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Angela Grossman


Untitled; Five Figures, Canadian.  Oil and Acrylic on Board, 122 x 304.5 cm, 1984.  Michael C. Williams Collection, University of Victoria, British Columbia.

Angela Grossman interview with Leah Taylor, Research Assistant with the Williams Oral Art History Project on March 11, 2011 at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  Interview transcribed by Amy Cheli.

Click the arrow to play the sound bite of the quote from the interview (below).

AG: “So sometimes you don’t have, you don’t know what’s going to happen and I think that’s what’s exciting.  If you don’t know what you are going to do, you are not trying to control it, you also not trying to tweak it, if you know what I mean, you’re not trying to be gimmicky, you are just open.”

Click the arrow to play the sound bite of the quote from the interview (below).

AG: “I remember him being there because he wanted to purchase this piece and it was a shock to me.  It was the first time anybody has actually asked to buy anything of mine…”

LT: “and this is Michael Williams?”

AG: “And this is Michael Williams, yea.  I mean you don’t really think about selling the work at the time with your work developing like that you don’t think, Oh, I can sell it.  It doesn’t come up in your imagination as some kind of an income source, It’s just that you’re trying to find an income source in order to make works.”

Click the arrow to play the sound bite of the quote from the interview (below).

AG: “He came and he was nothing like you might expect or I would expect now.  He was in a very conservative looking suit and he seemed to be a very conservative man.  He said he would like to come back the next day and take me up Granville Street which was where all the galleries were, South Granville, and take me to see a few things and I said OK.  Off we went the next day and he took me to the Baux-Xi and it was very exciting, I think it was the Baux-Xi, maybe it was Ethan’s, but I think it was the Baux-Xi.  We went to a couple of them.  It was nice that they all knew him so it was like being with somebody who unlocked doors.  Everybody would flood in and say hi and he took me in the back to see a few pieces.  Which was great, some Shadbolts and that sort of thing and uh, I’ll never really forget it because I really didn’t know that much about the history of BC painters and just the whole experience opened my eyes a bit.”

LT:  “It’s really interesting that he just decided to take you around and show you this.  He obviously saw something in you, and I think that something we are trying to get to the core of with Michael Williams is that did he see something in young artists or was he just coming across things he liked and was buying them because he could?”

AG: “No. No.  From my point of view, from my experience, I would say he was very interested in passing along knowledge.  He was very interested in nurturing the idea that there was a movement that I was part of because I really never considered I was.  I thought I was an anomaly that I just happened to be here, that I was not part of any fabric. Even when I saw the pieces and I thought, these things have nothing to do with what I’m interested in and they’re nothing like me…now I wonder, now that I look back and see Shadbolts, and I’m a friend of Gordon Smith’s and I think well hold on, what we do is all connected.  It is connected.  That fact that I’m here connects me to it.  The fact that I was there connects me to them.”

Click the arrow to play the sound bite of the quote from the interview (below).

AG: This idea of authorship was clearly very defining to us; we had to be forging new territory. We felt we were forging new territory.  You know, time will tell whether we really were or does it really matter but we really felt that.   So we had this sense of incredible, unbridled enthusiasm that we were making something new.  We really did have the sense that, I think that if there was a defining element of all of us, it was that.  Hence that it was open, and we could have it.  We could do it, we could make it, maybe that’s what he sensed in us.

LT:  I know you speak of the group you consisted of when you say us, so that would have been you, Attila.., can you name a few others?

AG:  Well there were really four or five of us, myself, Attila Richard Lukas, there was Graham Gilmore, there was Derek Root and there was Doug Copeland who wasn’t actually a painter but was very much a part of that group.  Very close, we were very close, I mean we all shared a studio.  We shared a studio for about three years at the school and then we shared a studio afterwards.  Then we all went to different parts of the world but we stayed in contact.  We’ve done lots of shows together since.  We have done a few and they’ve been fairly important.  Now we all have a foundation that we all in varying degrees participate in and we are connected but I think that the connection is not necessarily anything that we want to sever.  So I think we remain in a way normative through each other, we don’t necessarily measure ourselves up against one another but we see ourselves as coming from the same place so its interesting.  We also wish each other success, and we understand what each other’s work is about.

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