EMC news – Stittsville artist Mark Grasza uses bright sunny colours in his paintings. Even when they are war scenes.
That’s why his two paintings featuring battles in the War of 1812 now on exhibit in the ArtSpace area of the Stittsville branch of the Ottawa Public Library have blue skies and lots of colour – British and American soldiers facing off against each other in their red and blue uniforms, resplendent native chiefs, the blue waters of Niagara Falls and the St. Lawrence River, tall sailing ships and landscapes including Niagara Falls itself and the American countryside being invaded across from Crysler’s farm.
They are also large oil paintings, three feet by four feet in size, which when combined with Mark’s colourful style make for an eye-catching display at the library.
Mark has done a number of paintings featuring the War of 1812, some dating back years such as the Crysler’s Farm battle scene that he did in 1978. He first became interested in the War of 1812 through reading books about the War.
Since this is the bicentennial of the beginning of the War of 1812, his War of 1812 paintings are a most appropriate exhibit on the library’s ArtSpace wall where they will be for the month of September.
His War of 1812 paintings on exhibit go hand in hand with the library’s focus on the War of 1812, both this month and in the lead up to this month. In August, the library featured a Goulbourn Museum display on the 100th Regiment of Foot and its battle actions in the War of 1812. Many of these soldiers became the first settlers of Richmond and Goulbourn in 1818. Earlier, the library featured a display of a number of books that have been written about the War of 1812.
Besides Mr. Grasza’s paintings on display this month, the Stittsville library is hosting a presentation by Kurt Johnson of Munster on women in the War of 1812, entitled “Perils and Petticoats: The Exceptional Women of the War of 1812.”
Mr. Johnson’s presentation will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 25 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Stittsville library. It is free and open to everyone but those attending must register beforehand with the library.
Mr. Grasza, who has lived in Stittsville for ten years, was born in Poland, obtaining his Master of Education degree and teaching in both Poland and Austria. He studied drawing and painting under renowned artists Prof. Boleslaw Czedekowski and Prof. George Lukacz at the Institute of Plastic Arts at the University of Lublin in Poland.
In his art, he tries to portray the simplicity of rural life in Canada, using his trademark bright sunny colours.
His art can be found in public and private collections in both North America and Europe. Two of his paintings, including one of Parliament Hill, can be found in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II. Others found their way to former Prime Minister, the late Pierre Trudeau, and the Governor-General.
Canada Post used his painting of Pope John-Paul II’s 1984 visit to Ottawa as the basis for a postage stamp.
Mr. Grasza’s painting of Polish hero Casimir Pulaski, who was a hero fighting for freedom in both Poland and in the fledgling United States, can be found in the town of Pulaski in upper New York State.
During the American Revolutionary War, Casimir Pulaski saved the life of George Washington and became a general in the Continental Army, creating the American cavalry.
He died in the Battle of Savannah.
He is one of only seven people to be awarded honourary United States citizenship.
Mr. Grasza worked as an electrical engineer and then as a truck driver criss-crossing North America until his retirement four years ago, allowing him to focus even more on his painting.
He is a member of the Ottawa West Arts Association (owaa) which displays the paintings of its members at its gallery in the foyer of the Goulbourn Recreation Complex on Shea Road in Stittsville.