Vancouver Wharves by Orville Norman Fisher (1911-1996). Signed lower left & dated 1962, this pastel is stuck somewhere between Vancouver’s early port history and the large scale operations of today without revealing too many clues of the past or the present. Up for auction at Westbridge Fine Art Auction House on September 22.

Vancouver Wharves by Orville Norman Fisher (1911-1996). Signed lower left & dated 1962, this pastel is stuck somewhere between Vancouver’s early port history and the large scale operations of today without revealing too many clues of the past or the present. Up for auction at Westbridge Fine Art Auction House on September 22.

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

Ship in BC Marine Drydock, Vancouver by Orville Fisher. I’m not sure what the date was, but I wonder if it was also dated 1935, the very same year that colleagues Paul Goranson and EJ Hughes each made a print on the shipping trade in Vancouver. I thought it was appropriate to post the past three images in a row, as I just happened to come across these images all at once! Here’s a quote from this article in the Saturday Night Magazine from 1939: 

In 1933 Edward Hughes and Orville Fisher graduated from the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Art and Paul Goranson completed his third year. All three took the drawing and painting course. Fisher and Goranson studied for another year with Fred Varley, one of the Group of Seven, and Hughes also did some post-graduate studying. Then began the heart-breaking grind of trying to paint for a living…

I don’t know where this was reproduced, but if I recall correctly, this reproduction came from the VPL artist file.

Ship in BC Marine Drydock, Vancouver by Orville Fisher. I’m not sure what the date was, but I wonder if it was also dated 1935, the very same year that colleagues Paul Goranson and EJ Hughes each made a print on the shipping trade in Vancouver. I thought it was appropriate to post the past three images in a row, as I just happened to come across these images all at once! Here’s a quote from this article in the Saturday Night Magazine from 1939: 

In 1933 Edward Hughes and Orville Fisher graduated from the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Art and Paul Goranson completed his third year. All three took the drawing and painting course. Fisher and Goranson studied for another year with Fred Varley, one of the Group of Seven, and Hughes also did some post-graduate studying. Then began the heart-breaking grind of trying to paint for a living…

I don’t know where this was reproduced, but if I recall correctly, this reproduction came from the VPL artist file.

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.

BC Pageant, a 19 metre long mural painted by Scottish-born Canadian artist Charles F. Comfort, RCA. Charles painted the mural in 1951, assisted by muralist Orville Fisher and two of their art students: Barbara Kathryn Cook (later Barbara Kathryn Cook-Endres) and Gordon Dixon (a Vancouver School of Art student of Fisher at the time).

The mural was commissioned by TD Bank and it was painted onsite at 499 Granville Street in Vancouver. About the mural’s former home, architects McCarter and Nairne built the Granville and Pender branch in 1948-49, a building that exemplified the International style. Later in 1958, McCarter and Nairne was once again hired to build another flagship bank across the street, this time for the Imperial Bank of Commerce (also seen here previously).

Cross-posted with additional text at VancouverIsAwesome.com. I normally don’t like to ramble, but this is one of those exceptions where I just could not stop talking. I hope you appreciate my indulgence; I promise to return to brevity - the Internet demands short and tweet.

Untitled, Orville Fisher’s mural from 1957 featuring the figure of Mercury, god of messages and glad tidings, inside the post office building at 349 West Georgia Street, by the Homer Street entrance. Technically, this might not actually be depicting Vancouver, but due to the fact that the artist was a Vancouverite and this mural is one of the city’s great under-appreciated murals, I am including it without any hesitation.
The mural is captioned: “Transporting the Royal Mails by land, sea, and air in British Columbia” and is viewable from the street through a double set of glass doors. Also mentioned in John Steil’s book Public Art in Vancouver: Angels Among Lions: “The mural shows the evolution of mail delivery, from stagecoaches to ships, from biplanes to helicopters (there is a landing pad on the roof!).” Orville Fisher studied at the Vancouver School of Art, painted murals with E J Hughes and Paul Goranson for the Golden Gate International Exposition, as well as a lost series of murals at First United Church in Chinatown. He went on to become a respected WWII documentary artist, and later he taught at the Vancouver School of Art.

Untitled, Orville Fisher’s mural from 1957 featuring the figure of Mercury, god of messages and glad tidings, inside the post office building at 349 West Georgia Street, by the Homer Street entrance. Technically, this might not actually be depicting Vancouver, but due to the fact that the artist was a Vancouverite and this mural is one of the city’s great under-appreciated murals, I am including it without any hesitation.

The mural is captioned: “Transporting the Royal Mails by land, sea, and air in British Columbia” and is viewable from the street through a double set of glass doors. Also mentioned in John Steil’s book Public Art in Vancouver: Angels Among Lions: “The mural shows the evolution of mail delivery, from stagecoaches to ships, from biplanes to helicopters (there is a landing pad on the roof!).” Orville Fisher studied at the Vancouver School of Art, painted murals with E J Hughes and Paul Goranson for the Golden Gate International Exposition, as well as a lost series of murals at First United Church in Chinatown. He went on to become a respected WWII documentary artist, and later he taught at the Vancouver School of Art.

Vancouver, City of Destiny, an illustration by Paul Goranson and Orville Fisher, depicting a wise old Father Time directing a young man towards his destiny. Props to inter-generational mentoring!
From the cover of the Vancouver Daily Province, Golden Jubilee supplement, Thursday, May 31, 1936. According to the Province, May 23, 1936 edition, the two men were grand prize winners of a $100 contest to design the special edition layout. The contest attracted 75 entries.
Image shown here courtesy of The Province. Newspaper from the VPL Special Collections, VPL 971.133 V22pg. Cross-posted to VancouverIsAwesome.com.

Vancouver, City of Destiny, an illustration by Paul Goranson and Orville Fisher, depicting a wise old Father Time directing a young man towards his destiny. Props to inter-generational mentoring!

From the cover of the Vancouver Daily Province, Golden Jubilee supplement, Thursday, May 31, 1936. According to the Province, May 23, 1936 edition, the two men were grand prize winners of a $100 contest to design the special edition layout. The contest attracted 75 entries.

Image shown here courtesy of The Province. Newspaper from the VPL Special Collections, VPL 971.133 V22pg. Cross-posted to VancouverIsAwesome.com.

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.