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News / May 26, 2017

News in Brief: Maud Lewis Artwork Sales Soar at Auction, Feminist Residency Forced to Evacuate Island, New Hires at the Belkin and Gallery TPW

This week, a Maud Lewis thrift-store painting sold for $45,000, and artists at a feminist residency were forced to evacuate a flooded island.
Maud Lewis, <em>Three Black Cats</em>, ca. 1969–70. Courtesy Consignor Fine Art. Maud Lewis, Three Black Cats, ca. 1969–70. Courtesy Consignor Fine Art.

Our editors’ weekly roundup of Canadian art news.

A story to delight Canadian thrifters: a painting by famed folk artist Maud Lewis that was found in a thrift store bin in New Hamburg, Ontario, sold this week at auction for $45,000—almost three times its estimate. The Waterloo Region Record reports that proceeds from the sale of Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fisherman, Bay View, Nova Scotia will go toward funding the Mennonite Central Committee Ontario’s relief work projects in countries such as Nigeria and South Sudan. Lewis, from Digby, Nova Scotia, lived with rheumatoid arthritis and in poverty for much of her life, selling her brightly coloured paintings for just $2 or $3 a piece. She died in 1970 aged 67, and is now the subject of a Hollywood film, Maudie, starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.

In other Maud Lewis news, the painting Three Black Cats sold for five times its auction estimate at Consignor Canadian Fine Art’s Spring Live Auction of Important Canadian Art on Thursday evening at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. “Maud Lewis always had a cult following for her distinctive art, but when celebrity pop culture aligns to contribute to an artist’s narrative, it provides an instant appreciation for their works of art,” Rob Cowley, president of Consignor, said in a press release. Two other Lewis works included in the auction sold for lower prices than were expected.

Twenty-two artists taking part in the two-week-long Feminist Art Conference residency at Artscape Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island had their stays cut short after the City of Toronto closed all operations on the island last week due to severe flooding. Metro reports that participants were safely evacuated via a rented party boat and relocated to the studio spaces at the Daniels Spectrum arts and cultural centre in Regent Park, where programming is continuing.

Toronto non-profit space Gallery TPW has hired a new executive director, Brian Sholis. Sholis comes to Toronto from Ohio, where he was previously curator of photography at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Before his time in Ohio, he was based in New York and worked as an editor at Aperture Foundation and Artforum. Sholis takes the reigns from retiring founding director Gary Hall, who led Gallery TPW for nearly 40 years.

The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia announced this week in a press release that Barbara Cole is the gallery’s new curator of outdoor art. Cole is an active member of the Vancouver art community, and has been involved in public-art initiatives in many capacities: as an artist herself, as founder and principal of Cole Projects, and as a curator, educator and curatorial consultant. Cole replaces Keith Wallace, who has held the position at the Belkin since 2015, and organized upcoming projects by Esther Shalev-Gerz and Geoffrey Farmer.