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CHATTER: Sally’s Fright finds a home in Yorkville (July 2020)

August 7th, 2020 · 1 Comment

Rosalyn Martel (left), and Philip Gevik (right) flank Sally’s Fright (1968). The exuberant colour-field landscape by Canadian abstract art pioneer, William Ronald, belonged to Martel’s grandfather, Paul Martel. The painting was recently purchased by Gevik Gallery in Yorkville. NICOLE STOFFMAN/GLEANER NEWS

Yorkville’s Gallery Gevik has acquired, Sally’s Fright (1968), a rare colour-field landscape painting by William Ronald from the collection of Paul and Joan-Wilsher Martel. Ronald was a trailblazer, founding Painters Eleven in 1953, a collective of artists that introduced abstract art to Canada. The 9×12 foot work was a birthday gift for Mrs. Martel, a modern artist in her own right, from her husband in 1968. Mr. Martel, an architect who led many greening projects in the Annex, passed away on April 3, 2020. Joan predeceased him in 2017. 

William Ronald painted very few such landscapes, composed of strips of exuberant colours. Ronald’s work can be found in the collections of the National Gallery in Ottawa and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa. Gallery owner, Philip Gevik, who represented Mrs. Martel for a decade in the nineties, said he had to buy Sally’s Fright when he saw it at auction at Waddington’s in June, after admiring it over the years during visits to Joan’s home studio.

The Martels had a passion for great Canadian Art, and Sally’s Fright was part of their Painters Eleven collection. The painting holds a special place in granddaughter Rosalyn Martel’s heart. 

“I feel all of my memories just flowing through the piece,” she says. “All the vibrant colours of the years that have gone by.”

Here’s hoping this important work finds its rightful place in a new setting.

—Nicole Stoffman, Gleaner News

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