Monday, May 31, 2010

Prudence Heward's Sisters of Rural Quebec

Prudence Heward's, Sisters of Rural Quebec is one of those paintings which captures the imagination.

To begin, its a geometrically designed painting with angles and lines running in the background and through the shapes of her two seated subjects.

Look carefully at the lines and you will see that there isn't much of a defining pattern to them - which in itself suggests thematic dis-coordination.

Lets begin by looking at the two seated girls to see how the artist uses her structural skills to take us to a deeper level of understanding of the work.

There is no sense of unity within the girls. Their bodies are pretty much at right angles from each other - as if they are going their own way. Follow their visual paths, and here again we find a right angle.

The girl wearing the dark dress, is sitting in on a rocking chair, an instrument reserved for older people on country habitant verandahs. Her dress is sober, old womanish, and her face has a scowl. Her rural roots is reinforced by the cross she wears.

The sun shines on the foreground girl's face and the girl in the background has more shading on her face. And, when we really look at the light, the background girl has a shadow behind her. Its a little harder to discern serious shadowing in the foreground girl because of her light coloured dress.

See how the girl in the foreground sits on a plush cushion. Interestingly there appears to be an oversized country fair ribbon on the corner of the cushion. What does this mean? Is this the artist's value statement to endorse the foreground girl?

Note too their facial appearances. The girl on the rocking chair scowls. The foreground girl looks pensive and reflective.

Taken as individual comments they are simply differences to note. But collectively, the two sisters of Rural Quebec present an underlying tension between rural habitant culture and that of emerging Quebec women.

Finally, its important to note that the young woman in the foreground isn't a brassier burning feminist. No way. Her pensive look suggests uncertainty. She dresses as if her heart yearns to break loose from traditional values - but yet, there is a reluctance to get up and take the step forward.

And this is what the picture says to me - that this is a work about social and cultural tensions.

Want me to take it a step further? Take a good, long, hard look at the geometric arrangement in the background. Did you blink? Does it look disturbingly like a swastika?

Not bad. No wonder her 'Sisters of Rural Quebec, is part of the collection in our National Gallery.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Buying Low and Selling High

Tom Thomson: Bing Inlet, Georgian Bay

Theodosia Dawes Bond Thornton had good taste.

Long before the Group of Seven came into vogue, the Montrealer assembled a collection of their work, for a relative pittance.

She bought Lawren Harris paintings for as little as $85, A.Y. Jacksons for the same amount and at least one Arthur Lismer painting for the princely sum of $37.50.

They've risen in value.

The $85 painting she bought from Harris in 1947, Lake Superior Sketch XXXIII, is expected to bring $200,000 to $300,000 at the Heffel Auction of Fine Canadian Art tomorrow at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Her $85 Jackson, Coal Miners' Houses, Canmore, Alberta, was purchased four months after the Harris, and has a pre-auction estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. The $37.50 Lismer, Forest Interior, bought in 1949, has an estimate of $20,000 to $25,000.

"She amassed a great collection with a total [cost] of $17,000 to $18,000," marvels David Heffel, who runs the auction house with his brother Robert. "It's in the millions now. It was a great investment."

That's an understatement. Three of the 37 works from the Thornton collection up for auction - Harris' Winter ($600 in 1962) and Arctic Sketch IX ($500 in 1959), and Albert Henry Robinson's St-Urbain ($165 in 1945) - have pre-auction estimates of $300,000 to $500,000.

Thornton died last Oct. 27, aged 93, and her collection has been put up for auction by her estate.

Heffel had met her and said her house had so many works of art, the living and dining rooms were set up like an art gallery, "with a gallery-type peg-board and broad lighting system in the dining room where she would rotate the works." She literally had a cupboard full of Harris paintings between the living and dining rooms, awaiting their turn in the rotation.

Excerpt of an article from the Victoria Times Colonist(May 25, 2010) and reprinted on the Heffel.Com website.
Click here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Henry Arifin, Watercolourist

Henry Arifin is from Toronto and he enjoys capturing the scenes of his city in waters.

He paints simply in a loose, wet on wet style and he has an excellent sense of composition and understanding of colour.

Henry writes of his style: "What inspires me most is taking a busy, even chaotic, scene, and organising it into a pleasing, simple pattern of values and colors."

Please click here to be taken to Henry's website.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sotheby's Auction at the ROM Toronto - place your bid

Have you some spare coin to invest in art? Click here to be taken to the Sotheby's catologue to see what is listed for sale at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
Go ahead - place your bid on line. Click here.

