08w07:1 'Jack who?'

by timothy. 2 Comments

I was at this panel discussion in 2005, and was glad to see its transcript on the CCCA site when I remembered the quote in bold below. My recent research has led me to find this at this time and it is for this reason that I am posting it on Goodreads at this relatively late date. – Timothy

Isaacs Seen | Panel Discussion: Make the Scene: Get Critical
University of Toronto Art Centre Thursday, June 23, 2005, 7 – 8:30 pm
Moderator: Sarah Milroy | Panelists: Harry Malcolmson, Barry Lord, Joyce Zemans

“[Barry Lord]: ‘And of course we know Av, with the kind of promise he gave to the work of Joyce and others, was part of that. But one of the really big changes, one of the big improvements certainly, is that nowadays that kind of article would not be written, because we all take it for granted that there are serious women artists. Just to add just a line to what I was driving at in referring to the need for biennials and retrospectives, the tragedy is to go into a young artist’s studio and see real talent and real passion and real commitment, real capability, and see a link with other Canadian artists. So one says ‘That’s really pushing farther than Jack Chambers did on that line’ … or whoever you happen to recognize. And he looks at you blankly and says ‘Jack Who?’ We laugh at that, but that’s terrible. That is an absolute tragedy because it means that we are losing the potential for a Canadian tradition. And if we want to talk about loss, I think that in that period we had a grasp, suddenly, that there was something that was ours and that you could build on it, you could run with it and go with it. Many fall by the wayside. It doesn’t mean that every artist who plugs into it is able therefore to become great. But the point is simply that it is a terrible thing when an artist is working in a vacuum, and of course we know the they are never working in a vacuum because we have an enormous power to the south of us which is always telling us about the Judds and the Warhols, and what have you. So that young artist doesn’t know about Jack Chambers, and he sees himself in relation to Warhol or whatever, and that’s what he sees as his tradition or her tradition. And that is a terrible shame bbecause it is a loss of the potential of a real tradition that we can build, we have the potential to build, if our private and public institutions will do the job of making everybody familiar with the tremendous accomplishment we have. Even just looking at this exhibition, you can see that Meredith is a pretty damn fine painting. That’s pretty major stuff. I want to see a retrospective of Meredith. I wrote about him at the time. I thought he was really major. We can’t judge it until we see that retrospective.'”

2 Responses to 08w07:1 'Jack who?'

  1. Geoffrey Holdsworth says:

    Let me tell you a little about Jack Chambers, and cultural traditions,- boy! First of all. My compliments for the phrase ‘Jack Who’.I am angry over the botched cultural heritage of Jack Chambers. Somehow I knew one day that it would be like this, that Jack would become less than Joe Who. I also fancied that I would make him famous again to the embarassment of Canada’s culturally puny artistic community. Congrats again for saying it. Now, although it is considered good to start saying something nice, Nice is over now. Now I’m going to kick your collective arty ass boy. Jack Chambers does have a cultural and painterly artistic legacy. He had not only influenced many various artists and cultural policies in this country, but he had two apprentices in London, before he died. One of them was the successful Brian Jones, who just died on Feb. 27 2008. The other is myself. Brian was polite, kind, talented and safe. I am an unholy terror, everything you want in an artist, whose work will one day alter the mental landscape of Canada even if I had die decades ago. But I didn’t. I don’t want you to like me. I don’t Trust you people. And you know that’s just the way you want it to be.

  2. JRoberts says:

    I know who Jack Chambers was. I know who Curnoe and Brian Jones and Michael Bidner and Clare Bice and Mackie Cryderman and Albert Templar and Eva Bradshaw were. I know Eric Atkinson and Herb Ariss and Murray Favro and Jamelie Hassan and Joseph Hubbard. I live in London and I know my tradition. I probably wont be famous, and I probably wont be remembered, but I just want you to know that I’m paying attention, that there’s somebody who is.

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