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Red Lilies - B.E. Mercer

Red Lilies - B.E. Mercer

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Art Collectible: Red Lilies - B.E. Mercer    Painting For Sale.
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Barbara E. Mercer
(1933 - 2019)

 In 1981, her show The View from Vinegar Hill at the Bau-Xi Gallery in Toronto, brought her recognition and was the subject of a CBC film, The View from Vinegar Hill. Painted in a naïve, impressionistic style and a mood of gaiety, her paintings were evocations of imagined scenes, such as The Vinegar Hill Bathers (1980, Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa). She showed works she painted during the winter at the Art Gallery of Peel in 1988. Her imagery was often related to fantasy or even most important, her dreams. In 1988, she began to record these dreams, finding them the truest part of her life and the source of her deepest inspiration.

In 1989, she had an accident to her right hand, severing the tendon and nerve, and making it impossible to paint. But her effervescent personality did not allow her to stop making art. She switched to her left hand and found “it” didn`t want to mix colour but to work with pure thick colours, red and blues. In her work of the 1990s, she painted portrait and still-life characterized by strong pattern, outline and colour, and simplified shape, and most important, inspired by her dreams. Her paintings developed a dancing buoyancy: they were mostly of archetypal symbols such as the moon, mixed with animals and flowers.

In 1991, she participated in her first international exhibition in Luleå, Sweden in The Autumn Art Exhibition of the Scandinavian Shield, an invitational show in which artists from eleven countries participated. The only Canadian, she showed twenty-eight paintings, and received critical recognition in print. In 1993, the catalogue of her show titled “Dreams of the Night: Barbara Elizabeth Mercer” at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, explained her belief that her paintings were metaphors for an inward journey and were the “poem of her life”. In 2003, her "My Canadian Icons: Nine Portraits in the Shape of a Diamond" was chosen to represent Canada at the Biennale Internazionale dell`Arte Contemporanea in Florence, Italy.

Mercer's paintings are included in the permanent collections of the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, the Peel Art Gallery and Museum, and in many other collections, including private collections from Australia and Scandinavia, and Europe.

Barbara Mercer was also a poet, and in 2004, published her first book, Mystic Wills, followed by twelve others.
In the 1990s, following the death of her long-term partner Gerry Milne Moses (1913-1994), an official war photographer, the art director for The Imperial Oil Review and a prominent figure on the Toronto art scene, she moved to Toronto`s Cabbagetown where she lived on Sackville Street and wrote poetry till her death in 2019.

Mercer`s life-long appreciation of, and association with, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is reflected in the fact that the Toronto Symphony is one of the three major beneficiaries of her estate, along with the Arts and Letters Club and TVO Public Broadcasting.

We extend our thanks to Canadian art historian Joan Murray for contributing this biography.

- A thank you from BooksCardsNBikes                 BooksCardsNBikesLogo

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