Ian Sigvaldason: From Hockey Cards to High Art - By Beverly Cramp
Ian Sigvaldason, owner of Pegasus Gallery of Canadian Art on Salt Spring Island, came to art appreciation and collecting through an unusual genre — hockey cards and comic books.
As a boy and avid collector, Sigvaldason says he ran his own hockey card and comic book shop out of the back of his father’s insurance agency in Manitoba.
Sigvaldason bought his first painting — a piece by Manitoba painter Leslie Sinclair — as a teenager in 1997. “I had to pay for it in three installments. For the next few months I ate Kraft Dinner and hot dogs. And I had to borrow money from my family to make the last payment. But it was worth it, because I loved it.”
Sigvaldason says that as he got more educated about art, he could see flaws in his first painting that he hadn’t detected earlier. Even so, he still enjoys that first art purchase, especially since it started him on a path of exploration. Art began to consume him. “A collection turns into an obsession, and that turns into a compulsion,” he says. Today, at the age of 28, Sigvaldason has more than 800 pieces of art, including a collection of art pottery from places like Japan, the United States, Britain and Canada.
Sigvaldason spent most of his spare time in art galleries including Mayberry Fine Art in Winnipeg. “They guided me along. I hung around their gallery and asked a thousand questions.” Sigvaldason says the Mayberry owners, Bill and his son Shaun Mayberry, were mentors. Through their influence, Sigvaldason decided to leave his managerial job with a music retailer where he supervised 35 people, and run his own art retail business. That decision led to the purchase of Pegasus Gallery. But Sigvaldason still relies on the advice of the Mayberrys. “I’m on the phone to them all the time. They still help me every day.”
“I’m almost more of a history buff than an art collector. When I get a piece, I like to do as much research as possible to find the story behind the art — how and why the artist created it. Engaging in the story this way makes the whole business of collecting art interactive.”
The act of rejuvenating a long-forgotten artwork also appeals to Sigvaldason. “When I find a somewhat obscure piece, it’s like I have found a treasure that needs rescuing from obscurity. I like to bring these pieces the attention they deserve.”
Some of Sigvaldason’s favourite art is from the Canadian Impressionists, the group that influenced the Group of Seven. He owns an 1888 Allan Edson painting, which he considers one of the first Canadian Impressionist paintings. “When you see a piece that you instantly fall in love with and don’t get bored with in five, 10 or 20 years, that’s something special.”
Sigvaldason has three suggestions for other collectors. “Buy from the heart and you’ll never be disappointed,” he says. Second, “The artwork is only as good as the story that goes along with it. The object is just the visual representation of that story.” Finally, “Spend more than you probably should, to get a better piece.” – By Beverly Cramp
Henry Beaumont: Collecting Alberta Art – By Elizabeth Herbert
“I want to help people make the best decisions about what to choose.”
For Henry Beaumont, a retired lawyer and emerging art consultant, collecting art is a passion, an education and an inspiration.
“When my wife Gale was a student at the Ontario College of Art, I wanted to learn about the things she was interested in. So I was told to read J. Russell Harper’s Painting in Canada twice, and to avoid buying any art for a year.”
Despite this advice, Beaumont (“I’m just an old retired lawyer”) wryly admits to “a few early embarrassments.” However, no such errors of judgment are in evidence at the law offices of Beaumont Church LLP in Calgary.
Eagerly craning my neck at some of the most interesting Alberta art I’ve ever seen in one place, I dutifully match Henry’s breakneck pace describing the oral history of his art. “For years I used to go out every Saturday to visit Buck Kerr. See these four landscapes? Now this is a master of the watercolour technique! There is no mistaking the vivid atmospheric effects and powerful compositions of these works, titled Pre-dawn, Dawn, Midday and Evening. Buck told me he painted these during the course of one day. I saw him working on Pre-dawn.”
My attention is drawn to a Carl Schaefer drawing of a Jack Pine. Beaumont points out that it is dated 1926. “Kind of interesting to see the influence of the Group of Seven here, isn’t it?”
Next we contemplate Clifford Robinson’s famous 1942 linocut entitled Alberta Scene. The small reproduction in Kathy Zimon’s excellent book, Alberta Society of Artists: The First Seventy Years, has not prepared me for this big, powerful image composed literally of layers of Alberta history. “Now this is an artist’s artist,” says Beaumont. “I’m proud to own it.”
Beaumont makes a grand, sweeping gesture with his arm. “You know, all of this is Canadian. It’s an important part of our lives. And the people who work here enjoy having art they can look at.”
A friendly staff member looks up and grins. “This is mine,” she says, pointing toward the luminous — and surprisingly small — Tak Tanabe landscape on the wall above her desk.
“Look at this great Helen Mackie — you can see the influence of Cliff Robinson in it,” continues Beaumont “Here’s a Wes Irwin still life. He was an important figure in the history of the Alberta Society of Artists, you know. A wonderful guy, and such a highly respected teacher.” I look closely, struck by the arts and crafts character of this floral still life.
We approach the photocopier room, where the walls are graced with several woodcuts and a marvelous early lithograph called Dancer by John Snow. Admitting to a special interest here, I dawdle purposefully among the thrumming copy machines. “That’s a Bates, of course. I think it is one of the best of those Cock and Hens images he did — Snow owned this very one, actually.”
After our breathtaking tour, I ask Beaumont about his new art consulting business, called Art To Appreciate. “It’s for new collectors. You know, people buy these nice houses, and they want to put real art on the walls — the kind of art that will have lasting value. I want to help them make the best possible decisions about what to choose.”
Beaumont leans back in his chair thoughtfully. “I learned a lot during the time Harry Kiyooka and I were on the board of The Alberta Art Foundation. Harry came in here a while ago looking around and said, ‘Hmm, you know, Henry, your taste has really improved over the years.’”
– By Elizabeth Herbert