Included in the catalogue is:
1. a Red Ensign, Ontario School Flag. Its estimated at between $40,000 and $60,000. Canadian. (check your attic first)
2.a few Samuel Clements books
3.Norval Morriseau: 'A Friend'
4.AY Jackson works
5.George Bernard Shaw Letters
5.Henry David Thoreau (signed envelope)
7.Arthur Lismer, Bon Echo Rock.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Emily Carr Work becomes Canada's 4th Most Expensive Painting at Heffel's Auction in Vancouver

Lawren Harris places two out of four in the top four most expensive works in Canada, and Emily Carr moves into fourth place.

Emily Carr
Wind in the Tree Tops..................$2,164,500

Lawren Harris painting sells for $2.4 million.

Bill Reid, Killer Whale: $702,000

Tom Thomson
Small sketch, birches and cedars.......$1.7

Arthur Lismer: Sheep's Nose, Bon Echo. 1.1 m.

A few other notable sales

Jean-Paul Lemieux:
"Ti-Gus" ............................$672,750.

Edward John Hughes oils:

"Tanker at Minstrel Island, B.C." .... $380,250
"West Coast near Bamfield".............$222,300

Bertram Charles Binning

Sea Side Figures.......................$64,350.

Globe and Mail Quote, May 27: "In all, 220 lots yielded a total of $21.8-million, the second highest auction total in Canadian history."

Source: Vancouver Times Colonist, click here.

See also: The Globe and Mail. Please click here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Heffel Auction Live and Online

For those who check into the Fredericks Artblog during the auction click here to see the live video.

Heffel Art Auction: Today in Vancouver. Lawren Harris and Bill Reid Works on the Block.

Lawren Harris. Bylot Island 1
Anticipated price: $1.5m - $2.5 m.

Bill Reid: Killer Whale estimated value, $600,000 - $800,000

Please click here to be taken to the Heffel.Com

Toronto District Board of Education's Collected Treasure

Tom Thomson

The National Post (May 21, 2010) and the Toronto Sun (May 23, 2010) ran interesting articles on an unlikely art collection. It seems that the Toronto District Board of Education, has been sitting on a hitherto unknown (at least by the public) treasure in art which includes the above work of Tom Thomson, and others by Franklin Carmichael, Emily Carr, Norval Morrisseau, Alex Colville, and Mary Pratt.

Some of the treasures are archeological, such as some contents found beneath Sackville Public School, which came from the home of Thomas Blackburn a fugitive slave.

And, some of the collection is the kind of detritus that are germane to education; eg, old pictures and memorabilia.

Even more interesting to those with an eye for numbers, is that Shelley Falconer, a curator hired by the school board to access the value of the treasure says that it may add up to between $ 7.5 million and $10 million dollars.

Click here to read the National Post article.

Click here to read the story in the Toronto Sun.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Parachute Riggers, by Pareskeva Clark

Paintings such as this one, by Pareskeva Clark, seem almost camp in our urbane and sophistated age.

Not many artists today use art to make political statements. But Paraskeva Clark was from the Soviet Union, and she felt no hesitation about using her paintings to make socio- political comments.

This picture caught my eye, because it shows women at work supporting Canada's war effort.

Paraskeva, zones in on a cramped area within a workshop. Its microscosmic - possibly even a microscosm of the country at war.

Unlike Soviet propaganda art, this does not show a nation of happy workers. When I think of Soviet art, I think of peasants with smiles (they always smile don't they) holding sheathes of grain beneath their arms,labouring cheerfully for the motherland.

But in this picture, the eyes of the second woman in from the bottom tell it all. There is no cheerful unity of the proletariat in this work. This woman is not a happy camper. The look on her face suggests that she isn't pleased about doing big muscle grunt work while her co-worker gets off lightly, snipping away with a pair of scissors in her hand.

Pareskeva knows propaganda art, only too well. But its as if she's caught in betwixt and between. On one hand she knows that Canada needs to inspire people to contribute to the war effort - on the other hand, she portrays human nature for what it is.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Paraskeva Clark, Russian Artist in Canada 1898-1986

Photography: Charles Comfort
Collection of the Library and Archives, National Gallery of Canada

"Who is the artist? Is he not a human being like ourselves, with the added gifts of finer understanding and perception of the realities of life...? Surely. And this being so, those who give their lives, their knowledge and their time to social struggle have the right to expect help from the artist. And I cannot imagine a more inspiring role than that which the artist is asked to play for the defence and advancement of civilisation."
(Paraskeva Clark, New Frontier, April 1937)

Working in Toronto from the early 1930’s, Paraskeva Clark was unique as a Canadian artist in expressing her leftist political leanings on canvas. She became active in the Canadian League against War and Fascism and was a close friend of Norman Bethune (1890-1939).

