David Rheaume, Canada’s Norman Rockwell, is a big man. The bigness i’m talking about is found in this man’s spirit.
My old friend, joined me at my place on May 21. 2019 to do an interview. It was lovely to see David as it had been a while.
David and I were inextricably bound together for three years, way back in the days when I was doing a TV series with Marty called, ‘The Moveable Feast‘. Dave was the director. He did a brilliant job of keeping me and Marty on the straight and narrow (well sort of) and ensured we got a very quirky show in the can every week that was delivered on time. He was inspiring and creative then, and equally so nowadays.
So, the thing about David Rheaume is that he has greatness in his blood. His dad was Gene Rheaume RIP, a member of parliament, one of Canada’s only Metis member, and a man described by his kids, all six of them, as being larger than life. Watch this YouTube video and you’ll get a sense of Dave’s DNA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-tEGTe81II . David’s mom is a lovely woman who raised the kid with consistency and love. David’s brother Ross, is also a superlative artist and was a well-known rock-and-roller. His niece, Amanda, is a Canadian singer/songwriter and Juno award winner. Dave is part of a very successful family.
Have a listen to Episode 21 of Hatradio! and learn about David Rheaume. Discover he is a father of three very beautiful kids who have accomplished mush so far in life. He’s married and absolutely adores and respects his wife, Siobhan McCarthy, whom he calls ‘selfless’. He figures if she can love him, she must be very special. Yes, David is self-deprecating in an endearing sort of way and that’s what makes the two of us friends – insults!
What stands out about this very humble man is his artwork. He is the consummate storyteller and has developed a style which he refers to as cinema-art — with an ever-present eye for the story and lighting.
David feels that we’ve lost ‘the need for artwork to tell stories” so he is on a journey to change that. Essentially, to start off a picture David will dive into the Canadian archives and chooses pictures which represent a Canadian moment, in particular those with snow. “I grew up in Ottawa and my whole childhood was spent literally in snow. When I think of being a child I think of snow,” David states.
About his art, this mid-fifties painter says, “I like to think of these paintings as one frame out of a film strip. There is a before and after (frame) you can sense on either side of these pictures.” David continues, “part of my goal is to take these stories, lift them out of the archives, put them in the canvass and tell those stories to Canadians.”
When you see David’s art, you’ll immediately recognize the characters in them. While you can’t see their faces, as frequently they are depicted with their backs to us, you’ll be drawn into the picture in a bid to get to know the people, such as the skater or the iceman. (David qualifies ‘The Iceman’ as one of his best pictures). David’s ability to familiarize us with the characters in his art without drawing faces on them, is impressive!
Most importantly, David’s art reminds us of what life was like then, way back when we were rushing to be with our family, after a day of toil on that freezing Canadian winter night or when we were kids and things seemed magical. “As Canadians we can really identify with these people. We’ve been there. We’ve been like the guy in ‘Heading Home‘ walking through that winter evening home to get home after a long day of work. We’ve been like the skaters in the Christie Pits painting – those guys in the ravine late at night. You can almost hear the skate blades on ice, and hear the puck hitting the boards.”
In essence, David Rheaume’s art brings back characters who are long since gone. He believes they are “ready to jump to life” and he makes that happen through the process of painting. David brings happiness to the Canadian viewer and a sense of pride in who we are a nation and as a people.
David Rheaume personifies better than any other Canadian artist the slice-of-life we call home and those moments we identify with to create our personal and national identity and narrative. David Rheaume – Canada’s Norman Rockwell on Hatradio! The show that schmoozes. Be in touch at email@example.com .
Thank you to Howard Pasternack for a great job on post-production and David Nefesh for the Hatradio! Blues Song. Kicks ass!