Events & Exhibits
Clara and the Rago Auction Evaluation
In June 2013 Clara’s unframed painting Port Hope Summer Art School (See Summer Section of Site) was appraised at the Antiques Roadshow in Boston. Appraiser Alasdair Nichol, Vice President of Freeman’s Auctioneers in Philadelphia www.freemansauction.com said Clara was a well-trained amateur painter and the painting was worth approximately $250.00. If in its original frame the painting would have been worth more.
In November 2019 another opportunity to have Clara’s work evaluated presented itself right around the corner from my house at the Katonah Museum of Art. www.katonahmuseum.org Rago Auctions https://www.ragoarts.com/auctions/ was offering a Fine Art Appraisal Day. Coincidentally the exhibit Sparkling Amazons: Abstract Expressionist Women of the 9th St. Show featuring the contribution of women artists of the 1940s and 50s …was also on. http://www.katonahmuseum.org/exhibitions Here were two good reasons to go! To make the most of this appraisal opportunity I chose two paintings of different subjects completed at different times during Clara’s painting career. Her portrait Old Man With White Beard, signed “Clara Perry” was done before she married and winter landscape Jane Highway, Lower Riverside, Toronto in 1941.
Meredith Hilferty, Rago’s Director Fine Art Department examined Clara’s work.
Meredith explained the difference between primary and secondary market values. The primary market consists of transactions completed between individuals often based on personal preference. These are not publicly recorded. Some of these are referred to on Clara’s site in the Evaluation Section.
The secondary market consists of the re-selling of artworks through a dealer or auction. These transactions are publicly recorded in indexes such as Anthony R. Westbridge’s The Canadian Art Sales Index. www.canadianartsalesindex.com These records are the comparables on which the appraiser relies for the valuation. Unfortunately Clara’s recorded “solds” are few and far between and the lack of hard numbers makes for a difficult appraisal. Meredith’s conclusion: the paintings are in the $250.00 - $300.00 range.
There’s work to be done to increase the value of Clara’s work. An experienced Clara collector summed up the primary market situation:
Looking at a few quick Ebay searches for Canadian landscape paintings as a quick reference point prices are all over the map from $79.00 - $12000.00. But in general I think it provides a basis for supporting my belief that Clara’s work should be valued in the $500.00 -5,000.00 range. The least impressive and least important paintings that have no distinguishable, outstanding features may be considered “commodity” paintings: interchangeable with similar paintings by other artists in the $250.00 – 350.00 range. There is no specific number that can truly represent the exact value – there is no liquid market for making such judgements – but there is a generally accepted norm for lesser known art of better-than-average quality in the $300.00 - 1000.00 range – and the fact that you have now catalogued and researched Clara’s work in such detail increases the potential greatly – I’m sure you have elevated the intrinsic value of her work by 100% because there is now a reference point to work from.
Keeping these comments in mind Clara’s website which continues to expand, provides a collective overview of her work, strengthening the significance of her work and contribution to the body of Canadian women’s art.
Clara and J.W. Beatty Reunite
Here’s an event you won’t want to miss at the Helson Gallery: Artists at Work, April 3 – June 9, 2019. https://www.haltonhills.ca/gallery/ Clara’s work will be used to highlight the challenges historically faced by women artists. Works by J.W.Beatty https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John William_Beatty Clara’s instructor at the Port Hope Summer Art School, George Reid’s and Fred Haines’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_S._Haines will also be included.
Clara at her easel
Clara’s “Port Hope Summer Art School
Women Artists Over 80 Exhibit at WAAC
Clara’s influence as an artist and instructor lives on through the stories and work of two of her students Florence Wright and Marilyn Coulter https://www.claraharrisart.com/interviews. Both featured on Clara’s site.
On April 5, 6, 7, 13 and 14, 2019 you’ll have the opportunity to view their work as well as other women’s at the Women’s Art Association of Canada’s (WAAC) exhibit: Women Artists Over 80. Come and support the women who dedicated their lives to their work and contributed to Canada’s history.
Clara's Self portrait
Clara Continues to Earn Her Keep at Montgomery’s Inn
And the weather cooperated beautifully! Over 500 people attended the corn roast and Clara exhibit at the Inn. There was a hum of activity inside and out as different generations partook of the refreshments and viewed Clara’s art.
Friends and collectors of Clara, museum curators and Montgomery Inn regulars shared their points of view:
Congratulations on the exhibition. I had a chance to stop in on the weekend. It was nice to see so many of her works hanging together.
Debra Antoncic, Curator, Riverbrink Museum, riverbrink.org
Went to see the exhibit on Saturday. You’ve done such a great job of preserving and highlighting an important local artist and one who informs, through her work, the landscape that once was. Beautiful.
Rita Davies, Chair, Ontario Arts Council www.arts.on.ca
What a fabulous connection you have - to Canada and history and women artists. It was interesting for me to teach Canadian art history until I bumped up against the walls surrounding women artists. As the father to two women and a creative person I was dismayed by the difficulties women faced (and continue to face in many ways) in the art world.
Clara’s art captures a landscape and climate much altered and this makes her work more relevant today than ever before. The Art Gallery of Ontario’s exhibit “Anthropocene” expounds on this and should be seen.
“Clara” at her easel with Madeleine
“Clara” describing her work
The exhibit seen from a different perspective
The exhibit in full swing
Attendees study map of Canada pinpointing Clara’s painting destinations and archival photos of painting sites
Attendees discuss Clara’s work
And better news still if you didn’t get to the exhibit it’s been extended to November 22, 2018.