Paraskeva Plistik grew up in a working-class family in St. Petersburg, Russia. She studied art at the Petrograd Academy at night, while working days in a shoe factory. After the Revolution of 1917, she studied at the Academy from 1918 to 1921, renamed the 'Free Studios” by the Soviet government. Her teacher Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, a follower of Cézanne, influenced her with his theories about the humanist purpose of art. In the fall of 1923, Paraskeva moved to Paris, where several years later, she met Philip Clark a Canadian whom she married in 1931 and moved to Toronto.

Paraskeva Clark brought to the Toronto art scene a consciousness of the structural and formal traditions of French art derived from Paul Cézanne and the Cubists. Her first Canadian paintings were portraits and still-lifes. Clark, however, could not ignore the political and economic crises brought about by the Depression, and the rise of Fascism. By the end of the 1930s, her work, as seen in Petroushka (1937), took on a new direction, as she became increasingly involved in the political issues of the day.

In November 1933, Clark participated in the first exhibition of the Canadian Group of Painters, held at the Art Gallery of Toronto and was elected to full membership in 1936. She continued to exhibit with them until the 1960s. Clark was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Cybermuse Gallery click here:

NFB: click here

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rue du Tresor. Quebec City.

Like many Canadians I have a fond love for the charm of Rue du Tresor, in old Quebec City.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Aileen Meagher

Artist: Aileeen Meagher
Painting: Iceberg Finale
Oil on masonite: 59x89cm

picture from the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame

When prowling for art stories from Nova Scotia I chanced upon the name of Aileen Meagher. Aileen's story attracts me for she was an intriquing individual.

Wikepedia writes the following about Aileen:
Aileen Aletha Meagher (November 26, 1910 – August 2, 1987) was a Canadian athlete who competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics.
She was born and died in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was also a painter.
In 1936 she was a member of the Canadian relay team which won the bronze medal in the 4×100 metres event with her team mates Dorothy Brookshaw, Mildred Dolson and Hilda Cameron. In the 100 metre competition Meagher was eliminated in the semi-finals.
At the 1934 Empire Games she won the gold medal with the Canadian team in the 220-110-220-110 yards relay contest and the silver medal in the 110-220-110 yards relay competition. In the 220 yards event she won the silver medal. Four years later she was part of the Canadian team she won the silver medal in the 110-220-110 yards relay competition and the bronze medal in the 220-110-220-110 yards relay event. In the 220 yards competition she finished fourth.
In 1935, she was awarded the Velma Springstead Trophy, presented annually to Canada's outstanding female athlete. In 1965, she was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame

Not only was she an Olympic Gold winner, but she was also recognized for her art.

The Nova Scotia archives says that Aileen was born in Edmonton, Ab. and that she moved to Halifax with her parents, in her early childhood.

Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame
Dalhousie Art Gallery

Friday, May 21, 2010

Native Masks

Masks fascinate me. Native masks cut to the chase. They can terrify you, or present images from their pantheon of gods and legends or they can make you laugh. White euro culture isn't much into masks - other then for costume parties or Halloween. But then again in our society we are much more urbane. We wear our masks every day and change them depending on the circumstance.

Check this one out by it was made by native artist Beau Dick, 'Kwakwaka'wakw' a first nation artist from BC. And it was photographed by Rolf Hickson. It can be seen along with other masks on Rolf's site. Please click here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today: Opening of Safe Passages and Welcome Harbours: In Recognition of the Centennial of the Canadian Navy, at the Dalhousie, NS Art Gallery

Artist: Richard Jack.
From Lord's Point

Safe Passages and Welcome Harbours:

Works from the Permanent Collection

Curated by Peter Dykhuis

OPENING RECEPTION Thursday 20 May at 8 pm

2010 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Navy. During the spring and summer, Halifax will host a series of commemorative events including: the annual Sea Power and Maritime Security Conference organized by the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies; an international fleet review of visiting, foreign naval ships; and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo whose program will honour the Navy’s place in Canadian history.

Recognizing Nova Scotia’s complex relationship to the sea and its maritime history, this exhibition of works from the Permanent Collection considers the harbour as a functional contact zone between navigation routes and the ships and boats that call the coves, jetties and wharves “home”.

With works in a variety of media by Jack Bush, Arthur Lismer, Alex Livingston, Aileen Meagher and Marguerite Zwicker, among others, Safe Passages and Welcome Harbours also features representational ship and boat portraits, images of ships at sea in their “work” environment and portrayals of the sea itself as subject matter.

Whether defined by nearby edges of rock and sand or distant horizon lines, the sea is ever-present in these artworks that regard the ocean’s waters as a surface for both nautical transport and poetic contemplation.

