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The Life and Art of Ina D.D. Uhthoff by Christina Johnson-Dean

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The Life and Art of Ina D.D. Uhthoff

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The Life and Art of Ina D.D. Uhthoff  by Christina Johnson-Dean
Introduction by Pat Martin Bates
Book Five in the Unheralded Artists of BC Series

Of all the artists (including well-known painter Emily Carr) who showed their work in the controversial Modern Room of the 1932 Island Arts and Crafts Annual Exhibition, only one also exhibited in the traditional section. That singular artist was Ina D.D. Uhthoff (1889-1971) (BCSA, FCA, FRSA) the versatile, respected professional who was able to straddle contrasting viewpoints  with aplomb.

Founder and principal of the Victoria School of Art, a key figure in the establishment of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, an esteemed columnist for the Victoria Daily Colonist, a teacher of children and adults using various media, she was first and foremost a continually evolving artist.

In this fifth book in the Unheralded Artists of B.C. series, the life and art of Ina D.D. Uhthoff is revealed. Known as the “doyen of Victoria painters,” Uhthoff’ was an influential twentieth-century artist and hard-working teacher, who sustained a successful career while rearing two children single-handedly. Though Emily Carr is renowned, Ina Uhthoff, a colleague who was equally supportive of modern trends and a force in her community, has receded from prominence. It is time to balance our view of the history of art in British Columbia’s capital city and add to the wider picture of the development of the arts in Canada.

Born in Scotland and trained in painting and drawing at the Glasgow School of Art, Ina first came to Canada in 1913 to visit friends in the Kootenays. After certifying as a teacher in Scotland during World War I, she married Edward Joseph Uhthoff, with whom she had a son and daughter. They lived in the Kootenays, but by1925, Ina had established the Victoria School of Art, where she was the principal and main teacher. She also taught at the Summer School for Teachers, St. Margaret’s and Glenlyon Schools, took over the Kingston Street School of Pottery and worked for the provincial government Secondary School Correspondence program. She studied with Mark Tobey in his master class in Emily Carr’s studio and hosted him in her own studio. Ina exhibited with the traditional Island Arts and Crafts Society in Victoria, as well as with the B.C. Society of Fine Arts, B.C. Artists and at the Canadian National Exhibition in Vancouver, alongside major artists of her era. She became a member of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (London). Her work is in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Burnaby Art Gallery, B.C. Archives, the Glenbow Museum, the University of Victoria Legacy Gallery and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

About Christina Johnson-Dean 

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Christina Johnson-Dean graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a BA (History, Art) before earning a Professional Teacher’s Certificate at San Jose State University and teaching in public schools. After travelling around the world, teaching ESL in Thailand and elementary school in New Zealand, she returned to live near her sister and family in Canada. At the University of Victoria, she completed an MA (History in Art), worked as a teaching assistant for the department and created courses on local art history for Continuing Studies. Her publications include The Crease Family: A Record of Settlement and Service in British Columbia (1981, B.C. Archives) and “B.C. Women Artists 1885-1920” in British Columbia Women Artists (Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 1985). She teaches in the Greater Victoria School District. She and her husband, Robert Dean, raised their two daughters, Heather and Susan.

Pat Martin Bates (RCA) was born in St. John, New Brunswick. In 1957, she completed a Fine Arts diploma with honors at the Royal Académie des Beaux Arts in Belgium, and over the next several years, did graduate studies, including at the Sorbonne in Paris and the Pratt in New York on an Ingram-Merrill scholarship. This acclaimed artist has enjoyed a distinguished career as a professor at the University of Victoria since 1965 and as a printmaker and arts advocate. In 1975, she was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts and served as the chair of the Pacific Region. Her highly innovative printmaking has won her many awards in the international arena, and her work is represented in most of the world’s finest art museums, including the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In recognition of her contribution to international printmaking, Pat Martin Bates won the prestigious Gold Medal Award from the Norwegian International Biennale of Printmaking in 1986, the Global Graphics Award from Holland in 1993, the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and a Gold Jubilee Medal in 2004. In 2008, she was appointed as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She lives in Victoria, B.C.

“Artist Ina Uhthoff, like her friend Emily Carr, held a passionate desire to see a permanent gallery in Victoria where people could experience art that reflected the modern era. At mid-century when the capital city had very little art presence, she was a driving force in support of founding what would become the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Her role in establishing the Gallery’s permanent home and hiring its first curator/director, Colin Graham, cannot be underestimated.” –Mary Jo Hughes, chief curator, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

“I was captured by the opening line and held fast til the last word. Christina Johnson-Dean has created a wonderfully lively, fast-moving, detailed life story of the remarkable artist Ina D.D. Uhthoff, linking her to the social and cultural worlds spanning Victoria, the Kootenays and Scotland. Johnson-Dean layers the fledgling art scene in British Columbia alongside personalities both well-known and newly rediscovered, teaching us about the times through rich and individualized voices. This beautifully illustrated, foundational study gives life to the early to mid twentieth-century artistic scene, a period often omitted in scholarship.” –Kathryn Bridge, author, archivist and manager at the British Columbia Archives, Royal BC Museum Corporation

“Contemporary and friend of Emily Carr, pioneering BC artist, art educator, critic and journalist, Ina Uhthoff is central to the history of twentieth century art in British Columbia. Her work features in private collections and public galleries, but in this book, Christina Johnson-Dean brings Uhthoff’s art and life into public focus today. A rich and rewarding read for both the specialist and layperson interested in this foundational era of Western Canadian art.” –Martin Segger, former director of the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery at the University of Victoria

Read an INTERVIEW with Christina Johnson-Dean

Other Books in the Unheralded Artists of BC Series

The Life and Art of George Fertig

The Life and Art of Mildred Valley Thornton


June 16th-Saturday-Victoria Launch, Martin Batchelor Gallery, 712 Comorant, 8 pm ( doors open 7:30)
June 23rd- Saturday-Vancouver Launch, Elliott Louis Gallery, #1 -  258 East 1st Avenue 8 pm
June 30th-Saturday-Salt Spring Island, Artspring 8 pm
Sept 26, Victoria- Wed-CACGV Arts Centre At Cedar Hill 3220 Cedar Hill Rd.,
Oct 12th-Friday 3-4:30 Vancouver Public Library
Nov 10th- Saturday  Bob Prittie Library at Metrotown, Burnaby
Nov. 27, Tue- UVic History of Art Dept


$32.95| 128 pgs| 100 colour and b & w plates
Trade paperback with French flaps | 9.5” x 8”


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