What was “The Many Faces of Cambridge”?
The Many Faces of Cambridge was an art initiative and portrait project created by Robert Fox (inset right), aka BeachBabyBob, from Cambridge, Ontario Canada. Robert is a retired elementary school teacher, who has lived in Cambridge Ontario all of his life. He loves this city! Robert wanted to celebrate his wonderful community of Cambridge and all the wonderful people who live there. What better way to do that than through the arts, especially when you know how powerful the arts can be. Since Robert’s son, David Charles Fox, is an local artist/painter/musician, Rob decided to partner with David, and they began to paint 100 portraits of local people. They also interviewed the people and wrote stories about each one. They called this art project, “The Many Faces of Cambridge”. The fun began early in 2010, and ended in June 2012.
“The Many Faces of Cambridge” began with David Charles Fox painting a portrait of Cambridge’s Mayor, Doug Craig. The painting shows the mayor’s true “revolutionary spirit”, according to the artist.
Robert created a website called, “themanyfacesofcambridge.com”, and as the portraits were completed, not only were they displayed throughout the community, in places like the Cambridge Hospital, but they were posted on a website that Robert created just for this project.
The website no longer exists, but if you connect with Robert Fox from Cambridge Ontario, on Facebook, or you can join The Many Faces of Cambridge Facebook group, and discuss the people and art of Cambridge at length.
Celebration of The Arts
A teacher at our local Conestoga College involved his graduating class, by giving them an assignment to come up with the final celebration idea for the 100 paintings. You can imagine the great ideas that these college students thought of i.e. turning the portraits into sign posts that would be displayed in the local parks.
In the end, the portraits were displayed at Cambridge’s annual art festival held in June called, “The Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts”.
Here’s a video showing the students wearing “morph suits” and carrying the portraits around the celebration festival. The idea behind these suits was so that the students wearing them could better represent the portraits they were carrying. In other words, they were in the role of the subject of each painting, so each morpher would act accordingly. Here’s a video someone took of the event when it happened at the Cambridge City Hall.
Robert and David produced 2 hardcover books, which contained all the portraits, and they mentioned the people involved. One book was given to the Mayor of Cambridge, and is displayed at Cambridge City Hall. The Fox family kept the other copy for their archives.
Robert also entered the Awesome Foundation of KW’s contest, and tried to win $1000, so that he could pay real money to the artist who painted the portraits. He lost. Robert says, “support your local artists.”
Artists Involved in the Many Faces… Portrait Project
Robert knew that he and his son, could not paint 100 portraits without help, so they recruited local artists to help them reach their goal. As in most communities, there are many great artists/painters, so it was relatively easy to find other local portrait painters to paint at least one or two portraits.
In the end, there were 110 portraits painted. Dave and Robert painted many of the paintings, but there was approximately 15 painters doing the work in the end. The paintings were given as a gift, to the people who agreed to have their portraits painted, and who graciously agreed to share their stories with the public. Below is a list of the Cambridge portrait artists who assisted with the Many Faces of Cambridge project.
The Cambridge people, who had their portraits painted, were selected by Robert at random. Robert just approached people as he met them, young and old, and if they didn’t want their portrait done, that was ok, but it seemed easy in the end to get 100 people to agree. Along with their portraits, Robert interviewed them and obtained a short auto-biography of each person, which accompanied their painting, as the portrait moved throughout the community.
Robert displayed the portraits and personal stories, in a variety of venues across the city, and all of the proprietors were glad to display the art. They viewed this idea as a community-builder, which was exactly why this was being done. As the paintings were completed, they were displayed for one month at each location. Robert then moved them on to the next location, leaving behind a new portrait. This process lasted for approximately two years.
The following images were taken from the hardcover book, “The Many Faces of Cambridge”, made by Robert, and here is a bit about each subject.
Alex is a famous dancer. Bob is the Mufflerman.
Adam is a moviestar. Here’s Robert painting him at the local market.
Brenda is a great landscape painter. Bianca loves to paint Italian architecture.
Dan is a great barber. Danny is a yoga teacher.
John knows all about trees. Elaine volunteers at the hospital thrift store called The Recovery Room in Galt.
Ricardo is a professional clown. Richard is a mystery.
The Bygraves organized the Santa Claus parade in Hespeler for years. Mukhtiar walks 5 miles a day pushing his grocery cart.
Colin and Scott Tucker are identical twins and are the owners of Grand Valley Rocks on Avenue Road in Galt.
John founded the Butterfly Conservatory in Cambridge. Nicholas is the youngest city counsellor in Cambridge.
Marco is a software engineer who programs drones. Linda was an olympic figure skater back in the ’60’s.
Karen is an artist from Hespeler. Karl is a regional counsellor, representing Cambridge.
Norman is a photographer for the National Geographic and his portrait was stolen.
Andy promotes Active Cambridge. Atinuke is a budding politician.
Robert met the Yetman’s at the Cambridge market.
Gaye is a scholar. Kristen is a fashion queen.
Maya and Kevin (sister and brother) and Alexia are our future leaders.
Joe is a “scene sketcher” and was born in Preston. John designed his own house. Josh is an athlete.
Jill is an art volunteer extraordinaire. Stuart was a racer walker. Jane teaches kids.
Jacob comes from a very artistic family. Jacky is a break dancer. Jennifer is very active in the art world.
Gary writes and produces plays. John loves country music.
Gary is a politician/chiropractor. Fred is an environmentalist. Flora plays the piano. Greg was the boss at the Library and Gallery for years.
Jack loves turtles. Jack W. is a water colourist.
Bohdanna and Brandon use to work at the YMCA.
Both Brian’s love hockey.
Carmen worked at the Chamber of Commerce. Bryan loves music and Rona.
Jodi and Jack love the beach. Jodi sells real estate.
Laura is a personal trainer. Leonie cleans teeth.
Lindsay is an artist. Madonna is a hair stylist.
Mary was an important employee of the Cambridge Library. Madeline was a great swimmer. Manny and Edie loved antique cars and their family very much.
Maureen is a music producer. Michael loves sports. Neila manages the cleaning staff at the Y.
Pam is a city councillor. Miranda loves fashion.
Phil is a singer song writer. Scot is a social activist.
Margaret is a politician and ran for mayor a couple of times. Maria and her father loved their dog.
Veronica teaches fitness and Tania is an artist and business women.
Sue and Robert Fox have been married for over 50 years and believe that …
“Art Makes You Smart”
Lucy painted how she feels about her auntie Sue. Wendy loves her son.
Sabra is very fit. Bob was a member of the Preston Scout House Band. Rob was painted by a painter from India. The painting was mailed from India.
Sue is a fabric artist. Stephen volunteered at the Y.
Tina is an artist. Todd is a chiropractor. Cooper loves his mother Sarah and so does Beamer.
“ART MAKES YOU SMART”
Robert Fox AKA BeachBabyBob wants you to check out these two web links:
The first is his travel blog…
The second link goes to his storytelling channel,
He also frequently blogs on this beach website: