2016-01-20

Recent Acquisitions

2020

Bruce Gray

Bruce Gray - Earth | Photo: Rob Roy

Bruce Gray – Earth
Photo: Rob Roy

Coffee table: Earth, 2020
Curly yellow birch, ocean-ground granite, screened sand and deer antler
56.5 × 172.7 × 53.3 cm
Sheila Hugh Mackay Collection of Strathbutler Award Winners, purchased with funds provided by the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation Inc., 2020
New Brunswick Museum Collection

Peter Laroque Commentary

Gray’s recent work, Earth (2020), is made from a unique piece of live-edge, curly yellow birch accented with granite, sand and deer antler.   The table speaks to the interconnectedness of elements in the natural world.  The stone and sand are meant to represent the earth, the antler is the sky and the wooden top indicates the passage of time as well as the idea of space.  Interwoven with this concept is the unusual arrangement and shape of the table legs – they are off-set and wider apart at one end of the table – which evokes the sense of an animal and movement. Gray’s inspiration is carefully considered.  The annual growth rings of the cross-section of wood, the granite and sand and the multi-pointed antler speak directly to the passage of time.  The embedding of the granite, sand and antler into the surface plane of the table top reinforces the unity of all the parts.  In its functionality, this coffee table proudly displays its decorative art heritage while simultaneously making an artistic statement about time and the environment – their eternity and fragility.

All the materials Gray used for this work originated in New Brunswick, including: wood from a rejected yellow birch log that was purchased from the Fredericton Ranger School in 2005; a sea-smoothed stone from along the shore at Deep Cove, Grand Manan;  “traction” sand from Kingsclear; and an antler from the Kinghorne Deer Farm on Grand Manan. The provincial associations of these local materials reinforce the overall significance of this creation.

This coffee table is a powerful piece that transcends the boundaries between art and craft. It is a very worthy addition to the NBM’s Sheila Hugh Mackay Collection of Strathbutler Award Winners – a selection of contemporary artworks that compel us to reconsider some of the traditional definitions that characterize the visual arts in New Brunswick.

 


 

2018

Herzl J. Kashetsky

Calligraphic Portrait of Fred Ross (Youth) by Herzl Kashetsky

Herzl J. Kashetsky (Saint John, New Brunswick, born 1950)
Calligraphic Portrait of Fred Ross (Youth), 2015
Pen and India ink on wove paper
68.5 x 51 cm
Sheila Hugh Mackay Collection of Strathbutler Award Winners, purchased with funds provided by the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation Inc., 2016 (2016.31.1)
New Brunswick Museum Collection

 

Calligraphic Portrait of Fred Ross (Aged) by Herzl Kashetsky

Herzl J. Kashetsky (Saint John, New Brunswick, born 1950)
Calligraphic Portrait of Fred Ross (Aged), 2015
Pen and India ink on wove paper
68.5 x 51 cm
Sheila Hugh Mackay Collection of Strathbutler Award Winners, purchased with funds provided by the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation Inc., 2016 (2016.31.2)
New Brunswick Museum Collection

 

Commentary by Curator Peter Laroque

Over the past almost fifty years, Herzl J. Kashetsky (born in 1950 in Saint John, NB) has pursued a remarkable and independent career as a painter in New Brunswick.  He graduated from Concordia University in 1972 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (with distinction) and in 1977 he spent three months of independent study in Florence and Rome, Italy.  He has documented his immediate environment, his home, his studio, his city and his heritage.  His work has been featured in a number of important solo exhibitions as well as being included in a number of significant group exhibitions in the region and nationally.  He has earned some acclaim as a portrait painter and has received a number of accolades from his home community and his sketchbooks were the subject of a major exhibition organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, NB.

The New Brunswick Museum houses seventeen Kashetsky works that provide a basic documentation of his career.  In 1976, the NBM purchased two acrylic paintings – Market Slip & Dock Street, 1975 and Studio Interior.  In 1982, the NBM purchased from a studio sale, a series of eight sketchbook leaves dating to his student days in Montreal and two self-portrait woodcut prints (we also have a second version of one of the prints that is not hand-coloured).  In 1990, two drawings from the mid-1970s were donated by Leslie B. Marcus.  In 1995, a 1983 drawing, Letter to the Artist, was part of the Saint John Art Club Collection that was transferred to the NBM.  In 2007, in order to extend the scope of representation of Kashetsky’s work after 1983, his important work, Paint Depot (2004), was acquired.  In 2014, as part of the ongoing development of the Sheila Hugh Mackay Collection of Strathbutler Award Winners at the NBM, his work, Grapes, was added as documentation his 2013 receipt of the award.

In these two works, Kashetsky returned to his very refined calligraphic technique to render homage to his mentor, and friend, Frederick Joseph Ross (1927-2014).  Kashetsky and Ross often had studios in the same building and worked closely together from the 1980s to the early 2000s.  The first drawing of Fred Ross, when he was a youth, is based on an image taken from a newspaper article and the drawing is formed by variegated calligraphy which is based on the newspaper interview as well as text from a speech given by Fred Ross at the opening reception of his 1950 solo exhibition at the New Brunswick Museum.   Similarly, the second drawing of Fred Ross, when aged, is based on photograph taken by Herzl Kashetsky and the calligraphy replicates extracts from the eulogies given by family and friends at the funeral service of Ross in July 2014.  These two portraits drawings of Fred Ross by Kashetsky increased the SHMF Inc’s contribution to the growing Strathbutler Collection at the NBM and they accent the Foundation’s own recognition of Ross – the Fred Ross Scholarship created in 2001 to acknowledge the esteem in which he was held by the province’s artistic community.

 


 

2015

Paul Mathieson

Prelude to a Fireworks Display, Paul Mathieson. Acquired 2015

Prelude to a Fireworks’ Display, 2015
Acrylic on canvas
76 cm x 127 cm

Peter Larocque commentary

Paul Mathieson has created a signature style that depends on the deft use of visual language. He carefully orchestrates colour relationships, complex perspectives and the simplification of form as well as skilfully handles line, pattern and texture to achieve overall unity in his compositions. His paintings are complex narratives – thoughtfully crafted, filled with personal allusions and rife with commentary not only on society, time and relationships but also on the mysteries human motivations.

Mathieson’s work, Prelude to a Fireworks’ Display, is enigmatic. The space depicted is reminiscent of a theatrical stage set. A random crowd of posed and gesticulating characters are assembled together in a vaguely familiar place at an unspecified time. Individuals, couples and small groups are involved in their own seemingly independent and unrelated activities – they occupy a dystopia of sorts – sanitized to be sure, but still disturbing. Tapping into the anxieties of contemporary life, Mathieson incorporates cryptic messages and partial texts in his tableau that is filled with puzzling incidents. His work is provocative – it confronts the viewer with the challenge to engage in decoding the ambiguity that he has rendered.