The New Art Festival
Central Park, The Glebe, Ottawa
Saturday June 11 and Sunday June 12 10am to 5 pm.
'Central Parlk Carriage, 1900' 30x40 inches
Part of the cemmemoration of the 100th anniversary of the fire that destroyed the Center Block of Parliament.
The Daly Building, 1911
June 11-12th from 10:00 to 17:00
Canadian Métis artist Ross Rheaume was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan and spent his early years growing up in Canada’s far north. Upon election of his father Gene Rheaume to the House of Commons in 1963, the family moved to Ottawa where Ross spent his teen years before moving to Toronto in 1979 to form the rock band Roman Grey with best friend David Smith. Later years found Ross travelling the world managing the design of large projects in the Middle East with a two year break back in Ottawa to design and build Alanis Morissette’s Ottawa condo. Throughout his travels and experiences he continued to paint and sell his artwork, most notably with a commission from the Royal Ontario Museum. After returning to Canada in 2005 Ross decided to more seriously pursue his career as an oil painter, and complete the trio of disciplines of music, art and architecture. In 2008 he cofounded Ottawa Art Expo with Judith Savic, creating an artist run, not for profit corporation to stage the annual event. Subsequent highlights include receiving the ‘Emily Carr’ Legacy Award at 2010 OAEx and having several of his paintings become central to Veterans Affairs commemorative ceremonies. In 2012 Ross joined Galerie Old Chelsea, as an associate, where his work can now been seen on a permanent basis. The years in the North and his father’s stories of his Native ancestry and Lois Riel’s friendship with his great-great grandfather A.G.B Banatyne instilled in Ross a profound belief in the power of storytelling; a belief he shares with artist brother Dave Rheaume and recording artist, and niece, Amanda Rheaume. In 2009 Ross and Dave formed the North Light Artists Group to promote their ideas of storytelling through painting.
Recently I joined a larger international art company that offers printed reproductions of art work in a vartiety of formats and sizes. They are called Crated. You may find a link to their web site under the Links section of this web site, or try this web address: https://crated.com/rossrheaume/galleries The company, although world wide in scope, is Canadian and offers a terrrific, and very progressive revenue splitting arrangement with their artists. Finally some sense of fairness enters the art market. Print making and selling is as old as art itself, practiced by Rembrandt himself, but previously the artists only got a small royalty. Prints are not for everyone and many people buy only original art work, but with respect to joining the global market place I believe it to be a very necessary step. For all photographers, print making is their only means of commerce. Some works, and some types of work are not suitable for print making and for now I am only offering through Crated, prints that are world class in quality and appropriately suited to this format.. I look forward to your feed back. This is all part of a greater campiagn I like to call `Project Living Wage`.
This was my latest project which I just completed. The clients who commissioned me wanted a paintng which incorporated their house when it was first built. The house sits on a small hill along the Rideau Canal across from what is now Landsdowne Park. In the painting you can see the Aberdeen Pavillion across the canal. I also included the Rideau Queen which was a steamship that plied the canal. Next door to the house was a working farm of some kind represented by the horse and wagon. You can also see another horse carriage running down the Canal Road. The piece is set in early autumn around 1897 with the original family that lived in the house shown on the hill with their two twin daughters. We spent a lot of time researching the area at the City of Ottawa Archives. Even though the house is now in a fully developed area just off Main Street, at the time the house was built the property was very much a country home.
As part of my most recent show at Galerie Old Chelsea, I decided to do a series of four paintngs on the fire that struck the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa in 1916.The first in the series shows the Center Block as it looked when it was finished in 1876. The second painting depicts the night of Febraury 3, 1916 when a fire broke out in the Commons Reading Room and quickly spread throughout the entire building. Parliament was in session that night and seven poeple died in the blaze. Originally thought to be the work of foreign saboteurs, it was later concluded that careless smoking had been the cause of the fire.The bells in the tower continued to ring until midnight when the bell tower came crashing down. The third painting depicts the day after when the Center Block has been reduced to a smouldering shell coated in ice from water from the firemen's hoses. Eventually the entire building, with the exception of the Library was torn down and a new one erected in it's place. At some point during reconstruction, the last bell that had rang out that winter night was taken back up to the top and rung one more time before being lowered to its final resting place behind the new Parliament Buildings. That moment is the subject of the fourth painting. The new tower, originally named the Victory Tower, with it's name later changed to the Peace Tower, has now become one of Canda's most icon symbols. Doing a series of paintngs on a historial theme was both challeneging and rewarding, and it is something I intend to explore more in the coming years. I would equate the process to the recording an album of songs. Although it would be my preference to display the works as a set, the paintings are individually available for purchase.
