Transcript: Charles Pachter | Dec 10, 1996

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

Richard Ouzounian and a guest sit on pink velvet chairs in an art studio. Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a dark purple suit, and a striped white shirt.

He says WELCOME TO DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
YOU'RE ABOUT TO MEET A
MAN WHO IS A PAINTER,
AND A PARTY-GIVER,
A RACONTEUR
AND A RESTAURATEUR,
THE TERROR OF TORONTO
AND THE MENSCH OF MIAMI.
AND ABOVE ALL, SOMEONE WHO
HAS DONE MORE TO RAISE
THE PROFILE OF MOOSE THAN
ANYBODY SINCE BULLWINKLE.
THIS DIALOGUE
IS WITH CHARLES PACHTER.

Charlie is in his late forties, bald and with a stubble. He’s wearing a blue t-shirt.

Richard continues CHARLIE, IT'S ABOUT
25 YEARS NOW SINCE
YOU FIRST PUT QUEEN
ELIZABETH AND A MOOSE
TOGETHER AND SUDDENLY
BECAME FAMOUS.
WHAT MADE YOU THINK ABOUT
IT IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Charlie says IT IS A LONG TIME
NOW, ISN'T IT,
NOW THAT I THINK BACK.
APPROXIMATELY, LET'S SEE,
IT WAS IN THE EARLY '70s.
I GREW UP IN THE ERA
OF POP ART, OF COURSE,
WHEN CANADIAN MAGAZINES
WERE INUNDATED
WITH PICTURES OF
WARHOL'S SOUP CAN,
LIECHTENSTEIN'S NUDES,
AND WHAT HAVE YOU.
SO AS PART OF
THAT GENERATION,
THAT WAS BOMBARDED WITH
IMAGERY FROM THE IMPERIAL
CENTRES, WHETHER IT
WAS FROM THE STATES
OR WHETHER IT WAS
FROM LONDON,
WE WERE STILL AFFECTED
BY IMAGES OF POP ART.
I TRAVEL A LOT
AROUND CANADA.
I TOOK A MASTER'S
DEGREE IN THE STATES,
SO I BECAME EXPOSED
TO A LOT OF THAT
WHEN I WAS THERE.
BUT I'D ALWAYS HAD
THIS ENDURING NEED
TO LOOK AT MY OWN
TIME AND PLACE.
I GREW UP IN A CULTURE
THAT WAS JUST ENDING
A POST-COLONIAL KIND OF
MYTHOLOGY THAT EVERYTHING
THAT CAME FROM
HERE WAS SOMEHOW
NOT AS INTERESTING AS WHAT
CAME FROM ELSEWHERE.
AND TO THOSE OF US
WHO WERE BORN HERE
AND LOVED THE PLACE, WE
COULD NEVER FIGURE IT OUT.
IT WAS THIS CONUNDRUM.
WHAT KIND OF A
SOCIETY WAS IT
THAT HAD CREATED THIS
SORT OF IMBALANCE?
AND I, WITHOUT KNOWING
IT, BECAME A FIGHTER.
AFTER FINISHING
GRADUATE SCHOOL HERE,
I WENT OFF TO EXPO, WHICH
TOTALLY FLIPPED ME OUT.
IT WAS THE MOST INCREDIBLE
EXPERIENCE SEEING
MONTREAL AT ITS HEIGHT,
AND CANADA FINALLY
LOOKING GLAMOROUS TO
THE EYES OF THE WORLD.
I WAS VERY PROUD
TO BE PART OF IT.
THEN I WENT OFF TO
CALGARY AND TAUGHT AT THE
UNIVERSITY THERE AND
DISCOVERED CANADA.
AND THE FIRST THING I
DID WHEN I GOT THERE,
I WAS SO IMPRESSED BY
THE LIGHT AND BEAUTY
OF THE WEST, BUT
I STARTED LOOKING
AT SOME OF THE
MYTHS OF THE WEST.
AND THE FIRST ONE I
EXPLORED WERE THE MOUNTIES,
AND THE COWGIRLS, AND
THE GRAIN ELEVATORS
AND THE PRAIRIES
AND WHAT HAVE YOU.
AND I KNEW I WAS
ON TO SOMETHING.
PEOPLE STARTED REALLY
LOOKING, FOR THE FIRST TIME,
AT MY WORK IN A
DIFFERENT WAY.
BEFORE THAT, IT WAS THE
SO-CALLED FUCKED-UP PERIOD
OF TRYING TO FIGURE
OUT WHO I WAS,
ET CETERA, THE POST
ART SCHOOL THING.
BUT WHEN I GOT OUT WEST,
I WAS SORT OF SLAPPED
IN THE FACE WITH THE
VASTNESS OF CANADA
AND THE FACT IT WAS
SO THINLY PEOPLED.
AND THERE WERE
MYTHS THAT EXISTED,
BUT THEY WERE SO ALMOST
REPRESSED THAT I WANTED
TO EXAMINE THEM
AND LOOKING AT THEM.
SO THAT WAS THE
FIRST THING I DID.
WHEN I FINISHED THE
TWO YEARS TEACHING
IN CALGARY, I CAME
BACK TO TORONTO.
AND AGAIN, HERE WERE
THE MAGAZINES FULL
OF ALL THESE
AMERICAN IMAGES.
AND I LOOKED AROUND,
AND WHAT WAS IT
THAT OBSESSED ME
MORE THAN ANYTHING?
THE STREETCAR.
SO I STARTED TO PAINT
AS MUCH AS I COULD,
THESE IMAGES OF THE RED
ROCKET FLOATING AND
HOVERING IN THE LAKES,
AND IN THE NORTH,
AND OFF THE RAILS, JUST
LOOKING AT IT AS AN IMAGE.

A painting pops up of a derailed streetcar sinking into water. It uses pastel colours and simple lines.

