive rug-hooker; Steven Rhude a quiet, intellectual painter.
But the two share a passion for lighthouses, an offbeat sense of humour and a talent for their chosen medium.
Their dual exhibit, I’m a Lighthouse; It’s Your Call, at Harvest Gallery in Wolfville to Nov. 16, is a cry for the preservation of lighthouses in playful and poignant pieces.

“When I first read the article that lighthouses were being declared surplus I couldn’t believe it,” says Rhude, a Quebec-born, Wolfville-based painter who has also lived in Fox Island Main, Guysborough County, and Lunenburg.

Similarly alarmed Kenney started a summertime mission two years ago to search out the province’s lighthouses with her two kids. She and Rhude both refer to Rip Irwin’s Lighthouses and Lights of Nova Scotia and Chris Mills’ Lighthouse Memories.

“We’ve seen 30, and there’s 170! It’s been good for the kids,” says Kenney, particularly fond of the atypical black and white Margaretsville lighthouse.
The Truro artist has roots in Nova Scotia, “but I mostly grew up in Ontario,” she says.
“We would come here in the summer, and I associated Nova Scotia with lighthouses, saltwater taffy and bagpipes.”

Harvest Gallery owner Lynda MacDonald put the two together. Kenney asked her for a show but not a solo one.

“I wanted a buddy. Lynda looked behind her, and there was a Steven Rhude painting on the wall.”
Rhude was keen to team up.

“I knew we had an affinity for lighthouses. I was also fascinated by the idea of sharing something as meticulous as a painting next to something organic in a rug-hooking style.

“What I like about what Laura’s doing is she’s using the tradition of rug-hooking as a form of social commentary, and she’s created an alter ego. Judy’s like the patron saint of lighthouses.”
Judy is a character who “just evolved” two years ago, says Kenney. She has red hair, a long black dress and red rain boots. She is nobody’s fool.

“She has no filters; she’s brave,” says Rhude.

“She can say things you think or wouldn’t say in a crowd.”

In Kenney’s playful, vibrant hooked rugs, Judy hugs a lighthouse, props it up, wears a red and white lighthouse dress, hangs a lighthouse on a clothesline or tries to push one back up from her stance in a small red boat at sea.

Kenney also creates stark, poignant images. Judy is in a funeral procession of women carrying a giant lighthouse with a large crow at the rear. In the dramatic, gothic, rural artwork Graveside Judy, the forlorn figure is a lonely mourner with her arms stretched out like a cross. The crow is small, perched on a grey tombstone before the sea.

Kenney’s Cape Forchu is another gothic, proportionally askew image, with Judy holding lanterns and almost as tall as a lighthouse. It hangs next to Rhude’s sublime realist painting The Apple Core, of the Cape Forchu light, with a giant pale moon at the horizon.

This lighthouse, at the entrance to Yarmouth Harbour, was first lit in 1840 and rebuilt in an apple-core architectural style in 1962.

Rhude is fascinated by the architecture of lighthouses, their cultural significance and their spiritual power, which he expresses in paintings like Cathedral.

“Lighthouses are our cathedrals,” he says.

Historically, “they provided a spiritual protection for communities, as well as a practical one. They gave everyone a sense of comfort knowing they were perched in front of a community.

“That’s why a lighthouse isn’t movable. It’ll be a part of our identity and culture for a long time.”
Inspired by trips to Newfoundland — Cape Spear in particular — he loves to play with the clean and iconic lines of the structures.

“I don’t think you’ll find a more eccentric piece of architecture. They were modernist before anybody was thinking about modernism.”

Just as fond of wordplay as Kenney, he puts displaced lighthouses on an abandoned rural highway so they are going nowhere in March of the Obsolescence.

He and Kenney each drew a picture for the other to depict.

“She sent me something of Judy taking her lighthouse for a walk, which is difficult for a realist!”
Rhude asked his wife, Simone Labuschagne, whose hair is dark, not red, to pose as Judy. She wears a forbidding black coat and pulls a trolley from Blomidon Nurseries for the fictional lighthouse.

He repeats this fierce, withheld, “stoic” figure in The Lighthouse Keeper, a painting of Labuschagne in a Renaissance-style profile against the large white base of a lighthouse. She looks to the right, but Renaissance artists painted faces looking to the left.

