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A Colourful Life

The a r t and d raw i n g o f J o s h S i l bu r t

By Al lan S i l bu r t

A Colourful Life

The a r t and d raw i n g o f J o s h S i l bu r t


By Al lan S i l bu r t

a Drawing is never to reproduce what you see visually but to byinterpret nature intotalcreative way.. Every element should contribute its form to the picture.

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Preface Acknowledgements Part I: The Young Artist The Immigrants The Jewish Left The Conflict of Politics, Identity, and a Steady Job Part II: Cartoons from a Turbulent Time 19421947 The World at War Canada Cape Breton Labour Cape Breton Sketches Sports Cartoons Part III: The Painter Emerges Early Oils Sketchpad Drawings and Acrylics Part IV: The Canadian Landscape Muskoka Haliburton/Bancroft Algonquin Park Killarney Algoma/Superior Rocky Mountains/Alaska Coastline Spring Summer Autumn Winter Epilogue Appendixes Notes

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Josh Silburt

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Preface

My father, Josh Silburt, led an extraordinary life. His determination to pursue his art while struggling to climb out of the immigrant poverty of his childhood led him on a path from political activist to political cartoonist to fine artist. He left his family, friends, and patrons a rich legacy that is a constant reminder of his passion and his talent. But telling his story is a difficult task. There is very little written about my fathers life, and many of the stories are known only by word of mouth and, like memory, tend to change with each telling and each teller. There are few sources to draw on beyond a small scrapbook and the art itself. So, I have spent many hours at a microfiche viewer scanning through old newspapers at the National Archives of Canada and the Beaton Institute of Cape Breton. But to my delight, as I dug into details of the people and events mentioned in the cartoons and the accounts of his peers, Josh's life, particularly in the turbulent 1940s, came into clearer view. This book is organized into four sections. Part One and Part Three are primarily biographical with selected drawings, paintings, and photographs that help tell the story of Joshs life. Part Two and Part Four are selections of some of my favourites from Joshs large body of work. Part One covers Joshs early years and his development as a cartoonist and political activist against the backdrop of the Jewish Left in Canada. In Part Two, Ive selected cartoons mainly from the mid-1940s that illustrate Joshs perspective on the times from global events in the latter half of World War II to local events in labour, sports, and the civil life of Canada and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. In Part Three, Joshs dramatic artistic transition from the public world of political cartooning to the deeply personal world of landscape painting is told along with a selection of early paintings and drawings. Finally, in Part Four, Ive selected paintings from a number of different collections and organized them by location and season. Interspersed are quotes from critical reviews, as well as some of Joshs own notes from classes he taught over the years. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell provides some wonderful stories illustrating how an individuals success in a field of endeavour can be so greatly influenced by the particular timing of his age cohort. Although Josh had the dream of becoming an artist even as a youngster, the Great Depression and the Second World War which spanned his formative years from age fifteen to thirty-one, presented a substantial obstacle. Joshs determination to pursue this dream through poverty and war is a testimony to his determination and passion to draw. Gladwell also refers to studies showing that high achievement is associated as much with practiceon the order of 10,000 hoursas it is with talent. There are upwards of 1,000 published cartoons and a similar number of Joshs paintings hanging on the walls of homes and offices in Canada and throughout the world. Many more unfinished and uncounted panels and sketches lay along his creative path. He certainly put in his 10,000 hours. In Old Masters and Young Geniuses, David Galenson describes two different kinds of artists: the Picasso archetype that produces brilliant work with spontaneous inspiration at an early age; and the alternative Paul Cezanne archetype that labours in repetitive experimentation for perfection, the latter to bloom later in life than the former. Josh was certainly in the second camp, as he painted some scenes a number of times, with many being discarded before he achieved his goal. His greatest success and most productive period as an artist came over the last thirty years of his life when the conflicts of political ideology, personal identity, and family security resolved and he found his artistic voice in the Canadian wilderness. This is his story.

Josh Silburt

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Acknowledgements

There are many people who have helped make this book possible, some with their stories, some with their encouragement, and many with direct contributions to the enormous task of researching, cataloguing, and archiving Josh's extensive works, as well as critiquing the text. However, first on the list is MarieClaude Quenneville at Lacerte Communications. As Graphic Designer and all-around collaborator, MarieClaude's creative touch is everywhere throughout the book. Her excellence in working my vague ideas of threading together the photos, line drawings, and artwork into the narrative went far beyond what I could have fully imagined and the result is truly a delight to the eye. I'm greatly indebted to my reviewers Catherine Sinclair, Irving Abella, David Silcox, and Gerald Tulchinsky. Their thoughtful comments, encouragement, and pointers to further study were critical to my progress on the project. In addition, the more informal reviews of various friends and family members along the way were quite helpful and often the catalyst for more storytelling and memory sharing. I name a few here at the risk of leaving some out, with my appologies: Pearl Shore, Margaret and David Delicate, Sid Woznica, Jack and Jill Spitz, Bruce Silburt, Skip Silburt, Phyllis Benjamin. A good portion of the narrative of my father's early life was extracted from a set of recorded interviews with my mother, Beth Silburt, in several sittings through the 1990s and with her siblings, Harry and Pearl, on some memorable summer evenings sitting by the fireplace at Lake Shawenegog. A huge amount of photography and flatbed scanning has gone into creating the archives of cartoons and paintings that have served as a reference from which I drew the material for the book. I'm greatly indebted to my elder son, Jeremy, for his capture of the newspaper clips and original line drawings in the collection and my younger son, Jacob, for his work at the National Archives, creating the date and publication cross-reference tables. Similar thanks go out to my brother, Bruce, who spent many hours with me at the Beaton Institute of Cape Breton researching that period of my father's life. Cheryl Masterson and Melanie Boyne spent days meticulously photographing and cataloguing paintings, along with Jennifer Benjamin and Mike Lacombe, who physically handled, organized, and packed them with such great care. I would also like to thank Adam Benjamin, whose devotion to the family photographic archive and skill in image processing provided some excellent visuals to complement the art and help tell the story. I'm of course indebted to my siblings, Phyllis, Bruce, and Skip, who told their stories and opened up their collections so that I could assemble the lineup that made the final cut. In addition, Molson's Brewery, the Billis family, the Sweidon family, and the East family were very generous in providing access to some rare early works for the book that really added depth to my understanding of Josh's artistic development. Thanks also to the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Cape Breton Post, Hamilton Spectator and St. Catharines Standard , newspapers for their support of the project. I would also like to thank Louis Lacerte for his support and patience through the three-year process of creating the book; and the staff at Lacerte Communications for the excellent photography, image processing, and production work. In addition, I would like to thank Tim Gordon and the staff at General Store Publishing House for taking the book to the finish line and their work in promotion and distribution. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Miriam. A project as intense and consuming as this book would be impossible without the support and encouragement of those closest to me. Seeing the inspiration of my father's landscapes live on in Miriam's glass work is is a tangible reminder of how the beauty of a life well lived reverberates in time through those that follow.

