Tom Gerry

Joni Mitchell’s Music and Painting

In this presentation Tom Gerry will introduce the Third Age Barrie audience to some details of Joni Mitchell’s career as a painter and musician. The over-all direction of the talk is to demonstrate that Mitchell’s celebrity status is only a small part of her life story, a part that she largely rejects, in fact. Rather, she sees herself—and she is—consciously and seriously, an artist: a painter, poet, singer, guitarist and pianist. Her song lyric, “Life is our cause,” succinctly expresses her approach to her art.

To explain how Mitchell is a serious artist, I will give examples of her work and show ways in which she uses metaphors to create narratives of her major concerns. For clarity, in this talk I will address these themes under the headings of Journey, Love, and Nature. As the audience will see, throughout Mitchell’s work, the themes are closely linked, not by Mitchell’s personality, but by her art.

Now retired after thirty years at Laurentian University, Tom Gerry lives in Barrie, and is a member of the The Third Age Board of Directors. He is Professor Emeritus of English Literature, particularly Canadian Literature in English. He is the author of Contemporary Canadian and US Women of Letters and The Emblems of James Reaney, as well as more than twenty academic papers and numerous book reviews. He writes regularly for Queen’s Quarterly, including an article on Joni Mitchell’s work.