“There’s a history of female light keepers but not a lot of them. It’s unorthodox to consider a woman a lighthouse keeper so I reversed the direction.”

Rhude, also exhibiting in the Capture 2014: Nova Scotia Realism show, studied Italian and northern European Renaissance art in Florence, Italy, in an off-campus program while he was a student at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

After he received his degree with honours in painting and drawing, he worked with the Ontario Crafts Council in Toronto.
“I put up a lot of shows of quilting and rug-hooking and I really liked it. I liked the idea of recycling materials, and I learned a lot.”

Rhude has a labour-intensive, ordered process but builds in disorder.

“I find more and more I’m using just a couple of words to spark an idea,” says Rhude, who likes to sketch on printed matter, including Gerald Ferguson’s The Standard Corpus of Present Day English Usage Arranged by Word Length and Alphabetized Within Word Length.
After Rhude paints an image in oil on board, he then puts the board on the floor and starts flinging paint at it as if he were Jackson Pollock.

“I have this penchant for destroying it. I’m spattering or flicking colour over it, and then restoring the painting.”

He puts the speckled, multicoloured surface back on the easel and then paints to restore the image.
“I’ve lost some, but you can’t get this kind of texture if you’re not building it up with some kind of layering mentality. You walk that edge between abstraction and realism. It’s the second half I enjoy.”

“It’s the same with me,” says Kenney, whose backgrounds are multicoloured, kinetic ribs created out of fabric strips cut from Indian saris and clothing from Frenchy’s.

“Once I put Judy and the lighthouse in them, then I can do the background, and I go wild. I don’t have to plan. I just start grabbing stuff, and it’s magic.”

They both like working against the atypical imagery of lighthouses as majestic structures perched on cliffs, says Kenney. They hope their art will spark further preservation.

“These structures are beauty, they are our Eiffel Tower, our Statue of Liberty our Leaning Tower of Pisa,” Kenney writes in her artist’s statement.

“They have stories which we need to see, hear and feel at this time when we need it the most. They need to be protected; I feel it is our job as Nova Scotians to do this.”

“The lighthouse protected a community,” says Rhude.
“Now what are we doing? We’re using our art to raise awareness of the need to protect lighthouses.

November 7th, 2014

Monday, 3 November 2014


Study for Modernity, Bay de Verde, oil on copper, 6" x 9", Steven Rhude

Modernity, Bay de Verde, oil on board, 20" x 24", Steven Rhude

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Friday, 31 October 2014

Following the Paint - part 2

"Painting is the representation of visible forms. The essence of realism is its negation of the ideal."
- Gustave Courbet

Stairway, Cape Spear, oil on canvas, 20" x 16", Steven Rhude

Study for Modernity, oil on copper, 6" x 9", Steven Rhude

Solo Buoy, oil on copper, 5 1/4" x 7 1/8", Steven Rhude

Three Buoys and Box, oil on copper, 4.5" x 6", Steven Rhude

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Following the paint - intermediate states.

"That's why I feel strongly about a lot of so called realism today which I think I've had a very bad influence on. They think it's the amount of detail and that really isn't it. Yes, a detail should be there and it should be carried far, but the picture's got to be bigger than that. Otherwise it doesn't hang together and it doesn't give you the force of the thing. It's got to be abstracted through your vision, your mind. It's a process of going through detail in order eventually to obtain simplification and cutting out...." - Andrew Wyeth

Oil on canvas, in progress

oil on etched copper plate, in progress

oil on etched copper plate, in progress

oil on etched copper plate, in progress

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Oil over Etched Copper Plate

Red, Yellow, Blue, oil on copper etching plate, 11" x 14", Steven Rhude

Bowling Alley, Avalon Peninsula, o/c etching plate, 11" x 14", Steven Rhude

Buoy with Blue Square, o/c etching plate, 9" x 6", Steven Rhude

I'm continuing to use up some old copper etching plates for oil paintings.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS.

