Towards Stanley Park, a title I’ve given this watercolour painting by Gordon Kit Thorne, CPE, CSPE, FCA. It was Tom Carter who pointed out to me the building in the foreground is Vancouver’s former Customs and Immigration building, previously located where the Convention Centre is now. The painting appears to say “From the Marine Building” in Gordon’s handwriting in the bottom left, along with the date July 13, 1957, and, ehr, 1956 too (it’s got to be one of those two dates!). If you compare the view from the VPL photo 6193 also shown here, you can actually see the shadow of the Marine Building!
Vancouver sky-line 1995: before the wall! by Roger Kemble.
Under Burrard Bridge, Vancouver by Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher, dated 1936. Coming next Saturday is a special event to celebrate the 6th book in the series The Unheralded Artists of BC, an outstanding set of books by Mother Tongue Publishing. The Life and Art of Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher was written by Christina Johnson-Dean, and the author will be in attendance for an illustrated talk in the private back room of the Railway Club, 579 Dunsmuir Street, Vancouver. The event takes place Saturday, October 5, 2013 from 5-8 pm.
Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher (1906-1994) was a sophisticated, spirited and classically educated artist, researcher, feminist, and writer, known as Emily Carr’s sketching partner and B.C.’s Special Consultant on the now famous painter but unrecognized for her own creative life. This well-researched book finally reveals Edythe’s story as a B.C. artist and features over 100 rarely seen paintings, prints, and photographs. Schooled in Victoria by the Island Arts and Crafts Society’s traditionalist Margaret Kitto, Edythe embarked on further training at the California School of Arts and Crafts and the California School of Fine Arts in the San Francisco Bay area…
The world of art history has a very selective memory, and books such as this help to remedy the art, stories, and lives that are on the verge of being forgotten. It is incredibly important work, and very much in line with what I set out to do here on this blog.
This is the second book in the series that is authored by Christina Johnson-Dean; her prior book being The Life & Art of Ina D. D. Uhthoff which I blogged about here last year. Previous books in this series have covered David Marshall, Frank Molnar, Jack Hardman, LeRoy Jensen, George Fertig, and Mildred Valley Thornton.
Cross-posted to VancouverIsAwesome.com.
The Lions Gate Bridge, from an ad for the British Properties from May 27, 1939, just a couple years after the bridge had opened. The complete ad has been posted here.
Tonight is the launch of the Cloudscape Anthology Waterlogged!
Above you can see Jeff Ellis has posted some pre-production cells before adding the text from his story, set in 1925 in Vancouver. Especially exciting is the opening image features the classic CPR steamship, the Empress of Japan!
The whole anthology is loaded with local goodness; you really ought to check it out; available in ebook and in print. Come to the book launch and collect autographs!
Spanish Banks #SARAHFOUGERE #Black&YellowGallery #3 #oil from life painting (at Spanish Banks Beach Park)
Sarah’s portrait series is now at the half way mark, and fyi you can now bid on her landscapes here. Visit 602 E Hastings Street to see the artist at work!
Special announcement! Sarah Holtom aka Sarah Fougere has just opened her show at the Black&Yellow Gallery at 602 E Hastings Street in Vancouver, and she begins her series of 50 Portraits in 15 days, which has already nearly sold out! Also in the show are a dozen lovely landscapes of Vancouver, including this one from the seawall at Stanley Park. And what better image to feature on the weekend of Stanley Park’s 125th Birthday! Happy Birthday to everyone, and congrats, Sarah!
#SARAHFOUGERE #black&yellowgallery #6 #oilfromlife (at Stanley Park)
Powell St. Wharf, Vancouver by Geoffroy Allan Rock (1923-2000), titled & dated 1979 on reverse. Up for auction next month in Ottawa at Walkers, est price: CAD500 - CAD700.
Lost David Spencer Department Store Diamond Jubilee Murals Pt 2
This is a followup post on the long lost Spencer’s department store murals originally posted here. A few clarifications I need to make over last week’s post; I originally said Golden Jubilee, but in fact, it was the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation in 1927. And to be clear, David Spencer had passed away in 1920, but it was still common to refer to the department store as David Spencer Limited. To bring you up to speed, I’ve been trying to find out just what happened to these 1927 murals painted by John Innes and G.H. Southwell. The trail goes cold in December of 1948 when Spencer’s is acquired by the Timothy Eaton Company.