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Part I Josh Silburt

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The Young Artist

The Immigrants
Josh Silburt was born on July 24, 1914, the second-oldest of four children, to Moshe and Sarah. Moshe was one of many young Jewish men who fled the pogroms and forced conscription of Russia at the turn of the twentieth century. He journeyed across Europe to London and boarded a ship to Halifax, where he entered the country with thousands of other immigrants that travelled west to join the rapidly growing economy of the Canadian prairies. Upon landing, the immigration officer interpreted his name as Silburt from some original form that was lost in translation. Moshe brought with him a tradehe was a leather worker specializing in tack for horses. He migrated west and settled in the small town of Plum Coulee, Manitoba, and after a few years moved to nearby Winnipeg, where the Jewish population was growing rapidly. [2] Along with his brothers, Lazer and Joe, they started up a business as harness makers. They had four children: Lil, Josh (his Hebrew name was YosefJoseph), Pearl, and Martin. The family unit survived by pooling its resources. As the eldest son, Josh was expected to help in the family business and, at age thirtheen, he was shuttling hides from the tanning factory to the halter shop on city buses, which was a source of some embarrassment, due to the pungent smell of his cargo. Family disputes eventually tore the business apart and resulted in one brother setting up a competing shop across the road from the other. The increased competition, the rise of the motor car, and the arrival of the Depression forced Moshe into bankruptcy. Moshe subsisted as a leather craftsman doing piecework from then on. He never again opened his own business. Over time, Moshe and Sarah became dependent on their children for support as the family unit struggled to survive in the new world. Moshe was not a particularly religious man. His favorite pastimes were playing cards and baseball. When crossing the Atlantic Ocean, Moshe was given some Matzoh by the Jewish Relief Agency to celebrate the upcoming Passover holiday, which he promptly traded for a deck of cards. Although this distancing from old-world religious observance carried on with Josh and his siblings, Moshe in his later years continued with determination to lead family Passover Seders against the formidable challenges of an unruly rabble and helped preserve this beloved institution of Jewish family life. While Josh received basic training in cheder (the supplementary Jewish school), he hated it and, like many of his cohort, associated the rituals with the backward oldcountry life they wished to leave behind.

Josh left school after finishing Grade 8 in 1928 and went to work at the Great West Electric factory to help support the family. Although he already had the dream to become an artist, as would happen a number of times throughout his life, he would subordinate this ambition to familial responsibility. Josh held the job at Great West Electric until 1930. The Great Depression hit the prairies very hard, with the combination of the stock market collapse and ten successive years of drought. Unemployment in Winnipeg was the second highest in the country, and by 1933, the national unemployment rate reached 27 percent. [3] Josh was having great difficulty finding work but he nevertheless managed to attend night school classes at the Winnipeg College of Art through 1932 and 1933. At this time, the school had as its principal L.L. Fitzgerald, a member of the Group of Seven, and his influence would be seen in much of Joshs later work. Josh could not afford to attend a degree program at the college and, in an effort to find a way to earn a living through his art, he completed a correspondence course in cartooning from a firm in Chicago, most likely the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, whose promotional material Josh saved in his files. While growing up on Manitoba Avenue in Winnipeg, Josh became close friends with his backyard neighbor, Jack Kaell. The Kaell and Silburt families would have many links over the years to come. Jacks older brother, Rube, was also interested in art and cartooning. Having completed a similar course, Rube went off to Toronto and sent word back that he was having some success as a cartoonist there. So, in the early thirties, Josh and Jack together decided to ride the rails, along with so many young men of the day, to Toronto to seek employment, stowing away in a cattle car for the long ride.

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Around 1934, in Toronto, Josh was introduced to the Rudney family through Jack Kaells older sister Golde. Golde had come to Toronto to try to locate Rube, who had stopped corresponding with his family in Winnipeg. The Rudney and the Kaell patriarchs came from the same little town of Ureve in Bessarabia (now Moldova), and connections like these were the link that provided safe haven for new immigrants on their travels. Josh courted Beth Rudney, the eldest of the five children of Joshua and Dina Rudney (the original family name was Rudnitsky). They were a very close family, with the siblings maintaining active connections together throughout their lives. Beth's younger sister, Hilda, would later marry Rube Kaell, further linking these three families together.

The Jewish Left


As a young artist in the Depression, Josh sought a means to make a living through political cartooning whereby he could combine his drawing talent and his commitment to worker advocacy and social justice. To understand this period in Joshs life, it is important to sketch out the political and cultural life of the Canadian Jewish community and specifically the Jewish Left at the time. Life in Canada for immigrants like Moshe Silburt and Joshua Rudney was difficult. Isolated in this new and strange land by language, anti-Semitism, and poverty, they formed fraternal organizations called Landsmanschaften, also known as mutual benefit societies. Initially, they were organized simply around their old country village, Landsman being a Yiddish term for someone from the same town or land of origin. This was a critical element of the social safety net that the immigrants created for themselves, since the state provided very little. There was a total of fifty-three mutual benefit societies operating in Winnipeg in the 1920s. Their first priority was to secure a parcel of land for a cemetery. Today, many Jewish cemeteries still have demarcated areas with signs identifying the society that manages it. They set up small synagogues for prayer and study and facilitated social networks that helped the new immigrant to learn a skill and find a job, typically in the needle trades in cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Winnipeg. Many societies also provided loans to members to help them get started in a business or through a crisis. Banks were harsh and intimidating institutions to the new immigrant. Some Landsmanschaften grew to provide health benefits to members, engaging a roster of

doctors who would provide family health care for a subscription fee. These societies were also a nucleus of social life, providing a centre for intellectual and cultural discourse in the form of choirs, drama groups, lectures, athletics, and schools. [4] Mirroring the rise of secular lifestyles and the political turbulence of the time, many Jewish immigrants formed mutual benefit societies around their political ideologies rather than simply their town of origin or religious affiliations. For example, the socialist Arbeiter Ring (Workmans Circle) formed in 1892 had a membership of 90,000 by 1925 across 700 branches in the United States and Canada. The strongest of Winnipegs Jewish organizations were on the left, but even there, competing ideologies created considerable turbulence. There were pro- and anti-Zionist, pro-Soviet (Communist) and anti-Soviet socialists, Bundists, and Anarchists, to name a few of the axis of thought polarization. The very meaning of Jewish identity in this new world of both opportunity and exploitation, nationalism and internationalism, cultural and religious transformation was hotly debated. Most of the Jewish left organizations were secular (i.e., not focused on religious practice) and yet dedicated to the preservation of Jewish culture, history, folk holidays, and the Yiddish language. These societies were not political parties. However, their members or a subset of their members often had tight ties to particular organizations such as trade unions or the Communist party that would define the political components of their broad agendas. These organizations, along with the mainstream synagogues, schools, and institutions formed the social structure of the Jewish community of the time. As Josh came of age in the Depression, he was drawn to the left and joined the Young Communist League (YCL), which had many Jewish members. Although vocal and active, communist supporters numbered no more than 1.5 percent of the Jewish population.[5] Beth, on the other hand was a member of Young Judeaa Zionist organization. However, she recalled later in an interview, Josh opened her eyes to politics and made a communist out of her as they were courting. She became an activist too and in 1943 served as campaign secretary and speech writer for J.B. Salsberg in his successful election to the Ontario Legislature for the Labour Progressive Party, the new name for the Communist party after it was outlawed in 1940. [6] When the United Jewish Peoples Order (UJPO) formed in 1945 as the secular cultural organization for the communist Jewish community, Beth and Josh were founding and active members.

