Last weekend I had the pleasure to attend the book launch of Canadian Folk Art to 1950 and accompanying folk art exhibit at the Ingram Gallery in downtown Toronto. The gallery was a lovely space (they also exhibit an impressive selection of contemporary Canadian art) and the staff were very welcoming. It was a great chance to catch up a bit with Collectivator sellers, old family friends, and folk art enthusiasts alike. There was a small but inspiring selection of high quality Canadian folk art on exhibit and for sale, including substantial works from Ewald Rentz, Joe Norris, Leo Fournier and Gilbert Desrochers. Some of the pieces were sold by the time we left (and we only stayed an hour!) but the show will continue until the end of December 2012. If you are a collector in Toronto you will want to check it out.
The small gallery space was packed to the gills with people, so it was hard to take photographs, but here are some impressions of the event:
While the folk art was great to see, it was also a fitting backdrop for a launch of the book Canadian Folk Art to 1950. It was a pleasure to meet the authors John Fleming and Michael Rowan, as well as photographer James Chambers. I haven’t had a chance to read the book cover to cover yet, but I am impressed by the scope of work featured. Everything from purely decorative folk art like paintings and carvings are covered, as well as utilitarian pieces like hooked rugs, plant stands, trade signs and pharmacies. There are just under 500 large beautifully photographed images with careful examination of each piece. The book is organized into seventeen sections that focus on a particular type of folk art and its importance to the folk art tradition, as well as the cultural history of Canada.
When I spoke to photographer James Chambers he said it took over five years to put the book together and I can believe it. From what I have read so far, I think this is a book many Canadian history and folk art enthusiasts would enjoy. It also serves as a useful introduction to folk art for those just starting to appreciate this wonderful artistic tradition.
There is more information about Canadian Folk art to 1950 in this PDF (canadian_folk_art), as well as on the Ingram Gallery website. You can buy the book from the Ingram Gallery, through the publishers at the University of Alberta press, or in bookstores. The holidays are coming and this would make a great gift for the folk art fan on your list! It is truly a major contribution to the Canadian folk art legacy. I know I am very happy to have a copy and will enjoy it for years to come.