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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rodney Frost Himself: An exhibition of mechanical toys, whirligigs, kinetic contraptions and whatchamacallits

Leacock Museum National Historic Site
Orillia, Ontario, Canada


(ORILLIA) ­-- On the surface, Rodney Frost’s imagination appears to have gotten the best of him. And as a consequence we are the beneficiaries.  

Nearly 30 of his whirligigs, mechanical toys, kinetic contraptions and for lack of a better word, whatchamacallits, are featured in a special Leacock Museum exhibition titled: Rodney Frost: Himself on now through September.

Despite having been tagged ‘an emerging artist’ by the Canada Council, the Orillia resident has doggedly pursued his muse through what can only be described as a lifetime of modest accomplishments and monumental setbacks.

After coming to Canada in the 1960s and working as a bottle designer, magazine art director, teacher and waggon-maker / wheelwright, Frost came to kinetic art late in his career. He credits the view from a window in his psychiatrist’s office with setting him upon the path of rendering his ideas, emotions and personal philosophy as art.

A disarmingly frank biography entry in the exhibit guide provides an insight into Frost’s world.

1993 - Reads Moby Dick. Acts accordingly. Third nervous breakdown. Tells psychiatrist what he sees out of window could be made into moving art piece. Does that.
1994 – Commences third half of life. Has nice time making stuff (later classified as kinetic art.)

He has three books on kinetic art to his credit, all of which are very good sellers in the United States, England and literally throughout the world; lesser so however in Canada.  His self-published chapbooks on art and philosophy have established him as both spokesperson and mentor on the local arts scene.

“We’d been after Rodney to mount a show for some time,” said Leacock Museum curator Fred Addis. “It wasn’t until we’d worked together on a couple of projects, that I realized that there is no disconnect whatsoever between the simple truths he lives by and the art that springs from his mind to his hand.”

“He brings to the table an impressive arsenal of skills: all of which find their way into his work as project and whim allow.”

 His creation for the Sunshine Sketches anniversary last year, titled No. 64 Extenuating Circumstances, is not only a direct nod to Leacock but Frost’s personal tribute.

Stephen Leacock loved the people and places he wrote of. Such smiles of extreme affection are often referred to as humour. But only by reading between the lines and from our own understanding, can we convert the words on the page into the love, care and affection that he felt: the longing and the comfort, a chuckle and a hug, and a tear from the heart.

Fortunately for us, Rodney Frost’s feeling of kinship with Leacock, has resulted in a treasure trove of mechanical creations which either bring like into closer focus or altogether skew our perceptions, but always with the same unmistakable affection and twinkle in the eye.

Rodney Frost: Himself is now on exhibition at the Leacock Museum National Historic Site, 50 Museum Drive in Orillia and is included with paid admission to the museum.
The exhibit will be officially opened during Doors Open Orillia on May 25 and 26.
The show runs until September.

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