The YCL was the launching pad for many young Jewish activists of the period, including Fred Rose, national secretary in 1929, who went on to win a federal parliamentary seat for the Communist Party of Canada in 1943 and 1945. Another YCL leader was Sam Carr, also the editor of the Communist Party of Canada newspaper from 1938 to 1942. [7] Both Carr and Rose were later imprisoned for spying for the NKVD (precursor of the Soviet KGB), following the revelations of Soviet embassy clerk Igor Guzenko in 1945 and the Royal Commission that followed. Although Josh did not take on any leadership roles as far as we know, he was an associate of Sam Carr and published numerous cartoons in the communist party newspaper while Sam was the editor. Josh also participated in the On-to-Ottawa March of the unemployed in 1935, of which Sam Carr was a key organizer. The Communist Party newspaper was called The Clarion up to November, 1939, when it was banned for publishing an anti-war editorial; it resurfaced underground as the Canadian Tribune. [8] Sam Carr and his family also sublet the second floor of the Rudney family house in the mid 1940s and took refuge in Joshs house while he was in hiding later in the decade.

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[1] Mirror Mirror on the W , all, The Daily Clarion, ca. November 1938. , The Quebec government under Maurice Duplessis passed the infamous "Padlock Law" in 1937. Officially called the "Act to protect the Province Against Communistic Propaganda," it was used in 1950 to shut down the Montreal offices of the UJPO. [9] It wasn't until 1957 that the law was finally struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada. Note the signature. "Burt" was one of the monikers Josh used when publishing in the communist press.

[2] High and Dry, The Tribune, Saturday May 10, 1941. , In March 1947, at the beginning of the Cold War, in the first implementation of the "Truman Doctrine," the United States Congress approved $400M in aid for the Greek monarchy who were fighting a bitter civil war against Communist rebels. This cartoon was published just after the end of Josh's tenure at the Sydney Post Record. Note again the alternate signature used here for publication in the Communist press.

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The World at War


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Canada
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Cape Breton
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Labour
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Cape Breton Sketches


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Sports Cartoons
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the period from 1942 to 1947 Josh produced his best work as a cartoonist. As a freelancer, an army private and as staff cartoonist at the Sydney Post Record, he penned a tremendous body of work that captured the spirit of one of the most turbulent periods of the twentieth century. This chapter contains a selection of those works in six sections: The World at War, Canada, Cape Breton, Labour, Cape Breton Sketches, and Sports Cartoons. Its interesting to note the perspective that Josh takes in each of these areas. On the international front, there is a solid patriotism that is conveyed. During this brief period within the twentieth century, the Soviet Union is allied with the Western capitalist democracies. The clarity of the mission to defeat the Axis powers provided Josh with a free hand to caricature the enemy leaders with abandon. Here the artist, the publisher, and the reader are in complete alignment on who the good guys and who the bad guys are. Joshs political perspective is still there, but its less evident from what is on the page as it is from what is missing. When portraying the Allied progress, more attention is paid to the Eastern Front and the progress of the Soviet Union than any other theatre of war. There are no cartoons that single out American or British military strength to complement those that focus on Stalin and Russia. As Joshs focus shifts to domestic issues, a sharper critical edge emerges. Yet even here, perhaps in keeping with the times, the caricature is not demeaning or overly personal. The focus is squarely on the issues at hand, and the perspective is that of the average worker and citizen. This is in contrast to present-day political cartoons and media, which more often attack on a party and even personal level. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why today people find Joshs cartoons so delightful and nostalgic. There was a definite appeal to the reader of the time as an active participant in the political process and to the leaders to be accountable to the electorate and the issues. There was less cynicism to be seen. Through the medium of the cartoon, the average citizen was empowered to confront his/her leaders with simple imagery. This echoes the trend in the emerging comic book industry, in which art and story in caricature provided a vehicle to counter the powerlessness of the common man against the great events of the day. The Cape Breton sketches are something that may have been unique to the Sydney Post Record. Here, Josh takes the format of the sports cartoon and applies it to prominent local figures as a kind of illustrated resum. These were published in the paper in place of a political cartoon on a regular basis. I had the occasion to show a series of these to a former resident from the time period, and they were recalled with delight. Apparently readers looked forward to these little windows into the lives of their public servants and prominent citizens.

During

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The World at War


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[41] Putting the Axe to the Axis, Toronto Globe and Mail, Saturday, November 14, 1942. On Nov. 8, 1942, a British and American-led invasion of north-west Africa, called Operation Torch, was launched with the goal of opening up a second front to relieve the Axis pressure on Russia in the east. British, American, Free French, and Canadian soldiers successfully captured the coastal strongholds of Morocco and Algeria from the Vichy French and Axis powers.

[42] No Appetite, Mr Hitler?, Toronto Daily Star W , ednesday, November 18, 1942. Top billing on this menu goes to the Eastern Front, although Rommel's retreat in Egypt is also featured. One day after this cartoon was published, Russia launched Operation Uranus, in which the Red Army decisively pushed the Axis forces back from the outskirts of Stalingrad.

Josh Silburt
[43] Gaining Momentum, Toronto Daily Star Saturday, December 5, 1942. , Within weeks after launching Operation Uranus, the Red Army surrounded 300,000 Axis troops. By March 1943, the remnant of 90,000 had surrendered.

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[44] Even a W indbag Couldn't Help, Toronto Daily Star Tuesday, December 8, 1942. , One hundred and thirty thousand Italian troops were part of the Axis' sixth Army that was surrounded in Operation Uranus. Only 40,000 would eventually make it home from the siege. This, coupled with the Italian losses in North Africa, weakened Mussolini's hold on power. Whereas German public opinion was under the constant attention of the Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, Mussolini was not able to stem the political tide against him.

[45] The Prodigal Son Returns to the Fold, Toronto Daily Star Friday, December 18, 1942. , After a failed coup in 1936 against the elected left wing coalition government and the civil war that followed, General Franciso Franco rose to power in Spain. With the help of fascist Italy and Germany, he defeated the Nationalist forces, which were in turn supported by Russia and the "International Brigades." This latter group was made up of volunteers from around the world, including some of Josh's friends from the Jewish Left in Canada. After the revolution, Franco avoided direct involvement in World War II by maintaining an official policy of neutrality while allowing a volunteer army division to fight alongside the Axis powers on the Eastern Front against Russia. On December 8, 1942, three days before this cartoon was published, Franco gave a speech in Madrid in which he proclaimed, "the liberal world is going down a victim to its own errors," while praising Italy and Germany as kindred spirits in their nationalist movements.

[46] The Retreat, Toronto Daily Star W , ednesday, January 13, 1943. After the surrender of the sixth Army at Stalingrad, the Axis forces were in retreat. They would fall back 500 kilometres from their farthest advance in southern Russia before consolidating for a counteroffensive. In this cartoon, Josh portrays Hitler as a caricature of Napolean as history appears to repeat itself.