At this point in time, Eaton’s takes control of the Spencer’s store in Vancouver, transforming it into an Eaton’s store. In 1972, it was time for Eaton’s to move into the brand new Pacific Centre complex. Then on May 5, 1989, Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre officially opened its doors in the Spencer Building at 515 West Hastings. In search of the murals, I looked high and low, asking everyone I could think of, including the Vancouver Archives, the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, SFU, the Archives of Ontario which holds the Eaton’s archive, Gary Sim, Jaleen Grove, the VPL and more, but no one seemed to know the murals’ whereabouts.
I recently acquired from MacLeod’s Books the actual brochure that Spencer’s handed out in 1927 titled Tableaux of Canadian History and Industry. The VanArchives also has a copy. Regretfully, it contains no images of the murals, but it provides some context to the scenes and the Jubilee celebrations. It seems there was also a display of significant historical events in Canada’s history which they called the Historical Tableaux. This was executed by George Patterson, adapted from pictures by Charles W. Jefferys and Henry Sandham in Nelson’s Pictures of Canadian History. Furthermore, there was a series of Industrial Exhibits from Canadian manufacturers which were displayed in the store. It was like a mini Exposition!
I was about to give up early when I finally uncovered a significant clue! Page 76 of the book National Soul - Canadian Mural Painting, 1860s - 1930s by Marylin J. McKay states:
In 1927 John Innes (assisted by George Southwell) painted ten panels for the Vancouver department store of David Spencer (some panels destroyed, some panels in storage in the Art Gallery of the University of British Columbia). They represent logging, mining, fishing, and agriculture. One panel includes an image of Simon Fraser on the Fraser River…
So there you have it! I forgot to ask UBC! The book continues to offer clues, stating the paintings were removed from the store and donated to UBC, as noted in the Vancouver Sun on March 24, 1949. And I subsequently learned that according to the Spencer’s file at UBC, these two paintings did not survive this donation:
- Captain Vancouver’s Ships at Nootka
- Mackenzie Menaced by Indians at Bella Coola
Perhaps culturally, this is no great loss; early colonial depictions of First Nations are too often historically inaccurate, demeaning, and demoralizing. Had these scenes been painted by the most respected First Nations artist of the day, they certainly would have had different titles! While these murals may have a colonial naivete about them, I still feel they are a notable reflection of their time.
Since the book A National Soul was written in 2001, things have changed. Upon contacting the Belkin Art Gallery at UBC, I’ve learned that some of the 8 surviving murals were deaccessioned from their archives in August of 2008. After requesting photographs, 5 images including 4 hastily made panoramic photographs were sent documenting their poor condition. The murals were indeed a pale reflection of their former glory. The colours muted and the canvases scratched and torn, these murals certainly did not resemble the vibrant colours seen in the printed Spencer’s pamphlet from 1936. The quality of the artwork, logistical issues surrounding their storage, and the daunting task of restoration seemed too great a burden for the art gallery to maintain.
I’ve taken the roughly stitched panoramas and tried to simulate a restoration of colours to give you a slightly better indication of what the paintings may have looked like. Unfortunately, the quality of the photograph of Simon Fraser’s Canoes Descending the Fraser River is too poor to accurately correct, but at least you have some indication of the colours that cannot be seen in the black and white photograph. This painting was perhaps aesthetically the best work in the series, and it’s a shame it has not found it’s way to the art collection at SFU.
Of the four panoramic murals, the Pioneer Fishing mural and Pioneer Farming mural appear to have the same dimensions. Likewise, the Pioneer Logging and Pioneer Mining murals appear to have matching dimensions. While we may not be able to determine precisely where these paintings hung inside Spencer’s, future photographic discoveries may one day help to answer this question. I do think the Pioneer Fishing mural would have looked handsome on display somewhere in town today, even in its unrestored state. The scene clearly depicts the Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains, one of the most popular and recognizable views in the city. It did appear to have been in the best condition of the 5 photographed murals.
I had presumed that deaccession most certainly meant these paintings were now lost, but in fact, this is not the case. There was one other person I wanted to ask about these murals, and as it turns out, this was precisely the person I needed to speak with. Upon emailing Cheryle Harrison of Conserv-Arte, I’ve learned that these four pioneer murals have been entrusted to her! Cheryle was the conservator for the Southwell paintings in the B.C. Legislature and she led the restoration of the Malaspina Hotel murals created by EJ Hughes, Orville Fisher, and Paul Goranson, so there is perhaps no more qualified guardian for their future. As for the other four murals of historical scenes, I’m not quite certain where they’ve ended up. Lost, destroyed, stolen, or deaccessioned, I have yet to track them down. To review, here are the missing titles once again:
- Captain Vancouver Exploring Burrard Inlet
- Ships of Spain off Point Grey
- Simon Fraser’s Canoes Descending the Fraser River
- Trading with the Indians at Fort Victoria, 1845
And so, I must conclude my epic search for the long lost Spencer’s department store murals (for now at least). Like so many murals around the world, they have slipped into the past, nearly forgotten. The story behind these murals seems to me almost as fragile as the murals themselves. Having pieced together the details above, I take some consolation in the fact that their story has once again been told. There are so few specimens that do survive, increased awareness of the rarity and fragility of historical murals is perhaps one of the best possible outcomes of this quest. The next time you see a mural in situ, be sure to treasure it!
