An assembler of place

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About Art, By Janice Guinan

Rhude looks for chance encounters that provide narrative for understanding

Steven Rhude was born in Rouyn Noranda, Quebec in 1959. He studied fine arts at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto and graduated in 1983 with honours in drawing and painting.

Rhude also completed intensive study of the Italian and Northern European Renaissance in Florence, Italy.

He lives and works in Wolfville, N.S. His works can be found in numerous private, public and corporate collections. Rhude’s work has been reproduced in various publications, including From Land and Sea — Nova Scotia's Contemporary Landscape Artists and  A Place Called Away — Stephen Rhude, Living and Painting in Nova Scotia.

The Emma Butler Gallery in Newfoundland and Gallery 78 in New Brunswick represent him.


Q - What research do you do?

A – I research regional communities in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. I take notes and write well before I pick up a brush. I look for a narrative that’s as far away from Disneyland as possible. This entails travelling and interviewing people and pouring over old regional publications respective to a place that may interest me.


Q - How has your practice changed over time?

A – I used to work only from the fact, as they say. I no longer do that. My concept of reality has changed as I’ve aged. It’s been said that painting is a lie, that there’s no defining moment that captures an essential truth about a situation or place. However, I do love to make paintings; so one could conclude I also love to lie. Consequently, what I’ve come to accept is this: Painting has made me an assembler of place that inexplicable region of our experience that reaches out and touches us without necessarily saying how or why. So I work with what I find like chance encounters with buildings, roads, and objects then I strip them of their situation, with the hope this will provide me with some clue or narrative for understanding.


Q - Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

A – I saw a small fishing community systematically discredited over several years by external forces and government interference and ineptitude. If anything has inspired me or haunts me perhaps it’s that experience. I think it still permeates my paintings.


Q - What memorable responses have you had to your work?

A – Lots. I’ve had people drive great distances to express their disdain for what I do. I’ve had people ask what kind of opiate I’m on while painting. I’ve had other people question everything from the relevance of my technique to my defence of skills, beauty and regional outlook. I’ve also had very flattering perspectives from numerous people that tend to balance it out. Hypothesis: People have a love/hate relationship with my work.

Janice Guinan is a local artist who passionately believes in the importance of visual art.

Organizations: Ontario College of Art and Design, Northern European Renaissance, Disneyland

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Rouyn Noranda Quebec Toronto Florence Italy Wolfville New Brunswick

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