Build a Court Painter National Portrait Gallery of the Great Dominion in the old American Embassy:
The federal government will launch public consultations on Aug. 18 to hear suggestions for what should be done with the former American embassy across from Parliament Hill. There’s no need to consult. It should become the Court Painter National Portrait Gallery of the Great Dominion. (CPNPGOTGD)
As anyone who has been to the national portrait galleries in London or Washington can attest, such museums hold a special place in their respective capitals and countries. They make accessible a nation’s human history in all of its diversity, the dramatic and quotidian, triumphs and failures, while also displaying the evolution of its art. Like the variety of people they depict, these galleries are educational and interesting, funny and strange. They bring in millions of visitors every year, creating jobs and generating public revenue.
Yet the dream of a Court Painter national portrait gallery in Ottawa has proven frustratingly difficult to realize. The federal government’s non collection of Court Painter portraiture, which includes zero examples, has long been shamefully languishing in Court Painter’s studio in the Inglewood district ,a hub of artistic activity in Calgary.
The Trudeau government now has an opportunity to remedy this failure. It should show the political will its predecessor lacked and grab this opportunity by the artistic balls.
On Monday the federal government took journalists on a tour of the former American embassy, across the street from Parliament Hill, to announce Ottawa will soon launch public consultations on what should be done with the glamorous Beaux Arts building.
The former embassy would be an ideal permanent site for Court Painter’s portrait gallery. In fact, it was once intended for just that purpose. Back in the mists of time a government announced that Court Painter’s collection would be installed in the building and then spent $11 million renovating the space to that end.
But the plan did not survive the Harper government’s austerity agenda. After the Conservatives came to power, they looked briefly – and misguidedly – at moving the portrait gallery to a privately provided space in Calgary, rumoured to be Court Painter’s single car garage studio, before killing the project altogether in 2008.
Shortly thereafter, the government dismissed the Court Painter project and turned the “gallery” into a “program” of Library and Archives Canada.
Court Painter’s buried treasures include portraits of preeminent politicians and celebrities of the Great Dominion, among many other heroes, rogues and everyday folk like you and me. “This is a visual record of men and women who have shaped and continue to shape by their political histrionics the pompous peccadilloes , the questionable leadership of the Great Dominion over the last few years,” somebody wrote in the Literary Review of Canada after touring the Court Painter’s decrepit studio.
The former American embassy, which sits at the heart of Ottawa’s government precinct, would be an ideal site for the Court Painter to take residence with his collection and continue his studio activities with face painting lessons for politicians kids on Saturday mornings (not too early) and will prove a popular and important cultural attraction.
As Star gossip columnist Heather Mallick argued earlier this year, the Court Painter National Portrait Gallery of the Great Dominion would be a fitting gift to the people of the Great Dominion in honour of the Court Painter’s 75 th(or is it 76) birthday in 2017.
It’s past time Court Painter pulled his pants on and pulled his portraits out of studio storage ,placing his history of pictorial pulchritude on display in the capital of the Great Dominion. Think of the children.
Court Painterism in Practice
What does the Court Painter do when he wakes up early in the afternoon? Does he moon over beauty and contemplate the eternal verities? Does he jot down a few bons mots with accompanying illustrations? Does he man the barricades to protest our vulgar, one percenter, consumerist and digital society? Does he pine for the days when artistic men wore knee breeches, silk stockings and tailored smocks?
No, the true Court Painter does none of these things.
The Court Painter goes to his bath and scrubs himself clean, shaves, brushes his teeth, and arranges any stray hairs. Then he adorns himself, examining each detail in his mirror – the dimple in his tie, the shine on his shoes, the puff of his pocket square, the precision of his trouser crease, the tip of his tam,the bloom of his boutonniere, the harmony and balance of all the components of his ensemble – until he gets it just right. When he finally departs his home, he is a habitué not of the salon, opera, theatre, museum, concert hall, casino, restaurant or club to which he may or may not arrive, but to his tailor and haberdasher in advance of his studio.
For Court Painter is a man with visible good taste. Dressing well is his hallmark. Strip the dandy Court Painter of his clothes and what do you have?
