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VIDEO PORTRAITS

Av Isaacs
Video clips © CCCA & Linda Corbett_Eyeris Inc. 2005
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Early Days

Av Isaacs talks about his roots - growing up in North Winnipeg in a community steeped in NDP and Communist politics and about playing hockey on the Red River. His early days in Toronto were a struggle until he entered the University of Toronto to study Political Science and Economics. His performance was, "consistently in the bottom third of the class". After graduating, he and Al Latner started a framing business that Av continued in the back of his first Bay Street Gallery.

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Stable

The framing shop expanded to include art supplies. It began attracting artists who would ask Av if they could hang their work on the walls. These initial contacts became the nucleus of his first Bay Street gallery stable of artists including: Michael Snow, Graham Coughtry, William Ronald, Gerald Scott, and Robert Varvarande. Tony Urquhart, whose "statements were unique to him" joined later. Av finally received his father's approval with his first big sale of a William Ronald painting.

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Growth

"Anything was possible in those days". With a $12,000.00 bank loan and the framing business subsidizing the gallery, Isaacs was off to a strong start. When he opened the newly renovated location on Yonge Street, "it was a proud moment". He built his stable of artists, "by trial and error" and by instinct. Soon the gallery represented Gordon Raynor, Robert Markle, and Joyce Wieland, among others. Diversity was the main thing. The gallery was, "an amazing social centre" sponsoring poetry readings, film festivals and the Artists Jazz Band. Isaacs published print editions, records and books. There was, "a lot of innocence and a lot of possibilities".
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Duchamp

A series of avant-garde music concerts organized by Udo Kasemets and sponsored by the Isaacs Gallery brought Marcel Duchamp and John Cage to Toronto. Their chess game "performance" titled, "Reunion", held at Ryerson Theatre, featured an electronically wired chess board which created sound in response to the various moves made by the players. After the event, Duchamp and his wife shared some personal time with the Isaacs family.
Marcel Duchamp and the Isaacs chronology

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Galleries

Av Isaacs talks about two colleagues and contributors to the gallery scene in Toronto - Carmen Lamanna, his gallery and legacy, and the vivacious Dorothy Cameron's arrest for exhibiting, "obscene art".



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Prent

From his first visit to Mark Prent's home in Montréal, where he was living in a small apartment with his wife and father, Isaacs felt Prent's work, "hit you like a sledgehammer". The controversial show attracted huge crowds, becoming the focus of some bizarre incidents. The feature sculpture, an execution chamber, had the hard hats from a nearby construction project lined up every lunch hour to, "pull the switch".



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Snow, Fulford, Wieland

Av reflects on the work of Michael Snow and Joyce Wieland and on the personality of Robert Fulford. Michael's scope as a filmmaker, musician, and artist reflect his keen intelligence and great creativity. Isaacs jokes that, "my problem with Michael was that often he got ahead of me". Robert Fulford, the public relations man for the Artists Jazz Band "has been everywhere". Joyce Wieland is fondly remembered as, "one of the great artists of Canadian artists". Her "female course of action" and approach made her unique. The stress of her feature film project, The Far Shore , "almost killed her" and may have contributed to her death from
Alzheimer's in 1998.

running time: 05:32
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