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“I want to see them on the walls of people’s homes,” artist says

December, 2010

Bob Doke’s Sherlock Holmes painting is something of a coveted treasure at Kokkino on Sherbrooke, where Doke’s acrylic paintings are on display. But it’s not for sale.

It holds sentimental value to the artist, whose wife is expecting it back on their living room wall as soon as possible. The crowd has been forewarned, but the small café is buzzing with people half-seriously attempting to acquire it anyway.

“My wife, daughter and I went to London a few years ago,” Doke says.

“We walked down Southwark, where all the artists and musicians go, crossed the Centennial Bridge and came upon huge cement buildings in an industrial area. We were hungry and thirsty so we searched to find a way back to the main area. We turned a corner and there it was: the Sherlock Holmes Pub!”

The rest of the 20-odd paintings on Kokkino’s walls are for sale—with prices as low as $60.

This treasure is not for sale. But most of Bob Doke’s art (such as the scene at left, $60), is ready to be wrapped up. Photo: Janie de Jeu

“I want to see them on the walls of people’s homes,” Doke says. A retired elementary and high school teacher, Doke discovered his passion for art when he was 7, drawing his favourite cartoon characters with coloured pencils.

He has experimented with such media as watercolour, oil, pastels and even crayons—nothing to sniff at when he describes the techniques that can be used with them. But pencil techniques are what earned him a showing at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1953.

“The drawing was huge, a landscape, 18 by 24 inches. I submitted it and it was shown at the spring exhibition that year. I was even in the program,” he says.

Doke didn’t teach art at the high school level; he taught economics.

He is humble when he explains why: “I don’t have any technical background. I’m self-taught. I tried taking lessons, but I gave them up. I couldn’t do fine arts school. I have my own method of doing things, and it’s based on feeling.”

Doke, who had his first art show at 70, belongs to an independent artists’ club called Artist Association 32.

The group has been around since, you guessed it, 1932. For the past four years, the work of the group’s 12 members has been exhibited at Kokkino.

“I sometimes wake up at 4:30am and sit on the gallery with a cup of tea to watch the sunrise and take photographs. The rest is all up to my imagination.

“As soon as my brush hits the canvas, away I go.”



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