As an illustrator, I loved doing anything with a foreign setting. My ancestors had come from France. In 1979, I made another trip to Europe, starting in Paris to sketch and paint and produce a show. In 1981, I had an exhibition ant the Prince Arthur Galleries hosted by the French and Italian embassies in Toronto. A catalogue was produced in French, English and Italian called Lazare in Europe.
Chien du Café
Rue de Siene
People in the city, often the protagonists in the fiction I illustrated, were all around me, the girls at Murray’s restaurant at the Park Plaza hotel where I had breakfast near my studio and Country Style Donuts where I had coffee. The nearby popcorn man at ROM, people on the subway, teenagers in the mall, they all became my subject matter. What fun! I remember it all with such pleasure! I wish I was back there again. With my pictures I tried to stop it, to capture it in a frame to look at and have forever.
The Girls at Murray’s
Coffee Style Donuts
Nude on a Mattress
In the Ottawa Citizen newspaper Cathy Scafter wrote, “His painting of a passenger on a bus, a waitress, musicians in a mall, opens our eyes to the most ordinary marvels. He feels enough empathy for people in the city to depict them with perfect candor." I’ve been painting now for over 35 years, had many shows and awards both here and in the United States. But each new picture is a challenge, an adventure and I still feel that I’m learning.
I’d like to thank Ivan Kocmarek and Leif Peng who still care and remember without their help, generosity and expertise I couldn’t have produced this story.
Text and images to this series are © Gerald Lazare
* Read Ivan Kocmarek's articles on Gerald Lazare's early career in Canadian comic books here and here.