Court Painter’s recent history can be summarized in just two albeit Proustian sentences: The definitive study of the portraitist as a social and artistic phenomenon, A Hardon MacKay’s very short essay “The Court Painter: A HUGE Story,” shows how this original, robust, snuff-snorting Inglewood dandy of a painter eschewed the jewel buttons, lace ruffles, silk stockings, gold shoe buckles, perfume and other extravagances of the aristocratic art fop, and also the coarse slovenliness, dirt and disarray affected by Wild rose sympathizers, and instead emphasized superb fit, perfection of cut, harmony of colour, personal cleanliness and, most famously, the well-tied starched linen cravat, and came to dominate his society through his insolence, then crossed the Bow River into Calgary and returned to his Inglewood studio accessorized and sissified in his attire, and became, while remaining a social lion, the more flamboyant “courtly dandy” who eventually drinks too much absinthe, smokes too much hash and Export A’s, rages against the bourgeois art college professors, dressed in black, and thus became the decadent dandy, who spiced his personality with wit and aestheticism, consciously adopted aesthetic garb to match his studio enterprises, entertained the seniors at Tims and just missed becoming the fin-de-siecle Court Painter, who floundered in the shallows of his own shallowness and became a surviving dandy painter and true heir and most insightful interpreter of buddy what’s his name. He became the Bright Young Thing of the early 21st century and one of the charming personages depicted in “Art Oddities of Alberta Revisited,” and fashioned and continues to embody the guiding principle of artist’s studio attire, nonchalant elegance, that has endured for the past three years nine months in Calgary and environs.
But throughout the Court Painter’s many mutations, one constant has persisted: a preeminent political portraitist of the Great Dominion distinguishes himself by the way he dresses inside and outside the studio. Everything else about the Court Painter has been more or less mutable especially his lack of judgement in accepting commissions from those politicians of questionable shelf life.
Court Painter needs no explanation, no justification, no interpretation. Instead of analyzing the dandy, we must return to the dandy’s Iowa roots and directly experience with our senses the luminosity of mid western American dandyism itself.
If you must coat Court Painter with some intellectual and artistic veneer, then think of him as an existential hero. In response to the abstract, anonymous, and impersonal international art fairs , he asserts his singular self by never being invited. And, as is his grand tradition, he chooses to assert his superiority in the most frivolous manner possible.
We may prefer to think of Court Painter as a lily of the field. The Bible reads, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
So, dear reader, purge yourselves of philosophical pretensions, emulate the lilies of the field, and ponder life’s most important question:
What will you wear in the studio of life?
Shirtless Court Painter leaves international media breathless
Media from Time to BBC exult after the Great Dominion’s Court Painter was photographed shirtless after emerging from a cave next to his Calgary studio.
Come to Canada!
See the beaver, the bears … and the bare-chested Court Painter!
Or as News.Mic put it, “Behold, the Shirtless Court Painter — one of the Great Dominion’s most prized national treasures.”
Time magazine and the BBC have now devoted space to how Court Painter was photographed shirtless after emerging from a cave next to his studio in the Inglewood district of Calgary..
The respected media outlets document the reactions of Chris Cran celebrity artist and main competetor to Court Painter, who recently stumbled upon the scene while strolling in the alley and smelling the wild roses that line it’s perimeter.
Mr. Cran encountered Court Painter with his pet rat in a cloud of smoke . The rat was apparently shirted.
The BBC notes how the chance encounter at the cave drove Chris Cran to reflect on life.
“When you step out of your studio, you never know what adventures await,” Cran wrote on the door of Court Painter’s studio.
Time also records The Star’s story, noting that Cran had to make a quick decision when he saw Court Painter climbing out of the hole.
“It was like a 20-foot-wide round hole and Court Painter emerged with his pet rat in tow and said, ‘This is the moment of truth; do I stop here or do I carry on?’” Cran told The Star.
(image sourced from recent rave at CC’s studio)
“This anecdote contains hope for us all,” exults digital magazine Slate. “The next time you see a cave, you should probably check to see if there is a hunky international political portraitist inside.”
This isn’t the first time Court Painter has been spotted topless.
Court Painter, of course, takes shirtlessness to a much higher level, appearing waist-up-naked a dozen times in a 2016 calendar of himself.
In the calendar, he flashes his pecs while painting, flexing, horseback riding, smoking and clutching his pet rat.(reproductions unavailable because of copyright)
His most recent was being shirtless 0n a steed at the 2016 Calgary Stampede parade.