By J. Butterfield

Vancouver Province, May 15 1923

     A rapid preliminary survey of the walls of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts Exhibition in the School Board offices on Hamilton Street reveals two pictures of outstanding merit where all are good. One is a portrait and the other is a landscape - for want of a better name.
     The portrait is painted by G.H. Southwell and is of the late Alexander McKelvie. It is not a large picture but it stands out just as a great character stands out in a crowd of ordinary people. The painting is rugged and effective and the touch of life is in the flesh and on the eyes. It may or may not be a good presentment of the actual face, but it is a great presentment of character and those qualities that go to make a personality as distinct from a mere face. There is experience, rough wisdom, kindliness and a wide tolerance in the picture that mark it as the work of an artist of great feeling.
     The other is by Margaret Wake, and its name is "Stanley Park"; it comprises a set of emotions that lead from the foot of a great cedar trunk to the dim vistas of eternity; it illuminates the spirit of a place rather than the form of definite objects. Its name is negligible but I suppose a picture must have a name - it has become a custom. The great tree itself has been treated as if it really had character and life, not as a mere totem pole with a pattern on the trunk. It is only by its association with its surroundings that you can tell it is a tree at all. The lighting effect that has been attained reflects the true spirit of the inner woods and the workshop of nature.
     There are other portraits that are good. It is reasonable to suppose that a long training and experience in animal painting should lead to a distinctive rendering of human personality, and Kate A. Smith, whose animal pictures have charmed Vancouver picture-lovers for several years, has made an excursion into the realm of the portrait painter with a startling half-length of Mrs. F.L. Shaw that is a notable performance. On a background of solid flame - the figure stands out with a beautifully modelled roundness and a smouldering fire that is very provocative.
     A large and ambitious canvas by Marguerite Frechette presenting a portrait of Mr. Bernard McEvoy is very disappointing when regarded in comparison with some of the very striking and beautiful work that this artist has shown at previous exhibitions. The tone is unpleasing and the work is hurried and, while it is an unmistakable likeness, there is a mechanical feeling about it that one can not associate with the sitter.
     "Pauline, A Serbian Refugee," by Dorothy K. Thompson is a creditable portrait. It captures the Slavic mask of hard materialism that hides a world of romance and aspiration. Its immobilitiy is the immobility of the Slav race and gives it the unquiet restfulness of an aparently extinct volcano.
     Among several contributions of a high order H. Hood hangs an interior of the Hotel Vancouver rotunda that marks a new departure in theme among local artists. He has done it well - whether it was worth doing or not. A picture of wider scope and greater sympathy by the same artist is "A Backyard of Industry," where the kindly coloring of time has softened the timbers and buildings to a brotherhood with the twilight.
     Two striking color schemes by Mrs. Stateira Frame in her now well-recognized style of boldness are a tribute to her courage and determination in an attempt to break away from the traditional handling of difficult color values. It is unfortunate for Mr. W.P. Weston that the hanging committee have been unable to find a better juxtaposition for his delicately colored "Becalmed" and "Dinghy Race" than exactly between these violent but appealing canvases of Mrs. Frame. Wile the brighter colors absolutely kill Mr. Weston's picture from a color point of view, it is still possible to enjoy the life and dignity of their lines and composition.
     Grace Judge again contributes a number of charming studies where an almost fairy-like tendency in decorative effect mingles with vision and ability in grouping and color. There is always the effect of a pattern while no pattern is apparent. Her "Fallen Leaves" is a delightful study in golden brown and blue, while in "April" she has caught the spirit and coloring of mountains and has brought them, as it were, into her own garden. A simple panel labelled "A Cottage Garden" is very charming.
     Very seldom in the past has such a wealth of good still life been hung in these galleries as may be found among those brought by Melita Aitken: she makes the colors and tone of her flowers appear as if they had only left the parent plant to repose on the canvas for a few moments' rest. "The Rivals" is a symposium of red maple leaves and red gladioli merging at one point only to declare amiable war at another. In "Heralds of Spring" her yellow jonquila do seem to actually herald the opening life of the year.
     Mr. C.H. Scott has developed quite an attachment for the art of the pastel worker; his "Winter in the City" and "Winter in the Country" make a fine pair in the associated strength and softness of treatment.
     As the most distinctive artist of B.C. mountain scenery, T.W. Fripp contributes a number of very able and charming canvases where the minutest detail of his subject is indicated in a broad and masterly style that has often proved the despair of his imitators.
     Among the smaller exhibits which are somethimes overlooked there is a very delightful and clever pen drawing by John Cameron Hutchison called the "Tan Bark Yard." There is a breadth of treatment combined with a delicacy of touch that convey the impression of actual color to black and white like some modern woodcuts.
     The whole exhibition, though conceived on a smaller basis and held earlier than has previously been the case, shows the artistic life of the city to be as viral and progressive as ever.