Charlie continues AND IT BECAME,
SUCH AS IT WAS,
THE FIRST TIME AN ARTIST
HAD EXPLORED A LOCAL SYMBOL.
AND THAT WAS A VERY
SUCCESSFUL EXHIBITION IN 1972.
BUT THEN, I READ SOMEWHERE,
IT WAS JUST A FLUKE -
FIRST, I'D GONE UP TO
THE ARCTIC IN 1972 AND
AND WAS INVOLVED WITH
TEACHING THE INUIT
HOW TO DO PRINT-MAKING.
I GOT VERY SICK
WITH PNEUMONIA AND
HAD TO BE FLOWN BACK IN
THE MIDDLE OF WINTER,
2,000 MILES NORTH
OF MONTREAL,
BACK TO MONTREAL,
WHERE THE MONTREAL
GENERAL HOSPITAL
WAS ON STRIKE.
I HAD TO GO BY AMBULANCE
BACK TO TORONTO,
SPEND EIGHT WEEKS
RECUPERATING IN THE SPRING
OF 1972, AND WENT IN
SUMMER OF '72 OUT TO THE
GASPE BAY, WHERE THERE WAS A
GREAT ECLIPSE OF THE SUN,
CARS FROM ALL OVER
NORTH AMERICA.
SUDDENLY, THE
SKY WENT DARK.
WE WERE IN MATANE.
IT WAS LIKE SOME SORT
OF MEDIEVAL APOCALYPSE.
THE SHEEP STARTED TO
BLEAT IN THE FIELDS,
THE COWS WERE MOOING,
AND EVERYBODY
STARTED TO HONK
THEIR HORNS.
THE WORLD WENT DARK
FOR LIKE 20 MINUTES.
AND AGAIN, I GOT THIS
MYSTICAL THING ABOUT CANADA.
I DON'T KNOW
WHAT HAPPENED.
I WAS DRIVING HOME ALONG THE
ST. LAWRENCE RIVER VALLEY,
AND I PICKED UP A
NEWSPAPER SOMEWHERE
THAT SAID QUEEN
ELIZABETH WAS COMING
TO NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE
TO OPEN THE NEW
SHAW FESTIVAL THEATRE THAT
RON THOM HAD JUST BUILT
FOR THE SHAW FESTIVAL.
AND I GOT HOME,
AND I DON'T KNOW,
I GUESS HAVING DONE
WESTERN IMAGERY,
AND THEN LOCAL
TORONTO IMAGERY,
I WAS LOOKING FOR
SOMETHING, SOMEWHERE,
THAT HAD A
NATIONAL IMPACT.
AND I WAS ALWAYS
FASCINATED BY MONARCHY,
ESPECIALLY IN THE
CANADIAN CONTEXT.
AND THE FACT THAT TO
THE REST OF THE WORLD,
SHE WAS THE
QUEEN OF ENGLAND.
TO US, SHE HAD BECOME THE
QUEEN OF CANADA, OFFICIALLY.
NEVER REFERRED TO
BY ANYONE ELSE
AS THE QUEEN OF
CANADA EXCEPT US.
AND I DON'T KNOW
HOW OR WHEN,
BUT I BEGAN TO
EXAMINE MONARCHY.
THE WORD MONARCH.
I REMEMBERED
FROM MY CHILDHOOD,
THE MOOSE WAS THE
MONARCH FROM THE NORTH.
WE USED TO CALL
IT THAT IN SCHOOL.
THERE WAS A CANADIAN
VERSION OF THE MERCURY
CALLED THE MONARCH.
I DON'T KNOW IF
YOU REMEMBER THIS,
BUT THEY ALWAYS TOOK--
THE PONTIAC PARISIENNE
BECAME THE PONTIAC
LAURENTIAN IN CANADA,
AND THE MERCURY
BECAME THE MONARCH.
MY DAD HAD A MONARCH,
AS I RECALL.
BUT ANYWAY, THE WORD
SORT OF STRUCK MY FANCY,
AND LED TO SOME
LITTLE POOL
OF UNCONSCIOUS
ASSOCIATION.
AND I JUST WENT
INTO THE STUDIO.

Another painting with a similar technique shows a young Queen Elizabeth in an RCMP uniform saluting as she rides a moose.

Charlie continues I STARTED TO EXAMINE
PICTURES OF THE QUEEN
FROM OLD NEWSPAPER
CLIPPINGS AND THINGS.
AND THEN THE MOOSE.
AND STUCK THE TWO
OF THEM TOGETHER,
AND IT WAS LIKE HITTING
AN ACHILLES HEEL.
THE MEDIA WENT WILD.

Richard says I REMEMBER
THE COVERAGE.
YOU WERE CALLED A
SAVIOUR, YOU WERE CALLED
A TRAITOR, PEOPLE WANTED
TO STRING YOU UP.

Charlie says MY FAVOURITE ONE WAS A
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
IN THE PAPER THAT SAID,
IT'S A DISGRACE.
IF THE MAN FEELS THIS WAY, HE
SHOULD KEEP IT TO HIMSELF.
AND THE OTHER ONE WAS, HE
SHOULD GO BACK TO WHERE
HE CAME FROM, WHICH
WAS NORTH TORONTO.

Richard says RIGHT.

Charlie says THEY THOUGHT I WAS A
BOLSHEVIK OR SOMETHING.
YOU KNOW, IT'S INTERESTING
LOOKING BACK ON IT,
BECAUSE THE
REVERENCE THAT WE FELT
FOR THE MONARCHY,
WHEN I WAS GROWING UP,
HAS MORE OR LESS
DISAPPEARED, AS YOU KNOW.
I JUST STARTED TO
EXAMINE THE SYMBOL.
AND I DID IT AS AN
ARTIST WHO HAD A LOT
OF BACKGROUND IN
ART HISTORY.
THIS IS NOT THAT
UNUSUAL AN IMAGE.
IT HAS ITS PRECEDENCE
IN EUROPA AND THE BULL,
LEDA AND THE SWAN,
DIANA AND THE HUNT.
I MEAN, IT'S A FAMOUS
EUROPEAN IMAGE
OF THE WOMAN WITH THE
BEAST, AS THE FRENCH SAY,
LA BELLE ET LA BETE.
AND I REALLY DID IT, PART
OF IT WAS MISCHIEVOUS,
BUT IT WAS NOT
SUBVERSIVE,
AND IT WAS NOT
MEANT TO BE UNKIND.
IT WAS AN INVESTIGATION,
IN SOME WAY,
AS TO WHERE WE HAD
COME AS A NATION.
A BRITISH COLONY
SETTLED BY LOSERS
FROM THE AMERICAN
REVOLUTION, 40,000
LOYALISTS WHO CAME
NORTH AND EVENTUALLY
BECAME THE GENETIC MASS
THAT CREATED ONTARIO.
I WAS FASCINATED BY THE
FACT SO MUCH OF THIS
HAD BEEN REPRESSED
IN OUR CULTURE.
WHY, FOR EXAMPLE, WERE WE
EQUIVOCAL ABOUT STARDOM?
WHY WAS THE INDIVIDUAL
USUALLY RELEGATED
TO SECOND STATION COMPARED
TO THE INSTITUTION?
WHY ARE OUR MOST
FAMOUS ARTISTS CALLED
THE GROUP OF SEVEN?

