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Art show at TOSH to include historic works

Dan Gray stands with one of his newest pieces, among historic paintings to be shown in Pastel by Invite, an upcoming exhibition at TOSH, that includes pieces from renowned historic and contemporary Canadian painters. - Lissa Alexander photo
Dan Gray stands with one of his newest pieces, among historic paintings to be shown in Pastel by Invite, an upcoming exhibition at TOSH, that includes pieces from renowned historic and contemporary Canadian painters.
— image credit: Lissa Alexander photo

Original, classic pastel paintings from Canada’s most renowned artists will hang at The Old School House (TOSH) starting this Monday, a show so distinguished organizers had to increase the insurance at the centre for the event.

“We’ve never shown a Group of Seven (painting) we've never had Grandmasion’s, we’ve never had Harley Brown’s… we’ve never had any of these artists showing before (at TOSH) and we've never had artists of this historical significance hanging before,” said artist Dan Gray, who is putting on the show, Pastel by Invite.

Some of the paintings found in the show include pieces by A.Y. Jackson, founding member of the Group of Seven. These will come from a model of Gray’s named Michael Ward and his brother in Toronto. The paintings are portraits of Ward’s grandmother who was said to have been pregnant when she modeled for one of them. Ward’s mother was in turn a painting model and Ward carried on the tradition.

Nicholas De Grandmaison (1892-1978) was a famous Canadian painter known for his pastel paintings of the First Nations people of Western Canada. Dorothy Oxyborough, another artist in the show, is also known for First Nations pastels and won Premier Pastellist of Canada and the Gold Medal at a past Annual Federation of Canadian Artist’s Signature Members’ Juried Exhibition.

Harley Brown is yet another Canadian artist known for his pastel portraits of First Nations people and characters of the Wild West. He has also written three bestselling art books and lives in Arizona where he is a member of the Tucson Seven, a group of renowned Western artists. Gray said this theme of Canada’s First Nations people in the shows is all interrelated.

“I think, well I know, Nicholas De Grandmaison influenced Harley Brown and Dorothy Oxborough, and perhaps sent them in that direction,” said Gray.

Another connection between artists involves Joseph Plaskett, another renowned pastel artist who will be represented in the show. Plaskett, from New Westminster, B.C., studied with A.Y Jackson before moving on to Paris for many years.

Plaskett is now 93 and continues to paint from his home in England. Plaskett attended one of Gray’s painting exhibitions in the past and Gray has been to Plaskett’s shows as well. Gray said it was Plaskett who influenced him to take his paintings from portraits to landscape, and the artist’s life and work continue to inspire him, he said.

“He continues to inspire me as he gets up every morning to work,” he said, adding, “I have a great deal of respect for all of these artists (at the show).”

Work from Veronica Milner will also be at the show, former owner of the property in Qualicum Beach now known as Milner Gardens and Woodland. Mrs. Milner’s mother was cousin of the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and she was descended from the First Duke of Marlborough, making her a relative of Diana, Princess of Wales. Mrs. Milner was an accomplished botanical artist in both pastel and oil.

Gray said the success of the show is due to the pieces that were generously donated to him by people and art galleries.

“There is a spirit in people who own these pieces of art that want them to be seen,” Gray said.

Besides these renowned artists there will also be work from 18 prominent contemporary artists, including Gray's own recent work, from across Canada. A week of pastel workshops held by some of these artists will also be held in conjunction with the show.

Gray said he hopes the exhibition will show off the value of TOSH to the community and beyond and garner more support for the arts centre. He is also excited to be featuring a show honoring the pastel medium, a medium he said he's been taken with for many years.

“It’s the immediacy, the vibrancy, the permanence of pastel,” he listed as the medium's assets.

Pastel by Invite will be showing at TOSH from July 18 through to August 14. An opening reception will take place July 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. for a chance to meet some of the contemporary artists. Pieces from the contemporary artists as well as some Joseph Plaskett pieces will be for sale at the show. For more information visit www.dfgray.com or www.theoldschoolhouse.org or call 250-752-6133.

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