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David Arrigo Art Show at DCMA opens Sunday

August 24, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“I’m grateful and honoured,” declared David Arrigo of his upcoming Art Show at the Dufferin Country Museum and Archives (DCMA), which opens this Sunday, August 27.

“This show is a first step for me – new doors opening and I’m always very grateful,” the artist said in an interview.

“I was introduced to the museum through different events and they asked me to exhibit my paintings,” he said, by way of explanation. “There’s some personal items that  nobody has seen, except visitors to my house. In a way, I haven’t felt as though I’ve been recognized as an artist.”

Strange but true: Mr. Arrigo has been painting and very much in the public eye for 25 years, travelling the world with his special brand of painting. He reckons there is a reason: his air brush.

“It’s not recognized – not respected as an artist’s tool – not in the art world, anyway,” he explained.

Yet, his murals, his designs on hockey helmets, his paintings are known coast to coast and in Canadian military bases around the world; his sometimes humorous designs are seen all over North America, with his involvement in the National Hockey League and more, all widely photographed, widely praised.

So, now, his work is to be hung at the DCMA, bringing him into focus as the brilliant artist he is, air brush and all.

The interview with him in the Hockley General Store cafe, in which complex he has his studio, provided the “big picture” of Mr. Arrigo’s wild life of painting.

The way he started was with his LMX business – Live Mural Experience – where he attends an event, the Olympics, something remarkable going on and paints a mural with faces and places that are part of the story, doing it live and in an open space.

“My main thing was doing murals at specific events. I do multiple canvases to make the whole thing. People return time and again and the media to see the progress,” he explained. “During the [2010] Winter Olympics, I was moving around the city [of Vancouver] on the bus with my paint box.

“It [my mural painting] brought me across North America and overseas to Afghanistan and Tokyo.”

“I do a lot of work with the military in Afghanistan,” he began by telling us, “just hanging with the troops, painting.”

He likened the tour with the work Bob Hope used to do: travelling to military bases overseas to entertain the troops who are stuck in tight quarters, missing their families and wondering what might happen next while being sure of their value where they are.

He related: “I’ve seen the reasons why they are there. They brought me into one of the hospitals to a four-year-old little girl who had her limbs blown off by a bomb hidden in a toy outside. The Taliban say little girls shouldn’t play outside so a toy was a bomb.

“The troops are also building wells for water. It’s things that we take so much for granted.”

Sometimes, these visits overseas are a bit spontaneous  and fast: “Five days before Christmas, we did 27,000 kilometres in five days – Montreal to Crete – to a Canadian war ship from Crete to Kuwait – to Ukraine {military posts] and back to Montreal. There was the Minister of Defence, Guy Lafleur, Donovan Bailey, a comedian and Jonas Tomalty. Most of my painting was done on the airplane.”

David Arrigo’s association with the NHL began when, in 2004/5, the cousin of a friend  of his was killed in action. So he wanted to raise funds to support the family by painting a goalie mask. Don Cherry heard about it and put it on Hockey Night in Canada.

“That’s where I sort of perked the interest of the military. I did painting at the Invictus Games – Prince Harry’s charity – I did a painting with him last year at Nuit Blanche. The military brought their big boys’ toys – a tank coming down Yonge Street.”

One of his latest projects is the Brain, Baycrest Hospital’s Brain Project, the research program to fight Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“It’s the world leader in brain research,” Mr Arrigo commented. “I was working with Gordie Howe. He died last year.”

Supported by ScotiaBank, there were 30 brain moulds created and given to various artists last year. Naturally, Mr. Arrigo has been working on a hockey theme for his brain.

“I used multi images – outdoor, father/daughter walking to the rink – the fabric of Canada – Sidney Crosby – the winter Olympics goal and other frozen moments..”

With all this history, we chatted about what was being placed in the show at the museum.

“I don’t know if they realized how much stuff there is,” he remarked, with a grin. “Mike Smith, the Calgary Flames goalie, brought game-used helmets [painted by Mr Arrigo] – it’s the first time to see them. There are some unique items – there’s a scarf with collected pins from the 2010 Olympics. The tradition is to brings your own pins [of sponsors] to events – there are pins from Japan – the athletes – each piece indicates an exchange.

“There’s a Canadian flag – I used to take it with me everywhere – the 2002 Olympics, to Afghanistan to mark on the place where it was..”

He fingered the scarf he had brought out to show us, the memories of it clearly running through his mind.

Of the art show at the DCMA, he said, “I’m totally elated about the potential of this.”

He added, “I couldn’t think of any other world than here in Hockley. I had a studio in Vaughan and when this place came up for rent, I grabbed the chance. Just to live in an area like this – I get paid to paint. So, life is great.”

David Arrigo’s art show opens Sunday , August 27 and runs until October 14.

For more information about the opening and details about the show, call the DCMA on 1-877-941-7787 or online: info@dufferinmuseum.com

         

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