Ronald Spickett (1926- ) is a Calgary-based artist, poet, and Zen Buddhist lay priest. During his long career, he also taught studio art, both at the Alberta College of Art and Design and at the University of Calgary. Today, Ronald Spickett, also known by his Buddhist name of Gyo-Zo, is best known for a series of ambitious paintings he executed during the 1960s, paintings with Western themes such as posses and riders. However, the scope of Spickett's work proved to be much more diverse and includes genre paintings, landscapes, non-representational paintings, sculptures, and paintings with religious and spiritual themes. The artist's work, as Simmins' study shows, is not easily pigeon-holed; Spickett is more than a Western artist, more than a Buddhist artist, more than simply the sum of his paintings. Rather, Simmins argues, he is an "ideas-based" artist whose work reveals complexities and undercurrents that link him with the prevailing artistic currents of his times, yet also testify to his originality and unique style. Simmins was granted complete access to the artist's personal and professional papers and interviewed him on numerous occasions. Thus the artist's own statements on his life and work make an invaluable contribution to Spirit Matters, and are considered alongside critical writings, broader studies in Canadian art history, and still larger currents in Canadian artistic and intellectual life.
Geoffrey Simmins is Associate Dean, Research, Planning, and Infrastructure, in the University of Calgary's Faculty of Arts. His publications include both contemporary and historical books, exhibition catalogues, numerous encyclopedia articles, and videos on Canadian art and architectural history.
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