After the Flood: Works from the Permanent Collection

Michael deMoree, Stanley Lewis, Ted Fullerton, Paul Vanier Beaulieu, T.C. Cummings, Marcel Bellerive, Dennis Geden, Carl Ray

July 6 - 21, 2012

After the Flood: Works from the Permanent Collection

On Monday, July 11th, 2011 we experienced an unusual and torrential downpour that seemed to focus on downtown North Bay, especially in the vicinity of McIntyre Street. The rain flooded the street to a depth of several feet and caused sewer problems and some minor flooding to basements in the area. It also overflowed drains on the rooftops of buildings. It was an old drain that had been plugged that caused water damage to some works in the Kennedy Gallery's permanent collection. It seems, from the insurance adjustor's reports, that the water had been initially stopped but then had found a hole in that old disused drain pipe and overflowed onto the ceiling of the permanent collection storage facility on the second floor of the Capitol Centre.

The leaking ceiling caused water damage to 30 works of art in total. Staff at the Capitol Centre and Kennedy Gallery worked quickly to record the damage and to contact our insurance company to help us in repairing the artwork. A small group of experts was assembled to assist with the reclamation. This group included: Joan Ferneyhough (a qualified appraisor in the area), Nancy Davies (Restorer and Curator), Dermot Wilson (Director/Curator), Cathy Turcotte (Aviva Insurance Adjustor) and Michelle Trudeau (Michelle's FrameMaker & Gallery).

Over the course of the past year, this group and an art restorer from Ottawa, Mr Stephen Poulin, worked very hard behind the scenes (especially all the workers at Michelle's FrameMaker & Gallery) to remove all water damage from most of the works, re-mat and frame the works and find replacements for four pieces that were damaged beyond repair. We lost: Three Burning Men Standing by Barbecue, Andrew van Schie, oil on canvas, 2000; Barbe Grise, Marcel Bellerive, Serigraph on paper, 87/100, 1979; Twilight Embers, Ted Fullerton, Serigraph on paper, n/d; and The Steel Mill, Stanley Lewis, 7/35, 1968. Of these all have been replaced by works from the same artist or, in the case of Stanley Lewis, works of similar import and value, except Barbe Grise. We are still looking for a replacement for this work.

In the exhibition, After the Flood, we wanted to show, for the first time since their acquisition into the collection, a major portion of the works renovated and reframed due to this accident in 2011. The exhibit includes a major series of stonecut prints completed by Montreal artist and teacher Stanley Lewis in 1968. Mr. Lewis studied the print-making techniques of the Inuit stonecut printers of Dorset Bay, experimenting with their techniques and applying them to his artistic process. His images are stylized, often quite ?socialist? depictions of urban life and people. The prints have a somewhat sandy texture and retain a bright, layered, naturalistic palette. These works are important to northern audiences as products of a coalescing of western and First Nations cultures, at least so far as ?medium? is concerned. If Inuit prints are often narratives of daily life ?mythologized?, so too are these images of trudging home from the factory or working hard at a machine. This was a very politically active moment in time for Montreal as well. Students and labor unions from around the world were supporting the actions of the activists in Paris in 1968. These political underpinnings are also apparent in the works.

The exhibit also contains three reclaimed pieces by well known Montreal printmaker and painter Paul Vanier Beaulieu. Stephen Poulin did an amazing job with these works. Ink had run onto the border of the paper and, upon initial inspection at least one of the three were identified as completely destroyed. But they are now wonderfully reclaimed and are considered to be among the finest works of francophone Canadian culture in our permanent collection. These are delicate, deft and timeless works that display wonderful drawing technique and design sense.

At the Kennedy Gallery we are also very happy to be able to once again exhibit the photographic artwork of Michael deMoree, a sketch by T.C. Cummings, a litho print by Dennis Geden and a wonderful print by renowned Cree artist Carl Ray. Marcel Bellerive's Barbe Rousse is the companion piece to Barbe Grise and is also on display in the exhibit.

Out of tragedy can sometimes come great beauty. I saw a double rainbow after a rainstorm just last month. A year ago we reacted to a tragic event together and worked very hard to rescue these pieces of our culture and artistic heritage. After the Flood represents the culmination of that year of effort and a testament to the importance of the Kennedy Gallery's permanent collection. The works will be shown again and often at the Centre and they will be protected for future generations of North Bay and area residents. Thanks to everyone who helped to make this exhibition a reality, especially our reclamation crew.

Dermot Wilson


WKP Kennedy Gallery


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