More photos of the most glorious BC mural ever!

thevancouversun:

There were two World’s Fairs held in the United States in 1939 — one in New York, and one in San Francisco. British Columbia decided to have a showcase at the latter, which opened on Feb. 18.

It was located in the Western States Building, and was decorated with very 1939 images of BC — stuffed moose heads, stuffed ram heads, a stuffed ram, a stuffed bear, and some mounted salmon. Amid all the taxidermy was one of the great lost classics of Canadian art — a 12-part mural depicting a “specialized and typical form of British Columbian industrial, social or sporting life.

Sadly, the mural vanished after the fair closed. Ian Thom of the Vancouver Art Gallery thinks it was probably destroyed.

Full story here

Derelict in Coal Harbour, a print by EJ Hughes, from the National Gallery of Canada. This drypoint on buff wove paper was dated 1935, and was a gift of the artist to the gallery. More work from the gallery’s collection here.

Derelict in Coal Harbour, a print by EJ Hughes, from the National Gallery of Canada. This drypoint on buff wove paper was dated 1935, and was a gift of the artist to the gallery. More work from the gallery’s collection here.

Extra, Extra! Newsflash! Full house for amazing Vancouver Sun photo archive show!

It was an amazing burst of the historical floodgates this weekend at the Presentation House Satellite Gallery, 560 Seymour Street (correction - initially I said Belkin Satellite). The Vancouver Sun’s photo archives were put up on display in a show filled to the brim with 8x10 glossy photographs, full page newspaper covers, and ephemera. On Saturday afternoon, Kate Bird and John Mackie spoke about the history of the collection, and overflow audience sat at the edge of their seats for the entire presentation!

One profoundly significant recent discovery was made just before Saturday’s talk. John Mackie came upon photographs of one of the most exceptional murals ever painted in British Columbia, the murals for the BC Pavilion at the Golden Gate Exposition in 1939. A set of extraordinary photographs depicts the three artists at work with the mural, along with images of the interior of the BC Pavilion. I believe the three images you see being painted are in fact, the miniature versions of the murals that were painted for the hometown crowd, and which reside in the Royal BC Archives in Victoria. The paintings are largely completed, so the photographs appear to be somewhat ‘staged’. I am still holding out for the discovery of some colour images featuring the murals, but for 1939, that might be just fantasy!

Sadly, no one really knows what happened to the original murals, which were larger than life in size and wrapped around the entire interior of the building in 12 panels. Considering they were the work of 3 accomplished war artists who all went on to critical acclaim, I think it’s safe to say the mural would have been worth millions. The Golden Gate Expo made a comeback in 1940, but BC was too preoccupied with the war effort to return, and I have not yet determined who took over the BC pavilion (hunch: it may have been Alaska). Thus, I believe the loss of this mural is one of the sad cultural casualties of war; had we not been at war, perhaps someone would have thought to bring the murals back home where they belonged.

I highly recommend a visit or two to this show; it really is overflowing with treasures and deserves repeated visits. The show runs until March 30th. Here’s John Mackie’s article in the Sun as a background to the show.

Cross-posted to VancouverIsAwesome.

The Old Empress of Japan Figurehead, Stanley Park, 1939, a linocut by E.J. Hughes, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Another work from the exhibition An Autobiography of Our Collection, one of the 80 Artworks at 80, selected on September 28, 2011 by Zoe Grams. Zoe writes:


Vancouver, for me, has always meant Stanley Park. Not the Stanley Park of summer, when the seawall tingles with brightly-dressed tourists and families, but the Stanley Park of Autumn, when the air is sharp and the trees start to bare. E.J. Hughes’ linocut conjures both a peace and nostalgia that I have always received during my frequent visits to the park since moving to Canada. There’s the curvy, friendly-looking benches in the forefront, and the muted, soft greens and beiges felt on a cold day. And then the bright, stunning punch of the Figurehead as you round the corner, just like when you spot something special on the sea’s horizon, or come upon a statue you forgot was there.A BC-resident, E.J. Hughes’ work is saturated with symbols of the West Coast and Canadian culture. There is a great feeling of pride and beauty; his linocut feels like a celebration of the province’s atmosphere, its quiet strength. It is also a very accurate depiction of my favourite days in a city that I only recently started to call home.

