Harold Town at Wallace Galleries

HaroldTown (742x1024)

I don’t often talk about commercial galleries.  In fact, for whatever odd reason commercial galleries as a general rule don’t get much talking about in the Calgary press.  This is the way it has been ever since Nancy Tousley retired from the Calgary Herald who would occasionally make periodic mention of an interesting show.

I want to talk about one such show that is in the midst of a two week long exhibition.

The artist – Harold Town.

I want to talk about it because it is a damn good show and someone should step up to the plate and draw attention to the show before it is over.

Harold Town was an interesting artist.  Born in 1924 in Toronto, he died in 1990 in Peterborough.  He was one of the early proponents of non-representational art in Canada doing work that was influenced by Pablo Picasso and Willem de Kooning making a big impact in the 1950s.

He was a member of the highly influential Toronto-based art group Painters 11 and also introduced a very important body of work during the 1960s called the single autographic prints which are monotypes.  These prints were highly collected and helped solidify his role as an innovator and a leading light in Canadian art.  He followed that by creating a series of paintings in the 1970s called the SNAP paintings.  These works without going into detail about how they are created which relates to the name, quite frankly are amazing.  By the 1980s he had started to fall out of favour and largely neglected even though he continued to do work.  The image used on the card dates from circa 1985 and brings his career full circle to where he first made a name for himself as an important abstractionist.  The neglect that his work fell into is now changing and there is an increased awareness of his important role in the Canadian art world.

I went at the very end of opening day and as a result did not have much chance to look at the art, as is often the case at openings.  I did however do a very quick pass at the entire show while getting caught up with someone whom I have not seen for quite some time.  Fortunately I was previously familiar with his art so did not take notes or have a camera with me and am depending entirely on memory, so could be corrected on one or two things.  As I recall there are at least three SNAP paintings; maybe five to ten single autographic prints a couple works from the 1960s and a small selection of works from other periods with maybe 30 pieces overall.  It is quite the achievement to accumulate that many in one place and have them available for sale.  For that I must congratulate the staff at the gallery.

It is a strong show overall.  It is so rare to see this many works together by such an important artist from this vintage.  It is well worth visiting the gallery to check them out before the show comes down on October 9th.

Wallace Galleries is located at 500 – 5 Avenue SW (on the main floor of Chevron Tower) in the heart of downtown.  They are open Monday to Saturday from 10:00am-5:30pm.