Richard says RIGHT.

Charlie says OKAY.
WHY IS THE IDEA
OF THE INDIVIDUAL,
OR THE FACT SOMEONE
LIKE LAWREN HARRIS,
WHO I THINK IS A WORLD
GIANT OR EMILY CARR,
NOT KNOWN AROUND
THE WORLD,
THE WAY EDVARD MUNCH
IS KNOWN FROM NORWAY,
OR THE WAY OTHER
ARTISTS ARE KNOWN?
WHAT IS IT ABOUT OUR
NATION THAT MAKES IT
SO DIFFICULT FOR US TO
LIONIZE OUR TALENT?

Richard says BUT YOU SEE, CHARLIE,
YOU'VE HIT ON
SOMETHING IMPORTANT.
WITH THE MOOSE AND
THE QUEEN AND HOW
YOU DESCRIBED IT, YOU'VE
TOLD US VERY SERIOUSLY,
AND FROM A LITERARY
AND PHILOSOPHICAL AND
POLITICAL PERSPECTIVE
WHY YOU DID THIS.
BUT TO A LOT OF PEOPLE,
IT WAS JUST CHEEKY.
IT WAS THUMB
YOUR NOSE.
IT WAS IRREVERENT.
AND THAT'S BEEN
THE TROUBLE.
AND YOU'VE HAD TROUBLE
BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY
AS AN ARTIST.
DO YOU EVER FIND THAT
LITTLE DEMON IS IN THERE?
YOU KNOW, IT'S CHARLIE
PACHTER WHO CAN'T RESIST
THE SMART-ASS COMMENT,
AND CHARLIE PACHTER
WHO IS THE
SERIOUS ARTIST?

Charlie says RICHARD, I'M OLD NOW.
AT 53, IT DOESN'T
BOTHER ME ANYMORE.
AT THE TIME, I CAME TO
REALIZE PART OF BEING
AN ENFANT TERRIBLE, AS
ELI LANGER WELL KNOWS,
HIS REASONS MAY HAVE BEEN
DIFFERENT FROM MINE,
BUT LET'S CALL
A SPADE A SPADE.
YOU WANT TO GET
KNOWN IN A CULTURE,
YOU HAVE TO DO
SOMETHING THAT'S GOING
TO PIQUE PEOPLE'S
INTEREST.
I DON'T KNOW WHETHER
WHEN I DID THAT,
IT WAS A COMBINATION
OF THINGS.
I WAS HAVING FUN, AND I
WAS BEING MISCHIEVOUS.
I GOT WORLDWIDE
PRESS.
I'VE GOT CLIPPINGS THAT
SAY CANADIANS IN ROYAL RAGE
OVER QUEEN ON MOOSE,
MONARCH HAS THREATENED
TO SLASH CANVASES.
IT WAS ALL THAT
KIND OF WARHOL,
MAY HE REST IN PEACE,
WOULD HAVE LOVED IT.
BECAUSE THE EXPRESSION
BECAME GENERIC,
WITHOUT PEOPLE EVEN
HAVING SEEN THE PAINTINGS.
QUEEN ON MOOSE.
AND THAT WAS IT.
AND IT BECAME PART
OF THE FOLKLORE
THAT I'M VERY
PROUD OF.
AND I REALLY DON'T CARE
IF SOME PEOPLE THOUGHT
IT WAS IRREVERENT OR
I WAS MAKING FUN.
THE IMPORTANT THING TO
THOSE WHO KNOW ABOUT THIS,
IS THAT I DID SCRATCH
AN ACHILLES HEEL,
AND IT GOES WAY BEYOND
THAT SUPERFICIAL
SO-CALLED JOKE.
ONE CRITIC PUT, 1975, IS
THIS WHAT ART IS ALL ABOUT?
BOYISH JOKES?
AND FURTHERMORE, IT DOESN'T
LOOK LIKE THE QUEEN.
THAT'S THE KIND OF
FABULOUS PRESS THAT MAKES
PEOPLE CONSTANTLY
THINK ABOUT THIS.
ONE CRITIC WENT BALLISTIC
ABOUT IT BECAUSE HE SAID,
HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO
THE WORLD'S GREATEST
HEAD OF STATE?
AND TO HAVING ABSOLUTELY
NO COMPREHENSION
OF WHERE THE MONARCHY SITS
IN CANADIANS' MINDS
BECAUSE IT IS REALLY MORE
OF A REFLECTED BACK IMAGE
OF WHO WE ARE AS
A NATION.
WHOM DOES IT SERVE?
TO WHOM IS IT
MEANINGFUL?
CAN IT STILL
BE MEANINGFUL?
IT ASKED A LOT
OF QUESTIONS.
IT'S LIKE GAUGUIN'S
FAMOUS PAINTING,
“D'OU VENONS-NOUS,
QUE SOMMES-NOUS,
OU ALLONS-NOUS?”
WHERE DO WE COME
FROM? WHO ARE WE?
WHERE ARE WE GOING?
THAT'S WHAT THAT
IMAGE IS ABOUT.
AND I'M GLAD THEY
THOUGHT OF IT AS A JOKE
BECAUSE IS THIS WHAT ART
IS ALL ABOUT, JOKES?
YES, IT'S VERY
MUCH PART OF IT.
AND GOYA DID IT, AND
SO DID SO MANY ARTISTS
OVER THE YEARS.
I MEAN, I'VE NEVER
UNDERSTOOD WHY
TIGHT-ASS ENGLISH
CANADIANS HAVE A HARD TIME
WITH THE IDEA OF
ART BEING HUMOROUS.
IT'S A VERY
DIFFICULT THING,
AS MEL BROOKS
COULD TELL YOU,
TO MAKE GREAT ART
THAT IS HUMOROUS.