Sunday, 5 October 2014


Cathedral, o/p, 24" x 24", Steven Rhude

"These structures are beauty, they are our Eiffel Tower, our Statue of Liberty..our Leaning Tower of Pisa. They have stories which we need to see, hear and feel at this time when we need it the most."
                                                                                                                       Laura Kenney

“The past reminds us of timeless human truths and allows for the perpetuation of cultural traditions that can be nourishing; it contains examples of mistakes to avoid, preserves the memory of alternatives ways of doing things, and is the basis for self-understanding…”
                                                                                                                        Bettina Drew

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Between the Lighthouses

Between the Lighthouses, o/p, 24" x 24", Steven Rhude

Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society DOOMSDAY LIST

This is a partial list of Canadian lighthouses and lightstation buildings in danger of being lost through neglect and environmental conditions. 

*Please note that as of the end of May, 2010, ALL Canadian lighthouses, aside from those staffed by resident keepers, or those maintained by Parks Canada, municipalities, or community groups, are now on the Doomsday List because they were declared surplus by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. For details visit the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act page.  

Bear River, NS  Decommissioned wooden lighthouse

Cape North, NS  1981 wooden lighthouse (demolished in May 2010)

Cape Roseway, NS  Two dwellings and old fog alarm building

Country Island, NS  Keepers house (one house burned in 2005)

Cross Island, NS  Keepers houses, fog alarm building, garage, shed

Devils Island, NS  Wooden lighthouse and keeper's house

Fisherman's Harbour, NS  Wooden lighthouse

Fish Fluke Point, NB  Combined light and dwelling

French Point, NS  Wooden lighthouse

Gannet Rock, NB  1831 wooden tower and attached concrete keepers' house

Georges Island, NS  Keeper's house

Green Island, Richmond Co., NS  Keeper's house and old lighthouse (one house burned in 2005)

Guyon Island, NS  Keepers' houses

Ingonish Island, NS  Concrete lighthouse and keeper's house

Isaac's Harbour, NS  Combined dwelling/lighthouse

Keppel Island, NF  Lighthouse, keepers' houses, fog alarm building, boat house

Margaree Island, NS  Lighthouse and dwelling

Moshers Island, NS  Keepers' houses and small fog alarm building

Peases Island, NS  Keepers' duplex

Queensport (Rook Island), NS  Combined dwelling/lighthouse

Sambro Island, NS  Assistant keeper's dwelling, Gas House and fog alarm building

Seal Island, NS  Radio operator's house, barn

Southwest Point, Anticosti Island, QC

Saint Paul's Island, NS  Southwest lightkeeper's house, wireless operator's house at Atlantic Cove. Fog Alarm building at North East light.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Resurgent Light

Resurgent Light, o/p, 24" x 24", Steven Rhude

In this fast paced virtual world of ours, it’s quite plausible that there are people who have never seen a lighthouse in the flesh. Never sojourned to experience the prospect of one of our most enduring symbols face to face, and considered what it could mean personally or collectively. Never driven, or hiked, or boated to a lighthouse. Never crept along a desolate point of land, with precarious cliffs, or a tidal surge to contend with. Never approached a lighthouse door where just a rope secured it, instead of a handle. Never entered and searched through the rooms of a dwelling abandoned, or marginalized, or declared surplus. Never looked out of salt encrusted windows, and pondered the struggles of a long line of families and keepers. Never imagined their tragedies and victories, their loves and hates, or the cycle of their purpose and responsibility. Never climbed the steps of a lighthouse to the lantern and stood where others before them stood, and questioned why a facility like this seems to so easily demarcate our relationship with land and water, with security and the unknown. Never wondered why in Virginia Woolf’s novel, “To the Lighthouse”, the lighthouse has no place name.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Friday, 19 September 2014

Lands End

Lands End, Cape Spear, o/p, 20" x 24", Steven Rhude

“It will rain,” he remembered his father saying. “You won’t be able to go to the Lighthouse.”
The Lighthouse was then a silvery, misty-looking tower with a yellow eye, that opened suddenly, and softly in the evening. Now —
James looked at the Lighthouse. He could see the white-washed rocks; the tower, stark and straight; he could see that it was barred with black and white; he could see windows in it; he could even see washing spread on the rocks to dry. So that was the Lighthouse, was it?
No, the other was also the Lighthouse. For nothing was simply one thing. The other Lighthouse was true too. It was sometimes hardly to be seen across the bay. In the evening one looked up and saw the eye opening and shutting and the light seemed to reach them in that airy sunny garden where they sat.

