Artist as HistorianI was born at the Toronto Western Hospital about a year (less) before many courageous Canucks helped topple madman Hitler and his murderous crew.I had my ruptured appendix removed at the Toronto Western Hospital when I was nine, and had my nose repaired there too in '77.Though I grew up in Maple (a feedmill town twenty miles north of Toronto) from '58 to '64, Toronto was always my home base despite stints in London and Los Angeles during my itinerant years as electric troubadour.When I fell into painting and loved it like music, it was inevitable that I'd document my existence as I had done in song. And so I painted friends, colleagues, neighbours and others — some of whom I met by chance as in the case with my sidewalk encounter with George Chuvalo.I never really figured out my path, let alone my destination; that's always been my way. I painted what came naturally; painting helped me cope with my enormous rage, angst, lust and frustration. Unlike music (a transient art form in my experience) painting remained frozen in time for the gaze to behold; it required no public audience nor stage nor manager nor membership in a labour union. But, it would eventually necessitate a dealer to sell it if I were to sell the work. Many dealers.Over thirty years later, my portraits of Torontonians amount to a significant body of work. I curated this little book exhibition* of fifty portraits from my lengthy Toronto experience. It tells both my story and the story, no less, of those I portrayed. Colourful documents. Like all my work in various media, these depictions are straightforward. I painted what people brought to the table (in exchange for a small Joe landscape and a Polaroid photo of the completed portrait). The results are my version of history.— Mendelson Joe*It was art dealer Odon Wagner who originally suggested an exhibition with the title "Joe's Toronto."
Mendelson Joe (Author)
Mendelson Joe is a painter, activist, and musician.