Joe Norris

Joe Norris was born in Halifax into a family of nine children. From age sixteen to twenty-nine he worked in construction in Halifax and then as a lobster fisherman for twenty years at Lower Prospect, just south of Halifax. He had, since fifteen years of age, occasionally painted pictures. In 1972, aged forty-nine, Norris suffered a heart attack. During his convalescence a nurse suggested to him he resume painting. He did - in a full-fledged manner. Chris Huntington, an artist and art dealer, serendipitously discovered Norris and began to purchase the bulk of his artistic output until 1982. That first third of Norris' artistic career, and entirely or to a large extent the next third, reveal, it can be said, a pure folk art before, in the final third, his product often becomes quite robotic, effected by commercialism. The work in Winchester Galleries' November 2004 Norris exhibition is variously from 1976 to 1982. Norris's paintings offer an alternate vision to what he sometimes described as a "rough old world". He painted the environment of Lower Prospect in bright enamel colours. In Joe Norris: Painted Visions of Nova Scotia, 2000, Bernard Riordan refers to the 'peaceable kingdom' portrayed in Norris' work. Norris was - as evidenced in his artwork - a close observer of his locale, and the explored it in depth. Moreover, by using primarily television he informed himself of distant news, often environmental, which he sometimes then depicted in painting. Thus, for example, his motifs which denote the seal hunt, crop spraying, and oil spills. A succession of solo shows has brought Joe Norris to national attention. Notably here, the Dalhousie Art Gallery in 1978 presented "Joe Norris: Paintings and Furniture" in the early 1980s. Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto, held two Norris exhibitions; in the 1980s and 1990s Houston North Gallery, Chester, Nova Scotia, exhibited Norris artwork frequently; in 2000-2003 a major retrospective mounted by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia was circulated to various public galleries in Canada.

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