[47] A Poll in Germany, Toronto Globe and Mail, Saturday, May 1, 1943. In February 1943, Goebbels made a famous speech to a carefully selected audience in which he said, "I ask you: Do you believe with the Fhrer and with us in the final total victory of the German people?" Here Josh is ridiculing the propaganda campaign intended to bolster the German fighting spirit after the tide of war had swung decisively against the Axis powers.

[48] The Clean Sw eep, Toronto Daily Star Saturday, May 8, 1943. , By May of 1943, the last of the Axis forces in Africa surrendered in Tunisia as the Allies converged from Algeria on the west and Egypt on the east. Note that Josh would "personalize" advances on the Eastern front with Stalin caricatures or direct references to Russia, but in other theatres, he would identify the "Allies" without any national symbols or caricatures.

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[49] In the Ash Can, Toronto Daily Star W , ednesday, July 28, 1943. Following the Allied landings in Sicily earlier in the month and the bombing of Rome, Mussolini was voted out by the Grand Council of Fascism and thrown into jail by King Emmanuel III. Italy fell into chaos as German troops rushed in to fill the vacuum and confront the Allied forces.

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[50] Opened Ahead of Time, Toronto Daily Star Friday, September 3, 1943. , In their last great operational initiative on the Eastern Front, the German army launched Operation Citadel in July 1943. The Red Army was well prepared, held firm, and then went on the offensive to achieve a decisive victory by the end of August. This was the first time the Soviet Army had prevailed in a summer campaign.

[51] Hitched to a Falling Star , Toronto Daily Star W , ednesday, February 9, 1944. As the tide of war turned against Germany, Franco tried to distance himself from the Axis alliance. On February 3, 1944, the Spanish government issued a statement in which it promised "the fulfilment of duties appertaining to such strict neutrality, both from Spanish nationals and from foreign subjects." As a Communist with bitter memories of the Spanish revolution, Josh's distaste for Franco is expressed here in his hopes that he would fall along with the other fascist dictators of Europe.

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Canada
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[71] Canada's Limited Manpow , Toronto Globe and Mail, Friday, August 21, 1942. er World War Two launched Canada's economy out of the Depression and into an economic boom that led to severe labour shortages. On August 19, 1942, Prime Minister Mackenzie King broadcast a speech to the nation outlining Canada's manpower policy in its "total war effort." Military conscription was already in place and a centrally planned strategy was being driven out into Canada's corporate sector, defining production capacity and schedules. Prices and wages were frozen. Gas and food was rationed. The allocation of labour outlined in the speech was to be the responsibility of the "National Selective Service" and King indicated that some level of compulsion might be applied. Josh was apparently not impressed.

[72] Breaking Down the Party Lines, Toronto Globe and Mail, Monday, September 28, 1942.

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[73] The Changing Face of Industry, Toronto Telegram, Thursday, October 8, 1942. King's Manpower Policy put particular emphasis on recruiting women into the workforce. By 1943, there would be 225,000 women working in munitions factories across the country, and government-funded day care centres were established. An additional 43,000 women served in the armed forces behind the front lines.

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[74] Apple Day in Quebec, Toronto Globe and Mail, Tuesday, October 13, 1942. The referendum on conscription held in April 1942 received 80 percent support across Canada, but only 30 percent in Quebec. This galvanized Quebec nationalist sentiment and led to the formation of the Bloc Populaire Canadien in September 1942, which existed primarily to fight this issue. Maxime Raymond abandoned the Liberals to lead the new party, which held four seats in the House of Commons at one point. Pierre Trudeau and Jean Drapeau were members in their youth.

[75] For Unity, Toronto Globe and Mail, W ednesday, October 28, 1942.

[76] Looking for Sympathy, Toronto Daily Star Thursday, February 25, 1943. , Mitchell Hepburn's leadership during this period was confrontational and erratic. He stepped down as premier in October 1942 but continued to serve as provincial treasurer. Hepburn gave a speech a few days before this cartoon was published that offended most of the audience at Queen's Park. Afterwards, Premier Conant asked for his resignation, and a leadership convention followed.

[77] Shopping for a New V ehicle, Toronto Daily Star W , ednesday, March 10, 1943. The Provincial Liberal party was in chaos in the spring of 1943, and, at the leadership convention in May, they elected Harry Nixon to lead them. They were crushed in the election that followed shortly afterwards and would not lead the province again for fourty years.

[78] Holding up the W orks, Toronto Daily Star Saturday, March 20, 1943. , The Collective Bargaining Act, which was passed in the Ontario legislature a few weeks after this cartoon was published, was an important landmark in labour law that legitimized collective bargaining and established a court to resolve disputes.

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[79] W Fancy Meeting You Here, ell! Sydney Post Record, Monday, February 25, 1946. A joint Canada-British nuclear laboratory was first established in 1942 in Montreal and in September 1945, the first sustained nuclear reaction outside the United States took place at the Chalk River, Ontario, laboratory. On February 3, 1946, Canadian authorities arrested twenty-two men on suspicion of spying. A wave of accusations followed, and Washington columnist Frank McNaughton claimed the spies were trying to obtain U.S. atomic secrets for the Soviet Union.

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[80] Now if the Preliminaries W Step Down, ill Sydney Post Record, Tuesday, July 18, 1946. Shortly after confederation, Canada adopted the "Red Ensign" as its official flag. This was basically a British naval flag with a Union Jack in the top left corner and a Canadian coat of arms in the middle. In November 1945, a parliamentary committee was struck to recommend a new national flag. After several thousand submissions, the committee proposed another variant of the Red Ensign with a golden maple leaf in the centre panel. The Quebec legislature was against the continued use of the Union Jack or any foreign symbols on the flag, and the debate dragged on. King dropped the issue, and it was not until 1964 that Lester Pearson took up the debate again that led finally to the adoption of the current flag of Canada.

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Cape Breton
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[87] Running the Gauntlet Tonight, Sydney Post Record, Tuesday, March 26, 1946.

[88] Spotlight at the Council, Sydney Post Record, ca. 1946.

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[89] How About a Burst of Speed, Sydney Post Record, W ednesday, April 3, 1946. Serious inquiry into a transit link to connect Cape Breton to the Nova Scotia mainland via the Strait of Canso began in 1890 after the completion of the railway link from Point Tupper to Sydney. For the next fifty years, all passengers and cargo had to be transferred via ferry across the 1.4-kilometre gap. The cost of such a project required multiple levels of government to cooperate, and hence progress took place at a pace that frustrated many Cape Breton residents.

[90] Still trying to Detect W ord of the Bridge, Sydney Post Record, Tuesday, May 21, 1946. The plan for a bridge was officially abandoned in 1951 in favour of a causeway, and work finally began on it in September 1952.

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[91] PeaceIts W onderful, Sydney Post Record, Monday, August 26, 1946.

[92] Cape Breton W eather , Sydney Post Record, W ednesday, November 27, 1946.

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Labour
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[95] The Old W oodshed Treatment W ould Help a Lot, Toronto Globe and Mail, W ednesday, September 9, 1942.

[96] W Could Do without These Tw Distractions, e o Toronto Daily Star Tuesday, November 17, 1942. , The Department of Munitions and Supply published absentee rates of 6-8 percent in the fall of 1942. Discriminatory hiring along racial and religious lines was also well documented throughout this period.

