Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Colville House

Yesterday, we visited the Colville House in Sackville, New Brunswick. The former home of reknown Canadian artist, Alex Colville. Along with his wife Rhoda, it is here where they raised their four children while he was a Fine Art professor at Mount Allison University (1946-63). They lived here from the mid 1940's until 1973. It's during this period that his artistic career flourished. His work has been refered to as Magic Realism and he paints in a pointillist technique. More than any other contemporary artist, Colville is considered Canada's Painter Laureate. This is the first summer the house has been open to the public.

The collective bank of imagery he created greatly inspired me be become a painter. Up until 2002, I was very much an Alex Colville devotee. Almost all of my paintings comprised of a figure in a natural setting relating to an ordinary moment of observation. In 2003, when two commercial galleries started to represent my work, a gradual shift occured and I turned to Still Life studies instead. Several of those earlier paintings still resonate within me as some of my best pieces.

Over the years, I've written to him on several occasions; including congratulatory wishes after viewing his retrospective exhibitions at the Musée-des-beaux-arts de Montréal in 1994, and at the National Gallery in Ottawa in 2000. He's always graciously sent me a hand written letter in reply. I finally got to meet him in person in 2002 at the Owen's Art Gallery during an opening reception for one of his shows. I was so surprised that he remembered me from the instant I introduced myself. One of those surreal moments.

Alex Colville most recently celebrated his 88th birthday on August 24. He now resides in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and is still as active as ever. His most recent painting can be viewed on the Mira Godard Gallery web site. Some of his orginial serigraph prints are available through the Fog Forest Gallery. From this Google link you can see many of his paintings.

Happy belated Birthday Mr. Colville!