Mendelson Joe

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Mendelson Joe (born Birrel Josef Mendelson on July 30, 1944) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist, painter and [1] outspoken political activist[2][3] who uses his art to express political themes.


Born and raised in Maple, Ontario and educated at the University of Toronto with a B.A. in 1966, he began performing as a blues musician under the name Joe Mendelson in 1964. Four years later, he joined with guitarist Mike McKenna to form the band McKenna Mendelson Mainline, which was active until 1972 and reformed briefly in 1975.

In 1975, Joe adopted his current name, and began performing as a solo artist, frequently collaborating with musicians such as Ben Mink, Gwen Swick and Colin Linden. He also began to make a name for himself as a contemporary artist, pursuing painting, often of portraits of popular musical figures, as well as music. In 1980, he had a show of his work at the Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris in which his art style was described as "Dauntless Evidentiam".[4] In 1985, he had a show of 25 portraits at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa titled "Working Women", curated by Joan Murray.[5] His most famous painting depicted Prime Minister Brian Mulroney with his face superimposed on a pair of human buttocks.[6] He published a book of his portraits, Joe's Toronto, in 2005.[6] In 1988, he appeared in an episode of Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show titled "Sunday in the Park". Around this period, a music video for a novelty song he recorded, "Dance with Joe", received extensive airplay on MuchMusic.

Joe invented the corporate sponsor of Bob Wiseman's 1991 record on Warner Brothers Lake Michigan Soda and played on the record as its president. Viewers of Rick Mercer report will find episodes with Joe on YouTube.

He appears in Derek May's 1981 documentary film on the Toronto art scene, Off the Wall.[7]

Joe is the nephew of Ruth Eisenberg, "Ivory" of Ebony and Ivory.


  1. ^ Entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Roy MacGregor, "A master of the art calls on Canadians to protest" with photos of artwork The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Ontario (June 15, 2010) Retrieved December 26, 2010
  3. ^ Anthony Jenkins, "Mendelson Joe on Omar Khadr" The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 26, 2010
  4. ^ Mendelson Joe: In Pursuit of Truth, catalogue, Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, 1980.
  5. ^ Mendelson Joe, "Working Women", Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, 1985.
  6. ^ a b "Mendelson Joe paints the town", The Globe and Mail (October 22, 2005)
  7. ^ Daudelin, Robert (October 1986). "Derek May : L'École de Brighton". Copie Zéro (in French). 30 (Le documentaire : vers de nouvelles voies).

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