Ottawa Citizen, The Circus Performer

Ottawa Citizen features The Circus Performer Reconsiders His Options, March 26th, 2005.


Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Canada, Weekend Entertainment Section, features The Circus Performer Reconsiders His Options, March 26th, 2005.


The Circus Performer Reconsiders His Options is part of a series of paintings from Tompalski’s 2005 period which have a predominately blue hue. Others include The Fertility Clinic (shown above), Adolescence and Bandaged Knee (shown below) are from this period.



The Ottawa Citizen art reporters like Peter Simpson of The Big Beat column, have provided a bird’s eye view into the local art scene in Ottawa.  Peter Simpson writes about visual arts, music, books, film and other arts and entertainment in Canada’s capital city. For example his last article before he left his post,  A few parting words on the value of art, published February 25, 2016.


As I reach for my hat and coat and head for the exit, a few thoughts from Michael Findlay’s wonderful little book, The Value of Art. The compact and concise book by the storied New York City art dealer was published in 2012 and revised in 2014, and it speaks to the value of art monetarily, socially and, most of all, as a thing of deep beauty.


Findlay says a lot about art, and any number of his statements can stand as wise parting words for an art critic who is riding off into a Monet sunset. So, here, in no particular order, are a few of Findlay’s thoughts to keep in mind when you’re standing before any work of art. 1. “Art predates money.” 2. “I am not a great believer in attempts to teach art theory to otherwise reasonably well-educated adults. It is far more important and enjoyable to just get out and look at art.” 3. “In science, empirical proof can result in a theory becoming valid or invalid. There is no possibility of empirical proof regarding the meaning of a work of art. . . . Facts about a work of art should not be confused with what it might mean to you.” 4. “What gives a work of art meaning is a sufficiency of observation on our part, and not necessarily with a book in hand or an audio guide in the other.” 5. “The capacity of art to affect the individual on a personal and private level receives increasingly less attention in public discourse than its commercial and social value. . . . The boundaries that used to exist between culture and commerce have largely disappeared from the public eye.” 6. “One of the signs of a decaying culture is a reverence for form over content.” 7. “As the visible tip of the art market, auctions are a useful thermometer of the market’s health only for people who can remember the average temperature, not just yesterday’s heat wave.” 8. “Just as no work of art is made great for having cost a fortune, neither is great art made less great for being sold at a reasonable price.” 9. “Classical, pop, jazz, rock, or rap — many of us feel very comfortable enjoying music without being steeped in either its history or the technicalities of its performance, and we do not really need to be told what it means by an expert. Why, then, when it comes to art, do most of us feel the need for someone else’s words in order to have a fulfilling experience? Living with and really looking at works of art beat all book learning and indeed all conversation about art.” 10. “Art criticism, no matter how eloquent and erudite, attempts to use one language to describe another, very different language but with no dictionary to assist in the translation.”


Here, my 18 years at the Citizen, and this seven-year ride on the Big Beat, come to an end. If I have but one closing thought to share, it’s this: Never be afraid to make up your own mind about how you feel about any piece of art, regardless of what others, even experts, have to say. Art is both universal and personal, and only you can truly know what any piece of it means to you. With that, I’ll turn out the lights, close the door, and part with the words sent along by one artist this week: “Stay big. Keep beating.”