To sit down with John Weiss for 90 minutes is to witness non-stop commentary on astrology, reincarnation, animism, human evolution, religion and many other subjects. This artist gets his energy from ice cream and 'killer coffee'. He says, "I've literally gone seven days without sleep," adding, "I'm too hyper for most people already and this is only my first cup of coffee."

His art is equally animated. A black and white drawing for his exhibition, Kosmic A Go Go-which features creatures, apartment buildings and other forms wrapping around one another-pulses with energy. His paintings incorporate colours that he likens to acid rain and feature symbols like a devil with a paintbrush (which recalls Weiss' description of himself as a "dangerous creature"). His exhibitions generate a vibrant atmosphere; for example, Primeval Arousal included a martini bar, tribal music and incense. His boundless energy causes him to bring new life to pieces, changing them over time, such as a painting that was in Art in Public Places but is now in Jaeger Meisters restaurant. "It's never done yet," he explains.

In addition to exhibiting in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver, Weiss has exhibited at every White Water Gallery location except its first one above Mayne Travel. He moved to North Bay 34 years after completing studies in fine art and art history at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Upon arriving in North Bay, he began a 30-year arts teaching career at W. J. Fricker Senior Public. He also worked as a supervisor for art teachers. He was a favourite among students, who especially looked forward to his creative Hallowe'en costumes like Meatloaf and Lord of the Rings (the latter included an actual pig's head).

Now that he is retired, Weiss says, "The teacher is dead. The artist is reborn. The artist is alive and well." No longer in the public eye, or at least not to the same extent, he feels liberated to explore homoerotic subject matter. In the past, he has helped with public awareness campaigns for safe sex, and his present interest is in demystifying stereotypes about gay culture.

(excerpt of interview with Heather Saunders, published in May/June 2005 White Water Gallery newsletter. Read the full article here)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

silk screen print
dims. unknown

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