A new art museum in Whistler will feature the work of legendary late Shawnigan Lake painter E.J. Hughes.
The Audain Art Museum opens its doors to the public March 12 in Whistler Village, with a permanent collection donated by Michael Audain and his wife Yoshiko Karasawa that spans 200 years of B.C. coastal art. This includes a large collection of early First Nation art, works of Vancouver photoconceptualists and a wide selection of B.C. art including works by Emily Carr and Hughes.
The opening will also feature a collection of Mexican modernist artists such as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Oaxaca artist Rufino Tamayo.
Hughes was born in North Vancouver in 1913, partly raised in Nanaimo and settled in Shawnigan Lake. He received an art education at the Vancouver School of Applied Art and Design, including studying under Group of Seven member Frederick Varley. He went on to serve as an official war painter during the Second World War.
After his discharge from military service Hughes settled down in Shawnigan Lake with his wife Fern. He later moved to a small home in Duncan. In 1951 he signed a contract with prominent Montreal art dealer Max Stern, allowing him to fully dedicate his time to painting his favourite West Coast scenes. With a gift for capturing the beauty of the B.C. coastal nature in his work, Hughes was often seen in the art world as the successor to Carr. Hughes died of a heart attack in Duncan in 2007 at the age of 93.
With the opening of the Audain Art Museum Hughes’s works are sure to be enjoyed by all as they showcase his appreciation for the West Coast and his particular love for the beauty of the Cowichan Valley he called home, a press release says.
As Hughes said, “I have painted in the Cowichan Valley for 50 years and it the most beautiful place on earth.”