franklin carmichael on view at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (10365 Islington, Kleinburg) to February 17. $12, stu/srs $9. 905-893-1121. Rating: NNNN
if you're into historical cana-dian art and missed it in Ottawa, then Portrait Of A Spiritualist: Franklin Carmichael And The National Gallery Of Canada Collection is a must-see show.It's not just that the youngest and shortest-lived member of the Group of Seven (Tom Thomson died before the Group was formed) is seen in a particularly personal light, portrayed by a guest curator -- Catharine Mastin -- who happens to be the artist's granddaughter, although that counts.
Carmichael, who taught graphic design and commercial art at OCA from 1932 until his death in 1945, was at his best when working in watercolour, a medium that's particularly susceptible to fading when exposed to light. For conservation reasons, these works -- like any work on paper -- are rarely displayed.
Portrait Of A Spiritualist is full of breathtaking examples of Carmichael's watercolour work as well as book illustrations, poster designs and chocolate-box packaging. It's a Carmichael you haven't seen much of until now.
Most of the show consists of works that were kept by the family -- and out of public view -- until the Mastins made a gift of 229 pieces to the National Gallery in 1998, so the works feel particularly fresh.