CANADIAN ARTIST DON CONNOLLY

 

Don Connolly is a widely recognized Canadian aviation artist with work represented in a number of major museum collections including the Canada War and Aviation Museums in Ottawa, the National Air Force Museum in Trenton, and in numerous other provincial and military museums, both in Canada and the USA.  His work has also been seen frequently as prints, cover paintings and/or illustrations in books and in magazines such as Aviation History, Aviation Week and Space Technology and (Cdn.) Airforce; and in 1982 a book of his earlier aviation paintings was published under the title Painting Planes.

He has now been painting as a professional for over 25 years, and numbers his output of original (aviation) works as being "well over 2000".  Prior to that time he served 15 years as a navigator, instructor and staff officer in the RCAF,  resigning his commission as Squadron Leader in 1966, to become a partner in opening and managing a chain of six bookstores and picture framing establishments in the Ottawa/Gatineau area.  A dozen years later he answered the ultimate call to become a full time freelance professional artist.

He considers himself fortunate to have then teamed up with some co-operative commercial galleries, where he was permitted to present work in a variety of styles and with subject matter ranging from land and cityscapes through portraiture, abstracts and sculpture.  While he continues to do considerable work in these art forms, his passion for aviation inevitably led him into this field as well, and it now constitutes the larger part of his output.  Commissions are a specialty, and now consume most of his time at the easel, although his works can still be found on display at several galleries, notably Studio 737.

Connolly has been on of the key figures in the formation and administration of the Canadian Aviation Artists Association, which in 2002 was honoured by the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame for its contributions to preserving the history of Canadian aviation.  He is also a long time active member of the American Society of Aviation Artists, and of the Canadian Aviation Historical Association.

He is a frequent contributor and prize winner at major shows in both the USA and Canada, and in 2003 was invited by the USAF Museum to display ten works in its first show of international aviation art, as the official representative for Canada.

NOTABLE WORKS/AWARDS

Perhaps the most often seen of his commissioned works was a suite of paintings which hung in lounges at Ottawa International Airport, major elements of which have just been acquired by the Canada Aviation Museum.  Other works adorn corporate offices at such companies as Bannister Pipelines, Doran Construction, Air Canada and the Canadian Space Agency.  Those in private collections are scattered as far afield as Hong Kong and Ireland.  Many of his paintings are also in the permanent collections of the Canadian War Museum, the Naval Air Museums of Canada and the USA, the National Museum of the Canadian Air Force, various Air Force command and squadron collections, and in a number of provincial aviation museums.  They have also been displayed regularly in juried shows at major air & space museums in the USA, notably, those in Oshkosh (EAA), Hampton Roads, Hammondport, San Diego, Pensacola, Seattle, Wichita, Fort Worth, Macon and Colorado Springs.  In 2003, ten of his major works were hung as the Canadian component of an invitational international exhibit at the USAF Museum in Dayton Ohio.

In January 1988, following a show at his Ottawa dealer's gallery, seven of his works were purchased by the Canada War Museum for its permanent collection.  Two years later he was commissioned by the Canada Aviation Museum (CAM) to plan and help launch its featured biannual series of ARTFLIGHT aviation art competitions/shows, which still continue with success and are now international in scope.  In 1996 he again collaborated with CAM in organizing and running a first-ever forum of Canadian aviation artists, which preceded the official opening of ARTFLIGHT 96.  He was subsequently elected as the first president of the organization which resulted from this gathering - the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame for its outstanding contributions to the cause of aviation history in Canada, receiving its coveted "Belt of Orion" award.

As a result of his prolonged efforts in the associated fields of aviation history and art, Don was presented in 1998 with the Fred Hatch Award by the Canadian Aviation Historical Society "for distinguished contributions to the advancement of Canadian aviation history"  The next year, and again in 2003 he was honoured at ARTFLIGHT shows with the first prize.  Other significant awards were first placements in both 2000 and 2005 in the prestigious aviation journal Aviation Week & Space Technology's annual "Best of the Best" competition.

While not identified as a muralist, Don has done several of note.  In 2986 he completed a large, five panel depiction of the history of Aylmer (QC) United Church, measuring 12 x 24' in size.  Another historical mural shows the city of Hull, Quebec (the Wrightville) as it appeared in 1825.  In Kingston a smaller mural depicting features of the local cityscape is installed in the foyer of the Ontario Government's OHIP building.  This was created as the result of his being one of six winners of a province-wide competition in 1983.

In 1994 the Royal Canadian Mint selected one of this paintings Finale, from the collection of the Canadian War Museum, as the basis for the design of one of the six coins released in its collectors' series "Canada Remembers".  This painting is now on permanent display at the museum.

Starting in 1986, a number of his aviation paintings have been reproduced as limited edition prints.  To date, editions of approximately thirty different subjects have been published, most notably a series of 14 issued by Canada's major aviation print publish, Aviation Art Canada.  A print specially commissioned in 1999 by the 416 Wing of the Canadian Air Force Association to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Air Force gained recognition as the official Air force 'poster' for the event.  The most recent print issue was done in 2004 for 424 Sqn., to commemorate the retirement of the Labrador helicopter from service.

From 1979 to 1991, Don was represented continuously in Ottawa by Studio Colleen, where he participated in several dozen or more one-person and shared shows.  He is currently represented in the Eastern Ontario area at the Canal Gallery in Merrickville, and the Studio 737 art gallery in Tweed, Ontario.

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