Thursday, May 6, 2010

Amateur art collection to buy work for gallery

Norman Finn's bequest of his own pictures found 'charming, naive' by chief curator
What: Undiscovered Talent
Where: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
When: Continuing until May 22
When the estate lawyer called chief curator Mary Jo Hughes, saying his client had recently died and left his art collection to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, she was excited.
And then she heard it was his own art and she had that familiar querulous feeling. Oh gawd, not again.
"Here is an unknown guy who passed away in November, who lived here for a dozen years and did some pastel and pencil scenes of Victoria. I almost said, 'Forget it,' and thought, 'What fresh hell am I facing?' "
But some instinct led her to his James Bay apartment where she saw floor-to-ceiling works covering every wall.
Apparently before he died, Norman Finn wrote: "I am either going to have to get a larger apartment or start nailing them to the ceiling."
Hughes found the works charming and naive. "They are really quite beautiful, and I had this overwhelming urge to have them shown here, because I knew some people in town would love to have them." She even bought three herself.
There were 71 in all, and they are on sale at the gallery's Art Rental for $50 to $125. The money raised will purchase a work in the name of Finn's estate.
Born in 1924, Finn was a quiet, shy man who served in the navy and worked as a surveyor.
"He described himself as 'a loner, but not lonely' and his pictures clearly express how much he enjoyed his last years here.
"He obviously went to Value Village or garage sales for his frames," she said with a smile. "But the paper and pastels he used were all good quality. We're using the rest of his supplies in our studio program."
As far as she knows, this is the first time the gallery has ever held a show and sale of this kind.
"We usually encourage people to talk to us first, when making up a will."

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