Picture and extract from the Dalhousie Art Gallery. Please click here to view the source.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Great Farini

As I was driving along the highway, a billboard in a field caught my attention. It wasn't the billboard itself, but the notion that the art of advertising by picture and artistic postings has pretty much died.

It was a way of life when I was a kid. Pictures of people such as Laurel and Hardy, Clark Gable and Humphry Bogart peered out at me from behind glass in front of the local movie theatre. They were jammed full of exciting glimpses of the forthcoming drama which could be viewed within.

Not just that but posters were nailed to telephone poles in town, or put in store windows, advertising the arrival of travelling musicians or shows.

The picture of the Great Farini, above, which I found in a Google search was typical of this kind of illustrative art.

For those unfamiliar with the story of William Hunt, I would suggest that you click the links below.

Hunt was a formidable personality in the 19th century. He was equal to Blondin in his tight rope walking across the Niagara Gorge. And, he has quite a list of personal accomplishments. He was the first to be shot from a cannon in a circus event, and the next time you go to a performance in a theatre, and you slide into your seat, thank 'The Great Farini' for inventing the folding theatre seat that made your passage to your seat easier.

Shane Peacock's book, on the life of the Great Farini, reports that late in his life, he was the owner of an art gallery in Toronto, and that he advertised himself as an artist.

Click here to see the Farini article in Wikipedia.
Also, this Wikipedia link.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Queen Victoria the Grand Old Dame

How well I recall the times when I have stood near the Ontario Legislature and seen this statue of Queen Victoria.

There is something about grand old statues like this. They are public statements of the esteem we hold for important people. Why is it that statue making has become an almost dead art?

Whenever I stand beneath such a great statue as this, I feel a sense of awe.
For one thing such statues are huge, and they almost always sit atop a concrete pedestal. And when I stand below them and look up their subject is greater than life, and I feel very small.

But its more then just a physical thing. Huge statues of important historical figures, remind us of our place in the scheme of things. It has to do with power.
Victoria represents in this case, institutional power. The power of the long gone Empire. The power of government and history and military might and tradition. The whole nine yards.

And this statue of Victoria also represents the respect which the builders of the Ontario Parilaiment buildings had for their Queen. It was a statement that they belonged and were part of an imperial system. As it was said, "The sun never sets on the British Empire," and Victoria - the Great White Mother, looks down on her children of the world and all is well.

I wonder if we have stopped building great statues because of a shift in our cultural perspective. Have we become statues onto ourselves? If such is the case, there should be a great pedestal on University Avenue in Toronto, which has a small staircase up the back for viewers to climb and then to stand atop and look over our little domains? Have we culturally decided that the individual is the sum of the whole? Do we no longer see great political figures in the same way?

But yet, artistically, statues bring a city and parks, grace and nobility.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ionic Crown, by Anne Hudec, Victoria, BC.

“Ionic Crown” on the cover of Splash 11, May 2010:
New Directions The Best of Watercolor by North Light Books.

What makes a painting paint itself? Why is it that some materialize seemingly effortlessly before an artists’ eyes, while others seem to fight their way to life? This is a question I am sure that many artists have pondered, as I have myself. Is it the artists’ mind-set of that moment? Or perhaps their life experiences and feelings that are evoked more strongly from a particular motif?

Ionic Crown came about with a deadline - self-imposed I might add – to produce three paintings for a Fine Art Show. I can’t say I am particularly fond of working under time pressure – I much prefer to paint by my own intuition and clock. However, this statue had really beckoned to me from the moment I had photographed her, and she magically manifested herself on my watercolour paper. Unlike other paintings, there seemed to be no decision-making in the process: which method to use, in which order, which colours to accentuate or downplay, which edges to leave hard or to soften. It was as if all the planning had already been decided for me. I felt that I was the holder of the brush, while it worked its own magic.

There is something particular about her that speaks to me, and not just the way the shadows caress her beautiful face. It is her attitude that casts her spell. I see her as a pillar of strength – the way I like to see women evolve after having overcome the challenges that they have faced. The evening light representative of the passage of time she has experienced, the cracks and chips the reminders of her struggles. Her eyes are closed, as if she does not look to the outside world for its approval. Everything that she needs she can find within herself, and therefore she appears empowered, confident, compassionate, and at peace with her evolution. It seems rather fitting that this particular statue is a caryatid – an architectural female support column.

Perhaps these feeling and thoughts that she evoked within me were the reason why she developed in such a magical way, which reminded me of the importance of painting what one finds inspirational.

I was absolutely thrilled when I was informed that Ionic Crown would be included amongst so many talented artists in the Splash 11: New Directions, Best of Watercolour book. I was overwhelmed when I was told she had been chosen for the front cover. And I know, when I eventually hold the book in my hands, I will see her quiet strength, and know the feelings she evoked that inspired her creation.

