Hockey, local shops, winter, summer, cafés, churches, carriages—Canadian artist and educator Carole Spandau (born 1948) depicts these subjects in her bright and bold Montréal scenes that exude a sense of community, cosiness and a great fondness for one’s native soil. The most magical pieces of the collection are those with dark red townhouses and snow on the streets.
Having grown up in a household that revered education, Carole received her first art history books as presents from her uncle for her fifth birthday. At nine, she got an opportunity to study art formally at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts under the leadership of Arthur Lismer, the founding member of Canada’s Group of Seven who were colourful landscape painters.
Carole went to Baron Byng High School which was known for many famous teachers and graduates, including the great urban author and storyteller, Mordecai Richler—who influenced her desire to explore, document and paint those very same Plateau streets which he fictionalised in his books.
“After all,” writes the artist, “I was born in that Plateau Mont Royal neighbourhood as was my mother and her two brothers. I listened with awe as she talked about her childhood, growing up on such lively spirited streets with many tasty Mom and Pop shops, colourful noisy food vendors and the many new immigrants speaking every imaginable language. Montréal was truly a melting pot back then. I could literally visualise my future paintings.
“From older works to current new city scenes I keep returning to my roots. The pull to discover a new vision still fascinates and draws me back to those gritty unchanging streets with their tall and winding staircases which are interesting to look at, complicated to paint and treacherous to climb especially on freezing, cold and snowy January days.”
Carole continues with some words of wisdom for aspiring artists: “If you are passionate about your artistic dream, if you really know in your heart you have something of value and difference to contribute to your time here, then just do it, live it.
“You must put in the necessary hours, long months and years of hard work into finding your true style, your own voice; write your personal stories, but never jump the queue. Learning from those you admire is okay; claiming their ideas and position is not. Do not be derailed, become the definitive voice of your generation.
“There is room for everyone in this endless chord from Paleolithic times through the centuries; countless great books to read and cherish, magnificent museum masterpieces to admire and appreciate, wonderfully sonorous recordings to fill our rooms and uplift our spirits. And yet somehow there is still room for each of us and for new future artists to add their particular mark and flavor. But you must know who you are. What makes your work unique, special and different. Study, be receptive, be intuitive, be persistent, be flexible; be open to new ideas, be aware, be well-organised.”
In 1970, Carole obtained a B.A. in Plastic Arts from the University of Québec à Montréal and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education from McGill University. She has also studied Art History at Concordia. She is represented by Galerie Atelier Toile Étoile and licenses her paintings for CDs, books, magazine covers, calendars, jigsaw puzzles, cards, e-cards and websites.
Images used with permission.