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 Frederick Joseph (Fred) Ross  (1927 - )

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Lived/Active: New Brunswick / Canada      Known for: figure painting, murals, printmaking, drawing, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
DANCERS IN THE STUDIO ( A TRIPTYCH )
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Frederick J. Ross C.M., O.N.B., LL.D., R.C.A. (1927)

A prominent Canadian painter, muralist, printmaker, draftsman and educator, Frederick Joseph Ross (aka: Fred Ross) was born in Saint John, New Brunswick and has lived there all his life. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including one of Canada’s highest honors the Order of Canada* (CM) and his province’s highest honor the Order of New Brunswick (ONB). His works have been featured in group exhibitions with Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* and at the National Gallery of Canada, and they are in the permanent collections of several Canadian museums including the National Gallery of Canada.

His mediums include oil, acrylic, tempera*, watercolor, fresco*, pastel, ink, graphite, Conte Crayon*, chalk, charcoal, wax crayon, ink wash, and lithograph*. His subjects are portraits, figures, dancers, nudes, eroticism, landscapes, shorelines, genre*, still life, interiors, city scenes, social commentary and history. His styles include Realism* and Social Realism*. The AskART images are good illustrations of his work.

Ross’s art education includes studies at the Saint John Vocational School (c.1944 – 1946) under Violet Gillett (1898 – 1996) and Ted Campbell (1904); the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia (c.1948); and two summers in Mexico (1949 and 1950), where he studied in Mexico City, Taxco and San Miguel d’Allende. This included one month, in 1949, under Pablo O’Higgins. In 1950 Ross met Diego Rivera who is among Ross’s important influences. He was also influenced by personal associations with St. John artists, and Canadian art icons, Miller Brittain and Jack Humphrey; as well as by the work of Renaissance artist Cosimo Tura (1430 – 1495) and 20th century French artist Balthasar Balthus. Ross’s depictions of adolescent girls in works such as Untitled (Young Girl at Rest), Young Girl Resting, Girl Resting and The Red Skirt are evocative of Balthus’s most controversial paintings. (1)(2)

Early in his artistic development, he visited Washington, D.C. and New York City (c.1947), and traveled in Europe on four annual trips in the early 1950s.

Ross taught at Rothesay Collegiate School [now Rothesay Netherwood School], (near) St. John (c.1951) and at the Saint John Vocational School (1953 – 1970).

He has exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1957, 1958, 1961 and 1970) and with the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour* (1978).

His works were featured in the “Annual Exhibition”, National Gallery of Canada (1953 and 1959); “Biennial of  Canadian Painting”, National Gallery of Canada (1955, 1961 and 1963); “Winter Exhibition”, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (1962 – 1972); “Stratford Festival”, Stratford, Ontario (1964); “Spring Exhibition”, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1965); “Prints and Drawings Exhibition”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1966); “Expo 67”, Atlantic Pavilion, Montreal (1967); “Survey Exhibition”, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1968); "Fifty Canadian Drawings", Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, N.B. (1977); “1st Canadian Biennale of Prints and Drawings”, Alberta College of Art and Design Gallery, Calgary, Alberta (1978); “Annual Exhibition”, Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario (1979 and 1982); “New Brunswick Collects”, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, N.B. (2005); “Intimate Isolation”, St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre, St. Thomas, Ontario (2006); and “A Personal Choice: The Roy L. Heenan Collection”, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, N.B.  (2007).

From the beginning of his professional career, Ross has been the subject of public venue solo exhibitions, the locations include Mount Allison University, Sackville, N.B. (1949 and 1970); New Brunswick Museum, Saint John (1950 and 1971); Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland (1956); Owens Art Gallery, Sackville, N.B. (1975); and the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton (1977).

A major retrospective titled “The Art of Fred Ross: A Timeless Humanism”, accompanied by a monograph of the same name, was mounted by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in 1993. It was exhibited at several east coast venues including the Canadian Embassy in Washington. D.C.

He has also been grouped with other prominent Canadian artists on the marquee in museum exhibitions such as “Five New Brunswick Artists: Miller Brittain, Alex Colville, Lawren P. Harris, Jack Humphrey, Fred Ross”, Art Gallery of Toronto [now Art Gallery of Ontario], Ontario (1955); “Four Canadians: Bruno Bobak, Molly Bobak, Edward J. Hughes, Fred Ross”, Art Gallery of Toronto, Ontario (1959); and “Six East Coast Painters: Brittain, Colville, Harris, Humphrey, Ross, Wainwright”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1961).

