NEW HAMBURG, Ontario – Volunteers at MCC’s New Hamburg Thrift Centre were sorting through donations when they came across a surprising find — a painting by Maud Lewis, one of Canada’s best known folk artists.
Karla Richards, general manager of the Thrift Centre, describes how the discovery happened.
“One of our amazing volunteers noticed the painting in a bin of art and before long it had been authenticated as the real thing.”
The painting is titled Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fishermen, Bay View, N.S. It is on beaverboard, a pulp board, and is consistent with the type of medium that Lewis used in her paintings. She lived in poverty for most of her life and sold her paintings from her small home near Digby, Nova Scotia for as little as $2 and $3.
After achieving national attention through an article in a Canadian newspaper and a CBC TV documentary, two of her paintings were ordered by the White House during Richard Nixon’s presidency.
Lewis died in 1970. Since then, her paintings have sold for up to $22,000.
MCC Photo/Ken Ogasawara
MCC will auction off the painting, and the proceeds will support MCC’s work in relief, development and peace in Ontario and internationally. Rick Cober Bauman, MCC’s executive director in Ontario, says it’s an appropriate way to honour Lewis’ life and work.
“There’s something moving about the work of an artist – who lived most of her life in poverty – supporting those also facing those same realities,” he says.
How Lewis’ painting ended up in MCC’s Thrift Centre in New Hamburg remains a mystery. But Cober Bauman is thankful for the discovery and the donation.
“The legacy of Maud Lewis’ work will extend even further, making a real difference for others in need, Bauman says.
MCC is inviting art lovers and the general public to a celebration of Lewis’ life and work on April 20, at a theatre in Waterloo, Ontario. The event begins with an advance screening of a movie about Lewis called “Maudie,” starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke. The donated painting will be available for viewing. An after-party will take place at a hotel in Waterloo, where bidding on the painting will open. As of April 21, the painting will be available for viewing at a gallery in Kitchener, Ontario. Bidding continues online until May 19.
Tickets to the after-party are $50 per person and can be ordered at mcco.ca/maud-lewis or by calling 519-745-8458. Additional information on the Maud Lewis events and painting auction is also available through that phone number.