Harold Town

2:55 PM



Harold Town (not Harry, it's Harold)




I met Harold at the Pilot Tavern he was not a regular there.
we got into some long discussion and he invited me back to his place.
We go to the den and he takes 2 quarts of Scotch out of the cupboard and
he hands me one and a glass. We tour around the house looking at works of Art.

Mostly his, really impressive. We end up in the basement sitting on carasol horses which he collects.
He also shows me a old xray machine he was experimenting with. (I think it might of killed him)
And so we shot the shit til the scotch was gone. he got me some blankets and a couch to crash on.
Not much to talk about next morning heavy hangovers coffee and gone.


"Toronto is a one Town town".

I dropped in on Harold several times after midnight always welcomed with a bottle of Scotch.
I remember some people being there the next morning like wife kids ? I was never introduced.

One night after the Pilot had closed I dropped in with Duke Rebird. he went ballistic. He told be not bring any friends . Then he took a look at Duke. Hey aren't you Redbird that guy trying to smarten up ACTRA.
I'd like to talk to you.
So I was forgiven. he gives Duke and I each a bottle of Scotch and we take the tour.
Only after most of the Scotch. Harold is somhow become a native and is Duke's ally against the whiteman Me?

Harold described one of favorite moments paddling a canoe on a very foggy night in a friend's swimming pool in Claremont.

I liked Harold a lot he was creative and quite brilliant. he was difficult to be friends with. he was slighted easily and always critical.

I went his studio a few times it had been owned by AY Jackson at one time. it was full paintings everywhere he had bought an adjacent studio just for storage and that was full.

One night I was going to a party and I stopped by his place and asked if wanted to go. It was basically an Artist's party and they were usually pretty good back then. It took some prodding but he finally agreed. He was concerned that all Artists seemed to be taking verbal shots at him. He grabbed a bottle of Scotch and a bottle of Vodka and away we went. it was at a studio on Spadina. We got there about 11 and lasted an hour everybody was taking verbal shots at him and he wanted to go. I was driving so we grabbed the bottle of Vodka and took off up Spadina.

He swore he would never go to another "artist" party. Then he said Doesn't Iskowitz live around here?
I pulled over sure right here. I pointed up to a window. It was a hot summer night and Gershon's studio window was open and the light was on. So there is Town and screaming at the 3rd story window, GERSHON! ISKOWITZ! over and over. Gershon comes to the window and looks down at us and closes the window. We leave laughing.

I started doing a lot of sailing around then.

One night Harold said I could have his sailboat. He says it had been sitting at boatyard in Kingston for a couple of years, He couldn'r sail it himself and he was afraid it would rot away. He owned it with his dentist and Jack McLellland. He got their permission to give it to me. I was excited

It was a beauty from the photos a 40 ft yawl of some famous design. I gather some sailing buddies and went down to Kingston to see it. It was beyond repair. it had sat outside uncovered for 3 years with the hatches open. It was a real shame.

I went sailing for 15 months in the Caribbean and sort of lost touch with Harold and he really never forgave me.

I ran into him at the 22 once a few months before he died of cancer. He kind a gave me a hard time. Like some friend you are. he was as contempuous of cancer as he was of anything but he wasn't the same it was wearing him down. I think of Harold often especially when I am being too critical.




  Remembering illustrious artist Harold Town The Story

He was an abstract painter, illustrator, printmaker, sculptor and writer. He rose to fame as a founding member of Painters Eleven, a group of avant-garde artists. And on December 27, 1990, the man who defined art with a rich and varied palette, Harold Town, died at the age of 66. In this clip, four years before his death, Town speaks about his rise to fame and his life as a Canadian icon. Did you know?

• Born in 1924, Harold Barling Town's artistry began at a very early age when, as an only child, he often spent time drawing on the walls of his parent's home in Toronto. The young Town's affinity for art even prompted a frustrated school teacher to exclaim the child would make a great student – if only he stopped drawing.

• Upon graduating from Ontario College of Art in 1945, Harold Town first became an accomplished illustrator for ad agencies and magazines such as Maclean's and Mayfair. In fact, his listing in the phone book at the time read: "Town, Harold, Advertising Artist."

• Town invented the name Painters Eleven, for the Southern Ontario abstract painters who came together in 1953 to share information and collectively exhibit their work. Inspired by American artists such as Jackson Pollock, the group's self-proclaimed objective was to enliven the visually sedated city of Toronto. Despite an accomplished portfolio, it was only through Town's membership in Painters Eleven that he gained popularity as an abstract painter. He has even been referred to as the "Picasso of Canadian art."

• Although renowned primarily for his abstract art, one of the most impressive aspects of Town's career was his ability to work on three or four different styles and media concurrently. From prints, drawings and collages to sculptures and paintings, he pursued each with equal passion and intensity.

• Town's reputation for popularizing abstract art in Canada was as notable as his provocative manner. "I paint to defy death," he once stated.

• From 1953-1959 Town garnered recognition for his "Single Autographic Prints". They won him international awards and were acquired by the Solomon Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, both in New York. Alfred Barr, MOMA's director of collections deemed Town one of the world's greatest printmakers.

• Town continued to re-invent himself and his art until his death in 1990 in Toronto – the city where he lived all his life. Though he received constant praise over the years, Town's later work was disparaged for its lack of intensity and gravity. In response to his critics Town declared, "all criticism of the visual art is suspect."

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