Mendelson Joe was born in Toronto at the Western Hospital less than a year before Canada joined the Allies in ending World War II. Although Joe grew up in Maple, a feedmill town twenty miles north of Toronto, the city of Toronto was always his home — even during his itinerant years in London and Los Angeles as an electric troubadour.
When Joe fell into painting and loved it like music, it was inevitable that he would document his friends, colleagues, neighbours, and others. For years, he painted portraits of Torontonians known and unknown, including: Robert Fulford, Robert Priest, Irshad Manji, Margaret Atwood, Bernie Finkelstein, Stan the Fan, and Babydoll Grandma. Over thirty years later, his portraits of Torontonians amount to a significant body of work, and here, in Joe’s Toronto, he exhibits fifty portraits from the experience. It tells both his story and the story of those he portrayed. Along with faithful reproductions of the original paintings, Joe has added his own brand of particular comments about the subjects and the sessions.
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Mendelson Joe was initially known (then, as Joe Mendelson) as part of McKenna Mendelson Mainline, an early 1990s blues band best-known for their album Stink. From the mid-90s on, Joe developed as a painter. He was captured in the biography Alien: The Strange Life and Times of Mendelson Joe, written by Nadia Halim. His paintings have been widely collected and many are reproduced in a series, Joe’s ____. Joe died in February 2023 at the age of 78.6. A tribute evening was held March 28, 2023 and featured 18 writers, singers, friends, and assorted riffraff. 10-4.
Published: October 2005
Dimensions: 6 x 9 in.