Friday, 30 September 2016

Cape Blomidon

Spirit Cliff #2, oil on copper, 12" x 20.5", Steven Rhude

Spirit Cliff #3, oil on copper, 10" x 20", Steven Rhude

"A particular place in the land is never, for an oral culture, just a passive or inert setting for the human events that occur there. It is an active participant in those occurrences. Indeed, by virtue of its underlying and enveloping presence, the place may even be felt to be the source, the primary power that expresses itself through the various events that unfold there." 

-David Abram, Spell of the Sensuous, pg 162

A particular
in the land
is never,
an oral culture,
just a passive
or inert
for the human
It is an active

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Spirit Stone

Spirit Stone, Cape Blomidon, oil on canvas, 20" x 30", Steven Rhude

They (Mi'kmaq) would have left under our very feet, in stream beds or along shore lines like Cape Blomidon, a long standing stone carving art form that held the conviction that a stone contains the spirit of a person, animal, bird, etc.
Manipulated in one's hand, or held up against the sky, or sun - or fire light, one can explore the cultural practices of their lives and ethos as they elaborated on that which the stone contains.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS 

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Spirit Cliff, Cape Blomidon

Spirit Cliff #1, Cape Blomidon, oil on panel, 19" x 20", Steven Rhude

Glooscap was said by the Mi'kmaq to be great in size and in powers, and to have created natural features such as the Annapolis Valley. In carrying out his feats, he often had to overcome his evil twin brother who wanted rivers to be crooked and mountain ranges to be impassable; in one legend, he turns the evil twin into stone. Another common story is how he turned himself into a giant beaver and created five islands in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia by slapping his huge tail in the water with enough force to stir up the earth. His home was said to be Cape Blomidon. - Wikipedia

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Why Collect Art?

 Recently Bloomberg News reported on the dramatic unloading of the so called "Zombie Art" market in recent auctions. Often rationalized as the emergent market, the contrasting example this time is a Canadian work by Hugh Scott-Douglas.

What was once apparently valued at 100K is now worth 20K. The idea of young and mostly inexperienced artists garnering even $20,000 (less commission) for a single work, let alone 100,000 strikes me as absurd, but likewise as in real estate, this is about the art of the flip, not about the aesthetics and meaningfulness of cultural production, or an artist's skill, depth of study and developed vision.

 A much needed probity in terms of social and cultural value is required. But where, if it exists can it be found?

Four Seasons, New York

Certainly not in the studios of  Bloomberg, covering hucksterism, and the robber baron world of art. A world of agents that flip art like houses, wine and dine titan acquisitionalists with storage units chalk a block full of Zombie art that require hefty insurance fees. And certainly not in a world where if a painting's value plummets over night in the forest of art - does anybody hear. When bottom feeders like  Stefan Simchowitz, the Los Angeles entrepreneur known for buying in bulk from young artists on behalf of clients and for his own collection, may desire to be seen as rubbing his hands with glee, investors talk. But in reality he too must also be concerned about being last to hold the bag in a volatile game of investor chance.

“I am going to be extremely active in the auction market as a seller and a buyer,” said Simchowitz, who owns 3,500 artworks.

Indeed he may, considering the vast amount of questionable matter he needs to move as its due date nears expiration. But this is not really a realistic world of collecting. For one reason is that no one is really collecting - at least where culture is concerned. In an 2014 interview with Sky Gooden of Momus, the question was posed to incumbent director, Susannah Rosenstock of Art Toronto :

How do you reflect on the Canadian art market’s seeming hesitance and conservatism?

"As an outsider who’s only been watching this market for seven years, I can see (Toronto) that it’s a younger city. It doesn’t have the history that Chicago has, for instance, the families that have been building these collections for several hundred years, the robber barons. But I’ve seen it change so much in that time, so I’m optimistic that it will keep going. And this goes back to my desire for the fair to be more international: we can work hard on that but an art fair is just one aspect of a larger market, a growing market." [1]

Two points are noteworthy here. First, the perspective that the market is always "growing", with the idea of the robber baron as a precedent. According to Oxford Dictionary a robber baron is: A person who has become rich through ruthless and unscrupulous business practices (originally with reference to prominent US businessmen in the late 19th century).

