May 7, 1998

Irene F. Whittome's elegant art is celebrated

It has been a season of honours for Studio Arts Professor Irene F. Whittome, an active artist with an international reputation.

Last year, she became the first woman in a decade to be awarded the Prix du Québec Paul-Émile Borduas, Quebec's most prestigious arts award.

On April 8, a reception was held in Whittome's honour by the Faculty of Fine Arts at the home of Rector Frederick Lowy and Mary Kay Lowy. About 40 people attended, including past winners of the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas with a Concordia connection, such as Guido Molinari, a former painting professor, and Michel Dallaire. Dallaire is a member of the Faculty's external advisory board, which was well represented at the event.

Whittome was also one of the finalists for the YWCA's award for Women of Distinction/Femmes de Mérite. The gala dinner presentation was held April 30 at the downtown Sheraton Centre Hotel, and Whittome, a poised, elegant woman, was joined at the dinner by several of her many friends in the local arts community.

While she didn't win (the prize in that category went to veteran Montreal ballet teacher Yvette Pauzé), it was gratifying to see her achievements honoured. Previous Concordia women who have won these awards include Études françaises Professor Maïr Verthuy (for the advancement of women, 1997), Engineering Professor Corinne Mount Pleasant-Jetté (education, 1995) and former Advisor on the Status of Women Claudie Solar (science and technology, 1995).

Whittome came to Montreal many years ago from Vancouver, and began teaching art at Concordia in 1968. In 1974, she created the innovative Open Media program, designed to accommodate undergraduate and graduate art students whose work spilled over the traditional boundaries between disciplines.

She became a full professor in 1995, and continues to teach Open Media and Painting, as well as courses in other aspects of art. However, she has just begun a two-year sabbatical that will focus on fulfilling the requirements of two major exhibitions.

Whittome has more than 35 solo exhibits behind her, as well as 130 group exhibitions held throughout Canada, Europe and the United States. A major show of her work was recently mounted at Montreal's Musée d'art contemporain, and drew favourable notice. It featured strong, spare meditations on the theme of fertility. - BB

Art lovers alert

Artstravaganza, the third annual Fine Arts fundraiser, will be held June 10 at Concordia's Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery to coincide with an exhibition called Les mystères objectifs.

The show will be a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Refus global, the manifesto of a small group of Montreal intellectuals that heralded the social, religious and political change of the late 1950s and '60s in Quebec known as the Quiet Revolution. It is part of a city-wide celebration throughout June in museums, galleries and artists' studios called Peinture-Peinture.

Les mystères objectifs will feature elements of the University's own extensive collection, including works by Paul-Émile Borduas, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Yves Gaucher, Jacques Hurtubise, Rita Letendre, Guido Molinari and Irene F. Whittome. Whittome and Betty Goodwin are among several artists who have donated works on paper to be drawn as door prizes, along with a gourmet Italian dinner for two at L'Altro.

Tickets cost $20, and the money raised will go toward the many talented young Fine Arts students who badly need financial help to stay in school. These include bursaries and the Ann Duncan Award for the Visual Arts, an endowment that funds an internship at the Ellen Gallery.

Artstravaganza will be held June 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. For tickets or information, call Marilyn Healy, 848-4660,

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