Ashkon Hobooti
February 11th, 2006
Not Yet Published Review: Follow Me to New Orleans

When Stephen Murphy travels for work, he feels a unique sense of pride from the simple fact that he can write “artist” under occupation in the declaration form.

“I live and breathe art from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed,” Murphy said.

His artwork is best described as impressionistic realism with water colours as the medium. His recent exhibition held last Saturday at the Hangman Gallery on Queen Street West, featured several paintings representing the ravished city of New Orleans which he visited for this assignment.

The severity of the plight in the historic city is something that he says affects not only the lives directly harmed by hurricane Katrina, but people in Canada as well and therefore, awareness is extremely important.

Notorious for his “wonky” and “whimsical” style, he demonstrated a connection to his subject matter. The buildings, as he recalls, were leaning either slightly forward or backward and the paint from the buildings had become dry from the humidity.

During his visit to New Orleans , he exercised the genre of impressionistic realism by capturing moments from various locations around the city. He explains that although it's difficult to paint on location, it's vital for an artist to absorb the sounds and smells of the surroundings.

His main objective for the exhibition was to raise awareness to the devastated city but also to raise money to donate to public and private schools in need of art supplies.

“Being a local artist in the Beaches Riverdale area, it's important for us to give back in a small way especially after a tragedy like Katrina.

“We get caught up in our busy lives and we move on…if something like that were to happen in Canada , I hope the people of New Orleans would think of us folks in Toronto ,” Murphy said.

Murphy, 43, is a self-taught artist who grew strong interest as a young child. He hails from Antigua in the Caribbean and immigrated to Canada at age 16. He grew up as an east end kid in the Beaches Riverdale area.

His only formal training came from a high school visual arts class and a few OCAD courses. Through taking these courses, he was able to have questions properly answered and also took advantage of the other aspiring artists that surrounded him.

“I was surrounded by more artists who inspired me even more so I recommend that even if you're self taught, to try and take a few courses or get involved in other artists that will inspire you to develop as an artist,” Murphy said.

He strongly disagrees with the stereotypical behaviour that artists are financially strained and that the career is not a wise one. During his years work in the food and beverage industry, his home was his haven and the hobby of painting would be a portal to relieve stress. As a final push of encouragement, his wife told him to make the career choice.

“It's important to find something that you truly love, because if you really love what you do, it's a matter of time before it pays off,” Murphy said.

“If you love being a lawyer, you'll make a great lawyer, if you like being a nurse, you'll be a great nurse, if you love being an artist, you'll be a great artist…it's basically loving what you're doing and watching it develop like a child.”

For Murphy, creating an atmosphere free to present his memories of a city any which way he pleases, is enough to make him happy. Furthermore, bringing life to a now darkened underground where artists have been known to sprout from is just as pleasing.

With no commercial intentions, he simply uses his water colour medium to create pieces of reality accurately shown through his own perception.

Murphy says that it's in an artist's nature to explore culture and adapt to the subject at hand. And in a sudden twist of his life in particular, he lost his greatest fan and motivator.

“My mother passed away earlier this year and it was nice to see that before she passed away, she saw that I had become somewhat famous in the art field...she taught me at an early age that if you want to do something you have to get off your butt and do it,” Murphy said.





Inside Toronto
February 16th, 2006

Review Not Yet Published

Inside Toronto
February 2, 2006

Beach-South Riverdale
Town Crier, January 2006

The East Toronto Observer
September 30th, 2005

December 13th, 2004

The Observer
November 26th, 2004

Inside Toronto
November 26th, 2004

Town Crier
November 17th, 2004

Town Crier
October 16 th, 2003

Inside Toronto
June 20th, 2003

The Voice
June 5th, 2003

Inside Toronto
May 16th, 2003, February 27th, 2003


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