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: http://www.landscapeartpublishing.ca/

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.


Sunday, 17 January 2016

Vintage: The City of Bridges

Pastel on print - Broadway bridge with Bessborough Hotel, 1969
Fritz never did run out of motifs, and both the prairies and the layout of the city of Saskatoon fascinated him. The 'City of Bridges' offered so many scenic views, as evidenced by the many sketches and prints in the collection. The vast prairie however, might have been more of a challenge? When first arriving, someone did tell him about the long winters - the white on white and flat 'nothing to see' misconception. Some of these classic motifs are available in print now: Landscape Art Publishing prints


Friday, 15 January 2016

White on White

Watercolour, 1982
Fritz on a frozen lake, capturing the beauty of winter. Colour fading photo by W.Stehwien

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Capturing History

   
Traffic Bridge and Rotary Park with the Blairmore Ring, ca.1980
As Saskatoon lost more of its history today, looking at the vast Stehwien collection, one is reminded that not only an artist's works are preserved, but also images of significant landmarks. The Saskatoon skyline has changed over the years, but mostly in expansion - new buildings, new bridges. Today the removal of more of the Victoria Bridge, or the Traffic Bridge, has added more historical value to these 'City of Bridges' sketches by Fritz.

Saskatoon Skyline 1969 (Have the limited edition prints just gone up in value? Still a few for sale)


Not just city skylines are changing, the prairie landscape has also seen the tearing down of many of the much loved old wooden grain elevators. Paintings and photos of these have become classics.


Sunday, 20 December 2015

Global Collections

Stehwien and more, art collection at the Dinnendahl house in Melbourne, Australia

Season's Greetings to all family and friends! It's heartwarming to see how the Fritz Stehwien paintings are treasured around the globe. Fritz always loved to see how the works were incorporated into owner's surroundings. Some friends and family had their walls or offices full, while others treasure one or two favorites.



Eberhard, around 1950





















A recent visit to our friend who helped us escape, and helped many many paintings survive the 40 plus years of communist government, revealed a large number of Stehwiens throughout the house. We are eternally grateful, Eberhard!!



Sunday, 18 October 2015

Sketching Loved Ones

Solomon, who apparently never sat still, looking absolutely lovable!
Once in a while an email arrives from friends and family who are remembering when Fritz sketched their loved ones. Thank you for sharing these, as the database of 'If you own a Fritz Stehwien' continues to grow.
The next generation.
Young Thomas now has a portrait of his Papa Andy as a young boy in his room.

Relatives Edith & Peter visiting from far-away Canada, back in 1964

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Hometown Halle

This year on October 3rd, most of the Stehwien family is celebrating 47 years in Canada - with many memories (and paintings!) created. Everyone is well established, although the old addage of “you can take the boy out of the country, but not the country out of the boy” still holds true.
Stehwien family hometown of Halle/Saale, 65 years ago. This oil on canvas painting was discovered to be on the back of the painting below.



The irony of the date of reunification of the two Germanys that have been home, is bittersweet:
October 3rd is the very day the family of six began the journey across the ocean to emigrate. Who would have thought that exactly 22 years later, there may not have been a reason to leave? 

 
Halle Trotha, Oil on canvas, 1949




Sunday, 20 September 2015

An artist and his art within the art

Large oil painting of Oskar Barthold with two of his marionettes.
As another anniversary of immigrating to Canada approaches, thoughts have turned to Fritz's father-in-law, the late German puppeteer and artist, Oskar Barthold. When Fritz met his future wife at the art academy in Halle, in the late 1940s, she had been working with her father at his Marionettenbühne Halle, as they performed many puppet plays for adults and for children.
Read more here:
waltraudestehwien.blogspot.ca/
1940s marionettes, created by Oskar Barthold, linolcut by Fritz

More Barthold marionettes, sketched by Fritz Stehwien















Rediscovering old paintings of these marionettes is more than fascinating: It combines two very different artists in one and at the same time, serves as a record of how many puppets were part of the very successful theater. Only a few are still in the family's possession and they have quite a story to tell. The story of how they 'lived' and travelled all the way to Canada, escaping political turmoil in postwar Germany, certainly adds extra mystique to the marionettes and the works that depict them.