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[97] Monkey W rench in the W orks, Hamilton Spectator Thursday, January 24, 1946. , Although it was just brewing at the time this cartoon was printed, 2,700 members of Local 1005 of the United Steelworkers of America would walk off their jobs at Stelco that summer in Hamilton on a strike that would have far-reaching implications. Three days after this cartoon was published, the Union Local met to set out their contract demands. Among them were a fourty-hour workweek, two weeks vacation following five years of service, and the recognition of the union and the collective bargaining process. The strike would last eighty-six days and spread to Westinghouse, Firestone, and the Hamilton Spectator newspaper that published this cartoon and would soon fire Josh from its staff after a very brief stint. The strike would divide the city among those supporting and opposing the unions, and include violent confrontations between strikers and replacement workers. By mid-summer, 20 percent of the city's industrial workforce would be on strike and thousands more laid off by the ensuing plant shutdowns.

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[98] The Original Sit Downer Sydney Post Record, Monday, May 13, 1946. , The caption refers to the Flint, Michigan "Sit-down strike" of 193637 led by Lewis against General Motors that effectively launched the United Auto Workers Union. As head of the United Mine Workers Union, headquartered in the United States, Lewis was an important figure in agitating for a coal miners strike in Cape Breton.

[99] The Expert on Discord, Sydney Post Record, Thursday, June 6, 1946. In order to resolve parity issues and strengthen their stand, the Canadian locals of the United Steel Workers of America decided to put forward a unified set of demands to the big three steel corporations: Stelco in Hamilton, Dosco in Cape Breton, and Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie. The federal government's engagement through the National Labour Board seemed to yield very little, in Josh's view.

Josh Silburt
[100] Smoke Stacks in Ottawa, Sydney Post Record, W ednesday, July 17, 1946. The strike of the Stelco workers in Hamilton led to the shutdown of the Dosco and Algoma plants in Sydney and Sault Ste. Marie. This was a major challenge to the postwar economy that the federal government had to respond to.

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[101] The Situation Is W in Hand, Sydney Post Record, Friday, July 26, 1946. ell

[102] Stuck, Sydney Post Record, Monday, July 29, 1946. With the wartime price and wage controls still officially in effect, the federal government authorized a $5-per-ton increase in the price of steel in the spring of 1946. This added more fuel to the fire leading up to the strike, as workers saw this as Ottawa legislating profits for the corporations without wage improvements for workers.

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Cartoons from a Turbulent Time 19421947

Cape Breton Sketches


P.92P.97

[1 Cape Breton Sketches: James F Macdonald, 16] . Sydney Post Record, Friday, December 6, 1946.

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[1 Cape Breton Sketches: A. Charles Thompson, 17] Sydney Post Record, Saturday, December 14, 1946.

[1 Cape Breton Sketches: Dan W 18] illie Morrison, Sydney Post Record, Saturday, March 22, 1947. [1 Cape Breton Sketches: John A. McNeil, 19] Sydney Post Record, Saturday, February 1, 1947.

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[120] Dougie Keigan, Sydney Post Record, date unknown. [121] W Ginger Edward, Sydney Post Record, Thursday, February 27, 1947. .H.

[122] Mickey Roach, Sydney Post Record, Tuesday, January 7, 1947. [123] James F MacKenzie, Sydney Post Record, date unknown. .

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Sports Cartoons
P.98P.107

[124] High ScorersBryan Hextall, Bill Cowley, St. Catharines Standard, Monday, January 26, 1942. Bryan Hextall was the patriarch of an accomplished hockey family. He was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969. His sons Bryan Jr. and Dennis and his grandson Ron each had notable careers in the NHL. Bryan Sr. scored the overtime goal that clinched the Stanley Cup victory for the Rangers in 1940 over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bill Cowley was also inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1968 and helped the Bruins to two Stanley Cups in 1939 and 1941.

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[125] Hockey's SpeedballHector Toe Blake, St. Catharines Standard, date unknown. "Toe" Blake was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966 after a remarkable NHL career in Montreal. He won three Stanley Cups as a player, the first with the Montreal Maroons, and the next two with the Montreal Canadiens. He went on to become head coach of the Canadiens for thirteen seasons, leading the team to eight Stanley Cup victories.

[126] Turk Broda, publication and date unknown. Turk Broda was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1967. He played fifteen seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs that included five Stanley Cup victories. Broda was instrumental in goal for the Leaf's famous four-game come from behind victory over the Detroit Red Wings in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final. Shortly afterward he interrupted his hockey career for two and a half years to serve in the Canadian armed forces.

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[127] Leading the Leaf FlockDick Irvin, publication unknown, ca. 1938. Dick Irvin was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958. He entered the NHL in 1926 at age thirty-four with the newly formed Chicago Black Hawks. A fractured skull cut short his playing career after just two high-scoring seasons. However, he went on to a successful coaching career with the Black Hawks, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Montreal Canadiens that included four Stanley Cup victories. His son, Dick Irvin, Jr. became a successful sports broadcaster serving thirty-three seasons with Hockey Night in Canada.

[128] Pride of Paree: Syl Apps, publication and date unknown. Syl Apps was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961. He played twelve seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs, including three Stanley Cups. Apps interrupted his hockey career for two years to join the armed forces, resumed playing in 1945, and retired in 1949 at age thirty-three after captaining the Leafs to two successive Stanley Cups. Apps went on to serve twelve years in the Ontario Legislature representing Kingston area ridings. His son, Syl Apps, Jr. played twelve seasons in the NHL.

[129] N.H.L.'s Fastest Puck CarrierSyl Apps, St. Catharines Standard, Monday, March 2, 1942.

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Early Oils

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from a very brief experiment with a storefront on Avenue Road in north Toronto, Seven Oaks settled into a routine of predictable work hours and a modest income that Josh and Jack could manage with some flexibility. There were no employees, and they dealt directly with their customers, with Beth taking in the weekly orders and Josh and Jack dividing up the work of buying, packing and delivering chickens and eggs directly to the customers doors. Josh and Beth had four children, Phyllis (1944), Stephen (1949), Bruce (1954), and myself (1957). After Bruce was born, Beth was very concerned about the lack of art in Joshs life. She felt she carried most of the responsibility for the size of the family, as Josh did not want any more children. She gave him tacit permission to step away from material ambitions and family responsibilities to the greatest extent possible and to re-engage with his art. Beth encouraged Josh to join the Willowdale Group of Artists (WGA). Over the next thirty-five years, Josh struck a balance between his studio and Seven Oaks that shifted further toward his art as time went on. As his popularity grew through the sixties and seventies, he seriously considered giving up Seven Oaks to be a full-time artist. However, having already lived through the Depression, and now with young children to support, he did not feel secure enough to take this leap. Ironically, after we children were on our own, and Josh had the freedom to devote himself entirely to painting, he continued to work a couple of days a week at a scaled-down Seven Oaks, as he loved the contact with his long-time customers and the physical activity of the delivery route. Josh responded to Beths nudge with enthusiasm, and his artistic life was re-launched in this new direction. Over the next several years, as the Stalin era drew to a close, the UJPO fractured and the NFJA was formed, politics disappeared completely from Joshs life. All of the party literature was relegated to the attic along with his old army coat. The NFJA provided the framework for community service and an active social life without the burden of party politics. Beth became a core member of the NFJA, serving as secretary for over thirty-five years, while Josh largely stepped back from community life to focus on his art. Twenty years later, when engaged on the subject of his political past, Josh expressed deep regrets at the lost time and energy spent supporting the Communist cause that led to such bitter betrayal.

