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  • Pushing Boundaries 2019 Call for Artists Announced

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    North Van Arts is seeking professional and emerging First Nations/Métis/Inuit artists, makers and..
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  • CALL TO ARTISTS - “XPOSED: Humans vs. Planet Earth”

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    CALL TO ARTISTS - “XPOSED: Humans vs. Planet Earth” We are looking for unique..
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  • Watercolour Workshop with Frank Townsley

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    Sunday 22nd September 10.00 AM - 5.00 PM ..
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  • Call for Illustrators

    Location: Winnipeg, MB

    Call for Illustrators HighWater Press, in conjunction with the University of Winnipeg’s Six Seasons..
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  • Call for Artists + Photographers – $550.00 Innovate Grants

    Location: , QC

    Innovate Grant is now accepting submissions for Summer 2019. Innovate Grant awards (2)..
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  • Figureworks 2019

    Location: Ottawa, ON

    Figureworks 2019 Call for Artists The call for submissions to the 10th annual juried..
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  • Art of Zhen Shan Ren International Exhibition

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Art of Zhen Shan Ren International Exhibition consists of works from internationally..
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  • Quasi-Nature

    Location: Montreal, QC

    Archive Contemporary Art Gallery is pleased to present Quasi-Nature, a group exhibition curated..
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  • Call for Installation Artists - Yonge + St. Clair Annual Fall Art Festival

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Calling all artists and designers! We’re seeking proposals for outdoor art installations for..
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  • Sculpture in Paper Masterclass

    Location: Montreal, QC

    Sculpture de papier avec Ray Besserdin Cette classe de maître permettra aux participants d’apprendre..
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  • ‘Scapes Art Exhibition & Sale

    Location: WINNIPEG , MB

    Please join me and artists Elena El, Linda Oleschuk and Connie Wawruck-Hemmett at..
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  • North Van Arts Fundraising Gala

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    Join us for North Van Arts 50th Anniversary Fundraising Gala & take a..
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  • North Van Arts 50th Anniversary Exhibition

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    July 25 - September 7, 2019 You are invited to join North Van..
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  • Call to Western Canadian Public Art Consultants / Curators :: Lewis Farms Facility & Park

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Call to Western Canadian Public Art Consultants / Curators :: Lewis Farms Facility..
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  • Fraser Valley Artists- Donate your work to support mentoring!

    Location: Abbotsford, BC

    On September 26th, 2019, Big Brothers Big Sisters will be hosting a Harvest..
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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2019 Fall Online International Exhibition

    Location: Windsor, ON

    The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites oil and acrylic painters..
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  • Unsettling Nature

    Location: Toronto, ON

    An Exhibition at: The Garage Gallery Benmiller with Artists Jill Price, Leslie Putnam, Morag Webster..
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  • Through the Eyes of a Child

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    Artists Statement: Ed Flanagan My wife had a career as an elementary school..
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  • Exposition solo Lac-Mégantic

    Location: Lac-Mégantic, QC

    L'eau, une mine d'Art du 8 juillet au 8 septembre 2019..
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  • 13th Solo Art Series -

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces its 13th “Solo Art Series”..
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  • Call for Art | 3rd Annual Skies Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 3rd Annual Skies online art competition. For this..
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  • 9th Annual Online Exhibition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
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  • Sustainable Fashion Designer Looking for Studio Space in Mississauga

    Location: Mississauga, ON

    Hi, I'm Amanda, I am an emerging fashion designer starting my business designing..
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  • “Water” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline August 31, 2019

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: Water nourishes, cleanses, and renews. A drop of water can save..
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  • 32 Points- 32 Voices: A Compass of Peace

    Location: Toronto, ON

    32 Points - 32 Voices: A Compass of Peace International Exhibition September 6-27, 2019 Cedar Ridge..
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  • Air

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    AIR: A mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, and minute amounts of other gases..
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  • The Clock Show

    Location: London, ON

    CALL FOR ARTISTS ..
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  • Raw Materials

    Location: Humboldt, SK

    Raw Materials James M. Clow and Bony A. Conly Exhibition runs May 31st through August..
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Rachel Berman - The Intimacy of Strangers

