Paint­ing by pro­lific folk artist, sub­ject of biopic, to be auc­tioned off this week

Cape Breton Post - - Arts/entertainment - BY NI­COLE THOMP­SON

A paint­ing found in a thrift shop a lit­tle over a year ago will fi­nally be sold this week — for at least $45,000.

It’s by the pro­lific Cana­dian folk artist Maud Lewis, who’s the sub­ject of an in­de­pen­dent biopic that took At­lantic Canada by storm this spring.

Lewis lived in poverty for most of her life and sold her paint­ings from her home near Digby, N.S., for as lit­tle as $2 and $3. She died in 1970, but her paint­ings have since sold for up to $22,000.

Rick Cober Bau­man, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Men­non­ite Cen­tral Com­mit­tee On­tario, said it’s been an ex­cit­ing jour­ney since “Por­trait of Ed­die Barnes and Ed Mur­phy’’ was found in a New Ham­burg, Ont., thrift shop his or­ga­ni­za­tion runs.

“It just so hap­pened that one of our vol­un­teers that day had a hunch that it might be some­thing out of the or­di­nary,’’ he said.

Af­ter hav­ing it ap­praised — and val­ued at ap­prox­i­mately $16,000 — the paint­ing has been fer­ried back and forth be­tween New Ham­burg, an ex­hibit at a Nova Sco­tia art gallery and a Water­loo, Ont., theatre.

Af­ter it was back in On­tario, the paint­ing was put up for sale.

“We were al­ways plan­ning to go to some sort of an auc­tion,’’ he said. And the pro­ceeds will fur­ther MCCO’s re­lief work, in­clud­ing in South Su­dan, where the or­ga­ni­za­tion is work­ing to help al­le­vi­ate the ef­fects of a famine.

But Cober Bau­man said get­ting to this point wasn’t all smooth sail­ing.

He said the auc­tion had to be stopped and restarted, be­cause some­one bid $125,000 in bad faith.

But he said a $45,000 bid that has been made would more than sat­isfy his or­ga­ni­za­tion, given that it’s twice what Lewis’s paint­ings have gar­nered in the past, and it’s nearly three times the value the work was ap­praised at.

Cober Bau­man said he thinks that may be in part be­cause of the buzz sur­round­ing the Lewis biopic, but that peo­ple also may be driven to pay more be­cause they know the money is go­ing to char­ity.

The bid­ding ends Fri­day.

CP PHOTO

This file photo shows the Maud Lewis paint­ing, “Por­trait of Ed­die Barnes and Ed Mur­phy, Lob­ster Fish­er­men, Bay View.”

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