January 27, 2015

I’ve been to the antique shop in Orono several times. On Sunday, I had a particular feeling of déjà vu. “Where have I just seen this picture?” I thought. It was Fredrick H. Varley’s “Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay” painted in a characteristically Group of Seven style back in 1920. Bold, vivid and breath-taking.

Stormy Weather in Orono Shoppe

Stormy Weather in Orono Shoppe

In Fred Varley’s “Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay” we see a windswept tree clinging to a steep island of rock. White capped waters echo the turbulence of the sky, as swirling patterns of blue and green paint create a feeling of restlessness. Varley’s energetic brushstrokes convey the force of the wind and ever-changing vitality of nature–as well, perhaps, something of the artist’s own spirited personality.

The night before, Kubrick’s 1980 horror masterpiece “The Shining” was screened at the Bell Lightbox. Much of the film was edited and marketed as the “International Version”. Some of the Canadian art references such as Colville’s “Horse & Train” and Morrisseau’s “Flock of Loons” unfortunately fell out of this version.

The “a-ha” moment clicked in. Finally, another Canadian art reference in “The Shining” to add to the list. A chance discovery! Varley’s picture can be seen next to the maze model in the Colorado Lounge. Jack Torrence (played by Nicholson) stands above a tabletop model of a topiary maze located on the grounds of the Overlook Hotel. Fred Varley’s tumultuous image overlooking Georgian Bay can be seen in the background…

Varley in "The Shining"!

Varley in “The Shining”!

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