 It goes without saying this archetypal model for amassing wealth is alive and well, and has played an essential role in maintaining the value of art through this period of financial imperialism. Much, if not all of this model is based on the 1914 French financier, Andre Level and his Le Peau de L’ours investment club. They initiated a remarkable return of 400 percent to their investors by purchasing early works by Picasso, Matisse, and Vlaminck from 1907 to 1914. These works were eventually considered masterpieces as modernism claimed the mantle of European art. They have been making millions and canonised the elite as arbiters of taste and wealth ever since.

The second point focuses on the other side of investing -  the idea that the Canadian art market is hesitant and conservative. What are we to make of this inference? Does it point to a lack luster interest in collecting post modernist Canadian art canonised by the Toronto art fair gallerists and museums? Or is the collector base with an interest in this field unable to legitimise the work as it is foisted into art fairs and splinter fairs alike by the wheel barrow load. Invariably art fairs boast the final sales tally the way film companies measure a film's value in terms of box office revenues.  Even Eric Fischel in a series of recent paintings, found the art fair world too lush an environment to resist for maintaining his social critique of the one percenters. It is to a large extent an unsavory world with murky  connections to the culture capitals.

Yet, there is another type of collector, one that takes genuine interest in cultural edification through art - Cheech Marin:   

Marin's focus on not how one grows a collection (although that too is important), but “why” one may start to collect, and what streams one might follow to answer this question in a world where art has been subject to the continued status of a plaything of trade titans. The ethics of collecting remain fraught with this stigma, and to encourage a new generation of collectors requires one to overcome the “how to route to collecting successfully” and induce a means of cultural inspiration and edification for the potential collector and their respective passions.

Essentially we collect to learn and enrich our lives and our community. We collect in order to challenge our beliefs, enhance discourse with others, and foster the need for vision in ever challenging times – not to corroborate our own ideas or profit from them.  Collecting art just may be one of the most difficult and uncomfortable enterprises active today. We collect to provide an agent for discussion with family and friends, not to just decorate our surroundings. We collect for our experience and love of memory. We may even collect in order to see how a precious mind develops as their art matures into a vision intimately connected to their geographical place of being and understanding.  Collecting is truly a mysterious enterprise and has made many a person far more insightful in terms of their personal and cultural education.
I have been fortunate to see some of my works go into collections both private and institutional where cultural edification is relevant to the collector. There are many avenues to explore when it comes to researching an artist or their art, but there is really nothing that replaces being arrested by a work in the flesh. However, it is  obvious technology has altered traditional routes of expertise.
Collectors have so much more in terms of resources today than ever before. Researching an artist and their work continues to expand. Blouin Info Blogs posted a good one on Invaluable, an online auction house with informative blogs not only for the collector, but the artist as wellThe blogs are informative and cultural in orientationas well as covering the art industry in general.
 I have seen many collections that were built with a modest means. One need not follow Bloomberg's reports on the market flippers to ponder the purchase of a painting or sculpture. Like Cheech Marin, the reason why one collects might be bound up in our desire to understand narrative, and who might be making art that responds to our own inner narrative. I believe it is out there, however it is up to the collector to find it.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS  
[1] The future of Art Toronto, and how it plans to adapt, Nov. 2014 - Sky Gooden

Wednesday, 21 September 2016


Roxanne During WW2, Near Canso, 35" x 22", oil on panel, Steven Rhude

I will miss Roxanne, I hardly got to know her, and our time together was too brief. I thank her for her services rendered. I understand she is, like many a maritimer before her, headed down the road to Toronto. Be careful, it is a big city, yet full of kind, creative, and wonderful people - I can testify to this since it is where I grew up. I understand her reasons for going, and trust she will be appreciated where there is a larger market for her expertise. Bonne chance! :)

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Artists talk, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Post Cod, oil on board, 24" x 24", Steven Rhude, part of Terroir, AGNS

At the End of the Day, Rug Hooking, Laura Kenney, part of Terroir, AGNS

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia


Terroir Talk with artists Laura Kenney & Steven Rhude

Sunday, 2 October 2016 -
2:30pm to 3:30pm

Join Terroir: a Nova Scotia Survey artists Laura Kenney and Steven Rhude for an in-depth discussion of their work and their on-going joint project. This project explores the Nova Scotian communities, their world, and shared future as framed by a post cod world.

