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On the Canvas: Excelsior! 1975-2015, featuring works by London-born artist Dave Gordon at Forest City Gallery

A touring exhibition of works by a London-born artist who was a founding member of the artist-run Forest City Gallery is coming to London.

Excelsior! 1975-2015 featuring works by Dave Gordon opens at Forest City Gallery Friday.

Gordon, with London artist Jamelin Hassan, founded the Polyglot Gallery in a local bookstore in 1970,then helped found the Forest City Gallery before he relocated to Kingston in the mid-1970s.

In Kingston, Gordon helped establish the Kingston Artists’ Association and, in 1977, the Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre that is still operating today.

“Gordon’s endeavours to support artist-run initiatives and artists’ rights have been widely celebrated and recognized in Canadian arts,” said gallery artistic director Jenna Faye Powell. “With roots in London’s Regionalist movement, his work presents a watchful perspective, one that is observational, keen, and active.”

Gordon’s contemporaries included such renowned artists as Tony Urquhart, Murray Favro, Ron Martin, Jack Chambers and Greg Curnoe, who were known not just for their art, but for their fight for the rights of artists to get recognition and monetary benefits, such as royalties, for their work. They helped found Canadian Artists’ Representation, a national organization of artists still operating today.

The exhibition has also been seen in Kingston and at the Niagara Artists’ Centre in St. Catharines.

Gordon moved to Kingston in 1976 to take a job in the art department at St. Lawrence College. The department closed in 1994.

In an artist’s statement, Gordon said he then did some contract teaching at Queen’s and at Millhaven and the Kingston Penitentiary.

“Teaching in the prisons steered my work towards political commentary,” Gordon wrote. “I continue to paint faces and landscapes, sometimes putting the faces in the landscape, to connect a person to a place, and allude to a story.”

The title of Gordon’s show — Excelsior!— was also the name of an exhibition of his work at the Forest City Gallery in 1974.

If you go

What: Excelsior! 1975-2015, featuring works by London-born artist Dave Gordon.

When: Opens Friday, 7 p.m., continues to April 21.

Where: Forest City Gallery, 258 Richmond St. 

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