Ross’s works have been included in solo and group exhibitions at prominent commercial galleries such as Greenwich Gallery, Toronto; Galerie Dresdnere, Toronto; Dorothy Cameron Gallery, Toronto; Roberts Gallery, Toronto; Wallack Galleries, Ottawa; Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal; Cassel Gallery, Fredericton; Zwicker's Gallery, Halifax; Gallery 78 Fine Art, Fredericton; and Ring Gallery, Saint John.

His works are in numerous private, corporate, and public collections. According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, examples of his paintings, drawings and prints are in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario),  Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Fredericton, New Brunswick), Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, P.E.I.), Dalhousie Art Gallery (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Joliette Art Museum (Quebec), Owens Art Gallery (Sackville, N.B.), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba), and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).

The original locations of his murals include the Saint John Vocational School (1946, 1950 and 1954); Fredericton High School (1948); Hotel de la Borda, Taxco, Mexico (1949); St. John Tourist Offices (1957); Montgomery Hall, Prince of Wales College, Charlottetown, P.E.I. (1961); and the Centennial Building [provincial capital offices], Fredericton, N.B. (1967). (3)

Among Ross’s numerous awards and honors are the O’Keefe Art Award* (1950); two Canada Council* grants (1973 and 1976); an honorary doctorate from the University of New Brunswick (1986); election to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1990); Freeman of the City of St. John (1999); the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002); the Order of Canada* (CM) (2004); the Order of New Brunswick (2008); and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). (4)

Footnotes:

(1) Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography and its footnotes, except those with life-dates after their name, have their own record in AskART.

(2) Who's Who in American Art 15th Edition notes that Ross studied under Ben Kamihira at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; if that is so then Ross would have had to attend the PAFA after 1953 when Kamihira began teaching there. Kamihira was, however, a student at the PAFA from 1948 to 1952 and may have known or tutored Ross. Additional source: Kamihira obituary, The Inquirer, February 29, 2004.

(3) Please note: These are the original mural locations and creation dates; for more information and their location as of 2002 please see John Leroux’s thesis The Murals of Fred Ross: A Quest for Relevance, it can be read online at the Concordia University website link – http://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/1713/1/MQ68501.pdf.

(4) The O’Keefe Art Award was created by the O’Keefe Brewing Co. Ltd. of Toronto in 1950 and available to artists between the ages of 18 and 30. There were four prize levels – $1,000.00, $750.00, $500.00 and $200.00. The first prize that year went to Kenneth Lochhead, second prize to Joseph Purcell, and third prize to Ghitta Caisserman. Ross was in a group of 15 who were each awarded $200.00. The group included John Bennett, Pierre de ligny Boudreau, Roy Kiyooka and Ronald Spickett. All 18 winners were featured in an exhibition that year at the Art Gallery of Toronto [now Art Gallery of Ontario]. Sources: Google News Archives, and The Shawinigan Standard, Shawinigan Falls, Quebec, July 5, 1950.
  
Sources:

Canadian Who's Who 2012 – 2013 (2012), edited by Anderson Charters and Susan Charters (see AskART book references)

Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

Canadian Art in the Twentieth Century (1999), by Joan Murray (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 7, Rakos to Sadowski (1990), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

Who's Who in American Art 15th Edition (1982), by Jaques Cattell Press (see AskART book references)

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 – 1979 (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)

High Realism in Canada (1974), by Paul Duval (see AskART book references)

Four Decades: The Canadian Group of Painters and their contemporaries – 1930 - 1970 (1972), by Paul Duval (see AskART book references)

The Murals of Fred Ross: A Quest for Relevance (2002), by John Leroux (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

National Gallery of Canada

Art Gallery of Ontario

Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal

Gallery 78 Fine Art, Fredericton

The Governor General of Canada (Order of Canada and Jubilee Medal source)

Government of New Brunswick (Order of New Brunswick source)

  
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com. Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx.
  
Written and submitted by M.D. Silverbrooke.
  
 


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