Richard says NOW, YOU TALKED ABOUT
THE TIGHT-ASS ENGLISH
CANADIANS WHO ARE
SIMULTANEOUSLY
YOUR ENEMIES AND
YOUR SUPPORTERS.
OKAY, YOU'RE NOT A TIGHT-ASS
ENGLISH CANADIAN,
BUT YOU ARE A CANADIAN.
WHAT KIND OF
CANADIAN ARE YOU?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Charles Pachter. Artist."

Charlie says I AM NEITHER OF
FRENCH BACKGROUND NOR
OF ENGLISH BACKGROUND.
AND I'M PROUD TO SAY I
COINED A NEW PHRASE
FOR THE REST OF US,
WHICH IS PEEVED.
PRACTICALLY EVERYBODY ELSE
VAGUELY ETHNICALLY DEFINED.
OKAY?
I HAD ONE GRANDFATHER
WHO CAME FROM ROMANIA
TO BOSTON IN 1912, AND
DROVE A STREETCAR,
WOULD YOU BELIEVE, UNTIL
HE ANSWERED AN AD
FOR EATON'S AND CAME HERE
AND WAS A PANTS' CUTTER
FOR EATON'S IN THE TEENS
AND 1918 OR 1919.
ANOTHER GRANDMOTHER WHO
CAME FROM BREMERHAVEN
TO HALIFAX IN 1913
AND TOOK THE TRAIN TO
VINYAPEG, AS SHE CALLED
IT, GOT OFF BY MISTAKE,
WAS TO MEET HER
HUSBAND WHO WAS IN
THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR,
DRAFT DODGING
FROM VLADIVOSTOK
TO EDMONTON.
MY MOTHER WAS
BORN IN EDMONTON,
AND THEY TREKKED BACK
TO TORONTO IN THE '20s.
SO I MEAN MY FAMILY WAS
ALL OVER THIS COUNTRY
BEFORE I GREW UP AS A
PROPER LITTLE JEWISH BOY
IN WASP TORONTO
IN THE '40s.
I WAS NAMED CHARLES
STEWART BECAUSE THEY
THOUGHT HITLER MIGHT
MAKE IT TO TORONTO.
NOBODY KNEW WHAT
WAS HAPPENING.
AND OUR FAMILY
BASICALLY MOVED INTO AN
ASSIMILATED NEIGHBOURHOOD
IN NORTH TORONTO.
AND I DIDN'T KNOW REALLY
MUCH ABOUT MY IDENTITY
UNTIL I CAME HOME ONE DAY
AND ASKED MY MOM, I SAID,
WHY DON'T WE HAVE
PICTURES OF BABY JESUS
UP ON THE WALL LIKE ALL
THE OTHER KIDS?
MY FATHER LOOKED AT
MY MOTHER AND SAID,
HARRY, SAY SOMETHING.
YOU TELL HIM.
AND THEN, IT WAS
JUST AFTER THE WAR,
AND IT BECAME FASHIONABLE
AND OKAY TO BE WHOEVER
YOU WERE, AND IT
WAS A SLOW PROCESS.
BUT TORONTO WENT THROUGH
A TREMENDOUS PERIOD
OF RACISM IN THE
'30s AND THE '40s,
AS IS NOW WELL
DOCUMENTED.
AND THE WORLD WE LIVE IN NOW
IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

Richard says IT'S IRONIC.
JUST AROUND THIS TIME
WHEN YOU WERE A KID,
YOU WERE THE POSTER BOY FOR
ONE OF THE BIG WASP MOVIES.
YOU WERE THE
LITTLE KID WHO GOT
SCHLEPPED OUT
TO THE CNE.

Charlie says THAT WAS A FLUKE, BUT IT
HAD PROBABLY A LOT TO DO,
IF YOU BELIEVE IN THE
THEORY OF IMPRINTING.
AT AGE 4, I WAS PLAYING
OUT IN THE STREET,
AND AN AUNT HEARD ABOUT
THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD
LOOKING FOR A KID TO PLAY
A LOST BOY IN A MOVIE
ABOUT THE REOPENING OF
THE CNE AFTER THE WAR.
AND I WAS PRECOCIOUS AND
PRETTY NATURAL AS A KID,
AND JUST GOT
PICKED TO DO THIS.
AND FOR TWO WEEKS, I
HAD TO BE AWAKENED
EVERY MORNING AND TAKEN
DOWN TO THE CNE,
WHERE I GOT TO
SEE THE WONDERS
OF MODERN POST-WAR
CANADA, INCLUDING
BEING KISSED
BY BARBARA ANN SCOTT,
AND PETTING A MOOSE THAT
A WOODSMAN FROM QUEBEC,
NAMED JOE LA FLAMME, WHO WAS A
FAMOUS CANADIAN CHARACTER,
WHO LOOKED A LOT
LIKE GABBY HAYES,
OR THE CONVENTIONAL
CHRISTIAN IDEA OF GOD
THE FATHER, WITH HIS WHITE
HAIR AND FLOWING BEARD.
BUT THIS GUY USED TO CROSS
CANADA WITH A PET MOOSE.

An old black and white picture shows a man in his fifties with a prominent white beard holding a child about 5 to pet a moose.

Charlie continues AND I CAN STILL SMELL
THE HIDE ON THIS ANIMAL,
AND THE SAWDUST.
I CAN REMEMBER IT THAT
VIVIDLY FROM MY CHILDHOOD.
IT'S A PROUSTIAN THING.
THIS GREAT BEAST SITTING
IN THIS ENCLOSURE,
AND ME, NO HIGHER THAN
TWO-AND-A-HALF FEET,
GETTING TO PET THE
SNOUT OF THIS THING.
SO MAYBE IT
STAYED WITH ME.
I DON'T KNOW.

Richard says IT DID, ALSO YOU'VE GOT
THE QUEEN OF CANADIAN
FIGURE SKATING,
BARBARA ANN SCOTT,
AND THE MOOSE TOGETHER.
SO THEY WERE LURKING IN
YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS ALL ALONG.

