By Paul Gessell
One large outside wall of Gallery 101, during its days on Nepean Street, was covered for years by a billboard-sized photographic portrait of Jean Augustine, a Liberal MP at the time.
Augustine did not have a high public profile in Ottawa those days, despite holding some junior cabinet posts and serving for years as the parliamentary secretary to the then prime minister, Jean Chretien. And so many a person driving or walking by Gallery 101 must have wondered who was this regale figure dominating a particular stretch of downtown. Surely an African queen? Or perhaps the president of some Caribbean island?
The giant portrait was the work of Althea Thauberger, a Vancouver artist originally from Saskatoon. She is really one of Canada’s finest artists and unfortunately is not seen enough in the national capital, although subscribers to Canadian Art magazine would have noticed last year the cover story on her work among female Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. This series of photographs showed those soldiers in uniform and fully armed but doing rather unwarlike activities. One shot, for example, showed the women, rifles askew, gaily romping through a field near the Kandahar airport. (more…)