Anne Hudec

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Beaver Hall Group

Lawren P Harris: Monster Forms, 1953.

It not uncommon for like minded artists to group together and draw support from one another on their artistic journey's. While the Group of Seven was advancing its style from its Toronto base, Montreal also had its Beaver Hall Group.

For that matter, Lawren Harris and AY Jackson were cross over artists, who migrated from Montreal to Toronto. The online Cybermuse site, reports that AY Jackson continued to maintain Montreal links after moving to Ontario, through ongoing letters and communication.

The Montreal group were originally students of William Brymner. It was a non structured association of artists who shared studio space in Beaver Hall Square.
It was formed in 1920 and while it had a lifespan of a year and a half its members maintained their relationships through the next two decades.

Included in the group were, Anne Savage, Sarah Robinson, Edwin Holgate, Prudence Heward,Lilias Newton,and Lawren P. Harris.

Its important to clear up any confusion which may arise about Lawren Harris. Lawren P. Harris, is the son of the noteable Group of Seven artist, Lawren S. Harris.

Click here and you will be taken to the Cybermuse reference for this entry.

Don't miss the click on related images tab. It will open for you a page of some of the surprising works of the Beaver Hall group. Click here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Don Evans, portrait cartoonist extraordinaire

extracted from: Canadian Society of Editorial Cartoonists

Bickerstaff (aka Don Evans) has practiced the caricature trade in Canada for so long, his many admirers call him “a national treasure”. Collections of his work, produced over three decades, are housed in Canada’s National Archives and at the University of Calgary and the University of Toronto. His original drawings are also proudly displayed, framed and mounted, in dozens of private homes around the country.

Click below to see more of Don's work.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Same Subject - Different Views

Tom Thomson: 'The West Wind'

Walter Phillips, Jack Pine.

The more I look at these two paintings the more I see. The top picture by Tom Thomson has assumed almost iconic stature in Canadian art. Its literally imprinted on our visual culture and it helped define how we see ourselves as a nation.
Thomson identified that part of our culture where we cut down forests and used oxen to drag stumps from grounds. It was a tough scrabble against a hostile environment that was reluctant to surrender.

Walter J Phillip's, rendering of the pine is iconoclastic. His pine tree is dead and the surrounding background is pretty beautiful. The sky is blue, and the clouds are billowing summertime, cumulous clouds.

Phillips' mindset wasn't moulded by settlers who lived in log cabins, or by Dukhoubour farmers whose women pulled ploughs, or by mennonites who pulled their belongs to Canada by Connestoga wagons, or by prairie farmers who lived in sod huts or by Chinese coulees who carried the CPR through the Rocky mountains on their backs.

Phillips was an urban immigrant. And in his mind, the ragged pine theme was a thing of the past - as dead as the tree he painted.

Two different pine trees, two different views.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sotheby's Evaluation of Important Canadian Art Sale: at the Royal Ontario Museum

Got your wallets ready, and your cheque and pen in hand?

Muriel Yvonne McKague Housser: 1897-1996
Matress Makers by the Seigne, Paris
Media: oil on board
signed lower left, Yvonne McKague
Title on back of board
Estimated Value: $6,000-$8,000 Cdn.

Emily Louise Orr Elliott
Celebration on the Green (three works)
Media ungiven, possibly waters
Picnic scenes from Centre Island, Toronto
Estimated Value: Between $5,000-$7,000 Cdn

James Edward Hervey MacDonald
Lupines, High Park
Oil on Board
Estimated Value: $15,000-$20,0000 Cdn.

Charles Comfort: 1900-1994
August Sunrise Georgian Bay
Oil on Canvas
Estimated Value: $8,000-$12,000 Cdn

James Edward Hervey MacDonald: 1873-1932
Trees West Toronto
oil on board
8x6 inches
Estimated Value: $12,000-$16,000

Franz Hans Johnston: 1888-1949

Laden with Loveliness
oil on board
20x24 inches
Estimated Value: $18,000-$22,000.

Walter Joseph Phillips: 1884-1963
Lake and Mountains
Watercolour on Paper
15 1/4 x 22 1/2
Estimated Value: $8,000-$12,000.

Alexander Young Jackson: 1882-1974

Autum 1919, Along Railway Tracks, Algoma
8 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches
Estimated Value: $60,000-$80,000 Cdn.

