I first encountered this striking serigraph reproduced in black and white in the Graphex 4 catalogue of the 1976 juried exhibition at the Art Gallery of Brant (in Brantford, Ontario). I immediately recognized the parody of Matisse’s Dance.
The image is the work of Vernon Chilton. It is called The Rite of Spring. Measures: 24 1/2 x 37 1/4 inches. Was purchased by the Art Gallery of Brant through a Gift from Sonoco Limited ($130.00).
The 1980 publication of the catalogue Art Gallery of Brant Permanent Collection provides some bare biographical details: Chilton was born 31/10/50 and studied at York University and Carleton University.
Chilton went through a cow period. With at least one show at the Royal Agricultural Fair. I know this thanks to the librarians at the Toronto Reference Library who have maintained vertical files on Canadian artists and they have a copy of the poster announcing the Royal show. Also in the clippings file was microfiche preserving an article from the Globe (August 23, 1975) by Bryan Johnson reviewing a show at Harbourfront under the catchy title: “The artist addicted to the bovine charms”.
Chilton’s favorite is The Pasture, nine-foot-wide acrylic in which a dozen cows gaze out at the viewer with the curious mixture of stupidity, humility and pride which seems to have captured artist Chilton entirely.
“The way I think of it,” he says, “is that this is their group portrait. They’ve grown up together and soon they’re going to split up for the meat market, so, you know, they figure they need a portrait to hang in the barn.[“]
Chilton goes on to describe his encounters with a herd. A picture of The Pasture accompanies the article. But my favourite is still The Rite of Spring.
And so for day 1991