Charlie says IT WAS ONLY ONE IMAGE.
AND I HASTEN TO ADD I
HAVE SINCE DONE SEVERAL
HUNDRED OTHERS SINCE.
BUT I GUESS THAT'S ONE
OF THE THINGS ARTISTS
HAVE TO LIVE WITH, THAT
YOU MAY BE ASSOCIATED
WITH ONE IMAGE FOR THE
REST OF YOUR LIFE.
GOD WILLING, THE
CULTURE MATURES,
AND PEOPLE STILL MAINTAIN
AN INTEREST IN WHAT I DO.
AND THIS IS EVERY ARTIST'S
CHALLENGE, TO KEEP GOING,
AND TO KEEP COMING UP
WITH IMAGERY THAT
IS MEANINGFUL, AND THAT
CONTINUE TO, IN MY CASE,
WIDEN CONSCIOUSNESS
ABOUT THIS WORLD
THAT WE ARE PART OF.
I THINK THIS IS THE
MOST UNTAPPED RESOURCE
ON THE WHOLE PLANET,
THIS COUNTRY.

Richard says NOW, YOU ASKED A WHILE
AGO, WHERE ARE WE GOING?
YOU MENTIONED GAUGUIN
DID THAT IN A PAINTING.
AND THERE HAVE BEEN OTHER
CHARLIE PACHTER IMAGES
OF FACELESS MOUNTIES CARRYING
THE COFFIN OF CANADA,
THE MOOSE LEAPING
FROM A SKYSCRAPER
AROUND THE TIME OF
THE RECESSION.
IS THERE AN IMAGE
LIKE THAT LURKING
IN THE BACK OF YOUR
MIND FOR US RIGHT NOW?

Another painting appears briefly that shows the silhouette of a moose apparently leaping off the top of a skyscraper.

Charlie says I HAD, I GUESS,
SOMETHING OF A, WELL,
PUT IT BLUNTLY, I GUESS,
A MID-LIFE CRISIS
WHEN I TURNED 50.
I BEGAN TO HAVE WHAT I CALL
AN ATTACK OF THE BTDTs.
YOU KNOW WHAT
THE BTDTs ARE?

Richard says NO, I DON'T.

Charlie says BEEN THERE, DONE THAT.

Richard says OKAY.

Charlie says AND I WAS GETTING TIRED
OF THE CHRISTMAS PARTIES
IN WINTERTIME, AND COMING
HOME A LITTLE BIT DRUNK
WITH HEARTBURN, THE WHEELS
GRINDING IN THE SNOW,
THE HOT AIR COMING IN
THROUGH THE REGISTERS,
IT GETTING DARK AT 3:30
IN THE AFTERNOON
WHEN I WAS STILL PAINTING,
STOPPING TO HAVE 40 WINKS,
AND WAKING UP AT 4:30 OR 5
AND IT BEING PITCH BLACK.
REALIZING THAT FOR
THE NEXT 16 HOURS,
IT WOULD BE
PITCH BLACK.
AND REMEMBERING IN THE SUMMER
IT'S THE EXACT OPPOSITE.
IT'S 16 HOURS OF LIGHT, IN
CANADA AND 8 HOURS
OF DARKNESS, IN THE WINTER
IT'S THE OPPOSITE.
AND I DIDN'T REALLY FACE
THE FACT I WAS PROBABLY
SUFFERING FROM WHAT
IS NOW CALLED S-A-D,
SEASONAL AFFECTED
DISORDER.
SOMETHING, OF COURSE, IT'S
OBVIOUS WHY ARTISTS
WOULD FEEL IT BECAUSE YOUR
VERY TOOLS ARE LACKING:
YOUR LIGHT,
COLOUR AND WARMTH.
I'M SURE THE REST OF
SOCIETY FEELS IT, TOO,
BUT PEOPLE WITH FAMILIES,
AND PEOPLE WITH JOBS
WHO HAVE DIFFERENT
ENVIRONMENTS THAT THEY
GO INTO ON A DAILY BASIS,
WOULDN'T SUFFER FROM IT
THE SAME WAY AN ARTIST
LOCKED IN HIS OR HER STUDIO
IN WHAT IS
ESSENTIALLY A DEATH.

Richard says SO WHAT DID YOU DO?

Charlie says I PICKED UP,
LIKE JACK KEROUAC,
GOT IN MY OLD WAGON AND
DROVE DOWN TO FLORIDA
WHERE I HAD FRIENDS WHO
WERE CONCERNED ABOUT
HOW I WAS FEELING, ALSO,
AND SAID, YOU KNOW,
YOU'RE NOT THAT UNUSUAL.
DELACROIX WENT
TO MOROCCO,
AND MATISSE WENT
TO SAINT-PAUL DE VENCE,
AND MANY OF THE ARTISTS
IN THE NORTH, IN EUROPE,
ALSO KNEW THEY HAD
TO - JUST FOR THEIR
MENTAL HEALTH, AND FOR
THEIR PRODUCTIVITY -
HAD TO GO SOMEWHERE
WHERE THEY COULD WORK
A LITTLE MORE EASILY.
FOR ME, IT WAS ALSO
WHERE DID I GO?
I WENT DOWN TO SOUTH BEACH
IN MIAMI AND DISCOVERED,
MUCH TO MY SURPRISE, THAT
IT IS NOT THAT UNLIKE
TORONTO IN THIS MODERN
WORLD THAT WE LIVE IN.

Richard says WAIT A MINUTE,
SOUTH BEACH MIAMI,
IT'S KIND OF THE AREA THE
BIRD CAGE IS SHOT IN.
TELL ME HOW THAT
IS LIKE TORONTO?

Charlie says OCEAN DRIVE IS LIKE
HARBOURFRONT IN THE SUMMER:
TEEMING WITH PEOPLE
PLYING THEIR WARES,
SELLING THEIR GOODS,
IT'S FULL OF BEAUTIFUL
YOUNG PERSONS, WHICH,
TO ANYONE IN MID-LIFE
CAN BE A TONIC
JUST TO WATCH.
AND BELIEVE ME,
THEY DO.
IT'S THE WATCHED
AND THE WATCHERS.
IT'S A PARADE.
IT'S A LITTLE BIT LIKE
LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS.
AND THERE'S NOTHING AS
INVIGORATING FOR ONE'S WORK
BECAUSE I'M A LITTLE
BIT APART FROM IT.
I DO NOT LIVE IN THE
MIDST OF ALL THE HOO HA.
I BOUGHT MYSELF A LITTLE
'40s BUNGALOW WITH AN OLD
GARAGE THAT USED TO
FIT THE BIG TANKS
OF THE '50s, AND TURNED
IT INTO A STUDIO,
AND NOW HAVE A LIFE WHERE
I AM MORE PERIPHERAL,
RATHER THAN THE
CENTRE OF THINGS HERE.
I CHOSE IT ON PURPOSE.
DO NOT BE OFFENDED.
I DO NOT HAVE A
TELEVISION SET.

