Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
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Robert Samuel Alexander

August 25 1916 - April 20 1974

Vancouver School of Art (Diploma 1947)
B.C. Society of Fine Arts (Member 1942 -)
Royal Canadian Academy


Robert Alexander was born in Vancouver, B.C. in 1916, and died in North Vancouver in 1974. He was married to Irene Catelle Porter, who was also an artist.


R.S. Alexander and Irene Catelle Porter, 1949

Who's Who in Northwest Art noted that he was a painter, and had "experimented extensively with fresco (secco) using casein as an emulsion". He designed cartoons for fresco panels for the "new" (now the only) Hotel Vancouver using Indian legends as the theme, and also did murals for the now-demolished Grosvenor Hotel on Howe Street in Vancouver. He designed street and building decorations for the visit of King George and Queen Elizabeth in 1939. He also worked for the David Hall Sign Company at about this time.

Alexander was elected as a member of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts in 1942, and exhibited in a number of their Annual Exhibitions.

He graduated with honours from the Vancouver School of Art in 1947, winning a scholarship, and taking further studies at the Art Students' League in New York c1954-55. He did portraits, figures, murals, and illustrations.

One of his specialties was portraits, and he did them for subjects in Toronto, Ottawa, Regina, Victoria, Vasar, New York, and Tokyo, Japan, as well as numerous portraits in Vancouver (including two portaits of the artist W.P. Weston).

He completed large mural commissions for the Officer's Mess at HMCS Discovery, Vancouver, and for the Penticton Airport. The latter mural has been restored and relocated into the Penticton Civic Centre.

In 2013 I arranged to visit HMCS Discovery to view the mural, which had survived since 1945. Renee Alexander, the artist's daughter, also came along on the visit. The mural is above two pairs of double doors to the Officer's Mess.


Mural detail, right side.


Mural detail, center.


Mural detail, left side.

He illustrated school text books for W.J. Gage and Prentice-Hall Publishers. He taught at the Vancouver art school and opened a studio workshop in Vancouver in 1954 with his wife. A letterhead from the time noted "Irene Catelle Porter - R.S. Alexander - Commercial and Fine Arts, Studio 23 - 441 Seymour St., Vancouver, B.C." Another letterhead had a studio address in the 1400 block West Broadway.

He exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy in 1941 and 1954, one picture per exhibition. He also exhibited work at the Edmonton Museum of Arts, and at the Seattle Art Museum.

One of his paintings was selected as the front cover image for the 1951 43rd Annual Exhibition catalogue of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts.


Honorable Mention, 1941 B.C. Artists exhibition

Also, per card file at Vancouver Art Gallery Library:
     B.C. Society of Fine Arts 1944; 1946-48; 1950-54; 1956-62
     VAG annual B.C. Artist exhibitions: 1936-39; 1941-43; 1945-47; 1953-58; 1961; 1965-66; 1968

Exhibitions

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION LOCATION
1939 July 4 - 23 Six Local Artists VAG

