Canada’s “other” National Arts Centre
Stephen Borys, Director and CEO, exhibition curator
My 100 Masters discussions with Kevin Rice, Director of the art gallery at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown (Canada’s other National Arts Centre), actually began at a Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization (CAMDO) meeting at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada’s other national arts centre. I had initially hoped to borrow Jean-Paul Lemieux’s Charlottetown Revisited, painted in 1964, as part of the Confederation Mural Collection; however, its recent restoration and fragile state (not to mention size) prevented it from travelling. Instead, I chose Jack Shadbolt’s Flag Mural painting, also commissioned for the newly constructed Centre in 1964. Recalling my first meeting with Shadbolt, when I was a graduate student at the University of Toronto and working at a commercial gallery that represented him, I relished the thought of bringing west, to Winnipeg, a politically charged mural from the East Coast. I welcomed Kevin Rice’s suggestion of The Local Stars (1888) by the Charlottetown artist Robert Harris, who also painted the iconic group portrait The Fathers of Confederation (destroyed in the fire on Parliament Hill in 1916). The Confederation Centre was founded as Canada’s National Memorial to the Fathers of Confederation, who had gathered at Province House in Charlottetown in 1864. A few months later at a Canadian Arts Summit meeting in Banff, Alberta, I had the opportunity to dine with Jessie Inman, CEO of the Confederation Centre, and Wayne Hambly, Chair of the Board, and was pleased when, upon hearing of the selections for the WAG exhibition, they confirmed I had made the right choices.
Jack Shadbolt, Canadian (born in England), 1909–1998, The Flag Mural, 1964. Enamel on canvas board, 211 x 375 cm. Commissioned with funds donated by the Molson Family, Montreal, 1964; CAG 66.29 1959. Lent by: Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum, Charlottetown