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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of Dubious Due Diligence
The Case of Dubious Due Diligence

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back April/May 2017

Jack Shadbolt, Tree of Life

Jack Shadbolt, Tree of Life (1987), acrylic on plywood

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
Finlay Fine Art
finlayfineart.com

Chapter 56. The Case of Shadbolt’s Tree of Life

Jack Shadbolt’s massive 1987 painting Tree of Life has found a new home in the Reichwald Health Sciences Centre on UBC’s Okanagan campus. The painting was originally commissioned for the main floor lobby of the Granville Cinemas in Vancouver where it hung until recently when the property was sold and the cinema closed. The new owners wanted the piece removed and were offering it for sale at a bargain basement price.

Portia Priegert reported in Trek, the UBC Alumni magazine, that when local art lover Pauline Boyle and Stew Turcotte, owner of the Hambleton Galleries in Kelowna, got wind of the problem, they enlisted the financial help of UBC alumnus Luigi Rossi, and together “they were able to plant Tree of Life, an exuberant work composed of multiple facets of energetic colour, in a new home in the Reichwald Health Sciences Centre.”

When I saw the painting in its original cinema location, I was pleased at how its integration into a difficult architectural space was gracefully achieved. Shadbolt admirably demonstrated his commitment to the authenticity of location and to the artistic integrity inherent in his creation. The work successfully unified three-dimensional space and enhanced the aesthetic engagement for all who viewed it. As David Burnett explains in Cineplex Odeon: The First Ten Years, the piece was “a brilliant resolution to the complex restrictions dictated by the architecture of the site” as “the only available site for a major work of art was in a narrow well, open to three floors behind the façade.” Burnett suggests “Shadbolt’s work literally climbs up this well and spreads over the lobby balconies on the second and third floors.” Shadbolt described the imagery as “symbolic” suggestions, of an underlying and irrepressible force of natural growth that would take over the available terrain for its own.”

Boyle, Turcotte and Rossi’s collaborative efforts fortunately saved the work from perhaps being destroyed or permanently removed from public view, and this magnanimous trio is to be congratulated for a job well done. Now, the Tree of Life, a site-specific work conceived as a brilliant solution to the restrictions of its original site, hangs in a space that is large enough to accommodate it.

One has to wonder about the collecting mandate of the receiving institution, represented by Susan Belton, UBC’s Public Art Collection Curator, in receiving and placing this site-specific work in a new space for which it was neither intended nor appears to demonstrate a connection. This is an important work by a major BC artist, but artistic integrity aside, I suppose artistic compromise is also an important factor for preservation. One wonders what the fate of the Tree of Life would have been had it not been donated to UBC.

Next: The Case of Claude Breeze in Surrey

 Tue, Apr 4, 2017