Odd art stories of the early days in Saskatchewan newspapers

While researching newspapers I came across stories which don’t really fit into any category I have in this blog but they make for interesting reading.  I’m presenting  them here for your enjoyment.

This story “Stranger than Fiction – The Schemes of a Wily artist frustrated” appeared in the Regina Leader in 1894. Not really a funny story but indicative of the social perception of artists as bohemians, willing to break the rules of society for their passions.

Then there is the 1905 story of Marie Gilroy, the bachelor farmer girl, which again presents an artist as someone outside the norms of society.  It is essentially a funny story but also gives you an idea of how difficult it was to be a woman artist and a woman farmer in a pioneer society.

There were probably many stories of people being duped by artists or art dealers but this one received a bit of press in Sep 24, 1909 Morning Leader.  Sep 18, 1907, Jan. 13, 1908 are earlier articles which explain the circumstances of the later article. I cannot find any information on Charles S. Hatch but it looks like he had a good scam going and the Regina civic leaders were gullible enough. The reporter obviously enjoyed poking fun at the bad judgement of local politicians with the collusion of E.C. Rossie, Regina’s premiere photographer.

Other instances of quite visceral art, or more often than not political, criticism are:

Aug 13, 1920 Morning Leader (scroll right to next page for headline) announced the moving of a painting from the Legislature walls to the basement for dubious reasons.

A similar occurrence was reported Nov 21, 1934 LP. According to what I saw in the newspapers, Mr. Bryant seemed to be the first provincial politician who was reported to have an interest in art.  He had the legislative assembly collection cleaned up and put on view for the 1933 World’s Grain Exhibition and was one of the few politicians to speak about the need for an art gallery.  In 1933 he retrieved two valuable macquette statues from certain destruction. Mar 7, 1934   I believe Louis Phillipe Hébert deposited these pieces with the new Saskatchewan government  when the Quebec sculptor spent a few days visiting at Government House in 1905 (Sep 20 Leader), probably hoping to get future sculptural commissions. The statues can be seen on the Legislative Assembly art collection website.

Most stories about artists confine themselves to what the artist is best known for but in the first half of the twentieth century artists were called upon to do all kinds of work.  I’ve chosen a few of these stories to illustrate their activities.

Early on in his residence in Regina, James Henderson, apart from making oil paintings, illustrated handbooks, decorated scrolls and helped to create window displays (scroll up and to left).

Harriette Keating was probably not the only artist to work on parade floats but this image is the only one I have found which has an attribution to an artist.

Regina Float 1933

Fred Steiger did something similar in World War II when he designed a stage setting for a Saskatoon Victory Loan Campaign and Parade

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And Campbell Tinning worked as a painter of backdrops for Regina’s Little Theatre… Oct 29, 1931 LP

Ernie Lindner, a talented illustrator but not known as a caricaturist, was a staunch fan of all things modern. In an illustrated letter to the editor Sep 13, 1947 SP he humorously critiqued the mayor’s idea to have a new city hall built in the neo-Gothic style. I particularly like the “boomtown” Gothic pediments he’s added to the facades of surrounding buildings, so typical of small prairie towns with pretensions in the early days.

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Sometimes stories about artists are just interesting.

May 6, 1918 LP – Soldier artist from Regina encounters unimagined difficulties

Jul 5 1921 SP A Saskatoon boy wins recognition in a British Empire art contest

Apr 29 1939 SP Saskatoon born boy wins recognition in the Soviet Union for his sculpture

Jan 22, 1943 SP is about the wartime oddysey of two former Regina art students  & Nov 25, 1944 SP has a Saskatchewan connection

John Harvey Jorskies of Moose Jaw. Oct 10, 1928 Morning Leader.  I wonder whatever happened to him…

Mrs. M. Ewart, Aug 11, 1945 LP

I particularly like this Dec 8, 1937 LP magazine section profile of Superintendant T.V. Sandys Wunsch of the RCMP which mentions his bead working hobby. He showed his beadwork in a Regina craft shows in the early 1940s

Nov 6, 1946 SP it was reported that a Saskatoon artist was hired by the Eaton’s Co. to paint murals on velour for a display. The newspaper praised the display and the Eaton’s employee who commissioned the work but the artist’s name was never mentioned.

Jan 12 1948 SP – Levine Flexhaug, the super fast oil painter of Gull Lake. UPDATE – See small article on Flexhaug in Canadian Art magazine, May 2015.  A curated exhibition of his work toured western galleries beginning in the summer of 2015.  See: Mackenzie Gallery. Who knew?

Nov 1, 1929 SP An editorial appears on the need for a new flag and Mar 12, 1930 SP a pioneer of Saskatoon comes up with an idea for a new design.

Oct 16, 1948 LPFred Lahrman, wildlife painter is profiled

Oct 8, 1949 LP- Possible surrealist sculptor at Eastend, Sask.

Sep 19, 1930 SP Helen Craig ex pat Saskatoon artist

Dec 14, 1935 SP Former Saskatonian Edna MacMillan won a prize for New York Beaux Arts Ball costume design

Nov 2, 1964 Maud Fletcher McIntosh, pioneer of Saskatoon, lifelong painter. Maud was the daughter of Grace Fletcher, a pioneer merchant of the town who had the first protestant church named after her — Grace Methodist Church. Maud attended the Little Stone School House and the University of Saskatchewan.

Mar 14, 1947 LP – We learn that the Moose Jaw fire department has a cartoonist in its midst.

Oct 29, 1924 Morning Leader story about a creative use for Regina mud

Jul 24, 1929 SP Clay statue broken at fair – again no artist’s name mentioned

Aug 3 and Aug 6, 1927 Morning Leader.  Farmer Darnbrough of Laura, Saskatchewan shows his seed pictures at fair. The 1933 World Grain Grower’s exhibition in Regina featured building decorations created in Ottawa using the same technique.

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W. V. Magee of Domremy Apr 22, 1925 Morning Leader.  He probably wasn’t the only one making horn and antler furniture .  I have seen examples of it in many places but this is the only article I ran across about it.

1933 Regina World’s Grain exhibition featured photos of two hand-crafted objects which made it on to the front pages of the Leader – farm carving Jul 7, 1933 and model train. Jul 26, 1933. Paintings made by locals never graced the front pages. For more about objects and art displayed at the 1933 exhibition in Regina see my post on the subject.

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And then there are the usual stories about undiscovered masterpieces in local collections —

Mar 28, 1917 E.C.Rossie’s mother got a bargain at an auction which she passed on to her son

May 15 & May 17, 1948 LP – Regina resident found to be owner of a possible old master painting

And speculations about recently discovered objects —

Feb 2, 1934 and Apr 17, 1934 SP there appeared reports about a so-called Stone Goddess found on a farm near North Battleford.

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