Profiles in the Arts – Gerald Trottier and Zara Ansar

Large Trottier gift celebrated at the Ottawa Art Gallery
Creating with flair in the Glebe: Zara Ansar


Large Trottier gift celebrated at the Ottawa Art Gallery

By Ellen McLeod

Gerald Trottier, “Pilgrimage I,” 1980, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 60 in, Collection of the Ottawa Art Gallery, Donation by Irma Trottier, 2013 Gerald Trottier, “The Pilgrimage of Old Age”, 1982, acrylic on canvas, 47 x 64 in, Collection of the Ottawa Art Gallery, Donation by Irma Trottier, 2013 Photo: David Barbour

Gerald Trottier, “Pilgrimage I,” 1980, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 60 in, Collection of the Ottawa Art Gallery, Donation by Irma Trottier, 2013 Gerald Trottier, “The Pilgrimage of Old Age”, 1982, acrylic on canvas, 47 x 64 in, Collection of the Ottawa Art Gallery, Donation by Irma Trottier, 2013 Photo: David Barbour

The family of the late Ottawa artist Gerald Trottier (1925-2002) recently made a major donation of 102 of his works to the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG), the largest number of a single artist’s works ever accepted by the gallery. The OAG will celebrate this generous gift with a donation launch exhibition, Perspective: Gerald Trottier, from April 10 to June 14, 2014. The launch will have two parts: a small exhibition to show an important sample of the donated pieces, and an art rental show with some of Trottier’s remarkable works for sale. Glebe readers may be familiar with some of Gerald Trottier’s art. Several of his installation works are prominent in or near the Glebe, such as the enormous mosaic mural “Pilgrimage of Man” at Carleton’s Tory Building, the stairway mosaic mural at the Ottawa Public Library’s main branch, and the monumental bronze crucifix at Blessed Sacrament Church, his childhood church in the Glebe.

Latterly, Trottier lived on Calumet Island where he had a home and studio. For many decades Gerald Trottier was an important member of the Ottawa art scene. The OAG did a series of exhibitions called History of Art and Artists from Ottawa and Surroundings with accompanying catalogues by Jim Burant. Trottier was well represented with two drawings and two paintings in the exhibition for the period 1946 to 1970. Currently the OAG is planning a year-long exhibition in 2017 on the continuing history of art in Ottawa that will also include Trottier and have a catalogue by Jim Burant. In 2002 the OAG’s exhibition Reflections: The Self-Portraits of Gerald Trottier, curated by Brenda Wallace, focused on Trottier’s fascination with making self-portraits. This critical facet of Trottier’s oeuvre is represented in the family’s gift.

Seven years ago in 2007, the Carleton University Art Gallery also showcased the artist with a large Trottier retrospective. It documented a long career that included his teaching, his CBC career, his religious and secular commissions, his extensive exhibition history both local and international, and works from every period. It ended with the monumental paintings from the 1980s, including self-portraits and the peopled Calumet Island landscapes that present an entire Breughel-like world, sometimes dark, but ever rewarding to explore. The handsome catalogue, A Pilgrim’s Progress, by Sandra Dyck, is an excellent reference on the artist.

Although the total gift to OAG will come in stages, Irma Trottier, wife of the late artist, has donated representative works from Trottier’s career spanning the 1940s through the 1990s. The gift will include some of the early sketches from his New York Art Students’ League days, social realist watercolour paintings of Ottawa’s Lowertown, and Ottawa Citizen illustrations. Trottier’s devout Catholic faith will be evident in works such as his medieval-phase abstractions and his powerful, modern abstract 1965 Sao Paulo Bienniale paintings. Colourful Pop and Realism pieces will be included from his London period. The illustrated poster of George Johnston’s poem “Under the Tree” used to lobby against capital punishment is also part of the gift. The late monumental Easter series paintings and his introspective self-portraits explore his own and humanity’s quest for understanding life’s mysterious existential journey. Several self-portraits and all the remaining huge paintings of the Easter series are included in the donation. Gerald Trottier’s legacy is dramatic, powerful and stirring.

This latest donation to the OAG will ensure that this accomplished artist will not be forgotten in Ottawa. With a previous donation of four works and OAG’s intended purchase of four more, this major gift will bring their impressive Trottier collection to 110 pieces. The OAG reception is Thursday, April 24 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Arts Court Building, 2 Daly Avenue. The exhibition and sale continue from April 10 until June 14.

