Praire Circus

Prairie Circus

“Humans, like magpies, are attracted to things that sparkle. The spark is the prime mover, the thing that gets things started. Universes, prairie fires, unstoppable revolutions and passionate loves are ignited by sparks but no one is quite sure how the cosmic spark plug works.”
Guy Browning

Our world is overloaded with imagery, and we are left with little time to evaluate and digest our surroundings. This work attempts to decipher my perception of what it was like to be a child growing up in rural Alberta during the 70’s and 80’s, influenced by glittery costumes of the Solid Gold dancers, the strange cartoons on TV, and the sparkle on the candy wrappers I collected.   I grew up enjoying the prairie sky and the stars, in a time where the age of mass consumerism grew and the age of disco was coming to an end.  I daydreamed of fantastical landscapes, embracing surprises and unexpected juxtapositions, wishing I had the courage to run away to join the circus and imagining a world other than my reality.  I have a genuine interest in story-telling and creating technically sound and interesting paintings.   My processes are automatic in determining compositions; I am influenced by the colors in field paintings, respectfully nodding to the Old Masters, the Surrealists and the Abstract Expressionists.

I began this series in 2002 while in France, inspired by the festivals, the people, the architecture and the art. This work reflects what one feels while travelling for the first time.  I chose to paint and draw images that emphasized the aura of mystery and fantasy that captivated me as a young child and continue to as an adult. I have always been drawn to old Hollywood, the circus, ghosts and portrait painting. I playfully borrow symbols and characters from pop culture movies, music videos and video games, which provide me with endless source of interesting references.  Today there continues to be a fascination with the supernatural and super heroes such as Spiderman, Frankenstein, Dracula, Nancy Drew and Star Wars, all of which fuel my obsession.  Along with this rejuvenation, Hollywood has also provided new stories that star vampires, zombies, magic and werewolves in movies and TV, providing me with a gigantic, new wealth of reference.  The elements within the paintings may seem disconnected; the prairies, comic book villains and heroes, cartoon and Hilarious House of Frightenstein characters, game show props, neon lights and circus performers; however there is a thread that ties them together in that makes the work powerful through composition and color.

My canvases are fueled with inspiration from music, artistic explorations of friends and other well-known inspiring artists, wrapped within surreal storytelling. My appreciation for individuals who can carry creativity and harness what I see as a circus – like a one-man band to produce large productions - inspires me to produce allegorical narratives inspired by glittery pop culture.  


“The circus invented the rules of engagement for today’s global entertainment industry… the birth of pop culture.”  Noel Daniel

My work develops narratives, incorporating fantastical imagery and visually dynamic narratives using pop culture images, heightened by composition and my drawing skills, interlaced with dreamy landscapes, fueled by the influence of abstract expressionism inspired by Rothko, Johns, etc.  By using this visual foundation to evoke moods and memories, a playground of nostalgia and personal revelations is created. We are visual people and communicate through expression, gesture and perceive emotion through color and line.  My paintings and drawings portray an extraordinary intimacy and rich reference to our present, our history and for Canadian portraiture and story-telling in the 21st century.