Forces and Vagaries
Opening: Friday, June 26
Show runs June 27-July 22
For years, Joy Laking and Steven Rhude have used their painting to address both the aesthetic and rural conditions encountered in Nova Scotia. Using a contemporary realistic approach, their art combines years of study of both the natural beauty of the province, and the effects that “forces” have on the qualities of rural life in general. These forces can be internal or external, environmental or social, local or global. As a result, their paintings elicit an appreciation of the layered history evident in the ethos of Nova Scotia, and how human values can acquiesce with the times, only to resurface and face new challenges in today’s contemporary landscape.
“Vagaries” are also a factor for both painters in so far as how they approach their art.
Joy Laking has pursued a rigorous Plein Air practice over many years, maintaining a tradition that many artists only muse about from the comfort of their warm studios. It is understood that the Plein Air painter is as acutely aware of the influence of man on the environment. No matter how aesthetically pleasing their work may appear on the surface, content always plays a crucial role in their art. It is also understood this art form can be even more demanding considering the emphasis on resolving the out of door experience through the lens of realism, a practice requiring intense discipline and awareness of the environment and its changing patterns. Vagaries such as bright reflective sun, an ever changing light, wind and cold, blackflies and onlookers, are some of the factors that add to the unpredictability of the Plein Air artists’ life. It is truly an accumulative experience of the senses, as well as the mind, that results in the product of the Plein Air painter’s vision.
Vagaries are addressed in the work of Steven Rhude, in the form of narrative and technique. We are meant to be on alert, but are instead confronted with questions. Why is the subject at a slightly different angle than in real life? What is happening behind the scene? Can a fishing buoy be mischievous? Does calm water brood? For the Maritimer, his subjects are all familiar to some degree, yet historically, whether the subject is a lighthouse of a mining town, unexpected events have occurred to abruptly alter the identity of these icons. As if to emphasize this, throughout the process of painting, his canvas is removed from the easel and with unpredictable actions, paint and colour are randomly spattered across the surface, resulting in new colour combinations and patterns which are then incorporated into the final work.
These are some of the factors considered by two Realist painters, Joy Laking and Steven Rhude, as expressed by the exhibition title: Forces and Vagaries.
Joy Snihur Wyatt Laking has been living and painting professionally in Nova Scotia for the past fourty-three years. She has had national solo exhibitions and has work in major collections. She is an elected member of the Society of Canadian Artists, a founding member of PLANS (Professional Artists of Nova Scotia), a recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Metal 2012 and the Woman of Excellence Award 2008. Joy sits on the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Board of Governors, The Robert Pope Foundation and the Ivar Mendez International Foundation and is an avid volunteer within her community near Bass River. Painting full time in Nova Scotia and around the world Joy captures the beauty in oil, acrylic and watercolours. She especially enjoys painting on location.
Widely regarded in Nova Scotia as a valued artist for twenty-five years, Steven Rhude has steadily pursued his vision of vernacular imagery with an imposing strategy. Set in unconventional situations, Steven Rhude employs familiar coastal icons such as the maritime dory and lighthouse, to elbow his way into the viewers mental space. Once there, these objects seem isolated by the long shadow of urbanism, suggesting casualties of coastal life. Although based on real places, Rhude considers the settings in his paintings as fictitious - intended to evoke a cultural or political perspective. Aided by his use of realism and the modernist canon, Rhude's imagery can leave one wondering what the protagonist's strengths really are and whether the object viewed has more than just utilitarian characteristics. Along with humor, a narrative is present in Rhude's work and questions remain in the viewer's mind like the residue of a ghostly presence.
Steven Rhude was born in Rouyn Noranda, Quebec in 1959. His father was a Royal Canadian Air Force Pilot and traveled extensively throughout Canada before settling his family in Scarborough,Ontario. Steven attended the 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 colleges off campus program in Florence, Italy for one year which included an intensive study of the Italian and Northern European renaissance. This year of study was made possible by receiving the Elisabeth Greenshields Foundation Award. A recent survey of his work was held at Acadia University in Wolfville, the town where Steven lives and works today. Steven's work can be found in numerous private, public, and corporate collections.