Historic & Post-War Canadian Art
Where: Madrona Gallery, 606 View St.
When: March 18 to April 1
Note: Opening Reception: March 18, 1-3 p.m.
Madrona Gallery presents an annual exhibit each spring that is focused on high-level work from around the country.
Though the Historic & Post-War Canadian Art exhibit is a treat for patrons, who are being given the opportunity to survey the work of iconic Canadian artists such as Emily Carr and Ted Harrison, it’s a juggling act of the highest order for gallery director Michael Warren.
“As soon as the show opens, I’m working on next year’s show,” Warren said with a laugh. “This is not the type of show you can just put together in a month. You have to wait for these painting to be available. Sometimes we’ll get offered great paintings that we can’t afford because we’ve invested in other ones at that time, so it’s a bit of complex machine to make it all happen.”
The budget for this year’s show was “a couple million,” according to Warren. It doesn’t seem like a costly bill when you consider the heft and legacy of the 30 pieces on display, which offer a vivid cross-section of the country’s top artists of the past century.
Signature pieces from the majority of provinces are included, from B.C. (Carr, E.J. Hughes), New Brunswick (Molly Lamb Bobak), and Ontario (The Group of Seven) to Quebec (Marcelle Ferron), Saskatchewan (William Perehudoff) and Newfoundland (David Blackwood). The variety and scope is an important aspect of the exhibit, Warren said.
“What we try and do is create a bit of a narrative around the history of art in the 20th century in the different regions in the country. We try and cover each region a little bit, just to show the different styles and influences of people who brought new ideas forward over 100 years.”
Warren said he sources paintings from a variety of sources, including private collections and auctions. He’ll also take some on loan, or use an art dealer for purchases if there’s something he’s interested in adding to Madrona’s vast collection. The sum total of the work is impressive, as something of this magnitude would most often be found in institutions such as the National Gallery of Canada.
“Everything in the show has to made available for sale, so we’ll work with collectors who are turning over work,” he said. “As they build their collection, they might want to move on from a Molly Lamb Bobak painting. Sometimes collectors will consign paintings based on acquiring other ones, which is always a really nice situation for us. That helps us build relationships with clients, but also helps us manage cashflow, too.”
The pieces range in price from $6,500 to $300,000. Two of the notable paintings Warren purchased for the gallery’s upcoming exhibit are Emily Carr and Ted Harrison originals. Carr’s Forest Interior (circa 1934) was procured from a Vancouver collector, while Harrison’s Happy Village (1984) came out of a collection in the U.S. Other artists whose work is included in the Historic & Post-War Canadian Art exhibit include Takao Tanabe, Franklin Carmichael, A.J. Casson, A.Y. Jackson, and Arthur Lismer.