Virginia Woolf - To the Lighthouse

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Mea Culpa

Lantern, Cape Spear, o/p, 24" x 20", Steven Rhude

Over the years, I've learned there are times when it's better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. A distracted lighthouse guide gave me sufficient time to explore the lantern of Cape Spear which is off limits to visitors. The result is this painting. Another architectural feature study of that great lighthouse.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Monday, 1 September 2014

March of Obsolescence

March of Obsolescence, o/p, 20" x 24", Steven Rhude

The Window

“Yes, of course, if it’s fine tomorrow,” said Mrs. Ramsay. “But you’ll have to be up with the lark,” she added.
To her son these words conveyed an extraordinary joy, as if it were settled, the expedition were bound to take place, and the wonder to which he had looked forward, for years and years it seemed, was, after a night’s darkness and a day’s sail, within touch. Since he belonged, even at the age of six, to that great clan which cannot keep this feeling separate from that, but must let future prospects, with their joys and sorrows, cloud what is actually at hand, since to such people even in earliest childhood any turn in the wheel of sensation has the power to crystallise and transfix the moment upon which its gloom or radiance rests, James Ramsay, sitting on the floor cutting out pictures from the illustrated catalogue of the Army and Navy stores, endowed the picture of a refrigerator, as his mother spoke, with heavenly bliss. It was fringed with joy. The wheelbarrow, the lawnmower, the sound of poplar trees, leaves whitening before rain, rooks cawing, brooms knocking, dresses rustling — all these were so coloured and distinguished in his mind that he had already his private code, his secret language, though he appeared the image of stark and uncompromising severity, with his high forehead and his fierce blue eyes, impeccably candid and pure, frowning slightly at the sight of human frailty, so that his mother, watching him guide his scissors neatly round the refrigerator, imagined him all red and ermine on the Bench or directing a stern and momentous enterprise in some crisis of public affairs.
“But,” said his father, stopping in front of the drawing-room window, “it won’t be fine.”

- from: To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

Monday, 25 August 2014

Bureaucrats, Judy, and going for a walk.

For generations the lighthouse has been inextricably linked with the identity of seafaring  communities throughout Canada. Especially in the Maritimes, they marked an ongoing contribution that characterized the values of nationhood up until the transitional years of modernist Canada. They were emblematic of place identity. They were beacons of the concept that nationality is linked with being rooted in one place, that is the idea of having a community, region, a home or country. 

 Modernism and the nationhood debate altered the nature of collective identity for Canadians. The exciting and convulsive life of modernism was predicated on the concept that we were indeed placeless - a state of mind, like a country without boarders. It paved the information highway but left many casualties, including the iconic lighthouse, eventually forcing its usefulness to the sidelines with new technology and global positioning systems.

The so called postmodern world we now live in has changed our lives considerably. The terms by which authority, knowledge, navigation, community, identity and time are conceived, have been altered forever.  And so has the ethos of the lighthouse we know today.

There are not many architectural objects which still evoke such complex human emotions as the lighthouse through cultural memory. Place identity, and why the lighthouse is the new “outsider” since being declared surplus, is still a fixture for many Atlantic Canadians, as out migration continues to take its toll. 

                                              "I'm a lighthouse, it's your call."

What would happen if two artists swapped their intellectual property on the subject of the lighthouse, in the form of drawings, and then each created a work of art based on the others idea?

Laura Kenny proposed this concept to me to see what we may come up with. The rug hooking of Laura Kenny is well know in the Atlantic Canadian region, as is her character Judy, a devoted protector of all things honourable, humorous, and bizarre.

  So here's what we did.

Study for: Timber - The Bureaucrat's Line, Steven Rhude

Timber - The Bureaucrat's Line, Rug Hooking,  31.5" x 12.5",Laura Kenny

Study for: Judy Takes Her Lighthouse For a Walk, Laura Kenny

Judy Takes Her Lighthouse For a Walk, o/p, 24" x 20", Steven Rhude

These are just a few of the works to be included in "I'm a Lighthouse, it's your call.", a two person show by Laura Kenny and Steven Rhude - paintings and rug hooking at Harvest Gallery, Wolfville, NS.

