Ben Woolfitt, Modernist and Post-Modernist Painter and Museum Founder of the Modern.Toronto.
Born in Saskatchewan, Ben Woolfitt has lived in Toronto since 1965 when he came to study at Founders College, York University. In 1966 he made a trip to New York City and was there turned on by Color Field painting, especially the works of Rothko, Louis, Hofmann and Olitski. He loves the luscious sensuality of acrylics. More explicitly he loves the gels potential for deep colour glazes and ravishingly glossy surfaces.
Early in his career, he founded and taught at Woolfitt's School of Contemporary Painting and in 1978, established what became a very successful wholesale business, Woolfitt’s Art Supplies.
While making art is one of the most intuitive activities in my life, making art is also the most intellectual activity I do. I read to make art. I go to museums to make art. I spend days and days looking at art. I listen to numerous and varied opinions about paintings. I believe that for most of us visual artists, making art is a very informed activity. For me it is understanding the issues of making art and then synthesizing this into a body of work. There are thousands of people making art in this world. If one wants to have his voice heard, it must be strong and clear. To do this one must have intellect. This is a tool in one's toolbox, as is a brush, a sponge, a canvas or a pot of paint. One can only create by understanding and knowing how to use one's tools.
There are many ways of making art. I don't necessarily use the traditional tools that are associated with this process. There is always something around to get the paint down.
I don't require outside inspiration - it's there; I just need the time to put it down. I can paint every day - I don't need the mood - I don't need the muse - I am ready - I just need the time to express myself.
Making art is a very lonely and sometimes painful process. It makes me re-think where I have come from, what I am and what I aspire to be. It makes me scrape the surface of my life (soul) every day, and I believe that is why so many people stop making art. I also know that it is one of the only activities in the world that makes me feel ecstatic.
Making art is like learning to speak a language. The more you learn, the more pleasure it will bring you.
When one has completed the object it must stand the test of time. We put it on the wall and see if it wears well. This is a process of letting the quality of our creation speak for itself. We hope that this object will inspire people.
Enjoying art is available to everyone - it just takes some time, dedication, understanding and looking at the large variety of work that is around you for viewing. It is not as simple as identifying that what you are looking at is a house or a tree - and that you like the way the paint is handled, and the colors are beautiful.
There are many issues. Does the artist understand the issues of the day, does the artist contribute to others being able to move forward, does the artist discover, is the artist curious, are they truly generous, creative, intelligent and enterprising in their approach to the process of making art? These are the questions that one should always ask of each and every artist and artwork.
When we look at art from a historical perspective we go to art galleries and museums and think about how life must have been. We look at these beautiful objects and enjoy the gift that the artists and craftsmen have given us.
Unfortunately all too often we forget that in one hundred years the art that was being made by our neighbor or best friend might be hanging on that wall or installed in that gallery or being played live in that concert hall. The art of today is always a bit harder to take in, a bit cruder in its presentation, a bit rougher in its content. Newer art is always more difficult to appreciate and takes longer to access. While the art of the day may have a heritage, it may take us a long time to understand the heritage of the art.
Most of the people close to me are aware of the fact that I have established an arts foundation for artists. If you believe in something you must take action. We can effect. The idea is to take a dream, make it a reality and make this world of ours a better place.