STEWIACKE: The Winding River Art Gallery is no stranger to talented local artists, but those who operate the gallery were shocked one day this past fall when a man come in inquiring if they had any interest in purchasing some famous prints he had in his possession.
The artist of those prints was none other than Maud Lewis.
The gallery is ran as a cooperative, artists can bring in their work, paying a hanging fee to have it displayed and purchased by fans at the gallery — they do not typically purchase works of art, but this time there was an exception to be made when an unnamed man presented his collection of hand cut silk screen Maud Lewis prints to Collette Samson and members of the cooperative.
“We had not even realized that these things were out there because they just weren’t being sold, so I came in with her and we looked over the prints, realized how good they were,” explained Samson.
The man told them the story of William Ferguson, a promoter of local artists who had bought the copyrights to Lewis’ work back when Lewis was still alive and selling originals of her art. The originals were typically sold at a low price, often going for as low as $6 the affordability of her original work made it difficult for Ferguson to sell the copy’s at his business, the 10 Mile House in Bedford.
Ferguson put the prints in storage after closing his business, and upon his death in 2002, the unnamed man, who was only described as a local man with affiliation to Ferguson, was gifted the art, and kept it in storage in his garage.
“That’s how we were fortunate enough to get them,” Samson said.
“As far as we know, we have the only collection right now of hand cut silk screen prints, out of anywhere. We’re pretty excited about that,” she said.
The prints are now on display at the gallery, and have been drawing in much attention since their arrival. Samson said they have at least one, and often times more, people come in during a day to view the work.
“They love it, especially since the movie and the high price that her work went for,” said Samson.
These $6 prints have been appraised at a value of at least $1,200, with originals going for up to $45,000.
“Maude is special to everybody, and everyone sees these pieces as a little part of them, I think. I’ve learned so much since the start. As far as we know these are the only ones in existence from this particular copy right person,” she said.
The art gallery is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and is located at Mastodon Ridge off of exit 11 on Highway 102.