Opening October 18th, 2014. For more information contact Harvest Gallery (see link at top of page)

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Friday, 15 August 2014

To the Lighthouse

Reaching Brigus Light, oil on canvas, 40" x 60", Steven Rhude

“...she took her hand and raised her brush. For a moment it stayed trembling in a painful but exciting ecstacy in the air. Where to begin?--that was the question at what point to make the first mark? One line placed on the canvas committed her to innumerable risks, to frequent and irrevocable decisions. All that in idea seemed simple became in practice immediately complex; as the waves shape themselves symmetrically from the cliff top, but to the swimmer among them are divided by steep gulfs, and foaming crests. Still the risk must run; the mark made.”

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Lighthouse Keeper

The Lighthouse Keeper, o/p, 20.5" x 43.5", Steven Rhude

Idealized beauty In Italian Renaissance Portraiture

"The women pictured in the profiled portraits of the Italian Renaissance were not portrayed as individuals, but as ideal women who shares similar facial features with the sitter. Examples of desired physical traits include a high, rounded forehead, plucked eyebrows, blonde hair, fair skin, rosy cheeks, ruby lips, white teeth, dark eyes, and graceful hands."

 - from Mary Rogers, "The Decorum of Women Beauty: Trissino, Firenzulo, Luiginni, and the Representation of Women in 16th Century Painting" Renaissance Studies, 1988  

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Cape Spear Modern

Cape Spear Modern, Dyptych, oil on board, 24" x 32", Steven Rhude

Cape Spear has two lighthouses. The one depicted here is cast in concrete. It contains the personality of modernism through materials, efficiency, minimal design and engineering. Its aesthetics speak of strength and form through simplicity. It is a beacon without habitation. A utilitarian object only. Automated in presence, it contains no keeper but that of technology.

The buoy, though similar in shape to a lighthouse, contains not a precast directive, but a hand carved willfulness of design. It is as though there is a concept within the wood waiting to emerge with the skills of shape, form, and colour imparted by it's maker.

However, there is another lighthouse at Cape Spear. Equally modern, yet classical in its combination of habitation and  utilization. A wood frame structure with a dome shaped lantern. The shape and personality of the old light echos the keeper's history.

  A future study of this facility is in the making.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Friday, 1 August 2014

Stairway, Cape Spear

Stairway, Cape Spear, oil on panel, 35" x 24", StevenRhude
This work is for an up coming show in October with Laura Kenny (rug hooker) at Harvest Gallery in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The show is based on lighthouses. More information to follow.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

New Work at Emma Butler Gallery

Here is a link to see works on show:

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Acadien Field Corn

Acadien Lune, oil on canvas, 24" x 30", Steven Rhude

When they realized that corn could be grown successfully, it proved to be a blessing to their existence due to its varied uses. Corn could be made into hominy, grits, and cornmeal. The corn shucks were used to make dolls, mattresses, hats, and brooms.  It was also used to smoke out mosquitoes. Dampened corn shucks were braided into rope and used for chair seats and hats. Cobs were used for stoppers and as kindling for fires. - The Acadien Village

Venus de l'Acadie, oil on board, 24" x 24", Steven Rhude

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Sunday, 30 March 2014


Make and Break Harbour (tri-image), oil on canvas, 36" x 60", Steven Rhude

"as soon as each hour of one's life has died, it embodies itself in some material object as do the souls of the dead in certain folk stories, and hides there. There it remains captive forever, unless we should happen on the object, recognize what lies within, call it by its name, and so set it free."

Marcel Proust, By way of Saint - Beuve (translated by Sylvia Townsend Warner)

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Quinlan's Oar

Quinlan's Oar, Red Head Cove, o/c, 34" x 53", Steven Rhude

As I see it, there is a modern vitality of shape and form to the boat and oar, the buoy, the shed, and the lighthouse. Qualities both abstract and figurative. Ironic, since these objects predate modernism by centuries. So in them, there is a sense of the minimal before the minimalist. Modern before the modernist. Formal before the formalist. Their maker’s intent wasn’t to create something beautiful; more like something utilitarian. However, it just so happens their intent was beautifully realized.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sibley's Cove

Sibley's Cove, oil on canvas, 19" x 28", Steven Rhude

Origin of the word Population

late 16th century (denoting an inhabited place): from late Latin populatio(n-), from the verb populare, from populus 'people'.