Aside

Early oils
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[p.1 Mountain in ShadowLittle Pic River Lake Superior ca. 1970, Oil on panel, 12 x 16 in. 10] , ,

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This dramatic shift in Joshs life is hard to underestimate. From a young man one step away from immigration to the Soviet Union ready to devote himself to the cause of the workers revolution, he transformed into an artist deeply connected to Canada at the most fundamental levelthe land. Unshackled from the need to link his art with the financial needs of his family, he was able to pursue his artistic ideas in whichever direction they took him. In some ways, he returned to his roots, picking up where he left off at the Winnipeg school and the early influences of his instructors at the Ontario College of Art and Central Technical School. His art went from black-and-white drawings of people in temporal situations to boldly colourful expressions of a moment in time in a timeless landscape. The gravity that pulled Josh toward landscape painting in the late 1950s speaks more to his own identity formation as an artist than it does about artistic trends at this time in Canada and even in the Jewish community. At the beginning of the twenthieth century, there was a strong movement to create a truly Canadian form of art distinct from the dominant European styles of the time and based on depicting Canadas wilderness landscape. Lawren Harriss initiative in 1913 to create the Studio Building on Severn Street in Torontos Rosedale ravine and to draw together a core of artists keen to pursue this new vision was the catalyst for the formation of the Group of Seven. In subsequent years, the work of these artists and their followers would have a huge impact not only on the art scene but on the formation of a national identity as Canada emerged from the First World War no longer to be defined primarily by its colonial history. [2325] By the mid-1930s, this identity in the art world was well established, and the Group had disbanded and evolved into the much more inclusive Canadian Group

of Painters. However, with all the economic and political upheavals of this time, there was a new movement to take pictorial art beyond the decorative and place it within a larger vision of society. Artists had a role to play as commentators in the political and social dynamic of the community. This resulted in a breakaway from the traditional expression of nationalism through landscapes to the more subjective portrayal of urban settings or of the human figure in the context of the issues of the day. Expressive landscape was out, social commentary was in, and the topic was hotly debated in artistic circles. [26, 27] Even within the Jewish community, leading artists of that time period were drawn to political expression through their work. [28] The trend in art toward abstraction was well underway in Europe through the first half of the twentieth century. However, it did not take hold in any significant way in Canada until the 1950s after New York City had established itself as a major centre of artistic innovation. Following the end of World War II, McCarthyism, the Cold War, the revelations of the Holocaust, and the Stalinist persecutions seemed to dash any remaining hopes for an emerging utopian society. Reflecting this, politics faded and the abstract trend in art advanced to encompass the non-representational in an everdeepening, inward-looking expression. In Canada, the art community moved rapidly along this path, as illustrated by the formation of the Painters Eleven in Toronto in 1953 and similar initiatives in other major Canadian cities. Representational artists focusing on landscapes were under siege by the avante-garde, even though many well-known painters, such as A.Y Jackson and A.J. Casson, would stay faithful to their vision of the iconical Canadian wilderness.

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So why at this time did Josh look backward to Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven as inspiration as he re-launched his career as an artist? An important clue can be seen in Joshs earlier life as a metaphor for the Jewish immigrant experience. The dominant themes of Joshs formative years were the devotion to family, struggle to survive economically, and the desire to win professional acceptance within the greater society around him. In his early years, Josh found a vision in the Communist ideal that promised to tear down the barriers that constantly thwarted his personal progress. With its egalitarian model and rejection of formal religion, this new society could liberate Josh from the intellectual burdens of traditional Judaism, while removing the barriers of anti-Semitism. The collective, where everyones needs would be met and their contributions valued, could allow him to be the artist he wished to be as his primary livelihood. But beyond the personal, Josh believed that this was the better world he wanted to build with a youthful revolutionary spirit and he expressed this through his political cartoons in the Communist and popular press. As a younger man, the social and economic reality of Joshs life during the Depression as he attended art school classes at night in Winnipeg and Toronto would not have led him to identify with the nationalistic landscape movement. He clearly could not relate to a patriotic vision of Canada in the 1930s. Indeed, as the quintessential outsider, he was applying to immigrate to the Soviet Union by the end of the decade. In

keeping with the trend in art at this time, his inspiration for social commentary was on the one hand expressed through cartooning but on the other hand frustrated by editorial constraint so that he could stay employed and feed his family. Indeed, his own identity as an artist was in flux, as can be seen in the various signatures that he used throughout this period as he attempted to hide his Jewish identity and his Communist politics while trying to build a name for himself. As a result, when Josh set about to reinvent himself as a painter in his early forties, he had been through a lot. The Jewish Left was fractured and the Communist Party was disintegrating. He had had a good run as a political activist and found his hopes betrayed. He had made his social commentaries and did not want to burden his art any further with this alternate motivation. However, in this postwar world where his economic life was no longer a daily struggle and his family and community were not threatened, Josh was free to bring his art back to the apolitical and decorative aesthetic of his original instructors. Joshs identity solidified at the end of this process as a Canadian, ethnically Jewish, integrated, and accepted.

Throughout the 1930s and 40s Josh used a number of signatures. He went by Jack Silburt in the mainstream press in an attempt to distance his work from his Communist and Jewish identity. Although his Hebrew birth name would normally be Anglicized as "Joseph," or "Joe," it was his nickname "Josh" that he used in the Communist press and ultimately adopted as his common first name. After his transition from cartoonist to painter, he signed all of his works simply as "Silburt."

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From an artistic perspective it took about ten years to cross this bridge. Josh began this journey with a deepening of his interest in portraiture. The portrait of Avrom Yanovsky above illustrates his command of subtle facial expression, shading, and mood in black and white. Josh also pursued photographic technology as a vehicle to capture faces. He purchased a Rolleiflex 3.5E camera and used it extensively. Silburt family photo albums from this period were a delightful collection of well-composed shots with funny captions. His flair for composition and storyline was still an anchoring point for his work. For a brief period in the early sixties, Josh merged his drawing and photographic talents to produce a series of striking, life-sized portraits. He set up a small studio with floodlighting and backdrops, and his downstairs office was converted into

a darkroom so he could control the entire process from negative development to enlarged printing. The work began with a photo shoot in his studio with several poses and lighting ideas. He then developed the negatives and printed the preferred exposure on a large sheet. Then, using a pantograph, Josh would scale and transfer the basic image onto parchment paper. From there, he would use charcoal, pencil, and pastel to develop this image into a finished portrait, which he then mounted and framed under glass. Using this method, a series of treasured family portraits was produced that hung on the main staircase in our familys house throughout my childhood.

Avrom Yanovsky, ca. 1955, charcoal on paper 20 x 16 in. ,

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Moshe Silburt, ca. 1955, Ink, graphite on board, 16 x 12 in.

