By Kathy McGrath

All his life, local artist Mario Dimain has had a desire to create things. Even as a young boy in the Philippines he was forever “drawing” in the dirt with a stick.

Mario believes his creative streak was ignited by his father, a photographer, and by his older (and adored) brother who was “always doodling.” Not surprisingly, Mario grew up to be a graphic artist and studied architecture in his homeland.

When he immigrated to Canada in the mid-‘70s, Mario was able to turn his love for art into an occupation by working as a graphic designer and sign painter for the TTC. In fact, he was the first artist to paint full wrap-around graphics on streetcars in celebration of the Ontario Bicentennial and Toronto Sesquicentennial events in 1984.

 

 

Top: Working for the TTC, Mario was the first artist to paint full wrap-around graphics on streetcars in 1984. Today he’s still painting streetcars, but now they’re on canvas. This one is called Toronto Queen. Mario’s photography and paintings have been featured in exhibits at the Bluffs Gallery and the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre. Clockwise from bottom left: The Colour of Air, Harvey Shop, Camera Shy and Procrastination.

Now retired, Mario has set up a small studio/workshop in his garage where he can indulge his artistic interests, including photography, painting, creative writing and poetry. A resident of Scarborough for 40 years, he and his family moved to the Centennial neighbourhood 10 years ago, largely due to the lakefront and natural beauty of the area. Not surprisingly, the local habitat is often the subject of his photography shoots.

While he loves taking pictures of the natural world, Mario says people are his favourite photographic subjects. So much so that he worked for years as a wedding photographer. He loves the challenge of capturing human emotions, which he says is difficult, even with candid photos. “It’s very gratifying when you nail it,” he explains with a laugh.

Mario’s paintings, done in oils, acrylics and watercolours, are also impressive and decorate the walls of his garage-based studio. Small and large paintings, some still works in progress, illustrate Mario’s skill as a sketcher and painter. A devoted grandfather, Mario recently completed an abstract painting, which he called “The Colour of Air,” for the youngest of his seven grandchildren.

As someone who continually feels the need to express himself, Mario has also taken up writing columns, short stories and poems. Several years ago, one of his stories was published in a Christian anthology called Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon, and his columns have appeared regularly in a Filipino newspaper.

Mario’s photography and paintings have been featured in exhibits at the Bluffs Gallery and the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre. He is currently working on a solo exhibit that will be an exploration of his inner soul. Looking ahead, Mario would like to share his love of art by conducting workshops for other local artists, particularly seniors.