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION ARTWORK
1936 Aug. 18 - 28 David Spencer B.C. Artists' Golden Jubilee "a young, fair-haired man in a blue shirt"
1936 Sept. 18 - Oct. 11 VAG   B.C. Artists 5th Annual Portrait of my Brother
The Boy in the Blue Beret
1936 Oct. 15 - 20 VAG   B.C. Artists Chilliwack Exhibition The Boy in the Blue Beret
1937 Sept. 17 - Oct. 10 VAG   B.C. Artists 6th Annual Ukrainian Dancer
Deck Hand
1938 Sept. 16 - Oct. 9 VAG   B.C. Artists 7th Annual The Yellow Coat
Cachazan
1939 Sept. 15 - Oct. 8 VAG   B.C. Artists 8th Annual Blue Mood
Vivian
Portrait Study
1941 Sept. 26 - Oct. 19 VAG   B.C. Artists 10th Annual Winter-Set
Portrait Study
Blue and Gold
Inside Looking Out
1942 May 15 - 31 BCSFA   32nd Annual Dark Russian
Portrait
1942 July 7 - Sept. 2 VAG   B.C. Artists 1st Annual Summer Self Portrait
Marie
1942 Sept. 25 - Oct. 18 VAG   B.C. Artists 11th Annual Portrait Study
1943 May 15 - June 6 BCSFA   33rd Annual Young Soldier
Soldier Lineman
Self Portrait with Fitch
Self Portrait
Chief's Daughter, Atlin, B.C.
Storm on Lake Atlin
1943 July 2 - Aug. 25 VAG   B.C. Artists 2nd Annual Summer Soldier Lineman
Self-portrait with fitch
Storm on Lake Atlin
1943 Sept. 25 - Oct. 20 VAG   B.C. Artists 12th Annual Portrait
1944 May 13 - June 4 BCSFA   34th Annual Portrait
Tide Flats
1944 July 4 - Aug. 30 VAG   B.C. Artists 3rd Annual Summer Portrait
1945 Sept. 22 - Oct. 21 VAG   B.C. Artists 14th Annual Commodore Brock, R.C.N.V.R.
Sketch
1946 May 31 - June 23 BCSFA   36th Annual November
Black and Copper
1946 July 2 - 28 VAG   Jubilee Exhibition Portrait of Alf Karlsen
1946 Sept. 21 - Oct. 13 VAG   B.C. Artists 15th Annual Lumber Mill
Sketch
1947 April 12 - 13 WVCAC   Exhibition of Fine Arts Tide Flats
November
1947 May 9 - June 1 BCSFA   37th Annual Mrs. A. Herstein
Figures in a Park
1947 July 8 - 27 VAG   B.C. Artists Summer Exhibition Figures in Park
1947 Sept. 20 - Oct. 12 VAG   B.C. Artists 16th Annual Scarred Landscape
1948 May 18 -June 6 BCSFA   38th Annual Portrait of Irene
Canadian Gothic
1949 May 3 - 22 BCSFA   39th Annual Michael
1949 July 12 - July 31 VAG   Stanley Park in Pictures Lost Lagoon, Early Morning
1949 Oct. 8 - 30 VAG   B.C. Artists 18th Annual Woman With Comb
1950 April 25 - May 14 BCSA   40th Annual Self Portrait with Fitch
Double Image on Lake Atlin, B.C.
1950 Nov. 28 - Dec. 17 VAG   B.C. Artists 19th Annual Yellow Tree
The Pond


References - BIBLIOGRAPHY

Refer to BIBLIO.

References - GROUP EXHIBITIONS

100 YEARS OF B.C. ART (refer to VAG58)

B.C. PAINTINGS BURNABY 58 (refer to BAG58)

B.C. ARTISTS 27th ANNUAL (refer to BCA58)

SOME PAINTERS OF THE B.C. MAINLAND (refer to AGGV66)

PAINTING '66 - VANCOUVER CENTENNIAL AWARD EXHIBITION (refer to BCA66)

References

WHO'S WHO IN NORTHWEST ART (refer to WWNA41)

ROYAL CANADIAN ACADEMY OF ARTS -
EXHIBITIONS & MEMBERS 1880 - 1979
(refer to RCA81)

ARTISTS IN CANADA 1982 - UNION LIST OF ARTISTS' FILES (refer to AIC82)

A DICTIONARY OF CANADIAN ARTISTS (refer to M)
      Brief biography, includes info from 1961 "document from artist".

BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF ARTISTS IN CANADA (refer to BIAC03)
      5 references cited for Alexander.

VANCOUVER PUBLIC LIBRARY - B.C. ARTISTS FILES (refer to VPL)

Email correspondence with Renee Alexander, daughter, November - December 2010.

Interview with Renee Alexander, daughter, North Vancouver, December 15 2010

Interview with Renee Alexander, daughter, North Vancouver, March 2 2011

Visit to HMCS Discovery March 22, 2013

Clippings

"Special Show at Art Gallery" by (unknown)
      Vancouver Sun, July 6 1939

" ... together with oil and watercolour paintings by ... R.S. Alexander ... all contribute much to this extraordinary show."
      From "B.C. Society of Fine Arts Display Sets New High Mark," by Palette
      Vancouver Daily Province, May 16, 1942

"Well-known Vancouver artists recently elected (BCSFA) members include ... R.S. Alexander ..."
      From "B.C. Artists' Display To Calgary For Exhibition," by Palette
      Vancouver Daily Province, May-June 1942

"Among other prominent exhibitors are ... R.S. Alexander ... (continues)
      From "Summer Show at Gallery Major Event for Art Lovers," by Palette
      Vancouver Daily Province, July 7, 1943

"Other artists showing creditable work are ... R.S. Alexander ..."
      From "Notable Exhibits of Artists' Work" by Mildred Valley Thornton
      Vancouver Sun (presumed), May 1944

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