Biography of Gustav Weisman 1926 - 2000
Gustav Weisman, b 1926 Lithuania, immigrated to the outskirts of Winnipeg, Canada in August, 1929. In 1938 he and his family moved to Toronto, Canada where he remained into his adult years. As a young adult Weisman started spending time in Algonquin Park. It was a place he would paint and draw inspiration from for many years, including the years he attended the Ontario College of Art (1946 – 1950) for Drawing & Painting. While he was at the College he started exhibiting (1948) and he also received a number of scholarships and awards. After graduation he received a scholarship from Instituto Allende to study Mural Painting (Fresco) and Sculpture in Mexico during the years of 1951 and 1952. In 1959, Weisman received a Canada Council Grant to study the art of stained glass in Europe, where he spent long periods of time in France (Chartres, Rouen, Paris, Audincour) and Italy (Rome, Florence, Padua, Venice, Ravena) where he had the opportunity to study at stained glass studios and attend mosaic workshops (specifically in Venice and Ravena). Weisman also studied at the Royal College and the Central School in London, England.
His teaching experience begins in 1949 as assistant to Fred Varley, and includes sessional appointments throughout Ontario including the University of Guelph, Queens University and McMaster University. Weisman was continually on faculty at the Ontario College of Art from 1953 to 1989 during which time he conducted classes in Murals, Drawing, Painting, Water Colour, Historical Techniques and developed and directed the Stained Glass studio. In 1973 he founded the department of Experimental Arts as a venue and place of focus for the study of contemporary experimental developments in the visual arts and an examination of their historical roots in Modernism and Post Modernism. He was “ increasingly concerned with educational problems, total perception, the creative process and a speculative approach to concepts.” In 1988 Gustav Weisman was awarded the A.J. Casson Award for his outstanding contribution to community of the Ontario College of Art.
Throughout his teaching career he found time to produce an enormous volume of work: commissioned stained glass windows in 18 churches and chapels nationwide and commissioned sculptures in several major Canadian and American Cities. He has exhibited since 1948 and is represented in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Sarnia Art Gallery, University of Toronto (Erindale Campus), Tom Thompson Memorial Gallery (Owen Sound), McMichael Collection (Kleinberg), Pitney Bowes of Canada, Imperial Oil, English Electric (London, England), as well as numerous private collections. Weisman was elected an associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy and was also awarded a Canadian Centennial Medal.
Commissioned works in Stained Glass:
Queen Street United Church, Kingston, Ontario
Trafalgar Castle School, Whitby, Ontario
Westboro United Church, Ottawa, Ontario
St. Philip the Apostle (Anglican), Toronto, Ontario
Notre Dame Academy, Waterdown, Ontario
St Andrews United Church, Oshawa, Ontario
St Bartholomews Church (Anglican), Toronto, Ontario
Church of the Transfiguration, Toronto (off Mount Pleasant), Ontario
Sunnybrook Hospital Chapel, Toronto, Ontario
St Georges Anglican Church, Lowville, Ontario
Box Grove United Church, Ontario
Central United Church, Unionville, Ontario
St Andrews United Church, Markham, Ontario
Sharon Hope United Church, Sharon, Ontario
St Peter’s Cathedral, Charlottetown, P.E.I.
The Parish of St James (Anglican), Pt. Dufferin, Nova Scotia
St George on the Hill, Toronto (Dundas and Islington), Ontario
McMaster University Chapel Tower, Hamilton, Ontario
Anglican Church, Norton, New Brunswick,
Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Windsor, Ontario,
Port Perry United Church (Reesor Window), Port Perry, Ontario
Lorretta College Chapel, Toronto, Ontario
*There are numerous works in stained glass done in collaboration with Yvonne Williams.
Our Saviour Lutheran Church (Dartmouth College) New Hampshire, USA
Pitney Bowes of Canada, Toronto, Ontario
St Philip the Apostle Church, Toronto, Ontario
Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario
St Mathews Lutheran Church, Scarborough, Ontario
Redeemer Lutheran Church, Scarborough, Ontario
Awards and Prizes:
Mexican Canadian Scholarship
Canada Council Research Grant
Royal Canadian Academy Prize
Canadian Society of Water Colour Painters Award
Canada Centennial Medal (1967)
A.J. Casson Award for Distinguished Service (1988)
In a retrospective at the McGlaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario in 1995 Weisman writes about his own work:
Experiences Becoming Reality
The works in this showing are representative of my abiding interests over four decades. They are my explorations of, and participation in, the divine wonder of life. They are my celebration of awareness, and my search for integrity.
My whole being in total perception; light in space lives, and what it touches is excited into life. I am one point in this space, and my mind is caught up, and drawing actions follow. The result is a surface with a wide gamut of impact and purpose; - assertive, darting, penetrating, deflecting, retreating, hovering and caressing, dying and being reborn, seeking a poise of wholeness. Time and pace are critical. These works are landscapes because that is where I was when it happened. Are they also something else? Contemplation raises questions about nature and meaning of experience. How do we choose to define our terms? At what point does the particular become the abstract out of life’s abundance? – what is beyond the vanishing point?