Lawren Stewart Harris: 1885-1970
Waterfalls, Agawa Canyon
oil on board
10.5"x 13"
Estimated Value: $15,000-$300,000

Alexander Young Jackson: 1882-1974
Trees by the River
Oil on Panel
10.5" x 10 3/4"
Estimated Value: $50,000-$70,000

James Edward Hervey MacDonald: 1873-1932
oil on divided panel
8.5" 10"
Estimated Value: $80,000-$120,000

Arthur Lismer: 1885-1969
Bon Echo Rock
oil on canvas
32 3/4" x 26 1/2"
Estimated Value: $25,000 - $300,000

James (Jock) Williamson Galway MacDonald: 1897-1960
Kelowna Landscape
oil on board
Estimated Value $6,000-$8,000

Alexander Young Jackson: 1882-1974

oldman River
oil on divided panel
10.5" x 13.5"
Estimated Value. $10,000-$15,000

Alfred Joseph Casson: 1898-1992
On the River - Rockwood.
Oil on Board
9.5" x 11 1/4"
Estimated Value: $30,000-$40,000

James Edward Hervey MacDonald:1873-1932
Layton's Lake, Algoma
oil on board
Estimated Value: $50,000 x $70,000

James Edward Hervey MacDonald:1873-1932
After Sunset, Georgian Bay
oil on board
8.5" x 10.5"
Estimated Value: $100,000 - $150,000

Clarence Gagnon: 1881-1942
Arctic Night
4 3/4" x 5.5"
oil on paper
Estimated Value: $10,000 - $15,000

David Brown Milne: 1882-1953
Boat Reflections, Harlem River
oil on canvas
Estimated Value: $175,000-$225,000

David Brown Milne: 1882-1953
The Defiant Maple
pastel on illustration board
23 1/4" x 18.5"
Estimated Value: $80,000-$120,000

David Brown Milne: 1882 - 1953
Poppies and Lillies: 111
watercolour on paper
21 ¼ by 14 ½ in.
Estimated Value: 75,000 - 100,000

James Edward Hervey MacDonald:1873 - 1932
Fields and Sky
8 1/2" x 10 1/2"
oil on board
Estimated Value: $40,0000 - $60,000

to be continued:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Walter J Phillips

Walter J. Phillips was born in Barton-on-Humber in Lincolnshire, England in 1884. He was trained as a watercolourist, and worked as a commercial artist and as an art master in Salisbury. He married and moved to Canada in 1913 when he was 29 years old.
Phillips is notable as an artist, for he wasn't nurtured in the Group of Seven, mythos of the Canadian Survival theme - where we are a people whose culture has been imprinted by generations of having to cope with antagonistic forces of nature in an inhospitable climate.

Phillips immigrated into a Canada with urban centres and the rugged wildnerness imprint wasn't part of his psyche, which is interesting for he was primarily a landscape painter. The difference was in the way he viewed nature.

There is much to be said of Phillips's success as a watercolourist, for he raised six children during the depression, on the back of his art alone. He went on to live in Banff, Alberta and he eventually moved to Victoria where he died in 1963.

Pavilion Gallery, Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg. Where half the second floor is dedicated to his works.

The Underhill Review. Click here.
Sharecom. Click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Art of Brian Simons

Slippery When Wet

I found it interesting to read Brian Simon's biography on the blog immediately below, that he was influenced by the Group of Seven. The Group for the most part had Wordsworth's sense of rebellion against urbanity. William fled to the lake district of England to write his poetry and the Group of Seven fled to the forests and rural countryside . Brian's 'Slippery When Wet,' is impressionistic and loosely painted much as many of the paintings done by 'The Group'. The big difference being in the kind of settings they both sought to represent in their works.

We've all seen this this work painted as a 19th century Parisian or London street scene with horses and carriages. But Brian moves the hand of the clock up a century or so and captures a scene familiar to every urban 21st century driver.

Brian's comfort with acrylics is evident. His paint flows in loose, flowing lines as he captures the essence of this wet city street in heavy rain. This work is loaded with atmosphere and you can almost imagine hearing the traffic report on your car radio as the wipers slap out a rhythm to clear away the rain.

It makes me glad to think that my commuting days are behind me

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Meet Brian Simons

I chanced upon Brian's works a short time ago, and thought I would let Brian introduce his works to blog readers. Brian is a self taught artist, and as he says on his website:

"I have derived much of my inspiration from the "Group of Seven", the French Impressionists and the Writings of Baha'u'lla'h (Bahá’í Faith). My family and I moved to Vancouver Island from Alberta, where I first began to paint approx. 25 years ago. Prior to that time, I focused mostly on drawing and sketching. I began showing my work in 1988 and have been represented by numerous galleries on the Island. From 2006 to the present, I paint on a full-time basis and have had many successes and confirmations in that period, including numerous commissions for a television production company, architects several corporate and private collectors both in Canada and the United States. I also conduct acrylic painting workshops British Columbia, Alberta and the United States. In 2004, I published a complete course book in acrylic painting, available on this website. Currently, I am represented by Van Dop Gallery of New Westminster BC, and Southshore Gallery of Sooke, BC."
Please click here to be taken to Brian's website.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Frank Black, 'By the Magnetewan,' 1948.

