Photo courtesy Samphan Usher
Every Friday, Samphan Usher boards the 5.30 am train in Kingston and travels three hours to Union Station here in Toronto. Her destination? A painting class at 10 am at the AGO’s Gallery School.
A long-time member of the AGO, Samphan began art lessons here after
visiting the AGO’s Modigliani: Beyond the Myth exhibition in 2004,
when she was intrigued by notice of a class to study
portrait-painting with Atsmon Ganor in Modigliani’s style.
Born in Bangkok, Samphan met her Canadian husband while they were both
working with the United Nations in her native city. They travelled a
great deal in connection with his work, giving Samphan a chance to
study art in many places. She began painting in Vancouver in 1971,
and continued her studies with teachers in Palo Alto, Kuala Lumpur,
Oxford, Tokyo and Toronto. Samphan has exhibited in Bangkok, Oslo,
Toronto and Vancouver – as well as in her current hometown,
Kingston. Her next exhibition will be in Kingston in August 2007. A
full-time mother of Ann and David, Samphan also taught Chinese
painting to children and adults for three decades. She has a gallery
at home, works at the Art Rental Department of the Agnes Etherington
Art Centre at Queen’s University, and shows regularly at Studio 22 in
"Studying at the Gallery School has been a wonderful experience," says
Samphan. "It’s great fun to be painting in a huge hall with five
classes taught simultaneously – one can peek from time to time at
what the other students are doing – and to study in the AGO, having
access to great paintings that our teacher shows us as models."