Canadiana takes centre ice July 1
What could possibly say Canada Day better than stubby beer bottles, the lowly beaver, the Pop Shoppe, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Wayne Gretzky and Mr. Dressup?
How about adding a moose, Canada geese and a Tim Horton’s-packing Sasquatch? But if that’s still not enough Canada, chuck in maple syrup, Terry Fox, Old Dutch potatoe chips and Queen Elizabeth wearing a toque and you’ll be edging towards what is a Timothy Hoey Canada Day extravaganza.
Hoey, a Victoria, B.C.-based artist, loves Canada, and as someone who loves Canada, he wants to celebrate it in the best possible and most-Canadian way he knows how: modestly, yet irreverently and respectfully.
And he’s bringing his Canada gallery exhibition – O-Canada; Portage: A Canada Day Celebration with Timothy Hoey – to Elevation Gallery July 1 to share his vision of Canada’s identity, accomplishments, heroes and guilty pleasures.
And surprisingly, Hoey has found that his portraits of Pierre Elliot Trudeau sells better in Alberta than anywhere else in the world.
“That first Trudeau sold to a Calgarian, a stockbroker, and not to throw darts at it. Even my father-in-law, who’s a successful oilman, still says, ‘I didn’t like his politics, I didn’t like what he did but I still respect him as politician.’” Hoey said.
“I always equate Alberta’s love-hate with Pierre Trudeau (with) those cliché hockey movies when the two guys beat the tar out of each other and then they’re sitting together at the bar with their arms around each other going, ‘you’re okay’, as they drink beer.”
The paintings in the O-Canada show are generally smaller in scale and all framed with hockey sticks, they are portraits, slices of Canadian life, its heroes and icons, juxtaposed with a background that reflects the colours and patterns of the famous Hudson’s Bay Co. blankets.
It’s fun, humble and engaging on many levels, but all of it is instantly recognizable to Canadians worth their salt, and in a world that can often be pretentious or showy, Hoey’s Canadiana is a powerful reminder of Canada’s hard-working roots.
“That’s what resonates with these portraits, I’m not painting Elvis. When I paint Gordon Lightfoot it seems far more humble than painting Elvis. If I paint Pierre Elliott Trudeau its far more humble than painting JFK (John F. Kennedy). We don’t pedestal as high,” he said.
“I never did formal art training but you hear, paint what you know and this I know and it’s fun. It’s also really fun… to paint something that you don’t have to describe to anybody. They just get it and it makes them smile and they’re happy.”
Even the Canada Day opening of Hoey’s show from 1-6 p.m. will hit an all-Canadian note with Pop Shoppe pop, Old Dutch chips and Tim Horton’s donuts.
“We’re not the fancy art opening,” Hoey said of Canadians. “We try to, but the vast majority out there, it’s not that they don’t like art, they just want to show up in a plaid shirt.”
And for those bold few willing to step outside that Canadian fear of standing out, Hoey is holding a draw for free paintings.
Everyone who can step through the gallery door and sing a Canadian song (other than O Canada) will be entered to win one of the 65 pieces from the O-Canada.
And the first person through the door willing to do that will in fact win a painting.
“One time someone came in and sang the Littlest Hobo theme and I thought, ‘wicked!’” Hoey said. “The first person who comes in and spontaneously starts belting out a Canadian song automatically gets a painting for jumping into the lake before everyone else does and then everyone else who sings will be put into a raffle to get a painting.”
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