FREE with admission.

About the Artists

Laura Kenney was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan but her roots are in Nova Scotia and has resided in the province for the past 20 years. She has lived in many towns and cities across Canada as well as Germany and Japan, and it was in Japan where she met her husband, William Morgan. Laura began rug hooking when she moved to Truro, Nova Scotia in 1998. She took classes with the Rug Hooking Guild of Nova in Truro, which gave her a good basis in rug hooking. Her work has been represented by the Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival since 2009. It was at the festival, after talking with the artists and seeing the art, that she realized her humourous, colourful rugs were indeed folk art. Laura works from her studio in her small green house where she lives with her husband and two children, Jonah and Zoe.

Steven Rhude was born in Rouyn Noranda, Quebec in 1959. He attended Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto where he studied fine arts and graduated in 1983 with honors in drawing and painting. Steven also attended the college's off campus program in Florence, Italy for one year which included an intensive study of the Italian and Northern European renaissance. Rhude was featured in the exhibition Capture 2014, a survey of Nova Scotian realism. His work can be found in numerous private, public and corporate collections. Wolfville, Nova Scotia is where he currently resides with his family and Black Lab, Hagrid. 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Herbes de l'esprit , de l'Acadie

Herbes de l'esprit , de l'Acadie, oil on panel, 28.5" x 22.75", Steven Rhude

"A still life, really, is a fleet of cargo ships setting out to sea on a canal lined with gabled buildings. It’s ermine-trimmed silk jackets on barrel-chested ambassadors who are leaning, shoulders cocked, on Persian rugs. It’s a cellar of salt from processing plants in Venezuela sat next to lemons from the Mediterranean. It’s the dogged pursuit of empire and commodity, and a total assurance that every ounce of self-made wealth was not merely earned, but ordained."

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Friday, 9 September 2016


Exodus, oil on panel, 24" x 24", Steven Rhude

"Stop and think what an uproar there would be if a real restructuring along the lines of past resettlement were tried today.
Stop and think what real hard choices would actually look like today."

- Russel Wangersky

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Cod's Eye #2

Cod's Eye, Heart's Content, oil on board attached to another oil on board , 24" x 24", Steven Rhude

“The sea is not less beautiful in our eyes because we know that sometimes ships are wrecked by it.”

- Simone Weil, Waiting for God

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Cod's Eye

Cod's Eye, Towards Argentia, o/p, 24" x 24", Steven Rhude

"It is instructive to contrast this with the tendency of the Baroque to present the affects of the persons as clearly and intelligible as possible; to give them that expressione that can also be captured in concepts, for which purpose the eye is not really a useful device at all." - Georg Simmel, Rembrandt: An essay in the Philosophy of Art. [1]

The over night ferry to Argentia charts one slowly along towards the land of the cod - an ancient migration. The cod's eye providing the traveller with a window into the soul of a place for those that realise the age of enlightenment and reason still needed the eye as an agent for rational, and not vice versa. Light plays the role of an intermediary, reflecting and registering an image at the back of our ocular screen to be forwarded to our brain for distinction and definition. Opacity is quickly registered, yet transparency, (or in painting the application of numerous coloured glazes), takes a little longer, and is harder to define from a distance. As the cod's eye brings us closer, our terminus ad quem does not occur. Simmel comes to mind in a studio in Wolfville: "that the eye speaks actually means that it says more than can be said." [2]

[1], [2] Georg Simmel: Rembrandt: an Essay in the Philosophy of Art, pg 100 

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS