Monday, October 22, 2012

William Ronald Painters Eleven "Abstracts at Home II"

Everyone has been asking what has been going on. Suffice to say that it has been a totally crazy time and Brian and I have been really busy getting things ready in the gallery for the upcoming show featuring William Ronald and Walter Dexter two of Canada's most important abstract expressionists. Odds are if you are a fan of abstract painting then you already know about William Ronald the founder of Painters Eleven (1953-1960). If you are on this because of an interest in ceramics then you are already aware of Walter Dexter, a ceramic artist, from Victoria, BC who is is represented in major collections throughout Canada and internationally.

The William Ronald paintings come directly from the the family, in particular from Helen Ronald, his widow and  Suzanne, his daughter. Consequently the work has an impeccable pedigree. In 1953 William Ronald was frustrated with the trying to get the public interested in his non-representational paintings. He was not alone. This was a common sentiment with a number of artists. Abstract Expressionism had a long way to go before it  began to enjoy the reputation that it does today. William was working at the Robert Simpson family department store and in 1953 they allowed him to exhibit the work of eleven artists, himself included, in the major display windows in downtown Toronto, currently known as The Bay. In one fell swoop Painters eleven was formed with Alexandra Luke, Hortense Gordon, William Yarwood, Harold Town, Ray Mead, William Hodgsons, Oscar Cahen, Jack Bush, Kazuo Nakamura, J.W.G. MacDonald, and of course William Ronald

William Ronald was creative in the manner by which he presented abstract expressionism to Torontonians. He was fortunate that Simpson's, a family owned department store, subscribed to his vision which brings me to today! Kingsmill's department store in downtown London was established in 1865. For five generations they have through a commitment to excellence and superior customer service provided London and its environs a destination store that is now a London landmark.

When I was presented with the opportunity to have an exhibition showcasing William Ronald and Walter Dexter I wanted to honour Ronald's memory by hosting a show as iconic as his 1953 exhibition. The title "Abstracts at Home II" was the obvious choice and I needed was a business to collaborate with. Kingsmill's was the obvious choice. It was more obvious than I thought as when I was being interviewed by Bill Paul for 'Straight Talk' and started telling him about my idea for the exhibition he immediately said "I would imagine that this event will include Kingsmill's" as if to say 'Who else would fill the bill?'. Both of us then continued to talk about the Kingsmill's brand and how iconic it was and how it was the natural choice. This was all well and good except that at the time of the interview I hadn't even had a chance to ask Tim Kingsmill what he thought of the idea. I needn't have worried. He and his wife Laurie were all for it. 

"Abstracts at Home II" was a go! Kingsmill's has graciously agreed to provide a selection of furniture so that the exhibition room in my gallery can showcase the work of William Ronald and Walter Dexter with contemporary furniture showing how well today's furniture works with Abstract art. 

That's not all! It gets better! They have also provided the use of their landmark island window on Dundas Street to provide a showcase for the latest abstract art of London artist Jamie Jardine. Jamie Jardine has been exhibiting with me since 2000. Actually we both pretty well began our careers in contemporary art together. He is creator and me as connector. There will be an exhibition in the gallery following "Abstracts at Home II" of Jamie's paintings but in keeping with the original intent of Ronald's exhibition in 1953 the abstract expressionist work of a  London artist will be introduced to Londoners at Kingsmill's

This additional fillip of introducing Jamie Jardine's abstracts at Kingsmill's has been added at the request of the Kingsmill's. Sixty years ago it was Simpson's. Today it is Kingsmills. In both situations it is Canadians promoting Canadian. You will have a chance to see Jamie's paintings starting Wednesday November 7th at Kingsmill's department store at 130 Dundas Street in downtown London. Actually you may well want to visit Kingsmill's on Wednesday November 7th for their annual Xmas shopping event. You should check out their site . In my gallery at 258 Dundas Street you will be able to see Kingsmill's quality furniture providing the perfect setting for the extraordinary paintings of William Ronald and the wonderful ceramic art of Walter Dexter.

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