About George – Premier’s Award
PREMIER'S AWARD FOR ONTARIO GRADUATES NOMINATION SUBMISSION BY SHERIDAN COLLEGE
George Raab is a printmaker who has garnered provincial, national, and international acclaim for his powerful etchings of the Canadian wilderness.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS
Raab is a true success story - an inspiration for all independent Canadian artists, yet most people have never even heard his name. That is fine with him. "I shunned the 'success' and the recognition that representation by a large commercial gallery can bring, yet my artwork is seen by over a million people each year and my etchings have sold extraordinarily well." Entirely through his independent efforts and personal contacts, Raab's work has been included in over one hundred principal collections worldwide, as well as numerous private and public collections throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. Raab was invited to present a solo exhibition at the Canadian Embassy Gallery in Tokyo. "I could write the book for fine artists wishing to develop a market for themselves in the United States," laughs Raab, "detailing the hurdles of visas, brokers, and border crossings."
George is an appointed life member of the Art Gallery of Ontario, former member of the Executive Council of the Ontario Society of Artists, former board member for the Art Gallery of Peterborough, founder and former curator for the Ironwood Art Gallery at Trent University, former director of the Algonquin Arts Council, founding member of the Millbrook Gallery in his home town, and former member of the Board of Directors of the Otonabee Conservation Foundation.
Fellow artist, Bruce Lepper, shares why he thinks Raab is so successful: "George has a genuine love of his chosen medium, the desire to explore new means and methods, push the envelope in his craft, and a willingness to promote printmaking and etching to the young and old." Raab has been invited to deliver printmaking workshops and lectures at Colleges and Universities across Canada, and is regularly appointed to selection committees and juries of art competitions. At Trent University's Otonabee College, where he was Artist in Residence, he helped establish a gallery for displaying artwork produced by students during one of his workshops. That was the impetus for the Ironwood Gallery which continues to display student art today.
Raab has recently begun to incorporate computer technology into creating his art: "The potential is limitless, exhilarating, overwhelming. I find it ironic that I can seamlessly merge such traditional techniques as etching and aquatinting with innovative computer technology.” He is also starting a new body of etchings that delivers his environmental message with a real punch –“It has always been my hope that my artwork will provide both an appreciation of, and the desire to protect our natural heritage. I would like these complex and contemplative etchings to challenge the viewer and reflect my environmental concerns."
HOW COLLEGE EDUCATION CONTRIBUTED DIRECTLY TO CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS
While studying at Sheridan, Raab was fortunate to have developed a relationship with Carl Heywood, an inspired artist, teacher and mentor, who was teaching printmaking at the time. "He instilled in me the desire to pursue creative art as a profession," says Raab. "It was not in the curriculum he taught but rather in his spirit. I wanted to emulate his lust for life and his unaffected quest for honest expression. This gave me the motivation I needed to work toward a goal, and my lifelong adventure began." George and his teacher, J.C. (Carl) Heywood, are friends to this day. "College led me to believe that being an artist was possible," says Raab.
Raab is selflessly dedicated to the preservation of environmentally sensitive land. "My images are not unique and spectacular landforms," says George, "but bits and pieces of a familiar landscape. They are a cry for the preservation of the wild lands we desperately need in order to know ourselves."
Robert Winslow, a playwright and Artistic Director of the 4th Line Theater, and a fellow member of the citizen's action group, GreenHills, describes one example of the impact Raab has had on local development issues: "George helped save many acres of green space by meeting with a well known Toronto land developer and charming him with his sense of art and culture to change his mind on land use issues." Raab is also passionate about his community. "I have lived in my wonderful village for many years and I believe we all have to participate and take the initiative to get involved in community affairs. We should all feel a social obligation and responsibility to protect our environment and our quality of life." Over the years, George has orchestrated the municipal purchase of environmentally sensitive land for parkland and has been involved with the architectural preservation of significant buildings in his home town of Millbrook. Recently, he set the wheels in motion to establish a Community Foundation of endowed funds to create a financial legacy for his community. Raab is also working to find an environmentally-viable, employment-generating, and economically beneficial use for a recently abandoned large and scenic provincial prison property near Millbrook - a film production center may be one possible solution. He admits to being tenacious about his causes.
George has won dozens of top printmaking and graphics awards. (A full list of awards is included in his C.V) Raab was commissioned by General Motors Canada to create an edition of original etchings. His work has been profiled and reviewed in publications such as The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Artmagazine and Encore Magazine, to name but a few. He was one of the artists to be featured in "Four Arts", a video produced for The Government of Ontario, and later was invited to curate an exhibition of Ontario printmakers with which he traveled to China.
UNIVERSITY DEGREE(S) AND YEAR(S) RECEIVED
Prior to Sheridan, George attended the University of Toronto.
OTHER RELEVANT INFORMATION
Mark Bookbinder is one of many avid American collectors of George Raab's work. He enthusiastically supports this nomination: "Ontario could not have a better art ambassador than George Raab. He interacts with his buyers and visitors like the world's best art teacher."