West Quebec painter John F. Marok served champagne and snacks at the closing of his exhibition Explorations and Excavations: the Lights and Shadows of Gatineau Park, at Chelsea’s La Fab Gallery on April 2nd.
“What a beautiful ending!” said a La Fab press release. “Perhaps it was the champagne... possibly it was the warm and gentle spring air... or maybe just the friendly atmosphere in La Fab’s gallery. Whatever the reason, those who attended John's finissage wore a smile on their face and were in playful moods,” the Gallery added.
The exhibition presented 12 paintings showcasing the beauties and the vulnerabilities of Gatineau Park, vulnerabilities that include construction of 132 new houses in the park since 1992, removal of 8 km2 of park territory behind closed doors, mysteriously disappearing boundaries...
The vivacity and spirit of Mr. Marok’s show prompted Ottawa Magazine to call it “superb,” “haunting,” “one of the best ever held by La Fab,” in its March 15 online edition. Participants and enthusiasts included Commerce Chelsea Founder and local businessman Todd Evans, Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green, social activist Bill Clennett and his partner Blanche, as well as a variety of local artists, park lovers, senior NGO officials, and Percy Sparks’s granddaughters, Jennifer Crawley and Nina Sparks.
Reviewers and critics raved over the paintings, and rumor is some Meech Lake residents had fits of anger and hyperventilation. But the artist took it all in stride, saying of his April 2nd closing: “I'm delighted to host a finissage and celebrate the first days of spring and the end of an exhibition that received a few reviews, a few sales and a few threats...”
And wouldn’t you know it: senior NCC management, as well as other politicians and officials made a surprise appearance in effigy, in the form of a newly released portrait provisionally titled Lipstick on a Park Pig. Painted in the style of Francisco Goya’s Los caprichos, it features a donkey holding a plate with a lipstick-wearing pig’s head. And through the window, yet another historical Gatineau Park building can be seen in the background being destroyed by fire.
Mr. Marok’s painting elicited much admiration and discussion, since it symbolizes a broad palette of politicians and officials. They could be individuals, or any combination of NCC senior managers, directors, members of Parliament, ecologists, ministers, journalists, or municipal officials. Mr. Marok says this latest addition may very well be tame by comparison to his next Gatineau Park paintings.
Goya’s Los caprichos, or The Whims, were etchings condemning superstition, as well as the ignorance and inabilities of various members of the ruling class...
Stayed tuned for the next Gatineau Park exhibit, and take a look at some of La Fab’s pictures and press release documenting the finissage by clicking the link below: