The Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery is celebrating a donation of six sketches and two cartoons by York Wilson, from Imperial Oil Limited). The donation is part of a nation-wide initiative in which Imperial is donating approximately $6 million worth of artworks and art sale proceeds to Canadian museums, galleries, and the United Way to mark Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.
In celebration of the donation, the gallery has mounted the exhibition York Wilson: The Story of Oil – A Partnership Between Art & Industry which opened this week and runs until April 23, 2017.
The artworks donated to the JNAAG trace and document the artistic process that occupied Wilson for over a year as he researched, planned and read extensively about the history and property of oil in preparation for painting the mural that still exists in the lobby of the former Toronto Imperial Oil Building, located at 111 St. Clair Avenue West. The finished mural is deemed to be one of the best examples of mural painting in Canadian art history and stands a staggering 32 feet long and 21 feet high per panel.
The York Wilson exhibition is the first of four exhibitions in the Share the Passion: Gifts of Art series that seeks to pay tribute to the many individuals, artists, collectors, and corporations who have donated art to help build the JNAAG’s outstanding permanent collection.
“The County is honoured to receive this tremendous, artistic donation from Imperial,” said Lambton County Warden Bill Weber. “Donations such as these build upon the County’s impressive, permanent collection and help to expand the artistic offerings available to the residents of Lambton County.”
“We are grateful to be a recipient of these works from Imperial,” said Lisa Daniels, Curator/Supervisor of the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery. “York Wilson’s artwork tells an important story about the role of oil in our community’s evolving industry and culture.”
Imperial has been collecting art for more than 70 years with the goal to support Canadian artists, contribute to Canadian culture, enhance the work environment for employees and provide public awareness of the visual arts. Imperial continues to play an important role in the social and cultural fabric of the country through its support of a range of community initiatives that focus on education, the environment and Indigenous programs.
Ronald York Wilson was born in Toronto in 1907 and attended Central Technical School for commercial art. During his career, Wilson worked with Brigdens Limited and Sampson-Matthews Limited, both based in Toronto. While at Sampson-Matthews, Wilson met and worked alongside Group of Seven artists Franklin Carmichael and A.J. Casson.
Owned and operated by the County of Lambton and located in the centre of Sarnia’s downtown cultural district, a block from the waterfront, the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery offers a wide range of exhibitions, tours, lectures and programs. Housed in the Thom building (also known as the Saks
building), the gallery’s permanent collection comprises over 1,200 Canadian historical and contemporary works. Revolving exhibitions from the gallery’s permanent collection along with temporary exhibitions by contemporary artists and works from other galleries open a window to the past and help preserve and present our visual cultural heritage locally and nationally.