Sibley's Cove, Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland

Sibley's Cove is usually considered to include Torquay (pronounced tarquay), a cluster of houses on the East End of the cove. It is believed that the cove was probably named after a migrating fisherman.
1874 – Sibley’s Cove (combined with Lead Cove) first appears on the Census with a population of 61.
1884 – The population is listed as 93.
1891 – One vessel leaves Sibley’s Cove for the Labrador Fishery.
1895 – The first school is built and kept by Isaac March of Brownsdale.
1899 – A Methodist Chapel is built.
1942 – An Orange Hall is constructed.
1957 – A government wharf is constructed for the inshore fishermen.
1992 - Newfoundlanders protest Cod Moratorium
2011 - The population of Sibley's Cove is now considered in combination with New Chelsea, New Melbourne, Brownsdale and Lead Cove - all unincorporated fishing communities. The combined population for these five communities is 503. This is a 7% decline from 2006 (541).

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Leaving Lead Cove

"It's not down on any map; true places never are."
- Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Leaving Lead Cove, oil on canvas, 19" x 28", Steven Rhude

The aesthetic of many a contemporary opinion is often couched in opposites. The Newfoundland landscape and its romantic depiction for instance, may be seen as an infectious blight for some. Typified as comforting images of the landscape, artists and viewers are often bombarded with, and marginalised by, the generalisation of what may or may not be the "quintessential" expression of their land.

 For some, the depiction of a lone granite rock (erratic) on a windswept barren, could be seen as quaint; a well trodden subject offered up as comfort food at the expense of tougher subjects like power lines or satellite dishes. My experience is that this view is at best antiquated. Anyone who has walked some barrens in Newfoundland should understand the gravitational pull of something ancient with resonance. Icons take on a presence with time, not just with in contemporaneity. Our desire to capture this is not in any way conventional.

However, traversing Newfoundland means considering that yellow ribbon dissecting the land, an object as modernist as a Mondrian painting. There are times when I know I'm in Newfoundland, geographically bound by maps that help me navigate my ideas around this land in a car, armed with drawing books, camera, note books, and pens and pencils. But other times there is a leave-taking of sorts. It could be a road in northern Ontario, or a suburb just over the hill, instead of Conception Bay. This is the illusion of place, and our desire to at times transcend the material. Not a very post modern objective to say the least. But for the painter there are no maps for this kind of logic, and they didn't teach it in art college.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS  

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Lost in the Harbour

 Lost in the Harbour, Watercolour, 22" x 30", Steven Rhude

Lost in the Harbour

Over here the ladies all want sweet perfume
But there's never a rose
And over there the roses are frightened to bloom
So they never can grow
And over here they need wool
For weaving their baby's new clothes
But nobody has any wool
And the sheep are all lost in the harbour
Lost in the harbour

And over here they want diamonds to wear
But there aren't any here
And over there everyone's hiding their tears
But they're crying inside

And the wall won't come down
Till they're no longer afraid of themselves
And if you don't believe me ask yourselves
And then I can come down to the harbour
Down to the harbour

And then I will fill the ocean back up with my tears
I still have a couple more years
And then I can come back to the harbour
Down to the harbour

Lyrics - Tom Waits

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Night After a Hurricane

Hurricane, 20" x 30", watercolour, whereabouts unknown

They took the ferry over to PEI for a show.

It was December and a winter storm set in.

It was a strange opening (that's what they call an event where people gather to look at art, but really don't).
It felt more like a closing.
It was a strange mixture of people.

They were on a winter island renowned for tourists, with no tourists around.

He recalled a nun at the opening who openly enjoyed the Hurricane painting. She said it did that "you know what" to her.

Then she blushed. So did he.

It was the night when he met Joseph Sherman - the poet, and editor of the defunct Arts Atlantic magazine.

He knew he was a tireless promoter of maritime art and artists.
It was also a grumpy night for Joe.
And it was also uncomfortable for all present when Joe openly lambasted representational art, old conservative Realism, and the desire to convey a concept or idea with a pictorial objective. The sermon seemed endless. Thank god there was wine.
When Joe was finished, he replied "we now have a new academy, that of  Social justice progressivism, one that embellishes identity and  probably through art, alienates more people than it convinces."

It was the only time he met Joe Sherman.
It was a long time ago.
Joe passes away in 2006.

He recalled mentioning the nun's words to his wife when they were back in Fox Island, after a hurricane.
 She said "Joe Sherman should have listened to the nun."
He blushed again.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Pink, White, Green

Newfoundland's unofficial flag.

