Thursday, April 12, 2018

Artists’ Series - Edwin Matthews (Artist/Entrepreneur)

This is the sixth in a series about Canadian artists I have know, and worked with.

Many years ago, friends introduced Judi and me to the Buckhorn Wildlife Art Festival (now known as the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival) (website: and to the Gallery-on-the-Lake (website: Judi and I were living in Mississauga at the time. Little did I know then how closely we would become linked to the Festival and Gallery and Edwin Matthews. Edwin was the founder of the festival and owner/creator of Gallery-on-the-Lake. Our relationship started as visitors to both the festival and gallery. It quickly grew to purchasers/art collectors and then, ultimately to representatives of Edwin’s fine art publishing company, Buckhorn Publishing. Edwin was not only a fine artist, but an astute businessman! He built both the art gallery and the publishing company from the ground up. Both became very successful businesses. The energy around the art business to the early to mid-1980 was electrifying and Ed made the most of it. Anytime we visited Ed and the Gallery, the Gallery was a “beehive” of activity! During the years, the Gallery-on-the-Lake was a destination attraction and seemed to be always teeming with enthusiastic visitors! Barbara Matthews (Ed’s wife) and her staff ran the gallery with quite efficiency. At the back of the Gallery were the Buckhorn Publishing offices. Edwin’s own office overlooked scenic Lower Buckhorn Lake. Whenever I visited the offices, I was with a friendly greeting from Ed’s longtime assistant, Penny Beliveau. The publishing company represented many great artist, including Michael Dumas, Edwin himself, Terrence Andrews, Mary Kendrick and, later, in Canada, Terry Redlin. One of my favourite memories of Edwin, was taking an art class from him. Ed convinced Judi and I to join one of his art classes and take a lesson from him. Ed was an excellent teacher and walked us through the different stages of developing a painting, from preparation to framing the finished piece, he taught us all phases. This even included going out to a field location and sketching a scene. Most of his class, Judi included, had painted before, but this was my first (and last) attempt. Ed patiently helped me and I ultimately completed my painting. It may not have been a masterpiece, but it was mine and I hung it proudly in my home for many years. What the lessons really gave me were a greater appreciation of art and artists. Something that has given me a great deal of pleasure for over 25 years! Unfortunately, over the years, circumstances change. Edwin and Barbara eventually decided to retire and they sold both businesses. Edwin has stayed close to the art business since his retirement but now, due to age and ill health he has slowed down from the art scene. His legacy, however, lives on. In 2007, the 30th anniversary of the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival. Edwin was honoured for his contribution to both the festival and the community of Buckhorn. A tribute fitting for a man dedicated to promoting and improving his craft!
NOTE: Since this article was written, Edwin has passed away. We will miss him.

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