In the last few years I have turned more and more to painting subjects from Canada's history, especially the turn of the century period. This subject matter has always interested me, largely from stories my father told me as I was growing up. At one time 'History Painting' ,as it was known, was considered by the 19th century French Royal Academy to be the apex of art. The genre was pushed out of popularity with the advent of the camera and the 20th century's obsession with the inner personal journey of the artist. In fact the painting "The Death of Wolfe' by Benjamin West , hanging in the National Gallery, is considered the finest example of the genre. My determination to revive this style stems largely from a conversation I heard in a book store wherein a man was explaining to a friend that he was buying a book on the Civil War since, he sniffed, " After all, Canada has no history'. I was both offended and outraged and unable to pull a Woody Allen and get Marshall McLuhan to step up and refute him, I decided to start painting Canada's history. The first one I did is pictured above with me and Cabinet Minister Blaney in his office with my painting of soldiers crossing Sappers Bridge on their way to South Africa. No history indeed. We do not lack for stories, having seen wars, rebellions, floods, famine, technological triumphs and great personal acheivements. We lack only the painters to tell the story. There is more to Canada than Jack Pine.
In January of this year I was sitting outside Cabinet Minister Steven Blaney's office waiting of him to arrive for a photo op. The previous fall I had agreed to loan to Veteran's Affiars a painting I had done of Canadian soldiers crossing Sappers Bridge in 1901 on their way to South Africa, which was now hanging in his office. While sitting in the ante room I noticed a peculiar photograph on the wall that seemed to show soldiers playing hockey on a frozen river somewhere. The photograph was dated 1953 and mentioned the Imjin River in Korea. The photograph was taken from a hilltop overlooking the river and I thought it might make an interesting subject for a painting. After leaving the Minster's office that image stuck in my head and I requested of his office whether I could obtain a copy somehow in order to base a work of art on it. The Minister was very excited by this idea and graciously agreed to loan me the photograph. I started work on it over Christmas and was nearing completion when word came to me that Senator Yonah Martin was organizing a 60th anniverasry re-enactment of that very game on the Rideau Canal as part of Winterlude festivities. The painting being just completed was then unveiled at a special reception after the game with the South Korean Ambassador, Senator Martin, Ministers Peter MacKay and Steven Blaney as well as members of the Van Doos and Princess Pats and many Korean War veterans in attendance. We all crowded around the painting with the 'Imjin Cup' in the front for a group photo like a Stanley Cup style photo. The feeling of excitement and kinship was unlike anything I have ever felt. It was an extraordinary moment and one I will never forget. What started as a simple pursuit of an interesting idea lead me to meet a whole new group of friends and gave me a deeper appreciation of the sacrifice made by those young men 60 years ago. This why I love history painting. I set out to tell Canada's stories and end up a part of one.
I have always been very happy with my previous web site, as designed by Amanda, but technology has moved on and I am looking for a different feel and utility for my site; one that focuses primarily on my paintings and one that offers the chance for an ongoing dialogue with clients and the public. Social media will play a large role in this, as will a different format that recognizes that a lot of internet viewing is done on smart phones and tablets. In addition I wanted a site that more easily allows me to upload current work and communicate my thoughts on art and where I see myself in the constellation of art, both present day and historically. This new format designed by Light Switch Creative will do that. The days of artists locking themselves away to produce their ‘masterpieces’ and then launch them on the world are, I argue, gone, if they ever existed. It is my belief that the 20th century stereotypical image of artists as a starving, rebellious, drunken, visionary sociopaths needs to be debunked; and that a democratization of art discourse needs to happen. Stay tuned.
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