Official opening for art shows Friday, May 23, at AGNS in Yarmouth

Eric Bourque
Published on May 20, 2014

Some students from Plymouth School visited the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s western branch recently and had a chance to view paintings by Nelson Surette. The group included Kaylee Bourque (left), Keauna Nelson (centre, background) and Mollie Cottreau (centre, foreground). Angela Collier (right), the gallery coordinator in Yarmouth, talked to them about the Surette exhibit, one of five new shows in the gallery.

By Eric Bourque



Renowned artists from the Yarmouth area – Maud Lewis and Nelson Surette – are the focus of two of five new exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s western branch in Yarmouth.

Maud Lewis Homecoming: The Story Starts Here features some paintings Lewis sold, mostly from her house in Marshalltown, Digby County. They are on loan from Yarmouth-area residents for this yearlong exhibition.

The Surette exhibit, also a yearlong show, is titled Nelson Surette: le retour. “Retour” is French for “return,” a reference to this year marking the 250th anniversary of the return of the Acadians after the expulsion.

A Yarmouth County native who moved to Mavillette, Surette created “moving interpretations of modern and historic Acadian life,” the AGNS says, adding that this show “will inspire keen interest, especially among francophone Nova Scotians.”

Surette – who was described, the gallery says, as “brilliant, driven and reclusive” – died a decade ago at the age of 84.

The paintings in the Yarmouth show are from a private collection.

Lewis, the renowned folk artist, was born in South Ohio, lived in Yarmouth and later moved to Marshalltown. She died in 1970 at the age of 67.

The AGNS will officially open the Maud Lewis and Nelson Surette exhibits – along with three other shows – Friday, May 23, at 6 p.m. at the western branch gallery in Yarmouth.

The other shows, also to be up for a year, are:

--Kitchen Party, a celebration of “musical heritage and the good cheer of hearth and home and the local community hall.”

--Magic in Her Hands: The Art of Marie Webb. This exhibit features the work of Marie Webb, an artist with Down syndrome.

--Paperwork 30, a show focusing on the Eye Level Gallery, initially called Inventions Gallery, Halifax’s first artist-run centre established in 1972.

Angela Collier, the AGNS branch coordinator in Yarmouth, says the new shows give the gallery a number of drawing cards.

“With the five new exhibitions that have been installed, I think it speaks to all aspects of interest,” she said.

The shows were set up earlier than they normally would have been, she said, adding that the AGNS wanted them to be in place by the time the new Yarmouth ferry service began.

“The gallery wanted to be ready for the ship,” she said.

The art gallery is at work in other ways as it prepares for the 2014 tourism season, including putting together a retail shop featuring mostly Maud Lewis items and looking at extending the hours of the Yarmouth branch. For now, the local gallery is open to the public Thursday to Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m.

Referring to how those hours could change, Collier said, “We’re looking at the ship’s schedule and trying to see what works best for the visitors.”