Laurie Campbell, A Painter of City Life
by John K. Grande
Informed with a background in illustration from Ontario College of Art where she won various awards for her artwork, Laurie Campbell went on to gain hands-on experience working with a variety of commissioned projects with numerous Canadian publications that include the Globe and Mail and Homemaker's Magazine among others. As an artist, Laurie Campbell, illustrated Outsmarting Your Karma for the author Barry Neil Kaufman, as well as other books over the course of her career.
A born and bred Montrealer, Laurie Campbell returned in 1994. The city's rich cultural and architectural history, its landmarks and scenes of daily life has provided a living heritage for the artist to draw upon. Campbell's paintings of people walking to work in the downtown business district, or at the corner store depanneur, all capture the drama of daily life. Like an anthropologist of the everyday, Campbell goes by foot, or on bicycle to record the cliches and snapshot-like moments of urban existence. The artist then reworks these scenes at her studio into larger oil paintings. Many of these scenes, such as the old newspaper stand, the woman dressed in her daily attire shopping at the neighbourhood corner store, a rooftop vista that captures a collage of architecture from different eras all in the same view, are changing, and may not be there in the same way in a few years. So these paintings themselves will enter into that panoply of historical moments, caught by artists, as time goes by.
Influenced by realist painters of the past such as George Bellows, John Sloan, Edward Hopper and the French Impressionists Gustave Caillebotte, Lucien Pissarro and Edgar Degas, Laurie Campbell has produced a remarkable array of paintings that document the places and structures of our cities in watercolour and oil. As times change, so do the contexts we live in, and Laurie Campbell captures the heritage of our past, but does so with a sense of place in the moment. Many of the scenes she paints are significant urban landmarks. Each of us gains a sense of who we are, and where we come from, from knowing the places we live and work in have a history that extends into the past. The city has a living history that Campbell seizes on, painting in a style that is sometimes nostalgic, other times gives us a sense of the moment. Just as these city streets have served countless generations before us, they continue to evolve and will be there for future generations.
And so Laurie Campbell paints this urban theatre with its living history of people, architecture, and public spaces with a love for these places and their naturalistic scenes. This has been, and remains, the focus of Laurie Campbell's art. She captures the gestures and movements of people in their daily activities and routines, always with a sense of the specifics of place, and the details of the architecture, the clothing people are wearing, all carry a cachet of that past history, and present-day life. Laurie Campbell is a painter whose eye for the momentary detail, engages something that goes beyond the moment and builds into a dialogue with other times, but in the present.
A Note from Laurie
I have always had a strong interest in portraying urban life, and am fascinated by an architecture of urban life that includes corner stores, taverns, historical downtown business districts. The architectures of the past that are still with us in the present, and represent some of our heritage are likewise changing. My paintings document what we often do not notice as we go about our daily routine. The environments of architecture, public space, and people are always there, but largely unobserved. These urban sites and spaces play such a major role in our maintaining a sense of place, and give us a sense of security in knowing that other peoples lived in the past amid these same architectural settings of city life. With every new year modern structures replace the neglected storefronts and landmarks of years past. As a city changes so does our collective memory of what these places are. In capturing people in their daily activities of walking down a city street, dressed for the occasion, I give a sense of people of our times being in these places, and whose lives take place amid a historical context that is the living, ever evolving cityscape. Each of us gets a sense of beauty and comfort from being in the everyday, a reality that surround us and likewise carries a cadence of the past, not ours, but of decades ago. These urban landmarks, often overlooked, capture a part of our heritage, something I would like to share with all of you through my paintings
Born in Montreal, Quebec, 1969
1991-1993 - Ontario College of Art, Toronto
1989-1991 - Dawson College, Montreal
1986-1989 - John Abbott College, Ste. Anne de Bellevue
1993 - The Robin Comyn Cumine Scholarship for fourth year illustration and painting
1992 - The Herb McCarthy Award for Illustration
The Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, elected in 2002.
2009 - Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal
2007 - Urban Figures, Roberts Gallery, Toronto
2006 - Beach Series, The Tavern, Montreal
2005 - Roberts Gallery, Toronto
2004 - Recent Works, The Gallery at Victoria Hall, Westmount
2003 - Recent Works, The Claremont, Montreal
2001 - Watercolours of Montreal, The Monkland Tavern, Montreal
2001 - Recent Paintings, The Claremont, Montreal
2000 - The Monkland Tavern, Montreal
1999 - Avmor Celebrates the New Millennium, Musée Marc-Aurele Fortin, Montreal
1998 - The Claremont Café, Montreal
1997 - The Chesterfield, Montreal
1996 - The Claremont, Montreal
1995 - The Claremont Café, Montreal
1993 - Art that Delivers, Annual Student Exhibition, OCA, Toronto
1992 - Annual Student Exhibition, OCA, Toronto
2003-06 Toronto International Art Fair , Toronto
2004 - Recent Works, Omega Gallery, Vancouver
2003 - 2007 Artist's Choice, Roberts Gallery, Toronto
2003 - Recent Works, Montreal Amateur Athletics Association, Montreal
2003 - Realist Painters, Roberts Gallery
2002 - Four New Artists - Roberts Gallery Toronto
2000,01 - The Monkland Tavern (bistro), Montreal
2000-01 - The Claremont Café, Montreal
2000 - The Monkland Tavern, Montreal
1999 - Paintings of Montéal, The Claremont Café, Montreal
1999 - Paintings of Ireland, The Monkland Tavern, Montreal
1998 - The Monkland Tavern, Montreal
1997 - The Monkland Tavern, Montreal
1997 - The Marlowe, Pointe-Claire
1996 - Van Gogh Lounge-Resto, Montreal
1996 - The Claremont Café, Montreal
1996 - The Monkland Tavern, Montreal
2003 - Open Water, CSPWC annual show, John B. Aird Gallery, Toronto
2002 - The Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors, Old Forge NY.
2000 - Mountain Lake Arts Auction 2000, McCord Museum, Montreal & at the Plattsburgh Art
Museum, New York (April). PBS Broadcast April 29th, 2000.
1998 - Seven Montreal Contemporaries, sponsored by Julius Baer Canada, Tudor Hall, Ogilvy's
1996 - The 34th annual Thomas More Art Exhibition, Maison de la Culture, Montreal.
1993 - The 31st annual Thomas More Art Exhibition, Maison de la Culture, Montreal.