The Old Empress of Japan Figurehead, Stanley Park, 1939, a linocut by E.J. Hughes, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Another work from the exhibition An Autobiography of Our Collection, one of the 80 Artworks at 80, selected on September 28, 2011 by Zoe Grams. Zoe writes:

Vancouver, for me, has always meant Stanley Park. Not the Stanley Park of summer, when the seawall tingles with brightly-dressed tourists and families, but the Stanley Park of Autumn, when the air is sharp and the trees start to bare. E.J. Hughes’ linocut conjures both a peace and nostalgia that I have always received during my frequent visits to the park since moving to Canada. There’s the curvy, friendly-looking benches in the forefront, and the muted, soft greens and beiges felt on a cold day. And then the bright, stunning punch of the Figurehead as you round the corner, just like when you spot something special on the sea’s horizon, or come upon a statue you forgot was there.

A BC-resident, E.J. Hughes’ work is saturated with symbols of the West Coast and Canadian culture. There is a great feeling of pride and beauty; his linocut feels like a celebration of the province’s atmosphere, its quiet strength. It is also a very accurate depiction of my favourite days in a city that I only recently started to call home.

(Source: )

Siwash Rock, a drypoint etching print by E J Hughes from 1935. Seen in Jacques Barbeau’s book A Journey with E.J. Hughes.

Siwash Rock, a drypoint etching print by E J Hughes from 1935. Seen in Jacques Barbeau’s book A Journey with E.J. Hughes.

From Jacques Barbeau’s book A Journey with E.J. Hughes

Near Second Beach, one of only four linocuts, was produced by E.J. Hughes in 1936. It is an elegant rendering of this secluded beach, with which I became familiar less than a decade later. E.J. aptly contained the intimacy of this seashore enclave. Less ebullient than its counterpart, Bridges on Beaver Creek, the linocut Second Beach captures a particularly refined bit of seashore. The mood is tranquil and serene. Yet it illustrates Hughes’ subtle ability to suggest less to achieve more. He undermines the obvious to generate a distinctive aesthetic atmosphere. He sidetracks an immediate impact to compel a more careful look that delivers the “goods.”

From Jacques Barbeau’s book A Journey with E.J. Hughes

Near Second Beach, one of only four linocuts, was produced by E.J. Hughes in 1936. It is an elegant rendering of this secluded beach, with which I became familiar less than a decade later. E.J. aptly contained the intimacy of this seashore enclave. Less ebullient than its counterpart, Bridges on Beaver Creek, the linocut Second Beach captures a particularly refined bit of seashore. The mood is tranquil and serene. Yet it illustrates Hughes’ subtle ability to suggest less to achieve more. He undermines the obvious to generate a distinctive aesthetic atmosphere. He sidetracks an immediate impact to compel a more careful look that delivers the “goods.”

Industry, a two-part mural painted for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. Painted by Paul Goranson, E.J. Hughes, and Orville Fisher, the three “were known as The Three Musketeers of Art’ in reference to the fact that they were artists who had enlisted.” (source) The trio also called themselves the West Coast Brotherhood, echoing the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. (source)

A total of 15 make that 12 murals in this series were painted, part of a project called “Art in Action”, which featured the murals on the walls of the exhibition hall. WWII caused the Expo to close early, but smaller versions of the murals survive in the BC Archives in Victoria. (source) These two murals are also seen in the book Free Spirit: Stories of You, Me and BC by Gerald Truscott.

E.J. Hughes, described by Jack Shadbolt as “the most engaging intuitive painter of the BC landscape since Emily Carr”, he is truly an icon of modern day Canadian art. (source)

"Orville Fisher’s paintings of the Second World War constitute one of the most complete records of Canada’s day-to-day role in that conflict. Perhaps his chief claim to fame is that he was the only Allied war artist to land in Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944. This achievement is all the more extraordinary given the fact that he almost never made it overseas in the first place." More

Orville Fisher’s mural featuring the figure of Mercury, god of messages and glad tidings, appears inside the post office building at 349 West Georgia Street, by the Homer Street entrance. He also assisted with the 1951 mural “B.C. Pageant" with Charles Comfort and 2 students.

"After the war, Goranson remained for two years with the RCAF in Ottawa, working up his pencil, charcoal and watercolour sketches into canvases. Then, finding no work in Toronto, he went to New York" (source) where “he became a display designer and then a scenic artist, joining the Metropolitan Opera in 1965. Here he worked under artists and designers such as Franco Zefferelli, Sir Cecil Beaton, and Marc Chagall. But he remained a Canadian citizen and, upon retirement in 1986 at the age of 75, returned to Vancouver.” (source)

Goranson is, without a doubt, one of my all time favourites.

Low resolution images PDP02285 and PDP02286 shown here are courtesy of the Royal BC Museum, BC Archives. Cross-posted to Vancouver Is Awesome.