The Kirkland and Sault Years (1956-1974), looks at those events which during this time had a major influence on Mr. Naccarato’s life and art practice.

Mr. Naccarato was born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario in 1956, of Italian descent as Giovanni Francesco Naccarato. His parents later anglicized his name to John believing he’d have a better chance of fitting within an English dominated culture and society. As with many Italians, his father had been placed in an internment camp during WW2

In 1960, his parents, Francesco and Celestina Naccarato decided to move to Sault Ste Marie, Ontario in search of work. The Sault at this time was an industrial powerhouse, hosting the likes of Algoma Steel and Abitibi Pulp and Paper, both of which were powered and located next to the mighty St. Mary’s River.

Historically, Naccarato’s early years were mediated by some profound social, cultural and political changes including the assassinations of John F. Kennedy (1963), Bobby Kennedy (1968), and Martin Luther King Jr. (1968); the Cuban Missile Crises (1962), and with the increasing awareness through media regarding the escalation of the Vietnam War (1955-1975).

Also, during this time period, a counter cultural revolution was being ignited through the works by Allen Ginsbergs Howl (1956), William S. Burroughs‘s Naked Lunch (1959) and Jack Kerouac‘s On the Road (1957), who came to represent the Beat Generation.

The Beat Generation along with the music of the time: Beat Music, would fuel the British Invasion, spearheaded by the Beatles (Beat-les) and their subsequent appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (1964).

The countercultural movement which began in the 50’s would continue to evolve throughout the 60’s, into the Hippie Movement (Revolution), climaxing between 1967 and 1969, with the Summer of Love (1967) and Woodstock. (1969).

Yorkville, Toronto, 1960's, Lineup for the Riverboat Coffee House. Photo via York University Clara Thomas Archives.
Yorkville, Toronto, 1960’s, Lineup for the Riverboat Coffee House. Photo via York University Clara Thomas Archives.

As a teen, he identified strongly with the rise of the 60’s counter-cultural movement, fueling the first inklings of a Generation Gap, between himself and his parents. He would come to embrace many of the counterculture elements of the time, including drugs, long hair and fashion.

By the time he was 17, and as part of his own personal revolution, he had run away from home several times, the first being when he was only 12. He and a friend had decided that they should head to the center of where the counterculture revolution in Canada was happening, to a place called Yorkville in Toronto, Ontario.

However on his return a few weeks later, his mom had readied a catholic priest to perform an exorcism on him, fearing he had become possessed. However, the priest did not head her concerns and he was off again by the time he turned 15.

Between the ages 15 to 17, he had dropped out of high school and headed on the road once more, except this time in his Chevy Camero SS, which he had bought from a friend for a couple of hundred bucks. His first stop was back to Toronto but wasn’t as excited by the scene, so decided to head towards the Yukon with some friends. They had a romantic notion at the time that the Yukon was the new frontier, and like the Klondike Gold Rush (1896-1999) of yesteryear, which had drawn hundreds of thousands of prospectors to its epicentre, they would perhaps find something special in this enchanted place.

Unfortunately, the car broke down around Grand Prairie, Alberta, so he convinced a local farmer to take the car off of his hands for fifty bucks.

Realizing he wasn’t going make it to the planned destination he and his girlfriend – the other friends had by now gone their own way – decided to hitchhike their way towards the west coast but ended up in Calgary, Alberta where he had discovered a very exciting countercultural scene in the making. Pink Floyd’s, “The Dark Side Of The Moon‘ had also just hit the air waves.

In the fall of 1973, he returned to Sault, due to his dad’s passing. At this point he decided to clean up his act, rejoin society, taking a gig at the local Paper Mill. He had also decided to get his grade 12 and had begun to contemplate the possibility of becoming an Architect.

However, a year later, in 1974, two things occurred which would bring him on a very different trajectory, The first was a chance viewing of Ingmar Bergman’s movie The Seventh Seal. The second would be a move to London, Ontario at the suggestion of his girlfriend Sarah

∝ in Memoriam. L. Cohen ⨦ that's how the light gets in ≅≅ Digital Print, The Originals, Naccarato, Montreal, 2016
∝ in Memoriam. L. Cohen ⨦ that’s how the light gets in ≅≅ Digital Print, The Originals, Naccarato, Montreal, 2016

To Be Continued…