When the City of Vaughan wanted an art exhibition that would reflect the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, its proposed new downtown, the city chose artist Rina Gottesman.
Urban HeartBeat, Gottesman’s solo show at the Atrium Gallery of Vaughan City Hall (2141 Major Mackenzie Dr.), runs until Jan. 13, 2017.
Gottesman, an award-winning artist has participated in many juried shows, but Urban HeartBeat is her first solo exhibition.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for me to have a show in such a beautiful public space where my work can be viewed by so many people,” Gottesman said.
“I’m really honoured to have been asked by the City of Vaughan to create a body of work for this special exhibition.”
Sharon Gaum-Kuchar, Vaughan’s public art curator, was among the 75 people who attended Gottesman’s opening on Nov. 24.
Gottesman succeeded in portraying the city’s urban vision, Gaum-Kuchar said. “She has formulated her own symbolic vocabulary to depict the energetic pulse of the modern metropolitan landscape.”
Gaum-Kuchar said the city’s new downtown will be a modern commercial and residential hub.
“I am very excited about the theme,” Gottesman said. “For me Urban HeartBeat reflects the pulse of the city. I’ve tried to convey this in my painting, both literally in our relationship with the city, and metaphorically in the relationships we have in our own personal lives.
“The subtleties and intricacies of my paintings reflect the balance we seek in our day-to-day living between work and home life, between the buzz and the quiet, between the energy and the calm, and between the ordinary and the extraordinary.”
These ideas are apparent in the four abstract panels, predominantly painted in shades of blue. They hang together and comprise the centrepiece of the exhibit.
Gottesman said each painting represents an aspect of city life as it progresses through the day.
One panel depicts the quick pace and high energy of the city at midday, while another shows the excitement of night life. The hues in the third and fourth panels are more subdued, representing the calming environment of home and the city at rest at the end of the day.
Pointing to a series of paintings in red hues, Gottesman said the small area of detail on each painting reminds her of driving past people’s homes at night and wondering what lies behind the warmth and light of the windows.
She said these pictures also have lines that can be seen as roads extending in different directions, but they can also be viewed as pathways in our own lives.
She said this multi-level perspective is the allure of abstract art for her. “There are so many different layers and interpretations of the same work. Everybody will see something different.”
She said her work has become more abstract over the years.
The mother of two and grandmother of three ventured into painting about 20 year ago, when her children began attending school. She started with water-colour, but once she discovered acrylic paints, she was hooked, she said.
Gottesman explained that acrylic paints could be textured, noting that her own work – she uses a lot of mixed media – is very layered with colours, lines and scratching.
“I often use words and text as a graphic element. Sometimes they’re obvious and sometimes they’re waiting for the viewer to discover. The words are embedded in my work to reflect my thoughts in the process of creating the painting.”
Gottesman said the layering and inscriptions in her work reflect her own background as a child of Holocaust survivors. “Sometimes the writing in the paintings may be in the form of questions, because I’m always conscious of where I’ve come from.
“The pathways and lines are another element in my painting, but they also reflect the pathways of my own life.”
Gottesman’s work can be viewed on her website: www.rinagottesman.com