Gordon Rice

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Gordon Allen Rice (born 1933) is a Canadian artist.

Image Studio Panorama #3 oil on masonite by Gordon Rice alt
Studio Panorama #3: Oil Painting by Gordon Rice

Biography, Education[edit]

Gordon Rice was born on 27 September 1933 in Los Angeles, California and educated at Los Angeles City College, University of California at Berkeley, U.C.L.A., and the University of Hawaii (MFA). He exhibited in Los Angeles and Hawaii 1961-1968.[1] Rice is a Canadian citizen who emigrated to Canada in 1968, and has lived and shown in Victoria, British Columbia, Nakusp, Vancouver, and currently White Rock, British Columbia.[2] He has maintained his associations with Los Angeles area artists, and has been notably an associate of Chicano artists Roberto Chavez, Marcus Villagran,[3] and Roberto Gutiérrez.[4] He has shown in Vancouver with his close California friend, Robert Ross, at the Pender Street Gallery in 1977. Rice and Ross exchange collage materials by mail continuously.[5] In recent years Rice has shown mainly in various commercial galleries or at private shows in Vancouver.[6] From 1977 through the 1990s Rice was active as an assistant curator with the Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, British Columbia[7][8] and also as a painting instructor at numerous community colleges and the Emily Carr College extension program.[9] His teaching activity carried beyond, into the 2000s.


Image Silver Landscape photocollage by Gordon Rice alt
Silver Landscape: Photocollage by Gordon Rice
Image Night Bus oil painting by Gordon Rice alt
Night Bus: Oil Painting by Gordon Rice
Image Wrenched Perspective photocollage by Gordon Rice alt
Wrenched Perspective: Photocollage by Gordon Rice

Through all this time, Gordon Rice has made and continues to make work in these formats: large oil paintings (one of which is in the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery[10] and another in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art[11]), large scale collages, many incorporating photographs; and small or very small collages on paper, watercolours,[12] and drawings.[13] Many of these works are in private collections; one piece on public view is the large oil Corner Still Life in the collection of Fairmont Hotels, hanging in the lobby of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler in Whistler, BC[14]

Rice's work reveals his interest in classical drawing and painting, but also in abstraction and media/surface play, with Asian influences and allusions. Many diverse themes can be found[15] in Rice's work: observation of suburban life; significant themes emerging from mundane materials and subjects; Asian and Pacific Rim influences on North American culture; cluttered interiors and still lifes; human figures in everyday settings (including portraits of his wife Ester); gardens and plants, art films, movies, music, astronomy, literary or philosophical texts, cars and industrial sites/equipment; themes common to the hipster movement of the 1950s and 1960s such as Buddhism, Americana and Canadiana; abstract visual relationships, especially those generated by camera optics or distortions of light and reflections; children's art (including collaged elements from his own daughters and grandchildren); advertising, kitsch, and even camp, especially in elements (labels, advertisements, etc.) which evoke an ironic appreciation of the populist expressiveness of "debased" sentimental, ethnic or commercial material. In the 21st century, the predominant work has been large oil paintings with complex surfaces and evocations of luminosity, and medium-sized collages interpolating photographs, often in large numbers.

The rate of Rice's output has remained consistent from the 1960s to the present (2010), including this use of photographs. The interest in photography pre-dates the rise of the Vancouver School of Photoconceptualism, which Rice took notice of without entering into a particular dialogue with it in his work. Commenting on a tendency to remain aloof from art world trends, Curator and first director of the Charles H. Scott Gallery, Ted Lindberg was already writing in 1974 that "Rice has brought ... to Nakusp fragments of ... the peculiarly Pacific world...," and that "he has an almost panoramic knowledge of the interactions and/or disparities between western European art and several hundred other cultures and subcultures.... This is perhaps why he doesn't worry too much about current vogues."[16]

This or similar ideas appeared in an article Lindberg wrote for Vanguard magazine in 1974, according to a summary entry in the book Art and Architecture in Canada, citing "Gordon Rice's ... interest in manual skill and the Topographical tradition... contrasted with his lack of interest in contemporary art trends."[17]

Curator Greg Bellerby has made the following assessment: "In all his work, he imparts a sense of inquiry and delight with the ordinary life around us."[18]


