61 x 46cm
Miss Harlequin & The Sugar Factory
24" x 18", oil, 2018

This painting takes place at the intersection of Notre-Dame Street and Pie-IX Boulevard in Montreal's east end. Located at this intersection is the Lantic Sugar Limited refinery, the largest refined sugar distributor in Canada. The original plant was built in 1888. Over the years, the building and processing facilities have been frequently upgraded with a major expansion taking place in 1998. Passing through this intersection is a bike path that runs along Notre-Dame Street. This bike path connects the Montreal borough where I live with downtown Montreal. Over the last 30 years, I have taken this bike path hundreds of times to get to and from the downtown area. This is what I see when I arrive at the intersection on my bicycle. I never get tired of looking up at these two massive silos surrounded by traditional brick and mortar buildings. It's a strange combination, but one that has always tickled my fancy.

Originally I was going to put a black split window VW Beetle in the painting, but when I stumbled onto this quirky candy colored Beetle, I thought it was better suited thematically to complement the sugar refinery. Yes, this car actually existed. In 1996, the Volkswagen plant in Puebla, Mexico produced 141 of these multi-colored Beetles. They consisted of four colors, Pistachio Green, Chagall Blue, Ginster Yellow, and Tornado Red. The arrangement of the different colored body parts was specifically calculated so that no color ever bordered itself. They called it the Harlequin Beetle.

Enlarged detail of Dodge Challenger.
The white car waiting at the red light on the right is a 1970 Dodge Challenger. I did not want a contemporary vehicule in the painting. Instead, I opted for a classic muscle car. I was inspired by the 1971 movie "Vanishing Point" starring Barry Newman. Newman plays Kowalski, a professional race car driver who must deliver a 1970 Dodge Challenger from Colorado to San Francisco in less than 15 hours but gets into trouble with the law along the way. Not exactly Academy Award material, but it remains a cult classic. The Challenger in the painting is screen accurate, including the 1970 Colorado license plate OA-5599.

The last piece of the puzzle was putting someone in the passenger seat of the Beetle. At first, I did not put too much importance on this because the size of the head in the painting was going to be small, about the size of a 10c dime, but as the painting progressed, I realized it would be nice to have someone to my liking in the passenger seat. It did not take long for me to think of this lovely acquaintance, a natural redhead with a beautiful face and quiet disposition. I found my "Miss Harlequin". Fortunately, she was both intrigued and flattered. She agreed to pose for the painting. I was honored to paint her. It was a little intimidating trying to paint her on such a small scale, but I think I managed to capture her quite nicely. And that is the story of "Miss Harlequin & The Sugar Factory."
Detail of Miss Harlequin and the VW Harlequin Beetle.