Glebe resident Ellen McLeod is an art historian and writer.

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Creating with flair in the Glebe: Zara Ansar

By David Casey

Photo: David Ashe

Photo: David Ashe

Zara Ansar is a creative force in the Glebe. She is omnipresent on social media and attends countless cultural events in downtown Ottawa. Though sometimes shy and soft-spoken, Ansar can be enthusiastic. She stands out in a crowd with her loud and often cartoonish clothes, and exudes a creative energy seemingly on the verge of boiling over at any moment. She shares an apartment in the Glebe with her partner Greg, a music producer and DJ. Involved as she is in the arts, fashionable cycling and music, she finds the Glebe close to restaurants, bars, clothes and the canal. She enjoys cycling through Glebe streets, taking in the old architecture and weathered trees, stopping in at the Glebe Community Centre for craft and art shows and strolling along Bank Street. Everything is at her fingertips and yet the Glebe is still quiet and charming, and just far enough from the hustle and bustle of Centretown.

Ansar’s most exciting accomplishment so far has been the Ottawa VeloVogue blog. Like everything else in her life, the blog is gaining momentum. Fun and quirky, it began during a trampoline class, when Ansar noticed the assorted cyclists riding by. In midleap, the idea for one of her many creative projects was born – fashionable cycling denizens of Ottawa would be interviewed, highlighting their fashions and their personalities. Featured cyclists are not those wearing hundreds of dollars in spandex gear and the latest cycling technology, but those simply biking around the neighbourhood in fashionable, dare I say, normal clothes. This underscores that one can get around town, whether for a leisurely ride or a commute to work, while still showing flair.

In mid-leap, the idea for one of her many creative projects was born – fashionable cycling denizens of Ottawa would be interviewed, highlighting their fashions and their personalities.”

Initially Ansar approached friends and colleagues, and even well-dressed strangers on the street. As word-ofmouth spread, the Ottawa VeloVogue blog began to take off. It was featured in the Ottawa Citizen, and people approach Ansar through social media where her bright photos and fun interviews are circulated. Through her blogging, she has met many interesting people and is now part of Creative Mornings Ottawa, a monthly breakfast lecture series. Selected contributors give a lecture once a month and the events function as networking, idea-sharing hubs. She acts as photographer for these and numerous other local events that cater to creative people. Her knowledge of photography and photo editing has allowed her to merge visuals with music, and she is often seen VJing local events.

As a video jockey, she mixes her photos and animations with YouTube videos to complement the thumping bass and hypnotic rhythms of the nightclub scene. Zara Ansar’s creative expression did not simply emerge out of the ether. A few short years ago, the dynamic young Glebite was a visual arts student at Canterbury. She continued to paint and has developed a busy and colourful style – strong geometric forms that complement bright and busy organic shapes – inspired by Japanese pop culture. She describes this style as a happy chaos. Her paintings decorate the studio and bedroom in her apartment. Living in a duplex Victorian home with a roomy and elegant veranda, Ansar’s home reflects the dual forces of her nature. Nestled on a quiet street in the northeast corner of the Glebe with the canal just seconds away and access to the hustle and bustle of Elgin, it bridges two worlds: the ebb and flow of people and traffic from downtown, and the charming and graceful Victorian homes and parks and quiet, tree-lined streets of the Glebe.

Upon entering her home, one is greeted by a richly stained and ornate oak banister and railing leading to her second floor apartment. Her predominantly white furniture, also influenced by Japanese style, modernity and pop art, has clean lines with splashes of green, red and orange. The clean lines contrast with weathered pine floors, tall and sophisticated baseboard trim and crown moulding throughout the home. The plaster walls, no longer smooth and straight, are covered in happy modern paintings, both at odds with each other and in total harmony – Zara’s world. Her studio is her private getaway where she is able to focus on projects. The space melds the two worlds, old and new. Ansar’s home and her studio reflect “the varied creative adventures in her life. With the newly restored front veranda, she is looking forward to summer evenings spent enjoying the fading warmth of the sun with Greg, some good music and a sketch pad.

Born and raised in the Glebe and immersed in the world of real estate, David Casey particularly enjoys writing about living spaces, creative people and their neighbourhoods.
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