I lifted this picture from Paul Dorsey's Dali House. This picture by Frank Black caught my eye, possibly because it showed how strong the influence of the Group of Seven had become in Canada.

The limited palette, the clunky landscape, the crooked hydro poles, and the delightful play of light make this a work suitable for any distinguished collection.

Frank and his wife at the opening of the Halton Hills Arts and Cultural Centre, 1982.

Check out Paul's story, by clicking here. Its a good read.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Posting Beauty in African American Culture - Art Gallery of Hamilton

Ken Ramsay: 'Black Beauty' 1971

"Ramsay is a black Jamaican photographer and he died recently. He has a whole body of work about the beauty of posing and Susan Taylor, the subject, is very famous. She was one of the first big black models and she later founded and became the editor of Essence magazine. She's making a statement here about Black Power and women's rights. She shaved her head as if saying: this is a new way of seeing me as a beautiful woman. It emphasizes her eyelashes, her nose, her full lips, the earrings, the curve of her back. The absence of hair — remember, at the time, the afro was so big. She's saying, 'Look at me. Forget about the hair.' It's redefining black beauty."

Written by June Chua. CBC News - Art and Design.
Please click here to read June's complete article.

Posing Beauty in African American Culture runs at the Art Gallery of Hamilton until May 9th.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Winnipeg Art Gallery

picture by Rebecca Whitney

Art for Lunch. Sure thing. I'll call for a Paul Kane with fries and a coke. Congratulations to the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) for their innovative efforts to reach out to the community. Their website also shows them featuring birthday parties. Do they have give out little paper hats, clackers and horns, and do they have birthday parties for seniors? /

Thumbs up to the WAG as well, for their interesting daily art blog. Please click here.

Please click here to visit their website.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Arthur Lipsett, Film Director 1936-1986

Arthur Lipsett (May 13, 1936 – May 1, 1986) was a Canadian avant-garde director of short experimental films.
In the 1960s he was employed as an animator by the National Film Board of Canada. Lipsett's particular passion was sound. He collected pieces of sound from a variety of sources and fit them together to create an interesting auditory sensation. After playing one of these creations to friends, they suggested that Lipsett combine images with the sound collage. The result is a 7 minute long film Very Nice, Very Nice which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject, Live Action Subjects in 1962. Despite not winning the Oscar, this film brought Lipsett considerable praise from critics and directors. Stanley Kubrick was one of Lipsett's fans, and asked him to create a trailer for his upcoming movie Dr. Strangelove. Lipsett declined Kubrick's offer. Kubrick went on to direct the trailer himself; however, Lipsett's influence on Kubrick is clearly visible in the released trailer.
Lipsett's meticulous editing and combination of audio and visual montage was both groundbreaking and influential. His film 21-87 was a profound influence on director George Lucas who included elements from 21-87 in THX 1138, his Star Wars films and also American Graffiti. The film 21-87 has been credited by Lucas as the source of the "The Force" in Star Wars.[1] Lucas never met the filmmaker but tributes to 21-87 appear throughout Star Wars. For example, the holding cell of Princess Leia in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope on the Death Star is cell No. 2187.[2]
In 1965, he completed A Trip Down Memory Lane, utilizing newsreel footage from over a fifty year period, and intended as a kind of cinematic time capsule.[3]
Lipsett's success allowed him some freedom at the NFB, but as his films became more bizarre, this freedom quickly disappeared. In his later years, he suffered from psychological problems that progressed in severity. Lipsett committed suicide in 1986,[2] two weeks before his 50th birthday.
In 2006, a feature-length documentary about Lipsett, Remembering Arthur, was produced by Public Pictures

Click here to view 2187. The short film is appx. 9 minutes long.

Please click here to be taken to the Wikipedia source.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

From the Mouth of Babes - observations by a boy, about Emily Carr

A Boy Scout diary, a hand-painted Christmas card and an uncashed cheque have revealed the eccentricities and the humour of Emily Carr, one of Canada's most beloved artists.

A boy scout diary written by a boy who knew Emily, along with several of her paintings is going on the auction block on May 26th, in Vancouver.

Click here to read the CTV article.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mirror Lake by Franklin Carmichael

Franklin Carmichael

When I look at this work, I am intriqued by the visual pathway that Carmichael creates to take me into his work. Its a stop and go affair. The foreground hills with their light colour values arrest my visual journey with a barracade of darker hills which separate it from the lake.

Ok, lets start over. The small bay on the bottom left is in the traditional beginning place for taking us on a visual walk into the heart of the work. But it goes into the reflected lake white. But here's where it ends. Horizontal lines of darker values block us from moving upwards.

