Black Sheep Gallery February is just around the corner! Less than two months until Spring.

We are introducing two interesting pieces by Lorne Reid, a complicated and sometimes troubled artist from Cape Breton, who passed away at the age of 39. Phil Ross, a well known art dealer from Ontario, described one of Lorne's paintings as an "absolutely haunting and powerful image. Not at all pretty. Actually quite unsettling ...". David Stephens, a close friend of Reid's, described his work as "a child-centred perspective, with simplified, easy flowing forms". David and Lorne collected the works of many of the local "folk artists" and opened the first such artist-run gallery in Cape Breton, Reid's Folk Art Gallery, which Elissa Barnard, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald Arts writer, described as "an airy second-floor room of play, innovation and unfettered colour". Lorne Reid has always captivated us with his rich and complicated images so it was not surprising that we jumped at the opportunity to purchase his sketch book. As with most artists, Lorne experimented with several styles. These two pen and ink drawings of a mermaid and a dressing room are from this sketch book.

We have looked at a lot of Everett and Maud Lewis paintings over the years and Maud's three-legged oxen aways bring a smile to our face. It seems that following her being featured in the nationally circulated Star Weekly on July 10th, 1965, people encouraged her to sign her work Maud Lewis so it was more recognizable as her work. Previously, she had signed her paintings with Lewis. It appears that Maud added the fourth leg to her oxen after she started signing her work Maud Lewis or M. Lewis. One wonders whether someone who read the article suggested that she add the fourth leg. Murray Barnard, the author of that article writes "Maude has been able to resist the urging of well-meaning acquaintances that she improve her style and paint like everyone else".

In the painting of two oxen in winter by Everett that we are featuring this month, Everett has included the fourth leg as he has in all of his oxen paintings. It is thought that Everett's painting career started after the Star Weekly article when Maud could not keep up with the demand. This lovely painting by Everett is on greenboard. A charming feature of the painting is Everett's spelling of his name, Everii Lewis, on the back.

We also have a perky little blue bird by Cape Breton artist Jean Marc Poirier. We met Jean Marc a couple of decades ago at his studio not far from Cheticamp. The shelves of his shop were filled with rough carvings of various works in different stages of completion. Jean Marc's forte was creating colourful birds and roosters of all shapes and sizes.

The carving of two people playing Chinese Checkers by Mark Robichaud is an interesting piece. It is a detailed carving with spindle chair backs and a complicated construction of the table and chairs. The game board has many details with pin holes for the balls and ten small balls for each player. The painting on the carving is precise. When I met Mark he was living alone in a house on the back roads of the north shore of Nova Scotia. Cell service was nonexistent. Nonetheless, all of his works are painted in bright colours and usually depict charm and humour. He told me that carving was an enjoyable way for him to pass the time, and I'm certain this piece gave him many hours of pleasure.

And finally a great cat by Barry Colpitts. Barry and Bettianne's cat Muffy was the inspiration for his little spotted cats. Muffy was a Ragdoll cat and looked exactly like his carvings except the time Barry decided to paint the kitchen floor red and she turned a pretty pink for awhile.

Some great news about Ray Cronin's book Nova Scotia Folk Art An Illustrated Guide. It will be released on April 16, 2024. It is listed on the Nimbus Publishing web site at this link.

Be safe everyone.

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