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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

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

by Jim Finlay
Finlay Fine Art & Wealth Management
jim_finlay@telus.net

Chapter 16. The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

In 1998, the BC-based Expressionist landscape painter, Vern Simpson, was commissioned to execute and install two very large acrylic on canvas paintings for the newly renovated lobby of a major office tower in the heart of Vancouver's business district.

Emily Carr, Somewhere, prior

Vern Simpson, Forest Edge (1998), acrylic on canvas, 10 x 7 feet

The work contract included detailed specifications for construction of stretcher frames measuring 12 x 7 feet and 12 x 9 feet using two-by-four kiln-dried fir (cut to profile) with 2 x 2 inch kiln-dried bracing. The painted canvases were to extend around the sides to the back so that the two paintings could be installed without a frame. The subject matter was to be of the BC coastline and of the hillside coast gardens as portrayed by Simpson in his most recent series.

Simpson's first step was to get intimate with the installation space, looking at the viewpoints: the entrance, the staircase and the atrium. The downtown business district site was once covered with giant old-growth cedars and firs, now replaced with towering office blocks and condos. He proposed to incorporate a reference to what had once been, and also what was nearby, namely Stanley Park, the North Shore, and the surrounding islands and mountains.

The physical challenge of size was resolved by choosing acrylic on canvas which could be rolled and easily transported. Simpson built a temporary wall in his Gulf Islands' studio so that the canvas could be attached to the plywood with heavy-duty clips. Two rollers with axles were suspended above with a 13 x 10' foot raw 12 oz. duck canvas attached to each, one behind the other. He sized the canvases, loosely blocked in the colour, and began to paint although he could only see about half of a painting at any given time.

The heavy-duty stretchers were built as specified, then disassembled after numbering each part. A local engineering firm that designed prototype robotic packing machines, fabricated the hangers which when fastened to the granite walls in the lobby, would allow the paintings to rest securely. The final stages of the paintings were completed by a barefoot Simpson, on the floor, using a step-ladder for an overview.

The stretchers, canvases and tools made a huge bundle that fitted in his VW Westphalia. At 5:00 on a Friday afternoon, Simpson, his son, an artist friend, and a couple of other friends unloaded the canvases, tools, and stretcher components in the lobby of the building and then began to assemble the work. The larger of the stretched canvases was the first to be lifted and guided to rest on the waiting hangers. When the second canvas was in place, Simpson handed a level to his son and said, "check it". It was perfect.

In 2008, the lobby underwent further extensive design renovations which unfortunately did not include the rehanging of Simpson's work. The paintings were unceremoniously removed from the walls they had occupied for nine years, and were transported to a storage facility to await a new home.

It is interesting to note that Simpson's paintings replaced a work by Joanna Staniszkis, which had hung in the lobby since the building was originally built in 1984.

Next: The Case of Setsuko Piroche.

 Fri, Nov 7, 2008