But there's more. There's a dynamic visual energy which is played out between the sets of trees and my eyes seem to be transmitted and reflected back and forth between these points.

This dynamic interplay is strengthened by contrast, for the work is minimalistic.
There are only two sets trees. There no logs, no birds, no twiggy bits, no grass. No other distractions. Just rocks and lake. and the thinnest of sky lines.

There is another important point of contrast contrast. The trees are the only sharply defined, vertical objects in the painting. Sure, the foreground rocks to the right lurch their way up to the lake but that's about it.

Sometimes less is more: Beautiful, undulating, flowing lines, appealing colours and two sets of trees. What else does it take to make a painting work?

Ken Thomson Collection

Art Gallery of Ontario

Over 50 years, Ken Thomson (1923–2006) assembled the most important private art collection in Canada, and its gift to the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the most significant acts of philanthropy in Canadian history.

The Thomson Collection comprises Canadian paintings, First Nations objects, European works of art - primarily northern European sculpture and decorative arts dating from the early Middle Ages to the mid 19th century - plus ship models from the Napoleonic era to the 20th century.

Everything Ken Thomson bought was of the highest quality of craftsmanship and spoke directly to him.

Ken Thomson formed what is without doubt the most significant and important collection of Canadian art in private hands. Comprising some 700 works of art assembled over 50 years, it is distinguished by its remarkable breadth, the high quality of the individual works, and the rarity of many of its objects.

The Canadian Collection, apart from the First Nations objects, comprises three major components:

19th century Canadian art, with a particular emphasis on the paintings of Cornelius Krieghoff the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, with strong holdings of the work of Tom Thomson, Lawren S. Harris, J.E.H. Macdonald, David Milne and James Wilson Morrice, significant paintings by post-war artists Paul-Emile Borduas and William Kurelek.

First Nations objects include early, finely detailed objects such as masks, amulets, dagger hilts and combs carved from ivory which came from sperm or orca whale teeth or, more rarely, walrus tusks. They also include pieces by one of the best-known historical First Nations artists, Charles Edenshaw (1839–1920) and a number of objects acquired from the celebrated Dundas collection after Ken Thomson’s death.

Please click here to be taken to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Late Agnes Martin's Desert Scene...........hmmm

Agnes Martin's desert scene: source, Montreal Gazette

Some are saying its a slam dunk to become the most expensive painting in Canadian art history and to eclipse the 2002 Sotheby sale value of Paul Kane's, North West Portrait.

Its your call. Would you spend more than 5.1 million dollars to hang this over your desk in your oak panneled office, or over your sofa?

To read one of the many articles on this which are floating around the media now, please click here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Frank Haddock

You're More Important Than Me - watercolour

Anyone who loves dog, would surely be captured by the beauty of this work by Frank Haddock. Frank paints with a sensitive hand and a fine brush. And, this work makes the media seems so appropriate to the subject.

The diffusion of light and colour, is soft and it sets the tone for the gentle and patient love of the guide dog for its owner.

There are so many 'little things' which together built to make this an excellent work. Frank uses the power of contrast to make his statement even bigger than life.
The softness of the dog's coat and its gentle sense of forebearance, is enchanced by the contrast of it lying on a hard surface. And there is also the contrast of colours - the honeyed warmth of the dog, contrasted to the cool blue of its back cloth, and the blue of the hard pavement.

Notice too, the intersection of vertical and horizontal lines in the tiles. Frank's subject is pretty much defined within an area, within the picture. And,this defines the area of our focus.

The harness is the link between the dog and its owner. But, it is also our visual link to the animal. The leash runs parallel to the line of the tiles, and then loops into the round form of the dog itself. The leash gives the owner and the viewer a sense of ownership of the subject.

You can check out more of Frank's works by looking at his website by clicking here, or by clicking on his name on the profiled artist's list on the right column.

Fredericks-Artworks Blog, copying policy

The Canadian Copyright act, section 29 reports on fairdealing, that it is not an infringement to reproduce someone else's work for research, study, criticism, review or to report. Which pretty much sums up what this site is about. All content sources, be they artists, printed references, and website url's are respectfully identified on this site. http://http//

Mission Statement
A Portrait of the Visual Arts in Canada, is intended to celebrate the richness of Canada's visual arts, and to promote the arts in Canada.

Statement of Intent
I make every effort to credit the sources of information used in this blog and to obtain the permission and cooperation of all the works presented by living artists. I try, as much as possible to use works from public sources eg. national and provincial collections, of deceased artists. If for any reason, any artist disapproves of anything written about them or their work the artist is encouraged to request withdrawal of the content.