By Robert Amos December 29, 2002

} Rachel BermanThe Intimacy of Strangers 'Do everything. Be everything. Good, bad, indifferent: find out what you are before you die.' Djuna Barnes, Aller et Retour. Currently, just before she leaves town, Rachel Berman is presenting the largest show of her paintings Victoria has ever seen. I asked her how she begins. 'I paint with oil paints thinned with turpentine over the graphite. I like the pentimento to show through, a sign that the picture was made by hand. For brushes I used the bristly, stiff ones. It's an idea I got from [Austrian artist] Egon Schiele.' Berman is getting up her courage to buy some of the really big artist's brushes. 'I am using house painting brushes.' She has to trim and tailor these clumsy implements to get them to the shape she wants. Individual brush marks are crucial to her satisfaction. 'I am going for the longest brush strokes in the history of art,' Berman quips. She directs my attention to a pair of trousers on one of her figures. The line defining the corduroy sweeps from waistline past his knee. 'It's a combination of painterly technique and the element of risk. Wow! I like that.' The direction and dynamic of each of her strokes is visible, and each describes the shape of the object depicted. Her paintings are finished with a coat of beeswax and burnished to a glossy finish. 'I like a really slick surface to work on'. She paints on canvas which is gessoed and sanded seven times. Often, she doesn't stretch it but staples the canvas to the wall. The composition is not dictated by the form of the canvas. If the composition changes as she paints, the canvas can be trimmed to match. I asked her about the muted, sombre tones of her paintings. They appear dark and monochromatic. 'It's my Turkish Drab period,' she jokes. 'I love earth colours - I guess I'm an earth spirit. I find them safe and comfy.' In fact, upon examination one discovers that she uses a full spectrum of colours, harmonizing them so judiciously that they blend to a warm middle range. Her control of tone - rim lighting, back lighting, reflected light in shadow - is magisterial. She mixes colour intuitively. 'Something leads you...', she comments. There is a sense of beauty or rightness also always before her. It's not learned, but something intuitive. 'I didn't go to school,' Berman admits, 'so I don't know the rules.' Where do her ideas come from? 'Sketchbooks, old photos,' she tells me. Though her paintings have an searching realism, they are actually compiled from many sources. Having never owned a camera, she sometimes works from photos people have given her. One large painting of an artist - a middle-aged man - features her own feet and slippers. When she decided his legs should be crossed, she posed her own. Berman hasn't had the luxury to sit and sketch for the past ten years, due to pressures of her fragile health, poverty and feisty attitude. But now, after a respite in Victoria, she's in the clear and ready for travel and fresh subject matter. 'I won't have to recycle my life,' she bubbles, looking forward to time in Paris and London. Eventually, our interview touched on her subject matter. Berman is a painter of anecdote. The largest painting, fully two metres across, positions two characters in a huge, empty Dublin apartment. The echoing space between them is palpable. 'It's my brother and his partner. You know, I'd been searching for him for my whole life, and I finally found him. Then he died... Actually he was killed.' Rachel is matter-of-fact about this, and much else. Another bears the title 'Preface to a twenty-volume suicide note'. A third shows her father, gazing into space, a cigarette burning down in his hand. 'Actually,' she revealed, 'it's a composite of both my fathers - my real father and my adoptive father.' Slowly I become aware of the bars on the window behind him. The scene is a mental hospital. I suggested that most of her characters seemed to be gazing into the existential void. Many of the smaller studies are based on people she sees lining up outside her window - her studio is on the second floor above the welfare office. Others, tiny portraits mounted on steel plates, portray victims of Irish Republican Army violence. There is a void there. But Berman gives each of these losers her loving attention. She searches for that touch of humanity in the most intractable faces, and she finds it. The subject of these paintings is actually her search, not their gloom. 'The pictures are autobiographical,' she notes. 'They are all about me, trying to find out who I am.' Currently, she's at the start of a new chapter. 'I begin the trip now. I can leave all this gloom behind. I've been sad for years, but I've paid my dues. I've been punished and I've accepted my punishment. Now it's time to get on with it.' In even the darkest souls there is a ray of light, a touch of grace. It's there, and Berman has the means, and the intention, to find it. Each of these hopeless stories is redeemed by the touch of grace, the common humanity each of us shares while we are here on earth. Saved by that grace, and the loving attention of an artist of uncommon skill and sympathy. Rachel Berman exhibits with the John Inglis Fine Arts in Toronto and the Winchester Galleries in Victoria. ___________________________________________ Copyright © 2002 Robert Amos Robert Amos is an artist and art writer who lives in Victoria, B. C.. He can be contacted by e-mail and you can view his paintings at www.robertamos.com