Steve Gouthro, B.F.A., M.F.A. (Chair)


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My love of art started with...

Like lots of other kids, I drew and painted at home and in school. I can remember playing in the sandbox at school, and where most kids would build a castle, I made a bas relief sculpture of a boy with his arms outstretched.

I never had any art education before university, so my early art influences were comics, psychedelic posters, and the satirical drawings of Mad Magazine. Their movie caricturist, Mort Drucker was one of my early heroes.

I wanted to teach because...

I guess that like art, I had teaching in my blood from an early age. When I was 5 years old I remember showing another kid my age how to draw. Teaching art at a university appealed to me as a way to free me up from having to make art that would sell, while still being able to make a bit of a living in my field. I have always liked helping others develop into the people that they wanted to be, and teaching offered me this possibility.

The most exciting place I think I've ever shown is...

What excites me about exhibiting work is not so much a specific venue, as the context and how the work relates to that context. One of my most interesting projects in terms of context was the painting, BUILDING, which depicted the tearing down of the Child’s Building and the construction of the T.D, Tower at Portage and Main. The painting was created to fit in the Foyer at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and was 20 ft. tall and 30 ft. wide. It was comprised of 35 canvasses arranged side by side in 5 tiers. It was too tall to paint at one time in my studio so I had to bolt the bottom two rows together, paint them, then remove the lowest row & add on the next one, etc. I never actually saw the completed painting in its entirety until it was exhibited at the opening.

My style of teaching can be described as...

I teach many of the fundamentals classes, and for beginners I believe that the basics are important. Many of the early problems deal with basic drawing, design and painting skills. As the student advances in their course of study, the ideas that are carried in the work are gradually brought more to the fore. With advanced students, the professor’s place becomes more that of a mentor and information resource, encouraging the student to find their own voice.

A brief Professional History...

My first important exhibition was The Artists’ Proof at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1981, with three other artists. One of the lithographs from that show featured a view out the front windshield of a Mustang into the dark. I forgot that with a print everything reversed, so the steering wheel ended up on the wrong side of the car. I solved it with the title, Nightlights in a Broken English Car. The printer of the catalogue, an Englishman, was convinced that he knew what car it was. As far as I know, he still does.

Current to the Future, the main work from my 1986 eponymous solo show at Brian Melnychenko Gallery in Winnipeg consisted of 144 separate panels and filled one entire room in the gallery. It had twelve groupings of twelve paintings and could be hung in a vast number of different ways. This was an apocalyptic work that wanted to convey the many potentials for the world at one point in time.

Undergrowth and Open Water at Plug In Gallery in 1989, was a group of paintings that dealt with psychological archetypes. Gazing Into the Dark Pool at the University of Winnipeg’s Gallery 1C03 dealt with cultural attitudes towards death. One painting, Vestiges of the TITANIC, was used to illustrate two books on the Titanic: Titanic Legacy: disaster as media event and myth, published by Praeger in 1986 and Titanic, by John Wilson Foster published by Penguin in 1999.

BUILDING which was designed as an installation for the foyer gallery at the Winnipeg Art Gallery depicted the tearing down of the Child’s Building and raising of the T.D. Tower at the corner of Portage and Main all in one work. It mixed a modern sensibility with a medieval narrative style.

The drawings from that I contributed to The Recovery of History at the Extension Gallery in Toronto, juxtaposed historic and mythic figures from the western world with art and environments form other cultures and times.

Core Samples curated by director Glenn Allison at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba here in Brandon, was a mini retrospective that pulled long running themes out of various bodies of work & put them side by side for comparison.

My solo show, Through the Mill, at the Winnipeg Art Gallery used the transformation of scrap into new steel at the Selkirk Steel Mill as a metaphor for alchemical transformation. The show traveled to Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie.

Besides exhibiting, I’ve had a number of related artistic projects. As artist/consultant for the T.V. movie, The Prodigal, I created paintings and drawings for the lead character, who was an artist.

My hobby interest in science led me to doing a number of cover illustrations for Physics in Canada. I’ve had great fun creating covers that range from lurid science fiction to Mad Magazine humour. My interest in creative writing is evident in the various illustrations of done for Prairie Fire magazine as well as doing paintings for book covers for Turnstone Press. I also made drawings for the mystery serial, “Winnipeg Dreamers” for Interchange magazine. My enthusiasm for comics led to my being invited to parcipitate in Misfit Lit, a show of works by comic and comic influenced artists at Plug In Gallery. More recently I’ve had images of paintings from my show, Through the Mill, reproduced in Harper’s Magazine.

My painting, Near the Forks was featured as the Manitoba stamp for the Canada Post issue, Canada, Our Home and Native Land…Living the Landscape. There was one landscape based image from each province and territory to commemorate Canada’s 125th birthday.

My personal achievements are...

I’ve received grants from the Manitoba Arts Council, the Canada Council and the Winnipeg Arts Council. I’ve been commissioned to make limited edition prints for MRM Steel in Selkirk to celebrate their 90th anniversary, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s volunteer Committee to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

The work I'm currently developing is...

My work over the last few years has focused on growth and decay in contrast to human aspirations for immortality and transcendence. An offshoot of this is an interest how cultures work to ensure their continuity, and the parts played by individuals within those structures. A separate but related area of research is in natural phenomena as an expression of nature’s power and beauty.

My educational background...

Although much of my work is in painting, both my B.F.A at the University of Manitoba, and my M.F.A at the University of Washington had majors in printmaking. I have always had an affinity for both media, and at the time it seemed that I could get more of the direction I wanted in printmaking. When I returned from graduate school to Winnipeg, I worked for eight months at Moosehead Press, an atelier for printing artists’ editions that was run by master printer David Umholtz. I learned more there about printing and colour mixing than I had in the two previous years at grad school. This experience was invaluable when I got the commissions for the steel mill and the art gallery. I also took conversational French at the Alliance française and while there I curated four separate shows for their gallery.

My aim for my students...

My intention is to help my students to develop their technical skills and conceptual abilities to become successful practicing artists in the community. Over the years I’ve seen many of my former students go on to achieve provincial, national and even international acclaim. It is always gratifying to meet and interact with your former protégés as peers in the art world.

Steve Gouthro