Mendelson Joe (born Birrel Josef Mendelson on July 30, 1944) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist, painter and outspoken political activist and uses his art to express political themes. His most famous painting depicted Prime Minister Brian Mulroney with his face superimposed on a pair of human buttocks. He published a book of his portraits, Joe’s Toronto, in 2005.
Born and raised in Maple, Ontario and educated at the University of Toronto, 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 as well as music. 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.
Joe is the nephew of Ruth Eisenberg, “Ivory” of Ebony and Ivory.