Richard says ALL RIGHT.

Another painting, this time in lighter and brighter colours, shows a woman in her fifties tanning on a folding chair, on a beach, as two young men lie in the sand in the background.

Charlie says I LISTEN TO MUSIC, I
CATCH UP ON MY NOVELS,
AND I PAINT DAILY.
IT'S A REGIME.
IT'S A DISCIPLINE.
AND I GIVE MYSELF A GOAL
TO COMPLETE 20 TO
24 PAINTINGS OVER A
FOUR-MONTH PERIOD.
IT'S SOMETHING I
MUST DO FOR MYSELF.
IT'S A HUNGER THAT
I HAVE TO FILL.
AND I FIND IT INCREASINGLY
DIFFICULT TO DO IT HERE.
AS MUCH AS I LOVE BEING
HOME THERE ARE OTHER
SOCIAL OBLIGATIONS, THERE
ARE OTHER INTERRUPTIONS.
IT'S JUST THE
WAY IT IS.

Richard says THAT'S BECAUSE THERE
IS ALSO THE PUBLIC
CHARLIE PACHTER THAT
EVERYONE KNOWS.

Charlie says I NEEDED A BALANCE,
AND I FOUND THE BALANCE.

Richard says SO YOU DO ONE PART OF
THE YEAR IN MIAMI WHERE
THEY KNOW YOU AS THAT
NICE MAN WHO PAINTS.

Charlie says WELL, THEY CALL ME
THE CRAZY CANUCK.
BUT I HAVE MADE SOME
WONDERFUL FRIENDS DOWN THERE.
THE AMERICANS, GOD BLESS
THEM IN THEIR INGENUOUS WAY,
THEY KNOW ABSOLUTELY
NOTHING ABOUT CANADA,
BUT THEY GO, MAN, YOU'RE
TOTALLY FUCKING AWESOME.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING
BACK THERE FOR?
YOU KNOW, THAT
SORT OF THING.
IT'S FUN,
IT'S FUNKY.
IT'S ALSO KIND OF NICE
TO GET OFF THE TREADMILL
FOR A LITTLE WHILE.
NOT TO BE COY ABOUT
IT, BUT IN SOME WAYS,
MY MIAMI IS WHAT OTHER
PEOPLE HERE DO IN MUSKOKA.
IT'S THE SAME THREE
HOURS, ONE'S BY PLANE,
ONE'S BY CAR, BUT IT'S
IMPORTANT FOR ME TO STEP
OFF AND FIND SOME TIME
FOR MY INNER SELF.
THAT'S REALLY
WHAT IT IS.
IT MAY SOUND MAUDLIN, BUT
IF YOU DON'T DO THIS,
THEN YOU ARE SELLING
YOURSELF SHORT.
THERE IS ONLY
SO MANY DINNERS,
AND SO MANY FUNCTIONS
YOU CAN ATTEND,
AND SO MANY SPEECHES
YOU CAN GIVE,
WHICH IS A WONDERFUL,
AND IT IS VERY, VERY
IMPRESSIVE TO SEE THE
NUMBER OF PEOPLE
WHO ARE HUNGERING FOR
THINGS CANADIAN HERE.
I JUST GAVE A LECTURE
YESTERDAY UP IN AURORA.
I WAS ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED
BY THE REAL SENSE
OF SOLIDARITY THAT ALL
THE AUDIENCE HAD WITH ME.
AND THERE IS A HUNGER
FOR THE THINGS
THAT COME FROM HERE
THAT ARE INTERESTING,
AND THAT ARE BEAUTIFUL,
AND THAT ARE PROVOCATIVE.
AND WE ARE INUNDATED,
THERE'S NO QUESTION.
AND AS I WATCH TIME GO ON,
I GET FRIGHTENED THAT
IT MAY BE AN
IRREVERSIBLE TREND.
BUT THE FACT IS, PEOPLE
WANT TO KNOW WHO WE ARE.
PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW
MORE ABOUT OUR PAST.
I HAVE SUCH A GREAT TIME
MISSIONARIZING ABOUT THE
GIANTS OF OUR HISTORICAL
PAST THAT ARE TOTALLY
REPRESSED IN
OUR MINDS TODAY.

Richard says WHAT ABOUT YOUR
HISTORICAL PAST?
BECAUSE WE'RE
SKIPPING OVER -
WE DID CHARLIE
WITH THE MOOSE,
AND THEN WE'RE GOING TO
CHARLIE IN THE PRESENT,
BUT THERE IS A WHOLE
CHUNK IN TIME WHERE YOU
ACTUALLY WERE ONE OF
THE SHAPERS OF CERTAIN
NEIGHBOURHOODS
IN THE CITY.
YOU THINK OF QUEEN
STREET IN THE LATE '70s,
EARLY '80s, WE
THINK OF YOU.
AND I GUESS YOU
ONCE SAID TO ME,
THERE'S ONE WORD I SAY
IN MY LIFE WITH REGRET.
DO YOU REMEMBER
WHAT THAT WORD WAS?

Charlie says GO AHEAD.

Richard says GRACIE'S.