Image Small Gordon Rice mixed media piece alt
Small Work on Paper by Gordon Rice
  1. ^ Biographical information from Lindberg, 1974, and Bellerby, 1984
  2. ^ Catalogs exist for shows at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and The Vancouver Art Gallery; various other exhibitions are listed in the Bellerby catalogue and in artist's file at the Vancouver Public Library
  3. ^ See artist's website http://www.marcusvillagran.com/
  4. ^ See Roberto Gutiérrez. There are numerous mentions of Rice in the Roberto Gutiérrez papers: Roberto Gutiérrez Collection 1960-2005, Papers.
  5. ^ Telephone conversation with the artist, May 14, 2011.
  6. ^ Vancouver Public Library Artist's File
  7. ^ Bellerby, 1984
  8. ^ Various webpages show Gordon Rice's curating work, including Exhibition History Pages - 1984.
  9. ^ Bellerby, 1984 shows some of this teaching work; also see many former students' cv's referencing Rice as an instructor.
  10. ^ Title: Vent Machine and Serrano, 1970-72.
  11. ^ Title: Los Mil Cumbres, 1961.
  12. ^ Two watercolours are also in the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery: Valentine Street Studio and South Pasadena Sunset. Other watercolour work is in the collection of the Burnaby Art Gallery, Burnaby, BC. Confirmed by telephone enquiry to the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, September 27, 2010, and by mail by Burnaby Art Gallery, July, 2013.
  13. ^ Morris, p. 127, and Drawingsociety.com
  14. ^ Confirmed with the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, May 20, 2011.
  15. ^ These themes are evident in the imagery found in reproductions in the catalogues: Vancouver Art Gallery 1974 and Victoria Art Gallery 1969 (includes oils) and 1984 (works on paper), as well as in artist's files at Vancouver Public Library and Vancouver Art Gallery Library.
  16. ^ Lindberg, 1974.
  17. ^ cited in Google Books Art and Architecture, web page .
  18. ^ Bellerby, 1984.


  • Balkind, Alvin (1977), From This Point of View: 60 British Columbia Painters, Sculptors, Photographers, Graphic and Video Artists, September 7-October 2, 1977, Vancouver Art Gallery 
  • Bellerby, Greg (1984), Gordon Rice works on paper : Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, May 3 to June 3, 1984, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, ISBN 978-0-88885-091-1 
  • Gordon Rice: The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, May 27 to June 15, 1969, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 1969 
  • Lindberg, Ted (1974), Gordon Rice: Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Vancouver Art Gallery, 17 Apr.-12 May 1974, Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery  Introduction by Ted Lindberg.
  • Lindberg, Ted (1974), Gordon Rice (Article in Vanguard Magazine 3 No. 3 April 1974, 3-4, 9 ill., cited in Lerner/ Williamson book, p. 717, in external links), Vancouver Art Gallery  Article 6995 in this book is a precis of Ted Lindberg's article "Gordon Rice" in Vanguard 3 no. 3 (April 1974) 3-4. 9 ill.
  • Malkin, Peter (1976), Current Pursuits: an exhibition of the explorations and expressions of nine contemporary British Columbia artists: Keith Allan Detheridge, Sherry Grauer, Jean Heriot, Dan MacDougall, Richard Prince, Gordon Rice, Ron Stonier, Alan Wood, Robert Young: Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Vancouver Art Gallery, 8 Oct.-14 Nov., 1976, Vancouver Art Gallery 
  • Morris, Jerrold (1980), 100 years of Canadian Drawings, Methuen, ISBN 0-458-94570-6 
  • Varley, Christopher (1979), Gordon Rice: BC Painter: April 27 - June 10, 1979, Edmonton Art Gallery 

Further reading[edit]

  • BC Artists Files listing at Vancouver Public Library, includes invitations to private shows, clippings, B&W reproductions of some works: online reference here.
  • The sights and textures of the West Coast summer, 1976 Vancouver: Equinox Gallery, 1976. Notice of a series of exhibitions held at Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, summer 1976. Exhibitions include Alan Wood, Chris Hayward and Gordon Rice, Jun., 1976; William Featherston and Leonard Brett, Jul., 1976; Allan McWilliams and Bob Evermon, Aug., 1976.

External links[edit]