The main catalyst for Joshs transition from cartoonist to painter was the The Willowdale Group of Artists. The WGA was formed in 1947 and currently has about 200 active members, with several shows a year throughout the Toronto area. The WGA provided a fertile environment for Josh. Each Tuesday, there would be a painting workshop session, usually with a professional model and accompanied by peer critiques. About once a month, there would be a lecture by a guest artist. The group had shows a few times a year, and Josh began to exhibit his own work in 1960 at the thirteenth annual show.

Study for Pantograph Self-Portrait, ca. 1963, Photograph, 4 x 3 in. Josh took this shot with his Rolleiflex and developed it in his basement darkroom. That's me in the framed print in the background on the lower right. Self-Portrait, ca. 1963, Graphite, charcoal, and pastel on paper (pantograph method), 20 x 16 in. Beth Silburt, 1963, Graphite, charcoal, and pastel on paper (pantograph method), 20 x 16 in. Part III

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Joshs work life as an artist was focused on trips to the Canadian wilderness. He did most of his sketching trips in Ontario. Every autumn, he would get very restless as he would monitor the turning of the leaves. At the dinner table, there would be discussion similar to a weather report about the colour being 30 percent up, referring to the percentage of deciduous leaves that were no longer green. Throughout this period, he would head out every weekend, and sometimes for an extended weekend to Muskoka, Haliburton, or Algonquin Park to paint. Most often, he would travel with Tom Chatfield, with other family members occasionally tagging along, including myself. Beth would go along if there were no other artists there. Apparently they did like to drink hard liquor after a long day of painting, and this wasnt her preferred social scene, even after we kids were old enough to stay alone at home. In later years, Beth was his main companion and she was quite happy to be in the outdoors with her favourite pastimes: knitting extraordinary sweaters and other apparel for her family and reading books by the armful.

In a grey day, the sky is much lighter in value than on a bright sunny day because the light of the sun is diffused. The ground values and colors are darker which by contrast make the sky values seem lighter than they really are.

Untitled (Offshore Islet #1, Haliburton Lake), 1969, Felt pen on paper 8 x 10 in. , This scene was sketched many times and ultimately painted as Morning in Haliburton on page 151. Untitled (Offshore Islet #2, Haliburton Lake), 1969, Felt pen on paper 8 x 10 in. , Part III

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On-site, Josh would paint on hand-cut and primed composite lumber panels that would be transported in carrier boxes that he also made himself. The heavy oils would take weeks to dry, so they had to be stored carefully. Later, he discovered a product called Zec, which he would add to the oil paints to make them dry faster but still it would take a day or two. This meant that he could not travel light, so most of these trips were restricted to views accessible by car and a short hike. On one excursion, the artists chanced to encounter A.J. Casson out in the field and spent a memorable afternoon sketching with the old master. There were some occasions where Josh was flown into remote sites by a small float plane arranged by lodge owners such as Maurie East from Killarney Mountain Lodge. Mr. East did the piloting himself, and his logbook shows him ferrying Josh and Tom into OSA Lake in the early days of Killarney Provincial Parks formation. This must have been a thrilling trip for Josh, who would not have otherwise had access to the unique beauty of this area, which was of historical importance to the Group of Seven artists that Josh so admired. Several of Joshs works painted on these excursions and purchased at the time are still on display at Killarney

October Fog, ca. 1970, Felt pen on paper 8 x 10 in. , Untitled (Rocky Mountain Sketch #1), ca. 1970, Felt pen on paper 6.5 x 7 in. ,

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Mountain in FogKootenays, ca. 1970, Felt pen on paper 9 x 12 in. ,

Untitled (Rocky Mountain Sketch #2), ca. 1970, Felt pen on paper 9 x 1 in. , 1.5 Part III

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SainteRoseduNord, Saguenay, 1972, Felt pen on paper 8.5 x 12 in. ,

Mountain Lodge. Tales circulate in our family about encounters with bears during at least one of these trips. They mostly portray Josh has being too engrossed in his painting to notice the bear picking through their food and belongings. Others would parody the fleeing artist with little to defend himself. Josh loved to tell tall tales to us kids, so you never knew if he was serious. A number of my most memorable family holidays through the sixties and seventies were taken at these northern lodges that were often paid for with artwork. Josh would close down Seven Oaks for the month of August every year for a family road trip to somewhere in Canada. Excursions to the Saguenay River, Gaspe, the Canadian Maritime provinces, and the Rocky Mountains provided a completely different type of subject matter to challenge Joshs interest. Although he would do some painting and sketching on these trips, it was difficult to manage such a long stop with children along, so he would content himself with a sketchbook and photographs to be reinterpreted as paintings when he returned to his studio at home. On many occasions, Josh would be criticized for his distracted driving as he would eye the scenes passing by for artistic inspiration while the family gasped at the oncoming traffic and the wobbly path.

Untitled (Low Tide at Grand Manan), ca. 1968, Felt pen on paper 9 x 1 , 1.5 Untitled (Rocky Mountain Sketch #3), ca. 1970, Felt pen on paper 9 x 1 in. , 1.5 Untitled (Offshore Islet #3, Haliburton Lake), 1969, Felt pen on paper 8 x 10 in. , Untitled (Shallow Bay in Shadowstudy), ca. 1975, Felt pen on paper 9 x 1 in. , 1.5 Untitled (Shallow Bay in Shadow), 1975, Oil on panel, 8 x 10 in. Part III

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138 The Canadian Landscape 139

Muskoka

P.140

Rocky Mountains/Alaska Coastline

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Haliburton/Bancroft

P.150

Spring

P.196

Algonquin Park

P.158

Summer

P.202

Killarney

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Autumn

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Algoma/Superior

P.178

Winter

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Muskoka
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[p.141] Cloudy Day at Baysville, 1979, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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Art is nowhere so competitive as in the production of landscapes, for every artist who makes his living by them is challenged on the market by the competent amateur. Moreover, there is rarely anything really new in landscapes, so success tends to be measured by the quality of the workmanship and the artists feeling for his subject matter. Silburt scores 100 percent on both counts, for with the bold use of the pallette knife and rich colours, he really does capture the mood of the Canadian northland scene. Ironically, by suggesting rather than representing in detail, Silburt achieves the same essential effect sought by an artist specializing in realism. The main difference in the two techniques is that the realist seeks to freeze the scene to an instant of time whereas Silburts works depict a continuing moment. John Brydon, Hamilton Spectator, January 16, 1971.

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Dusk at Baysville, 1975, Oil on panel, 8 x 10 in.

Last of the ColourHuntsville, 1981, Oil on panel, 8 x 10 in.

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Autumn RainLake of Bays, Muskoka, 1976, Oil on panel, 8 x 10 in.

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Muskoka ColourGravenhurst, 1981, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in. [p.145] Yellow W oodsOxtongue River 1977, , Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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Haliburton /Bancroft
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[p.151] Morning in Haliburton, 1974, Oil on panel, 8 x 10 in.

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Before the Storm, W Guilford Road, 1968, est Oil on panel, 12 x 16 in. W inters Blanket, Carnarvon, 1970, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in. [p.152] End of W inter Minden, 1969, , Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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plains, hollow of a road, water level of a river or a lake or the sea. Only then draw the main forms of what lies on this base or what grows from it: single trees, groups of trees, .[1] fences, buildings, ships, etc.

