I went to Riverbrink today, Jonathan was playing at their open house and I have been meaning to go there for years. They have a lovely location and an impressive collection, supplemented at the moment by loans from galleries in New York.
Samuel Edward Weir, Q.C. was born in 1898, and was a lawyer in London, Ontario. He began collecting art in his twenties; pieces by Homer Watson and Dame Laura Knight (I hadn’t known her work before, really nice) were among the first. In the 1940s he bought land along the Niagara River, in the village of Queenston and built a house there which he called Riverbrink. He retired there in 1970 and died in 1981, leaving his home and art collection in the care of The Weir Foundation. It officially opened as a gallery and museum on June 15, 1983.
Weir collected some 160 works that illustrate the immediate area around Niagara Falls, as well as works that show the history and development of Upper and Lower Canada in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The collection contains pieces by many of the important Canadian painters and sculptors who worked before and into the early years of the twentieth century, including Cornelius Kreighoff, Paul Kane, Marc-AurÃ¨le de Foy Suzor-CotÃ©, Tom Thomson and members of the Group of Seven.
Exhibits are changed annually, with almost 200 artworks on display each year. Of 1,000 or so pieces of fine art in the collection, almost seventy percent are Canadian. The other thirty percent is by American and European artists, including pieces by Jacob Epstein and Augustus John.
This is a pretty impressive collection, especially with the addition of the extra paintings currently on loan from a couple of galleries in New York. My favourites are probably, the Augustus John sketches of Canadian soldiers from WW1, the oil study for “The Jack Pine” by Tom Thomson and a charming and very typical Paul Peel that would probably have got him put in jail for kiddie porn if he painted it today. Also the Laura Knight charcoal and watercolour paintings are lovely.
“A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his mind is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.”….. St. Thomas Aquinas Just found this on someone else’s blog. I will check the attribution.
Just goes to show you should always check attribution. On further research I have discovered that this quote has also been attributed to Louis Nizer who was also supposed to have come up with “A beautiful lady is an accident of nature. A beautiful old lady is a work of art.”
Of course Nizer lived several hundred years after St. Thomas, so it might have been an appropriation.
St. Thomas apparently did say: ” The test of the artist does not lie in the will with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces.“
This article is a couple of years old but I only just found it on another blog.
And here is another one about Duane Kaiser.
Hugh and James McSloy established the Canada Hair Cloth Company in 1884. In 1888 they bought a parcel of land behind St. Paul Street from the Dolphin Paint Company and built a 3 storey brick building. The site was ideal because it was next to a mill-race where water wheels provided the power to run the machines. Within a few years they bought an electrical generator which used the mill wheel as its turbine making it the first company in St. Catharines to use electricity. The Canada Hair Cloth business stayed in the family until sold in 1996.
The Welland Canal was the first Canadian canal built for both transportation and waterpower (1824 & 1833). St. Catharines was one of the main water-powered industrial centers along the canal. Remains of the raceways can still be seen behind the Canada Hair Cloth building and the name Race Street reminds us of the city’s hydraulic heritage.