|From London looking north||From Dead End looking south to London|
Rae Davis (nee McDonough) was born Aug. 12, 1927 in Plainfield, New Jersey. Her interest in the dramatic arts and poetry writing complimented her education during undergrad years at Wellesley College and her graduate degree in English literature from Columbia University. Soon after marrying John, she accompanied him to London, Ontario in 1957, where he accepted a position as a professor of Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario. Following the birth of their son Whitney and daughter Martha, her stage productions with local theatre groups of classic and experimental theatre blossomed, along with her multi-media visual and performance art. One of her richest performance works was "Vanishing Acts" (1986). Performed at the London Regional Art Gallery, this was an 85-minute, site-specific performance piece for eight performers. The work incorporated space, lighting and sound, including multi-media installations, constructions, a reflecting pool and an LED light board (new for the time) to be read by participants.
After John's retirement from UWO, she moved with him to Toronto in 1987 to live at 761A Euclid Ave., where they lived for the rest of their lives. Rae remained very engaged in the Arts Scene in Toronto well into her final years. While many folks move to a smaller city upon retirement, Rae and John left London and came to Toronto to embrace more fully the vibrant urban arts scene. In Toronto, she collaborated with filmmaker Barbara Sternberg on a major film/sculpture installation called "Surge" which was exhibited in Toronto, Windsor and London. She also maintained a studio space on Dupont at Ossington and later on Sterling Rd. She was a contributing member of the Power Plant and of MoCCA and attended almost all the exhibitions of contemporary and conceptual art that proliferated around the city. She collected, too: works by Kelly Mark, Spring Hurlbut, Kim Moodie. She gobbled the poetry of John Ashbery and loved attending contemporary Dance events at Harbourfront and elsewhere. She was a true Renaissance woman. A pioneering Canadian woman performance artist, her entire oeuvre is now accessible for viewing at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa.
Rae valued her garden, her close friends in the neighbourhood, and the general serenity of Seaton Village. Rae Davis died on June 10th, 2006 from metastatic breast cancer. Rae's daughter Martha, a filmmaker, photographer, author and elementary school teacher, is a long-time resident on Markham St. in Seaton Village along with her partner Scott Whittington and their daughter Molly.
"Being and Doing; Rae Davis: Work (1959-1986)" by Goldie Rans, 1986, London Regional Art Gallery, London, Canada.
"Rae Davis: Unfoldings, 2001", Art Gallery of Windsor.
Suggested lane is nearest to her former home.