Charlie says AH.
BUT, YOU KNOW, IT'S SO
FUNNY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS,
IT WAS A LITTLE
BIT CAMELOT.
THIS WAS A RESTAURANT
THAT WE OPENED
ON QUEEN STREET IN 1980.
AND IT ONLY LASTED
UNTIL MARCH OF '82.
IT WAS LIKE 18
OR 19 MONTHS.
AND OF COURSE,
LOOKING BACK ON IT,
WE WERE HIT BY A MAJOR
RECESSION THAT KILLED,
NOT ONLY GRACIE'S, BUT A
WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER PEOPLE,
INCLUDING MOST OF
MY TENANTS IN OUR
ARTIST ALLIANCE
COMMUNITY.
BUT IT LIVES ON IN MINDS
OF PEOPLE WHO REMEMBER IT.
IT WAS A GREAT CONCEPT,
AND IT WAS A LITTLE BIT
BEFORE ITS TIME.
THIS WAS A RESTAURANT THAT
EXPLORED THINGS CANADIAN,
AND SHOWED GREAT
AFFECTION,
WITH A LITTLE BIT OF
MISCHIEF AND SATIRE, AGAIN,
TOWARDS THINGS THAT WERE
PART OF OUR OWN LIVES.
IF YOU WANT ME TO GO
INTO SOME OF THE DETAIL
ABOUT WHAT WAS AT
GRACIE'S, I DON'T KNOW.

Richard says SCARBOROUGH.
I REMEMBER THAT.

Charlie says WELL, FOR EXAMPLE, WE HAD
THE FOUR-THEMED DINING ROOMS.
AND THE THEMED DINING
ROOMS WERE BASED
ON YOUR MOTHER'S
DINING ROOM.
WE BASED THEM ON
SUBURBS OF TORONTO.
SO IT WAS A BIT OF A PUT-ON
OF THE MIDDLE CLASS.
THERE WAS A
SCARBOROUGH ROOM,
THE MISSISSAUGA ROOM,
THE ROSEDALE ROOM,
AND THE FOREST
HILL ROOM.
AND WE DID THE SCARBOROUGH
ROOM, BASICALLY,
IN DECOR THAT YOU
COULD GET AT STUART'S
FURNITURE OR
CANADIAN TIRE.
WE HAD SHAG BROADLOOM,
AND A SWAG LIGHT.
YOU KNOW HOW THE LIGHT
WAS NEVER CENTRED
IN THE RIGHT PLACE, SO
YOU HAD TO SWAG IT.
WE HAD PLACE-AND-PRESS MIRROR
TILES WITH THE GOLD VEINS.
WE HAD A TV BLIPPING
CONSTANTLY
WITH A POLE LAMP
BESIDE IT.
IT WAS YOUR BASIC
SCTV LIVING ROOM.
AND I REMEMBER PEOPLE WERE
JUST SO CHARMED BY IT,
THEY ALL WANTED TO EAT,
THEY WOULD PHONE AND SAY,
WE'RE HAVING A
DINNER PARTY,
AND WE WOULD LIKE THE
SCARBOROUGH ROOM,
CAN YOU GIVE US A
SCARBOROUGH MENU.
SO WE WOULD DO MEATLOAF
AND MASHED POTATOES
WITH GRAVY AND APPLE PIE,
AND ALL THIS STUFF.
AGAIN, IT WAS
BEFORE ITS TIME.
NOW, THAT STUFF IS
BEING DONE ALMOST
AS NORTH AMERICAN
GOURMET FARE.
BUT WE DID GET A LETTER
FROM THE MAYOR OF SCARBOROUGH
WHO WAS ABSOLUTELY
INCENSED SAYING
YOU PEOPLE SHOULD
BE HORSE WHIPPED,
IF YOU THINK THIS IS
THE TASTE THAT PEOPLE
IN SCARBOROUGH HAD.
AND OF COURSE, WE FRAMED
THE LETTER AND STUCK IT
UP IN THE DINING ROOM.

Richard says OF COURSE.
BUT DO YOU MISS
THAT WHOLE THING?
THAT BEING IN THE CENTRE
OF THE WHOLE LIFE
OF THE CITY, AND
THE RESTAURANT,
AND THE SOCIAL LIFE
AND EVERYTHING?

Charlie says I WAS IN MY 30s.
IT WAS A GREAT FEELING.
YOU KNOW, IT'S FUNNY,
WITH EACH DECADE,
THIS IS VERY
SHAKESPEAREAN,
YOU BEGIN TO FEEL YOU ARE
HERE FOR A DIFFERENT REASON.
I LOVED THE FACT THAT I
KNEW I WAS CREATING
A SENSE OF PLACE
IN TORONTO.
SUCH AS IT WAS, IT MAY
HAVE JUST BEEN MY HUBRIS,
MY PRIDE IN THINKING WE
COULD HAVE MONTPARNASSE HERE.
BUT I WAS PART OF IT.
I WAS IN AT
THE BEGINNING.
I HELPED MAKE
IT HAPPEN.
THEN CAME THAT HORRIBLE
RECESSION OF THE EARLY '80s
WHEN EVERYTHING
SORT OF DIED,
BUT IT'S ALL
COME BACK AGAIN.
AND NOW, HERE I
CAN WALK ALONG,
I STILL LIVE ONLY A
COUPLE OF BLOCKS AWAY,
AND I WATCH WITH GREAT
AMUSEMENT HOW IT'S BECOME
THE FASHION DISTRICT, OR THE
ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT,
AND HERE I AM, NOT
MORE THAN THREE MINUTES
FROM THE HEART
OF ALL THIS STUFF,
WITH THE THEATRES AND
THE CBC AND THE DOME,
AND KING STREET,
AND EVERYTHING
THAT'S GOING ON,
AND THOMPSON HALL.
IT'S WONDERFUL.
TORONTO IS
JUST BUBBLING.
IT'S A GREAT PLACE
TO BE LIVING.
AND I'D PROUD OF THE FACT
I PLAYED A LITTLE PART OF IT.
I DON'T KNOW NOW
WHERE IT WILL GO,
BUT IN MY OWN WAY, HAVING
ONCE BEEN KING OF QUEEN,
I'M NOW THE BARON
OF BEVERLEY.
I'M STILL IN MY SAME
STUDIO AFTER 18 YEARS,
THIS OLD BLACKSMITH'S
SHOP AND GROCERY STORE
THAT WAS BUILT IN 1881,
AND I'VE JUST PICKED UP
AN OLD FACTORY UP THE
STREET FULL OF SHARK SLIPS
AND SOYA SAUCE
AND RATS' NESTS,
AND GOD KNOWS WHAT, AND
I'M GOING TO TURN IT AROUND.
I STILL DON'T
KNOW EXACTLY WHAT,
BUT I'M THINKING
ABOUT MOOSE FACTORY,
BASED ON THE FAMOUS
HUDSON'S BAY POST
OF THE 18TH CENTURY, OR IN
A LITTLE BIT OF A MISCHIEF
TOWARDS THE ART
WORLD AGAIN,
I COULD CALL IT THE CHARLES
PACHTER ART FOUNDATION
AND WHOLESALE
WAREHOUSE OUTLET.

