Arts·Gallery Tour

When this curator moved to Winnipeg, Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald's paintings came alive

Take a virtual tour through an exhibit by one of the members of the Group of Seven at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Take a virtual tour through an exhibit by one of the members of the Group of Seven

Take a virtual tour through an exhibit by one of the members of the Group of Seven at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. 3:57

In our new series Scenes from an Exhibition, Canada's top curators showcase some of their favourite works from exhibitions that were closed off to the public due to COVID-19.

Riva Symko had just moved to Winnipeg and was only two months into her new job at the Winnipeg Art Gallery when they had to close down due to COVID-19. She was in the midst of putting together an exhibition featuring the work of Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald, who was the last member to join the Group of Seven and the only member to represent Western Canada. 

'Evening, The Red River, Winnipeg' by Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald, 1920. Oil on canvas. (Collection Power Corporation du/of Canada.)

This exhibit holds special meaning to Symko, who's Head of Collections and Exhibitions and Curator of Canadian Art. She was born in Alberta but has spent much of her career elsewhere, and this new gig is something of a homecoming for her as she's returning to the Prairies. As she was hanging the exhibit earlier this year, she says she had "an interesting new Manitoban experience." 

'Pritchard's Fence', 1928 by Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald. Oil on canvas. (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Bequest of Isabel E.G. Lyle.)

"I was seeing all of these [FitzGerald] artworks in person for the first time. And I kept having these little moments where I would catch a glimpse through the corner of my eye out of one of my new windows and the view would strike me as familiar but I couldn't put my finger on why right away. And after a while I realized that the views out of my windows looked exactly like a FitzGerald painting."

Symko says, "There's something about the lines of the structures, the houses, the fences, the trees, even the quality of the light that really captures the spirit of the Winnipeg neighbourhood."

'Jug on the Window Sill', 1943 by Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald. Chalk on paper. (Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Gift of the Women’s Committee, G-56-27. Photograph: Alexandra Cousins, courtesy of the Winnipeg Art Gallery)

Luckily, due to low COVID-19 numbers in Manitoba, the WAG has been able to reopen its doors to the public and Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald: Into the Light is on full display. But if you're not in the Winnipeg area, Symko is able to transport you there in the latest edition of Scenes from an Exhibition, which you can watch above.

CBC Arts understands that this is an incredibly difficult time for artists and arts organizations across this country. We will do our best to provide valuable information, share inspiring stories of communities rising up and make us all feel as (virtually) connected as possible as we get through this together. If there's something you think we should be talking about, let us know by emailing us at cbcarts@cbc.ca. See more of our COVID-related coverage here.

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