Author(s): Nancy Tousley
A Sublime Vernacular examines the extraordinary career of Levine Flexhaug (19181974), an itinerant artist who sold thousands of variations of essentially the same idyllic mountain scene in national parks, resorts, department stores, restaurants and bars across western Canada from the late 1930s through the 1960s. A self-described speed painter, he turned out paintings in a matter of minutes, often working on several at the same time, that mesmerized customers as they watched them come to life. Flexhaug was painting a generic landscape fantasy for a society that had been shaped by the Dust Bowl and Depression, but the way he turned that popular formula inside out resulted in paintings of extraordinary richness and invention. This book features more than 120 color reproductions of his paintings and historic photographs. Essays explore his relationship to the tradition of ideal landscape painting, the Prairie influence on his art and career, and his place within both the history of market-driven art and the tradition of Canadian landscape painting. Published on the occasion of the first comprehensive exhibition of Flexhaug s paintings, this book is a study of a time, a place, and the art and life of a little known but altogether fascinating artist."
Nancy Tousley is an art critic, arts journalist, and independent curator. She was art critic of the Calgary Herald for more than 30 years and has been a contributing editor of Canadian Art since 1986. She has organized exhibitions and written numerous catalog essays for public art galleries across Canada. In 2002, she was recognized for outstanding achievement in arts journalism by the Canadian Museums Association and, in 2011, received a Governor General s Award in Visual and Media Arts for her contributions to contemporary Canadian art. She lives in Calgary, Alberta. Peter White is an independent curator and writer. Formerly a journalist for the Globe and Mail and curator/director of the Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, he has organized numerous exhibitions of contemporary and historical art for public art galleries in Canada. He is author of It Pays to Play: British Columbia in Postcards 1950s1980s (Arsenal Pulp Press, 1996) and co-editor of Beyond Wilderness: The Group of Seven, Canadian Identity, and Contemporary Art (McGill-Queen s University Press, 2007). He lives in Montreal."