I should preface this post by saying that I think I'm not supposed to do this. Or more correctly, the shy part of me says "don't do it."
However, what I wanted to poke around is the confluence of War Art and Canada. Like nuts and gum perhaps. While this country has one of the longest and most distinguished histories of the genre, if you operate (or try to operate) in the realm of contemporary art, there is an unspoken... and sometimes spoken sentiment that the only good war art is no war art. Or war art that's overtly critical of war.
So while I'm committed to doing what I do, there is an understanding that while public and commercial galleries are more than happy to offer their viewing audience repeated interpretations of contemporary Cdn. landscape or the intersections of digital and traditional media, very little slack is offered to war art.
I'm well aware that making such statements will incur the wrath of some readers (this, of course, assumes there are readers), but the truth is that being a "war artist" in Canada means you are operating in the ghetto.
Odds are I've typed that before. But on this occasion I wanted to offer that, as per the title, It's not always anonymous wallowing. When I wrote that I'm not supposed to "do this" I don't mean slagging painterly landscape practices, I mean, acting proud of being recognized.
Proud, because yesterday I was awarded a medal for my contributions in documenting and contextualizing Cdn. history. "The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal" was awarded to me by the Governor General's office via nomination by The Historica-Dominion Institute. I'm certainly not the only person awarded this. Many Canadians across the country have also been awarded the medal and in some ways what makes it important is that a war art practice is sitting side by side with community activists and medical volunteers.
Odds are I wouldn't have received a medal if The Canadian Forces Artist Program hadn't seen fit to have me as a two-time participant, or if the battalions (3PPCLI, 2RCR) I was embedded with hadn't been so generous with me.
And as to galleries that do give war art a repeated chance, Wil Kucey at LE Gallery has certainly had faith in my practice over the last five years, and both Laura Brandon at The Canadian War Museum and Rory Cory at The Military Museums (in Calgary) continue to show support for my practice. Rail's End Gallery (Haliburton) and YYZ Artists Outlet (Toronto) are next on the exhibition schedule.
When I type it, it doesn't really seem like wallowing... and it ain't.
Nonetheless, it's really great to have my efforts rewarded in ways other than sales, shows and grants.
Thanks to The Queen also!