Mendelson Joe

"Outside Looking In"

Outside Looking In

Eclipse Art Gallery is proud to present "Outside Looking In with Mendelson Joe" featuring the vivid artworks from late Canadian Musician, Writer & Artist; Mendelson Joe.

Select pieces will be available for viewing and purchase both online and at the gallery.*

October 25th to October 30th @ Eclipse Art Gallery - Deerhurst

His Music.

Joe taught himself to play his sister’s Gibson guitar at age eleven.  His musical idols were Little Richard, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, and Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1964, at age nineteen, Joe Mendelson became a professional singer-songwriter-musician.  His debut was at The Depression coffee-house in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Four years later, he formed a bluesy rock band with Toronto guitarist Michael McKenna.  They made five albums under the banner Mainline.  

In 1972, Joe recorded his first of many solo albums.  Mr. Middle of the Road (on GRT label) was a solo project with Mr. Joe playing all the instruments, singing, and writing the songs.

Joe recorded two more albums, Sophisto, and a reunion LP with Mike McKenna entitled No Substitute.  He also became Mendelson Joe. From 1979 to 1981, Mendelson recorded three more albums for the Stompin' Tom-owned Canadian label Boot RecordsNot Homogenized, Jack Frost, and the controversial Let’s Party.  In 1984 Stony Plain Records released Some of the Best of Mendelson Joe – The Name of the Game Ain’t Schmaltz.  Several of Joe’s songs have been covered by the likes of guitar-genius Amos Garrett, crooner Noel Harrison, and the characters of Sesame Street.

In 1988 the Anthem label released Joe’s  Born To Cuddle followed in 1991 by Anthem’s release of Joe’s hard edged bluesy Addicted LP, along with the video Passion.Boutique label Pacemaker released Mendelson Joe’s Everyone Needs A Pimp CD in June 2007. Joe’s work reflects his passions and convictions as reflected in the albums Humans Bug Me (1999), Live at Sixty-Five (2009), Spoiled Bratland (2010) and Women Are The Only Hope (2012), Canuckian (2012), Humans (2013), Art Is The Healer (2013), and Buried Treasure (2014). 

His Writing.

Lyrics, letters, postcards, prose, fiction, and autobiographical stories were all part of Mendelson Joe’s written work. 

Every day began with the writing of letters for Mr. Joe. Mendelson Joe was not a social person and preferred to speak to people one-to-one instead of in groups or at dinner parties. Joe was not one for small talk and firmly believed in the inverse relationship between the quality of a conversation and the number of people involved. However, Joe was a keen and engaged citizen of the world and a firm believer in the power of the written letter. The letters took the form of letters-to-the-editor as well as unsolicited letters of encouragement, condemnation, compliments and criticism to various members of the media and politicians and entertainers who had come to Joe’s attention through various news media. Joe also communicated extensively with his friends and colleagues through letter-writing. 

Mr. Joe was introduced to Jack David of ECW Press of Toronto and enjoyed a friendly working relationship with Mr. David over the years. ECW Press was the publisher of most of Joe’s books including a biography on Joe by Nadia Halim (Alien: The Strange Life and Times of Mendelson Joe), five picture books with Joe’s commentary (Working Women, Joe’s Politicians, Joe’s Toronto, Joe’s Neighbours, Joe’s Ontario), and most recently a book of Joe’s music lyrics (Joetry). Joe also wrote a novella called “The Family Embolism” which is self-published on-line. In addition, there are several unpublished manuscripts including a children’s picture book about beavers (Joe versus Beaver) and an auto-biographical treatise called “A Man & His Philosophy; Formerly a Man and His Penis”. 

His Paintings.

1975 marked the beginning of Joe’s career as a painter.  Joe’s unstoppable creative nature sought an alternative outlet from music as he became disenchanted with the business aspect of the music business (as always – ahead of his time). Joe recounted that he got his start painting when he found some paints in the garbage and thought he would give it a try. 

Mendelson Joe painted each and every day until Parkinson’s Disease took away that facility in 2022. Along with making music, painting was Joe’s way of understanding the world and coping and celebrating human life and nature. Joe’s subjects include landscapes, portraits, and political and social commentary. Joe’s paintings are vivid, colourful, sometimes playful, sometimes scathing representations of the world according to Joe. Joe’s bold colour palette was much like the man himself – larger than life in impact. Unforgettable. 

Joe sold his artwork himself for many years from various different Toronto studios with occasional representation from several Toronto commercial galleries. In 2000, Joe moved north from Toronto to an area adjacent to the west side of Algonquin Park called the Almaguin Highlands. Joe has been represented by Karen Robinson Gallery since 1999. Karen Robinson (aka Mrs. Joe) continues to show Joe’s work at their gallery (Karen Robinson Gallery) located just north of Huntsville, Ontario.

Mendelson Joe

Mendelson Joe was born Birrell Josef Mendelson. Self-taught in music, painting, and writing, he was a Tour de Force in these artistic disciplines.

His painting career started in 1975 as an alternative artistic outlet from his music.

He painted every day until Parkinson’s debilitated him in 2022. Joe’s paintings were a way of him understanding the world and celebrating human life and nature.

Joe’s subjects include landscapes, portraits and political & social commentary. His paintings are vivid, colourful, sometimes playful or scathing representations of the world according to Joe.

Joe passed away on his own terms, at his home and studio in Emsdale, Ontario in February 2023 with his wife Karen by his side.

His work is found in private collections in Australia, Belgium, England, U.S.A. and Japan.

His corporate collections include Air Farce Productions, Canada Council Art Bank, Princess Margaret Hospital, University of Toronto and many more.

Contact us more information.

Contact us for more info & request our Mendelson Joe Collection Lookbook.