I remember when I was twelve years old my Dad flipping open a large leather bound album filled with shiny silver coins. As a little boy he began his collections; coins, stamps, newspaper clippings of boxing matches, hockey, and baseball players. He was now sharing his passion for collecting with my sister and I. He was building her a collection of coins from the Canadian Mint. Every year she would unwrap a new coin under the Christmas tree, and every year she would look bewildered, pass it aside and say thank you, excited to open that bright shiny new toy or game. As children we did not have excitement for these collections, little did we know that Dad was building future collections that would not only hold cultural history, but that would be an investment in our futures. Stamps, sports trading cards, Hollywood memorabilia, he helped build our collections that we hold dear today.
Back to those shiny silver coins….fumbling through the album I noticed these special edition coins from the mint, one in particular, and it was a dime. It had an outstretched rabbit, as though it was running to escape a farmer’s grasp. I was so taken with this coin that I wanted to learn how a rabbit could take over the reverse side of our Canadian currency. I came to learn that an artist by the name of Alex Colville, created the rabbit which appears on this dime. Alex Colville was a great Canadian painter. He was Canada’s wartime artist and sketched in the field during his time in Europe. A great artist and a great man. He was the first Canadian artist I really came to know and made me, at the age of twelve, dream of making a living as a Canadian artist, showing my work alongside Canada’s most esteemed and respected painters.
Fast forward to a few decades later and I find myself in the company of some great Canadian painters carving out their own paths on the Canadian art scene through exploring our National conscious, culture, history and sovereignty.
Here are ten of my favorite Canadian artists currently painting Canada.
10. Jeremie White http://jeremiewhite.com/JeremieWhite/
9. Chris Woods http://chriswoodsartist.com/id47.html
8. Rande Cooke http://www.randecook.com/news_1.html
7. Real Fournier http://www.realfournier.com/
6. Charles Pachter http://www.cpachter.com
5. Bill Brownridge http://www.heartofhockey.com/gallery.html
3. Gordon Milne http://www.gordonmilneart.com/
2. Jeff Molloy http://molloy.ca/jeff/
1. Lisa Birke http://www.lisabirke.com/galleries/canadiana.html
And, one of my favorite Canadian subject's for the past few years, the Montreal Canadiens.
You are looking good Canada! There is so much intoxicating art across this beautiful country, it was difficult to narrow my selection to ten. We have come a long way since the Group of Seven, I am excited about the future of Canada on the global landscape of the art world. I am thankful for those first glimpses of a Canadian Mint coin, and the work of Alex Colville, that would inspire a twelve year old girl to pursue her dreams of making art.