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article imageBartlett Gallery hosts reception for Mendelson Joe exhibition Special

By Katie Ryalen     Apr 8, 2014 in Entertainment
Caledon - This month, the Bartlett Gallery at the Alton Mill Arts Centre in Caledon, Ontario hosts Out of the Cage, an exhibition of 25 paintings by Mendelson Joe.
On March 30th, the exhibition was formally opened with a reception at which Joe himself interacted with guests by video conference. Waiting to greet visitors with a welcoming spread of fruits, baked goods and beverages were Teresa Brownell and Lynda Clare Grant, operators of the Bartlett Gallery.
“I envy his lifestyle a little bit,” says Brownell of Joe. “He lives up in Almaguin, in a cabin, and just paints.”
Hoper by Mendelson Joe
Hoper by Mendelson Joe
Alton Mill Arts Centre
Mendelson Joe is recognized as a Canadian artistic multi-talent and social justice advocate. In its press release for the event, the Bartlett Gallery writes: Joe has been called “the quintessential Canadian outsider artist,” a “famous recluse,” and a “one-man passion-play.” His work often mocks our nation’s politicians, and reveres its cultural luminaries. Out of the Cage is a collection of new landscape paintings of Northern Ontario, Joe’s social commentary expressing his awe for the beauty and power of nature, and the damage that human encroachment is causing.
Meg Floyd, general manager of the Alton Mill Arts Centre, believes this collection of paintings show that Joe is a keen observer of Mother Nature. She says, “The landscapes in this exhibition form a record that depicts natural events of weather, seasons and forest life, that showcase Nature's many personalities … And just as in nature, this collection has a diversity exemplified by Joe's palette, which ranges from strong, harsh colours to soft, sensual hues.”
Relief From Wayne Gretzky by Mendelson Joe
Relief From Wayne Gretzky by Mendelson Joe
Alton Mill Arts Centre
It’s interesting art. Of course, Mendelson Joe is an interesting character. A recluse and eccentric, his work isn’t always about what one might first think it’s about. A nighttime woodland scene, for example, is titled Relief From Wayne Gretzky. Joe’s own caption reads: Having spent too many days painting my portrait of the pitchman’s pitchman, Wayne Gretzky (Tylenol, The Bay, ESSO, Post Cereal, McDonald’s, Budweiser, Goodyear Tires, Folgers Coffee, CIBC, etc.,) I leapt into this night forest as relief.
Joe is as refreshing in person as he is in his works — as evidenced when he joined the reception by video conference. He tells his audience, “We’ve got about forty-eight inches of snow up here on the planet — I don’t say ‘on the ground’ because it’s a trite, hackneyed expression.”
October Dawn by Mendelson Joe
October Dawn by Mendelson Joe
Alton Mill Arts Centre
Though he may be eccentric, he is distinctly humble. One admirer asks him, “You were talking about songs and paintings. Do you have any songs that have become paintings or paintings that have become songs?” Joe’s response: “Yes — that’s a good question, thank you.” He then tips his ball cap to her with unaffected humility.
His humility is well represented his paintings. Meg Floyd says, “Despite his skepticism, and concerns for humanity … he brings a sense of wonder and often joy to his work.”
Out of the Cage will be on display at the Bartlett Gallery until April 20th, with Mendelson Joe’s works being available for purchase.
More about Art, alton mill, bartlett gallery, village of alton, Caledon
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