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"With The B.C. Artists"

"Notes By a Visitor", Vancouver Daily Province - September 27, 1916


Some notice of the interesting exhibition of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts has already appeared in The Province, but a few words of more detailed (criticism) may not be out of place. At the outset it may be stated that there is no fee for admission, the granting of the rooms on the top floor of the School Board offices, in which it is held, carrying with it the stipulation that the exhibition shall be free to the public - so that from noon to 6:00 p.m. all are welcome.

A cursory glance at the pictures occupying the walls of the three galleries shows that the quality of the examples of the various artists submitted is of a meritorious kind and that art in this province is looking up. There is only one exhibit of sculpture, namely that of Mr. C. Marega who contributes a portrait bust of his wife, remarkable for its vivacity, and said by those who know to be an excellent likeness; and a smaller bust of the late Right Hon. Sir Charles Tupper. Considering the disadvantages under which the artist labored in having to work only from photographs in this latter subject, he must be credited with a very satifactory measure of success, the characteristics of the distinguished subject being brought out with a masterly vigor.

"The Lions", No. 11, by Stanley Tytler is a considerable piece of work in water color which shows much dash and freedom of execution. This is a large and important water color and it is essentially modern, standing a yard or two away from it its successes may be judged of. The trees are exceedingly well put in, though one could have wished for a little difference in the color employed. A little less gray in the foreground and a little more differentiation of "values" would in our opinion have been desirable. But this does not prevent the expression of the estimate that this is one of the most worthy efforts in the entire exhibition. The same artist exhibits in No. 92 a poetic pastel of a backwater in the Fraser River. His "Moonlight On Burrard Inlet", No. (89?), is of the same character. In No. (93?) "Study, Capilano", Mr. Tytler shows a certain facility in the use of his materials though the immediate foreground of white stones and water is scarcely convincing. At the same time the little oil sketch is interesting.

Mr. H. Hood has several examples in water color which show that he is on the right track. His best example is No. (13?), which he calls "The Moloch of the Forest". This is in fact a rural B.C. sawmill and he has rendered it very faithfully, the volume of white steam affording a note which he has known how to take advantage of. The landscape in which the mill is set is well put in.

The exhaust steam of the sawmill is also taken advantage of by Mr. Norman H. Hawkins in his "Pacific Coast Mills", No. 51(?) which is an exceedingly clever sketch and shows a good eye for values and color, the treatment being simple and effective, the white boat in the frost affording a good note of contrast. The same artist has a sincere watercolor entitled "The City's Smoke", No. 67, which, though sketchy, shows much insight and previous study. The red funnels of the steamer furnish useful dots of color. The images are well chosen and the bit of rock in the foreground is just where it is wanted. Mr. Hawkins has also two figure subjects in watercolor, of which the best is "Tana(?), a Japanese girl". In No. 66 "Color and Cloud" there are harmonious areas of a rather indefinite character that seem to need a touch of actuality somewhere.

In his three small pictures, Nos. 16, 17, and 18, Mr. H.J. de Forest exhibits examples of what is no doubt a mature style. His drawing is good, and his color effects enjoyable. A little more freedom of handling would greatly improve these pictures; they appear to us a little too precise, though as transcripts of actual scenes they no doubt have an accuracy that the impressionist is apt to lose. They would reproduce admirably as color illustrations to a work on B.C. Scenery.

In "The Arbutus", a rather large watercolor, Mr. S.P. Judge displays the influence of a certain school of modern British colorists who had a considerable vogue in the New English Art Club in London a couple of seasons ago. In this picture No. (8?), the drawing is really subsidiary to the color and as an adventure the effort is decidedly interesting, containing more study of effect than appears on the surface. Except as a means of estimating the size of the tree portrayed, the figure introduced is not of great significance. In a small pastel entitled "Shacks", No. (56?) Mr. Judge has made the best of an indigenous subject.

In No. 19 "Vine Maples", Miss Grace Judge shows that she has sat at the feet of the Pre-Raphaelites and her rendering is scholarly and able. This picture shows considerable study and a successful attack of difficulties, it is highly decorative and the distant trees are well put in. The same commendations apply to her picture entitled "The Narrows", which by its admirably decorative design is lifted above locality.

Mr. D. Bagnall has in No. 21 a careful study of trees which is entitled "Early Autumn" in which he has treated a difficult subject with a fair amount of success and the general effect is highly pleasing. His "Evening" No. (33?) is what artists call "a bit too pretty" both in color and idea. Of his "Alta Lake", a larger watercolor, it may be said that the top part of it is much better than the lower third.

