In 1953, bank manager and artist, Dr. John Snow, discovered that a Calgary based commercial printing company had left two lithography presses in their back alley to be hauled away as scrap metal. Dr. Snow purchased the presses for fifteen dollars and set them up in his basement studio. At the time, no one in Alberta and very few people in Canada were using lithography for art making purposes. Dr. Snow, along with fellow artist Maxwell Bates, had to rely on books from the library to learn the multistep process.
It was not long before Dr. Snow mastered lithography and began to use it for its aesthetic potential. This is evident in the figurative prints selected for this exhibition. Each print combines rich layers of saturated colours, simple patterns and textures created using found objects. His subject matter, a combination of portraiture and still life, is traditional, but he represents it through a modernist lens. These are not portraits of a particular person, and his scenes are not indicative of a specific place. Instead, they were created using a composite of memories to give an impression—nothing more.
Dr. Snow’s initial investment in the two presses yielded a significant return. Throughout his fifty-year career, he created hundreds of expressive prints and acted as a mentor to many of his contemporaries. In Good Company reflects Dr. Snow’s innovative use of lithography and his lasting “imprint” on Alberta art.
Curated by Shannon Bingeman, Alberta Society of Artists (TREX Region 3)
Cover image: John Snow, Skopje, 1967, Lithograph on paper, Collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts