Sunday, September 6, 2015
The Landscape Paintings of Levine Flexhaug
I was listening to CBC Radio in the car on my way home from my mothers’ house and was introduced to a little known Canadian artist, Levine Flexhaug (1918-1974). I found the story quite intriguing and will share a bit of what I learned with you.
Flexie, as he was affectionately known, sold thousands of variations of basically the same landscape. He painted in national parks, resorts, department stores, restaurants and bars across Western Canada from the late 1930s to the early 1960s. Many of those paintings were purchased as soon as they were finished, before the paint even had a chance to dry.
Flexie was born in 1918 on the family farm just outside of the small town of Climax, Saskatchewan. He began painting landscapes in 1938 to help support his family, setting up in front of the local dry goods store each Saturday. His canvas was a beaver-board and his medium of choice was regular oil based house paint. The standard size for his paintings was 8” X 10”, but he did many that were larger, and even a few wall size murals.
He was a speed painter and had a specific formula that he followed every time. Often you would see him painting assembly line style, working on three canvases at the same time. Different seasons and time of day were represented but certain elements were always there...the mountains, the lake and the trees in the foreground. At times he would add a waterfall, a deer, a cabin, a bear, birds or a red canoe in the lake.
More than 40 years after his death, the paintings of Levine Flexhaug will be showcased in a travelling solo exhibition. I sure hope it comes to a gallery close to me this year. I’d love to go and look at the over 450 paintings the curators, Nancy Tousley and Peter White, have assembled, mostly from the collections of two other artists, Chris Cran and David Thauberger.