"Fishermen who were members of the society may well have flown the SOS (Star of the Sea) colours off their boats and houses and since they were the bulk of the population, this would have lent great weight to any symbol they employed en masse. Fishermen were, after all, the backbone of Newfoundland,"the men whose labour and sweat the country owes everything it possesses." What represented them could have very easily been seen as representing the country" 

Carolyn Lambert, Memorial University of Newfoundland  [1]

Pink, White, Green, oil on canvas, 35" x 60", Emma Butler Gallery

Last summer, I spent some time traveling around the Avalon Peninsula, more or less charting my way through as many of the coastal communities as I could. It was hard to not notice the Pink, White and Green flag, often seen flying beside the Provincial flag of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Provincial flag was designed by Christopher Pratt and legislated back in 1980 while Brian Peckford's government was in power. However, the unofficial flag with it's pop art colours, seems to be widely flown today owing to reasons pertaining to identity as well as novelty.

 The pink colour strikes me as having a post modern appeal that seems to be unique when it comes to flags. This is just an assertion I make as an outsider looking in. However, you will not find a pink like it in any country's flag until you go to Brazil. Even then it's at a sub-national level with the state of Espirito Santo. The appeal of the colours have led to some diverse connections according to James K. Hiller of Memorial University of Newfoundland:    

"The PWG tricolour is widely flown these days, appears on the masthead of The Independent newspaper and is available on car plates, t-shirts, hats, swimsuits and so on – sometimes with the byline "Republic of Newfoundland".[2] Even the province’s liquor commission has jumped onto the trend, with a new rum displaying the PWG on the label. The phenomenon has been called "Newf-chic" 

James K. Hiller, Memorial University of Newfoundland [3]

It's well documented by historians that Newfoundland was never a "Republic", but that hasn't stoped the use of the byline. While crossing over to Newfoundland on the ferry, I saw several items in the tourist shop with "Republic of Newfoundland" stamped on them. Mired in myth, and that it represents independence to some, seems to have as much to do with the troubled post Confederation history of Newfoundland.

The colours of the flag never officially appeared in public until around 1870. That is when the Star of the Sea Association (SOS), a mutual benefit society founded in 1871 by the Catholic Church, eventually simplified its flag and started to use it in ceremonies and processions. It is considered by historians like Carolyn Lambert  that the colours of the SOS are therefore the most likely origin of the Pink,White, and Green flag seen today.

Even though today, pink may be synonymous with the pop art movement, and also the highly mediated world of "chic", the Pink, White, and Green flag will probably never have any support to displace  the current flag. Back in 2005 a poll was taken that showed only twenty five percent of Newfoundlanders would consider changing to the PWG flag. Cited as reasons were the financial costs of the change, and ironically that"pink" was not an appropriate colour for a flag.

Flags are complex and powerful symbols capable of stirring up nationalistic emotions in all of us.  However, perhaps the words of James K. Hiller would be apt to consider in light of the issue:

"From the beginning of Newfoundland nationalism to the present, certain themes persist. There is a faith in the rich potential of natural resources, albeit a faith that is severely dented these days by the fisheries crisis, problems in the forest sector, and the difficulty in regulating multinational corporations. There is also the faith in the sterling virtues of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, even as they leave for Alberta and points west via ferries and planes, as well as pride in the province’s history and culture. Finally there is friction with an imperial centre (once London, now Ottawa) and a tendency to look for external scapegoats. It was always a defensive nationalism as well quick to take offense, and resentful of actual and perceived slights. Gerry Bannister is right to point out a major difference between the nationalism of Bond’s day, and that of the present. Bond’s was an optimistic vision, while today’s Newfoundland nationalism is haunted by the past and by dreams about an imagined world that has been lost - a world encapsulated in widely popular images of idealized outports complete with mummers and of an old St. John’s where poles and wires have miraculously disappeared and every house is newly painted. It is a nationalism that debates endlessly whether the right decision was taken in 1948 and hopes that a better deal with Canada might just happen. This is a remote possibility, perhaps, in which case the role of culture, history, and heritage, and the Pink, White, and Green become all the more important in cementing a sense of purpose, place and identity." [4]

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

notes: [1]
[2] Newfoundland was never a republic.,-White-and-Green-%26mdash-another-Newfoundland-myth/1
[3], [4]