Monday 14 November 2022

Another Prairie Icon

In light of the shocking news of the war in Ukraine, thoughts turned to the many works of Ukrainian churches Fritz created around central Saskatchewan. 

He was intrigued by how these very picturesque buildings sat so alone in the vast and often harsh prairies. This, of course, compelled him to stop and sketch, draw, and paint these landscapes.

There were two well attended exhibits titled 'Faith in the Fields' at the Ukrainian Museum on Spadina Crescent in Saskatoon and thoughts of publishing these works were never far.

It would seem an appropriate book to add to the prairie series, being more complete with these historic images of 'Faith in the Fields'. Likely not as commonly associated with the prairie landscape as the elevators and classic 'red barn' farmyards, these lonely church buildings are nonetheless very much an icon. And harbour many an immigrant story.

Saturday 26 February 2022

Prairies captured

Three small 'portable art gallery' books are now published! This completes the book set of the best of the prairie works that were scanned.

Wednesday 29 September 2021


Barbara sorting and scanning

 'Welcome to the wonderful chaos' that is the Fritz Stehwien Gallery still - 13 years later. All is much more organized and digitized, but no less overwhelming. 

Listen here: 

as SaskScapes podcaster Kevin Power visits the Gallery Garage for a chat with Fritz's youngest daughter, the current keeper of the massive collection of family art.

Some delightful insights into the life and times, as well as a look at part of the remaining collection of Stehwien art on display and stored on site.

Thank you Kevin Power - it is indeed an honour to be SaskScapes' first podcast from a garage!

Saturday 21 August 2021

An exciting development

Map by City of Saskatoon











Street naming in Saskatoon has designated the red marked street in a new residential development: the Stehwien Street, to honour Fritz Stehwien. 

This nomination was given to Fritz for his 90th birthday, but he was not around to see it approved in 2014. The new Aspen Ridge area is being developed in phases, so it make take a few more years before taking a tour is possible.

An unexpected development is that while a park naming was applied for, where the full name is used, the street naming leaves the dedication open to all Stehwien artists! This is especially great for Waltraude Stehwien who is still creating scissorcuts and was very active alongside her husband in the 50plus years living in Saskatoon and making many contributions to the greater community.

Thursday 18 March 2021

"Paint that Bridge when you get to it"


While Fritz no doubt crossed a lot of bridges in his lifetime, he likely painted as many!

With a major portion of the archiving and documentation complete, this wonderful review of Scenic Bridges is a great addition to illustrating his life and times:  

Review by SaskBooks


More details on the Stehwien Art virtual gallery with giftshop can be found here:

Sunday 14 February 2021

75 Years Ago

An odd anniversary has come around for Fritz Stehwien and his family. 75 years ago, as a young German art student forced into war, and then into a Russian prison camp in Poland, Fritz escaped with forged papers. His paintbrush was the key and the long, cold, heart stopping journey ended peacefully in early 1946.

The forged papers, as well as many artworks survived (winter scene shown in blog header above). The story has now been compiled, along with images of these artworks, in the following book: 

The Power of a Paintbrush

Also in German: Die Macht des Pinsels

The cover of the book features the prison release papers, front and back, enlarged to show detail. The stamp, the signatures and what appears to be authorized names and dates were all meticulously painted with a fine brush.

Available through SaskBooks

Monday 17 August 2020

5000 and counting!


Current count for the archives: 5,175 images! Scanning is complete, except for the framed works.

Updates will continue as lost works are traced through existing slides and photos, where found. Information on sold and donated items will also continue.

A slow, but very exciting process, especially when making discoveries of unknown locations in landscapes! Or identifying people on portraits.

Thursday 18 July 2019

Celebrating 50 years living in the prairies

A great little book is now published to commemorate the 40 years that Fritz lived in, and passionately painted the beautiful prairies.

Some of his best prairie pastels and watercolors are part of this collection, published for the 105th birthday of Fritz Stehwien. The book serves well as a portable mini gallery for anyone who loves this land of living skies, and that wow feeling of observing the vast landscapes. Many of these are captured here, in all seasons.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

On his 104th birthday:

Two books are complete, showing select works by Fritz that were done in the 10 years spent living in southern Germany. There were many idyllic landscapes to capture and many wonderful friends sitting to have their portrait painted. Over 500 of the remaining works from 1958 to 1968 have been documented, sorted and scanned, and the best are now published in two 40 page books. He would be thrilled to see his works in print like that!

Wednesday 28 February 2018

10 years later

As the 10th anniversary of Fritz's peaceful passing approaches, on March 5th, it's delightful to notice his memory and works are alive around the world. A most recent discovery was a 1979 publication of The Green & White that had a favourite Saskatoon watercolour on the back. Quite a different view from what the same motif would look like today!

Not long before that, a German news story on the Nikolaiviertel, reported on the postwar rebuilding of this historic area in the heart of the city of Berlin. A brochure of sketches was briefly shown, that turned out to be the ones done by Fritz when working in nearby Halle, for an architect's firm. Thank you for noticing Thomas!

