Don Graves
Interview of a Different Sort

"An Interview"


Don was born in 1946, in Hamilton and was raised there except for a 2 year hiatus to Stratford. He studied piano and voice, performing in choirs, various recitals and various other moments on stage.

Summers in the 50ís usually began with the long and arduous motor trip (53 Ford, being the first memory) to Parry Sound, Pointe au Baril Station and by boat to the lighthouse, French River, Huntsville, Algonquin Park, Muskoka, Tobermory, essentially anywhere the fish were biting, blueberries yearning to be picked, facilities graded by the travel distance to empty the honeypot and the number of holes in the screens. Casting from the rocks, landing bass while aboard a 16 foot runabout, and falling asleep while trolling gave him plenty of time for memories of the awesome, gentle and sometimes frightening landscapes.

I loved reading and stories were fuel to my happiness. The trees, rocks, islands, skies and the water itself became the language of those visual tales.

Don attended McGill University in Montreal,Quebec, fell in love with French Canada, studied with Hamilton conductor, Boris Brottís father, Alexander Brott, met his wife of 44 years. Ruth and Don planned to stay there. Plans for artists are, by nature, fluid and they returned to Toronto for graduate school and Teachers College, followed by Donís tenure at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario from 1972 to 1997.

I discovered the baton as a means of expression. The voice and the stick carried me into a career of choral and theatre music. A love of teaching made Sheridan College my home base for over 27 years. They were exciting years with stimulating people: we took ideas and ran with them. I co-founded the internationally renowned Music Theatre School, later the joint acting degree at Sheridan and the University of Toronto and finally, my last 14 years as the Dean of Arts.

Recovering from some serious health challenges became the blessing in disguise: the memories and the need to express them took hold and for the past 10 years Donís dream of telling the landscape story in oil has grown. You can see on these web site galleries his voyage to date.

In my early fifties, I began to lose my hearing. A friend told me that the market for deaf baritones was limited, but that there was always another open door for an artist to tell their story. She was right.

There are common threads in my artistic life. I believe that musicians and painters tell great stories. My artist statement expresses my belief that art is storytelling, be it dance, theatre, music or visual art.

Painting as an expression of this belief is something Iíve been searching for since childhood. Landscapes are full of mystery and lightÖnew stories that emerge with gentle and vibrant colour. I missed painting for much of my life and since finding it, I havenít looked back.