Home > History > Growing Pains
Conversely, the Hunt
group, including Maxwell Bates and W. L. Stevenson, were extremely
"Avant-Garde!" In fact, these rebels were expelled from the Calgary
Sketch Club due to their too modernistic approach! Interestingly
enough, the Sketch Club itself felt the sting of community wrath
later, when they were abolished from the workshop at Memorial Park
Library because they worked with "nude" models!
My word, such impropriety!... In light of today's casualness
towards every aspect of sexuality, this extreme animosity boggles
Leighton "bashed on regardless!" By March 21, 1931 a
constitution was written, the application for charter of
incorporation was accepted and the ASA was born. The charter did
insist, however, that women be given the right to join. Annora
Brown from MacLeod became the first woman member. As she conceded,
a token arrangement at the time.
The fur really began to hit the fan when the new Society laid
plans for their first exhibition at the Hudson's Bay Co. in
Calgary. It was later to travel to Edmonton and hopefully encourage
prospective members throughout the province to join. This was to be
an "open show." Eight pieces were to be selected after the first
jurying, to go to Ottawa for the annual Canadian Exhibition at the
National Gallery. A great idea... but it misfired!... due to the
rival, "modern-versus-tradition," factions.
The National Gallery opted to send two British artists, Walter
Philips from Winnipeg and Charles Scott from Vancouver to
adjudicate. ASA president, A. C. Leighton, could not relinquish
control and insisted on sitting on the jury. Needless to say...
this compromised the results. Hunt and most of his cohorts were
juried out of the exhibition to their great fury and indignation!
Someone suggested that "Some egos were better developed that some
Eventually the "leftist rebels" joined forces with the
traditionalists. As ASA members, they became dedicated to improve
the standard of art in our province. Interestingly enough, some
were accepted only as associate members at that time. Roland
Gissing spent seven years in this reduced capacity until he was
grudgingly accepted as a full ASA member. Much later, in 1950,
Gissing is recorded as having demanded top sales for his works in
an open exhibition... $300.00.... That was big money!
By the mid thirties the depression was in full swing... A. C.
Leighton wrote to Henry Glyde in England suggesting the latter
might relinquish his post in the old country and join the TECH
staff in Calgary. But he warned, "If I were you I wouldn't bother,
because the Social Credit Party has just come into power in Alberta
and that's going to be the end for us!" Glyde came anyway... headed
up the art department, eventually moving to Edmonton to finish his
tenure at U. of A.
Once the ASA became a "fait accompli," a newsletter, the
"Artometer" was introduced to keep our widely scattered membership
informed. This inaugural, 1933 edition was heralded with great
enthusiasm, except for it's name. In true artistic fashion, the
members smartly and loudly pronounced their dissatisfaction. The
editors re-titled the publication to "Highlights"... and so it
remains to this day.
Unfortunately, after only four issues, the original periodical
slid into oblivion. It was resurrected in grand style however in
1948 by Jim Nicoll, Wes Irwin and Doug Motter, who along with many
others, gave unstintingly of their time and energies to collect
first-class woodcuts, linos, drawings, and insightful articles from
a host of ardent adherents. Through the 50's Edmonton's editorial
standards also thrived under the direction of Percy Henson,
Margaret Chappelle, Thelma Manarey and Jean Richards.