Wynona Croft Mulcaster, "Waterhole," 1975
serigraph, Collection of the Mendel Art Gallery. Purchased 1976.
Although she lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for most of the past 40 years, artist Wynona Croft Mulcaster, fondly called “Nonie,” never really left the Prairies behind. Images of Saskatchewan and her beloved horses appeared in her landscape paintings along with Mexican scenes.
Born in Prince Albert, SK in 1915, Mulcaster died August 25 at her ranch in San Miguel de Allende. She was 101. Even in her 80s, after hip replacement surgeries, she delighted in taking time each day for both painting and riding.
“Wynona Mulcaster was a trailblazer,” said Gregory Burke, Executive Director & CEO, Remai Modern. “She had a long and storied life, and made a marked success by pursuing her art career in her own way and in her own time. Her considerable personal legacy is intimately connected with the art history of this province.”
The gallery is proud to have 36 Mulcaster works in its collection, including paintings, prints and drawings, Burke said. The earliest among these is a 1946 linocut depicting horses. It was a gift to the Mendel Art Gallery in 1967 by Mulcaster’s first mentor, Saskatoon artist Ernest Lindner.
Her work was included in Major Saskatchewan Artists, a 1975 exhibition at the Mendel, and was the focus of a 1984 Mendel exhibition, Wynona Mulcaster: A Survey, 1973-1982. She has exhibited widely and is represented in numerous public and private collections. Mulcaster received the Saskatchewan Arts Board Lifetime Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1993.
In 2015, the Mann Art Gallery in Prince Albert celebrated Mulcaster’s 100th birthday with an exhibition of her work.
Mulcaster was just 17 when she enrolled in her first art class, taught by Ernest Lindner. She wanted to learn how to draw a horse. One of her earliest solo exhibitions was in 1954, at the Saskatoon Art Centre, the forerunner of the Mendel Art Gallery.
She taught art in elementary schools in Prince Albert and rural Saskatchewan, and later became Director of Art Education at the Saskatchewan Teachers’ College in Saskatoon, where aspiring teachers and artists Henry Bonli and Otto Rogers were among her students.
In the late 1940s, Mulcaster studied with Arthur Lismer at the Art Association of Montreal, and with A.Y. Jackson at the Banff School of Fine Arts.
During her time as Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Art, University of Saskatchewan (1964-1977), Mulcaster’s students included Robert Murray and Allen Sapp.
Mulcaster earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Instituto Allende in San Miguel, Mexico in 1976, and moved there full-time the following year.
Throughout her life, Mulcaster enjoyed combining her passions for art, teaching, and horses. She founded the Saskatoon Pony Club, the first pony club in Saskatchewan, in 1945. As a volunteer, she taught at the club daily for nearly 30 years. Mulcaster was inducted as a “builder” into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
Mulcaster was influential as an art teacher and mentor. In the late 1930s, she helped establish the forerunner of the famed Emma Lake Artists’ Workshops, and attended from 1937-1993.
Tribute courtesy of Remai Modern.