Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Bowmanville Show

Last Spring, when I was busy preparing for the 40th annual Bowmanville Antique and Folk Art Show. I was searching the flea markets and antique stores when I came across this little gem.

It's an example of First Nation's beadwork, most likely Cree or Ojibway and done on black cotton cloth. What I also liked about it was the original oak frame which still had its original "shingle" back.

Prior to about 1930, it was common to cover the back of a framed item with a thin piece of wood commonly referred to as a shingle.  Later, framers opted for cardboard or other synthetic material. At that time oak was also a popular choice for framing.  So, seeing the original shingle back on this piece and the fact that it was made of oak, I could estimate it's age with reasonable accuracy to about 1910.

I also noted that the back had likely never been removed.  Clearly this piece had been well cared for and the frame both front and back had developed the warm glow that emanates from old pieces made of oak.  I took it to the Bowmanville show, priced it reasonably and it didn't sell.  Fine with me. I happily took it back home and put it back up on the wall where I continue to admire it to this day.

On that same trip last Spring or perhaps a week or two later, I found this small woodcarving in an outlying antique store. Even from several feet away, one could see that this was a superb carving, sensitively done with much skill and knowledge. I bought it on the spot. It went to the Bowmanville Show as well but this time, as soon as the show opened, the owners of Black Sheep Gallery in West Jeddore Village, NS, who also have a booth at the Bowmanville show, walked into my booth and bought it along with several other small carvings.

That's the way it is when you buy and sell folk art. Some times the objects come home with you, sometimes they don't!  Still, I take some satisfaction knowing that another dealer agreed with my assessment and was willing to buy the piece from me.

I'll conclude this post with a third item. On this occasion, I was at a flea market wandering through the aisles of dealers outside. I saw this painting propped up against a table.  I don't know about other collectors and dealers but when a great piece of folk art comes into my view, it literally grabs my attention. This painting was no exception.

As you can see, it's a landscape featuring the painting of a mill at the edge of a mill pond, it's mill wheel churning away providing power to the machinery inside the building.  But look at the detail in the mill! Every stone and line of mortar is painted individually! All of the roof tiles or shingles are painted individually! I love the way the artist captured the play of water on the wheel and the reflection of the adjoining building in the water and the little row boat pulled up on shore. While an academic painter might have opted to simply paint an impression of the stonework and the shingles, this folk artist painted each and every one. That's characteristic of folk artists. If they want to paint stones in a building or stars in the sky, they do it, every single one.

The Atlantic Canada folk artist Joe Norris painted the night time sky in many of his works.  Every sky has a hundred or more stars - all painted individually. Joe's "starry night" paintings are magnificent and I long to own one.

I took this painting to Bowmanville as well. It wasn't long before a perceptive individual came into my book and took a good look at the painting. She turned to me and asked a few details. She bought the painting. I still miss it to this day. But, hey, it's Bowmanville! Collectors expect good things when they come to that show and I try to bring objects that are of that standard - even if it hurts to say good bye to some of them!

Are you going to Bowmanville in 2014? Put it on your calendar now. You won't be disappointed. Come for the rush on Friday night which is a blast to experience. Then come back on Saturday for a more leisurely stroll through the show. You'll see more great items there in one weekend than you will in an entire year.  Maybe I'll see you there!

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