Mrs. Kate A. Hoole has a watercolour sketch in No. 97 which reveals considerable power and faithful drawing. The single fir which is the main subject of the picture is freely and boldly treated and the work is an example of handling which may well be studied by beginners, for there is nothing niggling about it. This competent artist is also seen to great advantage in her paintings of animals. Her "Study of a Great Dane", No. 98 is an exceedingly well drawn and well painted picture of a dog. Mrs. Hoole's ability as a landscapist is conclusively shown in No. 99, entitled "The Thaw", and in her small picture No. 96 "The Harvest Moon", the latter a particularly successful experiment in contrasted color.

Mr. Charles E. Ferguson shows much artistic knowledge and finished craftsmanship in the three works catalogued in his name at this exhibition. They indicate long and careful study of drawing and a rare capacity for design. His "Lady of the Renaissance", a more or less conventional adaption of 14th century Italian art, he has given us an example which is a surprise to find in this far western city. His "Knighthood - A Roll of Honor," No. 61, presumably intended for the presentation of a list of names, is a noteable specimen of design and clean and accurate work while his "Le Petite Seminaire, Quebec", attracts by the admirable lighting and sense of values.

Mr. W.P. Weston's "Full Moon," though not a large picture is exceedingly attractive by reason of the exquisite modulation of light and color, and the highly decorative way in which a sketchily painted sapling spreads its branches over the main part of the picture. There is a reticence and tasteful handling in this picture that make it a very desirable work of art.

Adelaide Langford is represented by three strongly painted, and, if the term is admissable, virile works. They are "The Dryad's Haunt," No. 7(?), "The Canyon, Yale," No. 80, and "Sunset," No. 77. The three are in a class by themselves and they would not be out of place in any British or Continental gallery. "The Canyon, Yale" is full of poetic feeling very adequately rendered while the massiveness and depth of color of the "Sunset" display true artistic insight. It is easy to see that the painter has sat at the feet of the old masters and gleaned something of their witchery.

A striking contrast to Miss Langford's three pictures is furnished by three adjacent ones in the modern French style by Statira Frame who uses almost pure color with considerable artistic effect. These, which are Nos. 74, 75, and 81, are evidently of local scenes. They show originality of treatment, but it would seem that the painter should push her method a little further. They are, however, a decided relief from the ordinary. Hannah Bruce has a large still life picture which shows good drawing, and ease in the management of color. In his "Cossacks in Action" Mr. J.H. Smith indicates that he might go to the front as an artist-correspondent for one of the pictorial journals - he is better than many of them. Violet Travis has in No. 33a a rather decorative transcript in water color of the "Lynn Valley Mountains"; and Kestah Birely (sp?) hangs some academic studies which are far from negligible. H. Crumplin has one of the best little "bits" - No 88 (?) "Old Country Scene" - that we remember to have seen. It is far superior to his "Fishing Boats", No. 86 (?).

Mr. B. McEvoy in a small decorative picture entitled "It Seemed Always Afternoon" presents a subject which might be three times the size with advantage. The contrast of light and shade is well given, though a certain flatness of plane somewhat detracts from its otherwise considerable merit. This painter is seen at his best perhaps in No. 84, "Hillabore, North Devon," a simple, faithfully painted transcript of nature in which he has surmounted certain difficulties of color with considerable success. His "In Stanley Park," No. 83, is better in idea than execution, though it is full of the sentiment of nature.

The exquisite finish and refined character of Mr. Tom Fripp's watercolors are known beyond the limits of Vancouver. He is one of the few artists in the present exhibition who seem to have arrived at a definite style and whose pictures, to use a phrase common with art dealers, are "signed all over". He has five small pictures of a high class in the present exhibition.

There are three very small but very fine works in a rather dark corner by Mr. J.W. Keagey, Nos. 101, 102, and 103. They are mezzotints or something of the kind and they are of good quality, one of them "Quiet Pastures," being especially desirable. J. Fitzmaurice is represented by four sketches full of vitality and certainty of line, their humor is as good as their drawing. Charles H. Scott in his crayon drawing of "Sarah" presents us with an Indian face depicted with much solidity and (resemblance?); it also displays considerable character.

Margaret Wake has evidently studied in good schools. She has a free and broad method, and while her "Daughter of the Empire", No. 18 (?) has a tendency to diffuseness, it is decidedly effective, and as a local subject is very intereseting. This artist, however, is far better, in the mind of the present writer, in her "Charlotte of the Mayfair", No. 82, which is a work of much vitality.

Mr. Will Ferris has a charming little watercolor, No. (5), "Old Country Road Near London". His "Deadman's Island", No. (6), shows, I am told, a vanished past. The artist has obtained an excellent water effect, but as a painting it suffers a little from the regularity of the trees. Mr. Woodburn shows several watercolors and gets away from a certain stiffness shown in them in his view of False Creek, No. 29, which is the best of his efforts.


ARTHUR MOWBRAY


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