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Tobey C. Anderson (1946-2014)

As many of you know, Tobey C. Anderson died early Sunday morning at Hospice Niagara. Tobe was a large figure on the St. Catharines arts scene since arriving here in 1990. Before serving as the director of the Niagara Artists Centre from 1990 to 1998, he was the founding President of Kingston Artists’ Association Inc, (now Modern Fuel), the President of Artspace in Peterborough, and the inaugural Chair of the St. Catharines Culture Committee. He was also the benevolent dictator of the CRAM Gallery and CRAM Press on James Street.

Tobe had a fantastic sense of humour that could include outrageous pranks, but he took the making of art very seriously. He was adamant about the distinction between Sunday painters and the artists who were devoting their life to making concept-based art work. He was also adamant about the place of the artist in society, how valuable it is. For Tobe, the artist had a role in bringing attention to what the rest of us were ignoring. This is evident in his work and through his life­–political fights for justice, hard questions about the forces of good and evil, and fearless reminders about our mortality. He earned a tremendous amount of respect for the art work he made, it challenged his audiences and it also challenged other artists. His absence leaves an unfillable space in the St. Catharines arts community.

I had the good fortune to work with Tobey at NAC, first as a coop student in the mid-1990s, as a volunteer, and eventually as the director. I learned from him at every stage. I was also fortunate to be an occasional companion on some of Tobey’s many fishing expeditions. I have fond memories of the two of us lifting speckled trout from the fast, clean waters of a branch of the Saugeen River that runs behind Alice Crawley’s cabin near Durham. One of Tobe’s axioms­–he had many–was ART=LIFE=FISHING. Anyone who shares in the passion Tobey had for making a work of art and dropping a line in the water will know exactly what he meant by that.

On behalf of everyone at NAC, we send condolences to Tobey’s family and friends.

– Stephen Remus