Always start with supporting elements there. Start with thethemovement of the earth, and build up from flat

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[p.155] Haliburton Sunset, ca. 1974, Oil on panel, 8 x 10 in.

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158

Algonquin Park
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[p.159] Late Afternoon, FebruaryOxtongue Lake, Algonquin Park, 1969, Oil on panel, 30 x 40 in.

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Late AfternoonCanoe Lake, 1979, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

. Entering his home in Toronto, Ontario, one becomes pleasantly overwhelmed

by the hundreds of paintings scattered about the house, dotting the walls, occupying space in every corner of the upstairs rooms, and reigning over the closet areas. A subdued yet feverish output is prominent, and we are able to follow his style as we move from one occupied space to the next. Upstairs, the artist, a man in his early sixties, sits transforming us into his world of transfixed expressionism and natural movement as if the palette were a mere extension of his body; the form, of his being. One noticeable factor is the absence of a paintbrush, and as we view each painting we recognize his dedication to the palette knife giving his works thick impasto a three-dimensional quality. All his paintings are basically the same as far as subject matter is concerned. Nature is faithfully portrayed depicting areas in Northern and Central Canada where Josh Silburt would spend many hours either painting spontaneously or shooting slides which he would paint from later in his studio. Often too, he would rapidly sketch a scene in thick oils thereby capturing basic form and colour.

Autumn SilhouetteAlgonquin Park, 1976, Oil on panel, 8 x 10 in.

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The copy then, would be of a more realistic fashion. If we randomly focus on one, Autumn Woods, we are able to see this. Done within a few hours in the northern woods, it exudes an impressionistic quality mainly in its use of colours, many of which are employed to enhance only a select few. Sunlight is absorbed often revealing a specific interpretation according to a specific time of day. Here, the colours are, in the traditional sense, dark. However, they are rich and reveal themselves as forms in the late afternoon attire. Reflections as well as shadows are important. But, moving beyond expectations, they both surprise us with their unusual mirrored tones corresponding more so with his unique colours and forms rather than with the stereotyped shadow which is dark and the true stereotyped reflections which are more dissolute. The colours do not plagiarize Natures, merely paraphrase. But his paintings are hardly impressionistic for they are quite tactile with emphasis on shapes. In this same painting we see the sectioned areas of colour outlined with what looks like black yet is a dark auburn and green in a thin yet heavy impasto

line. Cubism vies for domination, but again there is not enough to sustain it for our Nature scheme predominates. Without hesitation his trees are naturally trees; his lakes, streams and mountains, actually lakes, streams, and mountains. Each in its entirety is its own shape. What is it then that subtly says to us that these paintings cannot be categorized as mere realistic studies. Delving a bit, we discover Josh Silburts direct interest in the Canadian Group of Seven. Their intimate knowledge of the wilderness combined with their spontaneous portrayal of it in paint influenced Josh greatly. Tiny portions of vastness became integral and unique. But with this influence as well came the Nordic influence seen if we compare his paintings with native Indian and Eskimo works of art. In Orange Hill for instance, the oranges are bright; the tones of blues, browns and greens are rich. The blue sky is a deep blue. Now revealed to us is the cause of the unrealistic-type nature of the paintinga direct surrealism. The colour arrangement hits us, and this is enhanced by the dark outlining quality. The thick impasto enhances as well this surrealistic quality where certain sections are thicker than others affording movement to each.

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Now a strange energy that seeps out from the paintings is better understood and grasped, and an interplay results. A small painting of falling leaves best shows this. The brown leaves appear as if they were pasted on and seem to jump out of the painting at us. However, a painted swaying tree with object branches keeps them in place maintaining a certain total composition within the painting.

Donna Goldman, The Canadian Art Investor's Guide, September 1975.

Late AutumnAlgonquin Park, 1979, Oil on panel, 8 x 10 in.

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Killarney
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The Canadian Landscape
[p.171] W indy Day at Killarney Mountain, 1969, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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shared with the viewer. It must describe people, their environment, their lives, their times.

art of is to survive it If thedescribe paintingexperiences whichmust human are

[1]

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[p.173] Killarney Bay, ca. 1969, Oil on panel, 24 x 30 in.

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Killarney Mountain from Lake O.S.A., 1973, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in. [p.175] Killarney Mountain, 1973, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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Algoma /Superior
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[p.179] Northern V eteranLake Superior 1979, , Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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Josh Silburts oil and acrylic paintings are as breathtaking as an autumn day in the Gatineau. The impact on the viewer is instantcolourful leaves accented by dark

tree trunks catch your attention. Through this strength of colour and formSilburt has recorded the seasonal changes of the Ontario landscape. Although Silburts work is slightly reminiscent of the Group of Seven, his vibrant colour and almost surrealistic view make his style unique. This is evident in Yellow Maples, Georgian Baysunlit patches of green and gold foliage dance across the canvas. In his paintings titled Grey Day, Muskoka and Midwinter, Muskoka, Silburts palette knife has sculpted this typical Canadian winter scene with an abstract and mystical quality using shape rather than colour to achieve this goal. Here the colour change is subtle but the contrast between the snow and the stark trees is dramatic. Intriguing, simple, bold, rich, vividall these words have been appropriately used by critics to describe Silburts work. Investors and collectors are also taking note of Silburts success. Susan Goold, Kanata Standard, July 24, 1986.

[p.180] Ouimet Canyon, 1985, Acrylic on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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Misty W aterfallLake Superior 1978, , Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in. Sunny DayAlgoma, 1981, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

W indsw ept PineAlgoma, 1982, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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North of Lake Superior 1978, , Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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Rocky Mountains
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The Canadian Landscape
[p.189] W indy SkyRockies, 1979, Oil on panel, 8 x 10 in.

/Alaska Coastline

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FoothillsBanff, 1980, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in. [p.190] Untitled (Tow ering Giants), ca. 1980, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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Untitled (Changing W eatherAlaska), ca. 1980, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in. [p.193] Snow on the MountainEmerald Lake, 1978, Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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GENERAL STORE PUBLISHING HOUSE INC.499 OBrien Road, Box 415 Renfrew, Ontario, Canada K7V 4A6 Telephone 1.613.432.7697 or 1.800.465.6072 www.gsph.com ISBN 978-1-77123-004-9 Copyright Allan Silburt 2012 Design and formatting: Marie-Claude Quenneville, Lacerte communications Printed by Image Digital Printing Ltd. dba The IDP Group, Renfrew, Ontario Printed and bound in Canada The author and publisher have made every attempt to locate the sources of photographs and written excerpts. Should there be errors or omissions, please contact the author/publisher for correction in future publications. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher or, in case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from Access Copyright (Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency), 1 Yonge Street, Suite 1900, Toronto, Ontario, M5E 1E5. Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Silburt, Allan Lloyd, 1957- A colourful life: the art and drawing of Josh Silburt / Allan Silburt. ISBN 978-1-77123-004-9 1. Silburt, Josh, 1914-1991. I. Title. ND249.S544A4 2012 759.1 1 C2012-905717-7

Front cover : Algoma Colour, 1982. Oil on panel, 8 x 10 in. Back Cover : Windy DayKillarney, 1979. Oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

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ISBN 978-1-77123-004-9