So Many Things cruise ship mural, located at 325 Columbia Street in the DTES, artist unknown. As you can see from Jeremy’s photo a few years ago, this mural has gotten a bit smaller with the removal of those cheering the cruise ships from the shore.
The Sun Princess by North Vancouver artist Keith Campbell. This painting was commissioned in 1994 by the father of the current proprietor of the Peg General Store on Commercial Drive. The Peg shopkeeper reminisced how his father used to live at International Plaza in North Vancouver with a great view of the Lions Gate Bridge. When he moved up to Lynn Valley, he missed seeing the ships coming in and out of the Burrard Inlet, so he commissioned this painting! I cannot find any biographical information about Keith Campbell, but perhaps this is him? Any additional comments would be appreciated!
This is a particularly nostalgic view, depicting the ship known as the Sun Princess circa 1974-1988. Originally built as the Spirit of London wikipedia tells us it was an Italian built cruise ship put into service in 1972. More lore from wikipedia:
The ship appeared in the 1975 Columbo episode “Troubled Waters”, guest starring Robert Vaughn, as well as in Herbie Goes Bananas (1980). She was also featured in at least one episode of The Love Boat involving a competition between Captain Stubing of the Pacific Princess and the captain of the Sun Princess.
The current ship named the Sun Princess also built in Italy had her maiden voyage on December 2, 1995. Thanks to the Peg General Store for this great nautical gem! ps: the painting is available for sale!
Vancouver, circa 1962 from the opening pages of George Kuthan’s book Vancouver: Sights & Insights. This colourized variation is a scan of an electronic reproduction of what could be an aquatint or perhaps a hand coloured drawing. None of the images in the above mentioned books are shown in colour, but this print demonstrates the possibilities. The print came from Robert R. Reid’s studio, via Heavenly Monkey. Robert was a close friend of George Kuthan, and this colour treatment was likely done by Robert in more recent years. From the Heavenly Monkey website:
…The two met at Reid’s printing shop in Vancouver in 1951, shortly after Kuthan’s arrival in Canada. Born in Klatovy, Czechoslovakia in 1916, Kuthan was a medical student at the University of Prague when the Nazis closed it, in 1939. It was at this time that he turned his attention to art, which he studied at Prague’s School of Decorative Arts for the next six years. After the war he went on to study painting and various forms of printmaking in Paris for several years. What few published details of his life exist indicate he enjoyed some success while there, making his decision to emigrate to Canada somewhat puzzling (especially since he first landed in Saskatchewan!). Shortly after arriving in Vancouver, he was introduced to Reid…
The Lions Gate Bridge, with Stanley Park to the right, seen from the North Shore. This painting by Lyttle is dated 1980; I am unable to determine who this might have been, so any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
Another item from MacLeod’s Books in Vancouver, this time it’s the Vantech yearbook from 1931.
Perhaps it might be appropriate to mention two upcoming events here. It’s soon the 100th Anniversary of the death of E. Pauline Johnson / Tekahionwake. Join The City of Victoria’s Poet Laureate Janet Rogers for a talk called The Inspiration of E. Pauline at Rhizome Cafe on Saturday, March 9th at 7:00pm.
Then the next day, it’s Poetry in the Park for Pauline: Poetry Offerings at Stanley Park, at Johnson’s Memorial at 1:00pm (Johnson’s birthday). More info at http://www.herstorycafe.ca/
And for those who visit VPL Library Square, look for the display cabinet filled with Pauline Johnson ephemera on the seventh floor in Special Collections.
Vancouver Panorama, artist unknown, printed by Pierre Marc Products, Berkeley, California and distributed by the Vancouver Magazine Service Ltd. Because the Grouse Mountain tram is red, we can probably date this some time after or around 1976, when the original blue tram was upgraded with the new red Super Skyride tram. Seen via ebay.