The significance of that commission work was much more than rebuilding proposals, however. It was during these trips from eastern Germany to sketch in west Berlin that allowed Fritz the opportunity to prepare for the eventual escape of the young family to western Germany.

Amazing family history, and more evidence of the power of the 'paintbrush' as a tool of survival.

Saturday 20 January 2018

Happy New Year, Happy 2018!

Halle, Saale, Germany, painted in the 1950s
2018 can be considered a significant year for the Stehwien family as it marks a number of anniversaries. It was 60 years ago that the uprooting of a young artist family was undertaken, in a large and secretive move, or escape, from the former East Germany. The move to the West was due to political reasons and led into an uncertain future for all.
The very picturesque city of Halle was left behind, as were many friends, belongings and many precious paintings. Some of the works, including the one pictured here, were recovered more than 30 years later. An incredible story and incredible treasures.

Doeffingen in the Swabian Valleys

50 years ago, a less secretive uprooting was in the works, from the beautiful Swabian valleys across the ocean to Canada, in the fall of 1968. All along, the paintings captured this Stehwien family history and the many stops along the way.
Saskatoon, Canada, painted in the late 1960s

Saturday 7 October 2017

Town of Battleford Post Office
North Battleford Post Office - demolished 1972

More research into print and
book publishing has offered
more fascinating historical facts.

In this case, it relates to the watercolor shown early in this blog and below, incorrectly titled 'Watercolor of the neighboring Town of Battleford, Main Street' under the 2011 tab.

Watercolor by Fritz, 1969 Post Office North Battleford on the former King Street (101st Street)

Internet research shows that Canada Post had a similar architectural design for its post office buildings throughout Saskatchewan in the early 1900s. Many have since been torn down and others declared heritage sights. The similarities certainly explain the mix-up from the Fritz archives - no notes were kept for most of the works.

Monday 7 August 2017

50 years ago

The Battlefords River Valley 1967
The Stehwien family's emigration from their native Germany began 50 years ago this summer. In 1967, Fritz traveled overseas (literally, sailing on one of the last journeys of the oceanliner Queen Mary) to visit his sister in North Battleford.
As always, he had his materials with him and came upon overwhelmingly large and infinitely spacious views of the prairies. The skies were alive with clouds and colour as as the peaceful, yet majestic North Saskatchewan River wound its way through the landscape. It was an overpowering feeling for a European citizen (and still is!), and an artist especially.
At the time, population density was likely fewer than 2 people per square kilometer in Saskatchewan, compared to the over 200 in Germany. Those statistics alone made for a good reason to consider immigrating.

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Celebrating again

In honour of Fritz's 103rd birthday, here is a snapshot of a favourite painting! Very tricky to photograph, but in whatever light, those sunflowers shine. One could do an entire series of the Stehwien sunflower images, in oil, pastel and watercolour. Obviously an appealing subject for Fritz, in form and colour.

The challenge of not just documenting, but also photographing the Stehwien works continues. The larger oil paintings are definitely the most difficult. A large flatbed scanner is looking more and more like one of the better solutions. Very difficult get access to, however, and very costly for a private undertaking.

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Time flies!

The year has gone by so quickly - high time for an update: Documentation is progressing well and a phenomenal 1,804 entries were added to the database over the past summer months. Thank you to Chantal, for the expertise, interest and patience in tackling that work!! Lots left to go though, with countless paintings still filling shelves and layered on tables in the basement. Is it safe to say that most of the pastels, watercolours and sketches are done? Will see what progress and new surprises this summer brings.

A very disappointing update is the disappearance of the little slideshows on this blog. Without notice the articles and the retrospective booklet that used to run on the lower right-hand side have vanished. Will have to invest some time to find a way to bring them back.

A total of 16 art cards are now published and all have been very well received! Interesting also, is the look of them as an art print in a simple frame. 
Sales are going very well, and the Stehwien name is re-emerging. There's a fresh new look to his works too, as the passing of time has made them a wonderful part of prairie history now.

Thursday 12 May 2016

Classic Motifs as Art Cards

Landscape Art Publishing has published 8 different art cards of classic prairie motifs that Fritz painted in a variety of sizes and media. Saskatoon skylines, bridges and especially winter motifs were always popular during his studio sales. A Calgary skyline is included, due to the vintage feel these 1960s, '70s and '80s motifs have. These prairie cities have seen enormous growth since then, while many of the prairie elevators and typical farm sceneries have vanished. The stunning sunsets, however, should remain an unchanged classic for years to come.

More details here:

Saturday 26 March 2016

Prairie Spring

Winter is always the 'indoor projects' season and is quickly melting away. Database work has advanced and it is incredible to realize the sheer number of works Fritz produced. Lots of help from Waltraude is bringing the collection more and more into focus.

Exciting also is the Art Card project, where some of the better motifs are going to press and should be available for purchase soon.