Tag Archives: tony scherman

A Dream Day At Work

Rosa Parks by Tony Scherman

“Look at her face. See the way the artist has painted all that darkness around her but her face is in the light?” A member of my tour group at the Winnipeg Art Gallery was responding to a painting of civil rights icon Rosa Parks.  Another tour member added, “Knowing what a good person she was, I’d say the light is coming from within, from inside her.”
The two people having that conversation live on the streets of Winnipeg.  1Just City is an organization that runs three drop-in centers for folks as their website says, “who have no place to call home.”  Earlier this week they brought a group of their regular visitors to spend an afternoon at the art gallery. It was such a pleasure showing them around.  They were so genuinely excited about the art.  They had so many questions! They were so ready to offer opinions and share their ideas.

The group was drawn to this sculpture on our rooftop called The Poet by sculptor Ossip Zadkine.  One woman pointed out the way the face looked much like something Picasso would have made, and a man in the group asked all kinds of questions about the Russian artist who’d created it.  

Woman and Polar Bear by Johnny Kakutuk

Another woman was looking at this sculpture and I asked if she would like me to tell her the legend the piece was based on. Everyone listened intently as I related the story of an elderly woman who cares for an orphaned polar bear that becomes like a son to her. Their story takes a sad turn and they are separated but eventually reunite. There were several moist eyes in the group when I was done.

Androgeny by Norval Morrisseau

We spent a long time looking at this piece by Norval Morrisseau. His life story was of great interest to my group.

the-dakota-boat-by-frank-lynn

The Dakota Boat by W. Frank Lynn shows indigenous people observing the arrival of a boat carrying immigrants at the Upper Fort Garry site in Winnipeg

One woman was intrigued by this artwork and asked me all about it.

I loved taking the group around the art gallery. They were delighted to be there and were genuinely curious about everything. I told them I hoped they would come back. Their visit capped off one of those dream days at my job.  

In the morning I’d given a tour to a group of high school students from a rural community about a 90-minute drive from Winnipeg.  Their classes were officially over but they’d showed up at school early that morning to make the trip into the city. None of them had ever been to the Winnipeg Art Gallery before.  They were so excited about all of the art.  Once we’d gotten started they basically guided the tour, moving from one artwork to another that piqued their interest and asking me questions about it and making comments. They were so intelligent and knowledgeable and supportive of one another.  I thought, “our world is in good hands if these kinds of young people are going to lead us in the future.”  

I always enjoy my job at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, but some days are a little more challenging than others.  This week I had one of those days when everything was a pure joy from start to finish. It was a dream day at work. 

Other posts………

Nostalgic Tour

On the Evening News

Siloam Mission at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

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Why Are They Difficult Women?

Difficult Women is the name of a series of portraits by Canadian artist Tony Scherman. Scherman uses an ancient technique called encaustic for his paintings creating them from hot wax and pigment. The current exhibition of Tony Scherman’s work at the Winnipeg Art Gallery features five portraits of women from Scherman’s Difficult Women series.  I tried to figure out why each of them might be called difficult.   Britain’s first female prime minister (1979-1990) Margaret Thatcher found her entry into politics difficult. The first two times she ran for Parliament she lost.  It was difficult to unseat her once she became prime minister.  She is the only 20th century British leader to serve three terms in office.The Soviets dubbed Margaret Thatcher The Iron Lady because of the difficulty of negotiating with her.  It was difficult to get the better of her. When Argentina tried to take the Falkland Islands from Britain in 1982 she sent her troops to get it back. When the miners of Britain went on strike in 1984 she refused to give into their demands. The Irish Republican Army tried to kill her in 1984 by bombing a hotel where she was staying.  Margaret survived! The police wanted her to go into hiding for a time after that but she refused.  Margaret was a difficult woman who knew her own mind.  To her things were black and white.  “I want to end the conflict between good and evil in the world,” she said with bravado. “Good will triumph.”Margaux Hemingway, granddaughter of the famous author Ernest Hemingway, had such a sad and difficult life. She was a movie actress and a super model who secured a million dollar contract to be the face of Babe perfume for the Faberge company. But she struggled with many difficult addictions and took her own life at age 42 as did six other people in her famous family.  Margaux had epilepsy and was dyslexic.  She was sexually abused by her father and godfather. Margaux was famous and wealthy. But to say her life was difficult is an understatement. Simone De Beauvoir made things difficult for men who thought they were superior to women. She is often called The Mother of Feminism. Simone wrote a book in 1949 called The Second Sex that became extremely popular and questioned why women had let men dominate them for so long. Simone argued that women were just as capable as men of making wise choices. They needed to be independent and equal human beings. In 1928 she was one of only a handful of French women to receive a university degree. Although deeply religious as a child Simone had difficulty with the offensive patriarchy of the Christian church and became an atheist. Her father trying to understand his difficult child once said,  “she thinks like a man.”Mary Magdalene has sometimes been a difficult Biblical character for the Christian church to deal with.  She is mentioned in 65 passages in the Bible and took a leadership role in Jesus’ ministry, supporting him financially and emotionally. She stood at the cross when Jesus died and along with other women was the first to witness Jesus’ resurrection. The western church with its patriarchal leadership has sometimes tried to downplay her role in Jesus’ life by depicting her as a prostitute, although there is no evidence for that. The Gospel of Mary, a religious text discovered in the mid 1800s portrays her as a very wise woman who acted as a spiritual counselor to Jesus.  Some scholars even suggest she was Jesus’ wife or lover which would of course be difficult for many Christians to accept. She is portrayed that way in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar and in the novel The Da Vinci Code.  Throughout history Mary Magdalene has been a difficult Biblical character to figure out. Rosa Parks is a key figure in the American Civil Rights movement.  One day she made things very difficult for the driver of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. She was arrested and caused difficulty for the police when she refused to pay her fine.  Rosa’s actions inspired a bus boycott by black passengers which made things very difficult for the white owners of the bus companies.  The boycott eventually led to the Supreme Court of the United State declaring that the segregation laws in Alabama were unconstitutional.  The difficult fight for equal civil rights for black citizens of the United States continues but the difficult and resolute Rosa Parks inspired some huge steps forward in that fight. 

The Difficult Women series represents just a fraction of the collection of amazing paintings by Tony Scherman now on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. You won’t want to miss seeing them. 

Other posts…….

The Famous Five

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes

International Women’s Day

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