Richard says CHARLIE, THERE'S ANOTHER
CHANGE IN TORONTO, WELL,
IN THE WHOLE WORLD,
OVER THE YEARS.
I REMEMBER IN THE '80s,
I USED TO SEE YOU MORE OFTEN
THAN NOT SEE YOU AT
PARTIES AND OPENINGS,
AND NOW I SEE YOU AT
MEMORIALS FOR FRIENDS
WHO HAVE DIED OF AIDS.
HAS THAT CHANGED YOUR
FEELING ABOUT LIFE?
ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
ABOUT HOW YOU DO IT?

Charlie says I THINK PART OF IT ALSO
IS GETTING BACK
TO THIS BTDT THING:
BEEN THERE DONE THAT.
THERE COMES A TIME WHEN YOU
HAVE TO REALLY TAKE STOCK.
AND WHAT WAS ONCE
MEANINGFUL BECOMES MEANINGLESS.
FOR SOME REASON, SEEING
THE CROWDS AND THE MASSES,
WHICH WAS SOMETHING
THAT I DID BECAUSE
YOU HAVE TO NETWORK IN ORDER
TO GET YOUR WORK KNOWN.
I OFTEN LECTURE TO YOUNG
ARTISTS, AND THEY SAY,
WELL, HOW DO I
GET MY WORK KNOWN?
YOU HAVE TO BE A PRO.
YOU'VE GOT TO GO OUT
THERE AND BE VISIBLE.
I THINK FROM A TOTALLY
PRAGMATIC POINT OF VIEW,
I NOW KNOW THAT I AM, SO I
DON'T HAVE TO DO IT AS MUCH.
I MEAN, AS YOU PROBABLY
SAW ON MY COUNTER THERE,
THERE ARE SOME 15 OR 20
INVITATIONS A WEEK
THAT COME IN.
AND THIS MAY SOUND
CROCODILE TEARS,
BUT THE FACT IS, YOU HAVE
TO HAVE TIME FOR YOURSELF.
AND YOU CAN'T SPREAD
YOURSELF OUT SO MUCH
THAT IT AFFECTS YOUR
PRODUCTIVITY OR YOUR
CREATIVE INNER SOUL.
AND WITHOUT THAT, THERE'S
NO POINT IN CONTINUING.
IT'S EASY TO
LET GO OF THAT.
BUT THEN AGAIN,
THINKING ABOUT SO MANY
OF THE FRIENDS WHO
HAVE DIED, YOU REALIZE
YOU ARE ON THE PLANET
FOR A SHORT TIME.
AND WHATEVER ELSE HAPPENS,
YOU HAVE TO FULFILL
YOUR OWN MANDATE.
AND IF THAT MANDATE IS
TO CONTINUE PRODUCING.
THE GREATEST FEAR THAT
MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE HAVE
IS THAT IT MAY DRY UP.
THAT YOU MAY NOT HAVE
ANYTHING TO SAY ANYMORE
THAT WILL BE OF
INTEREST TO PEOPLE.
THERE IS THAT TENDENCY
IN A COMMUNITY
THAT IS INWARD
LOOKING, AS OURS IS,
WE'VE ALREADY
SEEN WHAT HE DOES.
WE'VE DONE CHARLIE.
GIVE SOMEBODY
ELSE A CHANCE.
THAT IS NOT A SIGN OF
A MATURE CULTURE WHERE
YOU HONOUR THE PEOPLE WHO
HAVE GIVEN TO THE CULTURE,
AND WE HAVE DONE THAT
TIME AND TIME AGAIN
WITH MANY WHO ARE DEAD,
BUT WE HAVE NOT DONE IT
WITH THOSE WHO LIVE
BECAUSE EITHER ONE
IS THREATENED OR ONE FEELS
THE PERSON IS TOO BIG
FOR THEIR BOOTS.
IT'S THE OLD
ALICE MUNRO THING,
WHO DO YOU
THINK YOU ARE?
THE TALL POPPY
SYNDROME.
WHATEVER THE CASE, I'M NOW
AT THE STAGE OF MY LIFE
WHERE I'M FASCINATED BY WHAT
NEW AND EMERGING ARTISTS
ARE DOING, AND I WANT TO
KEEP AN EYE ON THE TONE
OF THE COMMUNITY AND WHAT
PEOPLE ARE THINKING.
I KNOW IT'S A LOT
MORE DIFFICULT
FOR THIS GENERATION
THAN IT WAS FOR MINE.
AT AGE 19 AND 20, IT
NEVER DAWNED ON ME
THAT I WOULDN'T FIND
WORK, FOR EXAMPLE,
OR THAT THERE HAD
BEEN SUCH AN UPHEAVAL
IN THE SOCIAL SAFETY NET,
AND ALL OF THESE THINGS,
WHICH MAKE -
THERE'S A CERTAIN,
ALMOST A FEELING OF GRIM
RESIGNATION AMONG TODAY'S YOUTH
WHICH FRIGHTENS ME BECAUSE
THEY DON'T HAVE THE OPTIMISM
THAT WE HAD TOWARDS A BETTER
WORLD THAT WAS COMING.
AND I THINK WE HAVE TO
ADDRESS THIS ISSUE
VERY SERIOUSLY BECAUSE
THERE IS WORK TO BE DONE.

Richard says THANK YOU, CHARLES.
CHARLES PACHTER.

He faces the screen and continues
HE'LL KEEP PAINTING.
HE MAY STILL KEEP
GOING TO PARTIES.
AND HE'LL DIVIDE THE YEAR
BETWEEN TORONTO AND MIAMI.
WHEREVER HE'LL BE,
YOU'LL FIND THOUGHT,
YOU'LL FIND ART, YOU'LL
FIND INTELLIGENCE,
YOU'RE PROBABLY ALSO
GOING TO FIND A MOOSE.
FOR DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1996, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Charles Pachter