The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in downtown Oshawa kicked off its 50th birthday celebrations with the launch of a new exhibition celebrating the regional artists, who have been its heart and inspiration for half a century.
About 70 artists and their families gathered with art lovers from across the region for an evening which buzzed with enthusiasm for the young and old.
The exhibition’s aim is to present the work of local artists and showcase the diversity of art produced in Durham Region. The show, divided into four themes, includes works from artists in all stages of their careers, from those just emerging onto the scene, like Callum Donovan,12, to mid-career and senior artists like ‘elder statesman,’ 89-year-old Ron Lambert.
“This is our pleasure, and this is your place,” said Donna Raetsen-Kemp, RMG’s chief executive officer, in her opening address to an audience of more than 500.
One of the senior exhibitors at the show is Lambert, who has been painting for more than 80 years. In June,1947 he was a 19-year-old art student when he drove from Oshawa to Provincetown, Mass., with Alexandria Luke, his mentor, and friend Joe Plaskett, to study under Modernist painter, Hans Hoffman. Lambert recently painted a tribute to that memorable summer, and his three compatriots, in a series of four connected, abstract paintings.
Titled ‘Tribute 2016’, the painting is part of the Durham Reach exhibition. It can be hung in various combinations and orientations. Painting it reminded him of the great times and laughter shared during the summer of ’47, Lambert said.
His travelling companion that year, Luke, went on to be one of the founders of the Art Gallery of Oshawa. The gallery opened its doors in 1967 over a shop on Simcoe Street South.
Two years later the gallery moved to its present location and renamed The Robert McLaughlin Gallery after a large donation by the McLaughlin family. The donation included works from Luke’s collection and a generous financial gift made by her husband, Ewart McLaughlin.
“I am going to say that some of us may not be here in 50 years’ time,” said Linda Jansma, RMG’s senior curator. “But I am counting on this institution remaining a vibrant place that champions all of our stories however they are told and however they are presented.”
Judith Tinkl and her husband Victor Tinkl both had art pieces on display at the exhibition. Judith’s exhibit, ‘Piece by Piece, 2010’, is a series of two colourful diamond shapes which interlock together in a piece which cascaded down the wall and spewed onto the floor like a waterfall.
Children were encouraged to remaster the work at ground level by rearranging the colourful tiles. Parents were happy to watch the interactive piece amuse their young ones during the evening.
Tinkl said the installation was inspired by ‘The Golden Section,’ a type of art composition which involves mathematics. She said the shapes can be put together to create a design without repeating a pattern.
The Durham Reach exhibition runs until April 2.