Join us for Tuesday Night at the Museum to celebrate the opening of Cross Cut: Folk Songs of Early Ontario. Artist Rob Niezen created a series of linocuts reflecting on the narrative of folk songs from rural Ontario collected by CBC’s Edith Fowke during the 1950s. Each song is represented with a linocut, song lyrics, and a QR-code that links to a recording of the song. The night will include live performances from Niezen, singing the exhibited folk songs.
Niezen has approached creating the linocuts with a contemporary perspective by applying the concept of ‘crosscutting’. Crosscutting is a technique borrowed from film editing used to illustrate a narrative action that happens in several places at the same time, or in one place at different times. In creating his artwork he uses both the traditional method of lino-carving, and contemporary and experimental ways of mark making, including laser engraving, etching and collage; going against the grain, or ‘cross cutting, as it were.
Edith Fowke taped her first field recordings at Towns’ General Store in Douro, five kilometres from artist Rob Niezen’s home. The origin of these songs dates back to a period of 1820 to 1950. Traditional music came to Ontario with European settlers. Lyrics and tunes were adapted to local experiences and the personal preferences of the players, and these offer a reflection of society at different moments in history. The underlying themes are of a timeless nature, as they deal with human existence: love, deception, politics, war, immigration, work, leisure, murder, death, etc.
The chosen collection of songs include narratives of settlement and immigration with Charming Sally Greer and Scarborough Settler’s Lament, politics with Farewell to Mackenzie, and (seasonal) labour with songs like New Limit Line, River Driver and Shantyboy’s Alphabet. One of the songs with a local connection is the murder ballad Maggie Howie, describing the violent ending of a courtship in Napanee.
Time: 7:00PM (doors open at 6:30PM)
Demographic: Best for ages 13+
No pre-registration is required.
About the Exhibit:
The exhibit aims to connect our recent history and today’s society, and the issues we face as citizens of Ontario and Canada, and invites to reflect on what’s happening with us and around us. Superficially things have changed, but the human conditions now seem not that different from 100 or 200 years ago. Has life improved, or is progress only on a materialistic level? Have we learned from our history, or does it always repeat itself? Folk songs make global issues accessible to everyone, as they are created and sung by real people telling real human stories. Learn more about the exhibit here.
About the Artist:
Rob Niezen is a painter, printmaker and illustrator, who is partly self taught, and studied at Vrije Akademies in The Hague and Delft, Netherlands (drawing and painting), at the Art School of Peterborough (painting), and at the Haliburton School of the Arts (printmaking).
In printmaking he creates narrative works, experimenting primarily with linocuts, including reduction prints. Current work includes his ‘Heads & Tales’ series that combines linoprint, blind emboss, collage (stamps), and text. In 2018 he was one of the selected artists included in Roll-O-Matic, Public Acts of Printmaking, as part of ArtsWeek Peterborough. His oil paintings have been shown seven solo exhibitions—three in 2019. He has participated in over two dozen group shows, and in over thirty juried exhibitions. His studio has been a stop on the Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour, juried by the Art Gallery of Peterborough, since 2010.
In 2015, Peterborough County awarded Rob Niezen a Leadership in Arts & Culture Recognition Award. He was a board member at the Art School of Peterborough for six years—three years as chair—and is still involved as a volunteer in marketing the school— and an elected member of the Ontario Society of Artists. He was born in The Hague, the Netherlands, and lives and works in Douro, Ontario, Canada.
Featured linocut: River Driver – Rob Niezen (2022)