Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
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"Vancouver Studio Club Spring Exhibition"

B.C. Saturday Sunset, July 3, 1909
By "Felix Penne"


It is pleasant to find that although Vancouver has reached the era of "skyscrapers" and utilitarianism is very pronounced, the aesthetic sentiment finds earnest, nay poetic, expression. The small, but certainly admirable exhibition of pictures opened the other day under the auspices of "The Vancouver Studio Club" is a promise of the future. Visit this exhibition in the Haddon Block (over Henry Birk's store) and you will find an artistic oasis, a cool retreat from a good deal of feverish "hustle." I say here, as I have said before, that art and commerce, poetry and progress, should go hand in hand.

Vancouver has reached a stage when much rough pioneer work having been done, there is time, or time should be made, to cultivate the imagination, to create objects which shall please the eye and appeal to real taste. We are grateful to those who present on canvas scenes from other lands, illustrations to poetic passages we gladly recall and who give to our own familiar landscapes the artistic touch which makes us see new beauty, the true poetry in mountain, tree, and stream. Honor to Mr. H. Abbott, Mrs. A. Lothian Russell, Mrs. LeFevre, Mr. Mackintosh Gow and others who are responsible for this interesting little exhibition. May their ambitions be realized, may a permanent art gallery be a welcome addition to Vancouver's public institutions, may art scholarships and art lectures in the near future be the outcome of the earnest efforts of the little "bunch" of art workers and art lovers who are unobtrusiveley doing such welcome service for the community today.

The exhibition will be open for a month from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday evenings from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Personally, I should like to see it open one or two Sundays and the suburban working man given a chance - but that is for the community to decide. There is one feature of the exhibition which has my warm sympathy. Vancouver, and the country around the city, is fast changing. As a Londoner I spent many delightful hours with the pictures in which David Cox, Calcott and others preserved little bits of Highgate, Hampstead, or "leafy" Dulwich - Vancouverites of the future will be glad that Alice Blair Thomas, H.J. DeForest, H. McLachlan, J. Mackintosh Gow, M.E. Carr, S.P. Judge, Francis Noel Bursill and other Vancouver artists find imagination in local scenes. There are "bits" of the waterfront that Whistler would have revelled in, there are old "shacks" planted amidst blackened stumps which are eminently "paintable" and "Deadman's Island" has, for the nonce, aspects for the artist as well as potentialities for "elevators." The camera is doing much - a little too much - for Vancouver; the artist of today will be gratefully recognized by Vancouver of the future.

In this first notice I will only call attention to a few of the exhibits, and do not imagine that the order of mention is relative merit. I was delighted with a decorative figure subject in which Miss T.V. Wylde illustrates the lines from Keats:
       "She dwells with beauty -
       Beauty that must fade."
The color has quite a Rossetti or Burne-Jones quality. "The Swing" (unfinished) and "A Study of Color" by Doctor Bridgeman, are splendid bits of low-toned painting, full of latent power. It is not difficult to recognize in these pictures early examples of an artist now famous. "A Study" (No. 23) by Miss L. Bridgeman, is a bright picture, excellent in technique. Miss Grace Judge, in "Poppies" (32) has a bit of clean, bold pen work. Alice Blair Thomas has some local pictures full of force and feeling. "Straight to Nature" is the motto of this staunch impressionist. A.C. Creery has a choice miniature "Sheila" (65). J. Mackintosh Gow gives us a choice bit of the old country in "Epsom Downs" (61). S.P. Judge has some capital local pictures and M.E. Carr, Alice M. Hamilton, M.I. Cartwright, A.M. Read, H. McLachlan, T.W. Fripp, Miss Vickers and several other artists have clearly proved that round Vancouver is a real "artist's country". There are also pictures by A. Hendry, A. Hulbert, E. Knott, S.E. Frame, M. Weldon, Mrs. Wm. Gordon, F.C. Jackson, Chip Chase Smith, J.M. Bell-Smith, R.C.A., J. Kyle, A.R.C.A., M.R. Higgins and others and although there are perhaps half a dozen paintings hardly worthy of being included in such an exhibition - paintings which have a personal rather than an artistic interest - the exhibition on the whole is good, encouraging and well worth seeing. I am sorry to see that two or three artists I enjoyed seeing at Dominion Hall are not showing here - I hope the reason is because they are busy with commissions. I shall be glad indeed to hear that men who are "making money" in busy Vancouver find time to remember that art is a form of industry which needs, I will not say "patronage", but certainly "recognition". There are artists producing pictures today and asking for them modest prices. The time will come when their canvasses will be described in those musical words, "A good investment" - for their value will surely increase with the artist's growing fame.


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