Keep up the good work Clara!
Clara With A Twist
Montgomery’s Inn regulars know there’s always something new mixed in with the old and this event by ArsMusica is “living” proof. www.arsmusica.ca Come and see how Clara’s work is incorporated into this chamber opera series and brought to life “literally” and technically. That’s the only hint I’m giving you.
Clara At The Inn
On Thursday, September 6, 2018 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm historic Montgomery’s Inn in Toronto’s west end www.montgomerysinn.com
will host its annual corn roast – with an added twist. As part of the launching of the Inn’s restoration more than twenty of Clara’s paintings spanning her travels across Canada will be on exhibit in the Community Room. Come and see “Not Your Typical Sunday Driver”. It will give you a whole new perspective on women painters of that time.
Can’t make it on September 6th? Don’t worry the exhibit is on until
Here’s the link from Montgomery’s Inn describing the event. You don’t have to be a Facebook user. Just click on this link or if that doesn't work copy and paste this link into your browser.
“Clara’s Art: An Environmental Snapshot of Landscapes Lost”
Clara’s landscapes aren’t just pretty pictures. Her titled works record the location, date, time of day and weather conditions. This information adds valuable dimensions to her legacy that can be used to plan for the future: particularly in this age of escalating global warming and expansive development.
On April 7, 2018 you can see Clara’s “work in action”. This poster featuring her painting Jane Highway, Lower Riverside, Toronto, January 1, 1941 describes the event in detail.
Come and support the Etobicoke York Community Preservation Panel and contribute to our planet’s well-being.
Historic Lambton House, 4066 Old Dundas Street, City of York, ON
The event was a success! Approximately 50 people came to the Cultural Landscapes discussion and even with extra chairs some had to stand. Speakers Victoria Lister Carley, Landscape Architect www.victorialistercarley.ca and Pleasance Crawford, Landscape Design Historian www.kaufmancrawford.ca/gardenHistory.html used Clara’s painters as the basis for their presentations. Here are the photos documenting the day:
Madeleine McDowell of Lambton House welcomes the audience.
Pleasance Crawford with her slide on “Designed Landscapes”. On the wall to the left Clara Harris prints of paintings and photos displaying the landscape today.
Pleasance discusses “Graphic Images” using Clara’s “Spring Break-Up, Etobicoke Creek Before Hurricane Hazel” and accompanying photos of its awful aftermath.
Victoria with Clara’s “Elms In Winter” in her discussion of the changing landscape.
Madeleine gives the title of the presentation: “The Cultural Landscape: An Irreplaceable Heritage” with Clara’s “Jane Highway Lower Riverside 1941”.
Pleasance discusses “Vernacular Landscapes” using Clara’s paintings “Malton Road”; “Berry Road At The Bottom of The Humber”; “South Kingsway, Lower Riverside 1941”, and “Elms In Winter”.
Clara’s “Little Falls at Lambton” used to illustrate landscape and inevitable change: “An irreplaceable landscape legacy?”
Victoria addresses the loss of the beloved elm due to disease using Clara’s “Malton Road”.
Thought provoking discussion and illustrations describes the day best . Thanks to all who participated.
History Repeats Itself
For more than 35 years Clara lived at 23 Valleyview Gardens using her home as a studio and salon for exhibiting her work.
On Thursday April 12, 2018,
Clara returns to her old neighborhood at
Art Works Art Gallery,
238 Jane St., Toronto.
Of course, not in person, but
in the form of her art.
See Clara's and Art Works students' work come together for this special event:
a celebration of creativity and community.
And here's some additional information about the show:
The Evening at Art Works
Thursday, April 12, 2018 proved to be an inspiring evening with art instructors, students and their work on exhibit at the place where it all happens: www.artworksartschool.com The energy was palpable as proud students discussed their work with attendees. But the evening had additional significance: a piece of history was revived in modern times. What could be more fitting than the inclusion of Clara’s art, as a past member of the Baby Point community, art student and art instructor whose exhibits were held at her home just around the corner from today’s Art Works Art School and Gallery at 238 Jane St.
And there’s another link to this present-past-present circle. In the early 1970’s at
230 Jane St. just four doors down from Art Works present location, Clara sold a substantial amount of her collection to the owner of Roost Antiques. The story is described in more detail in the Welcome Page of this site.
Here’s my question: If Clara hadn’t gone into 230 Jane St. in the 1970’s would we have seen her paintings at 238 Jane St. in 2018? Whatever the answer Kristine Kowalyk’s donation of Clara’s still life painting to the Baby Point Heritage Foundation is appreciated now and will be enjoyed for future generations to come.
Visit the event at https://bloorwest.snapd.com/events/view/1146003
The eighteen photos capture the evening at its best.
Special thanks to Danica Loncar, Director Art Works Art School and Baby Point Heritage Foundation’s Communications and Membership Contact; Mary Anne De Monte-Whelan, Chair of Baby Point Heritage Foundation; Kristine Kowalyk for her generous donation and all those who participated in and attended this event.
Clara at one of her sketching sites
“Clarathon: May 2017”
Since the evolution of Clara’s website in 2010 readers and collectors have shared a mutual goal: to view her paintings at a real venue in real time.
This goal became reality in May 2017 when the exhibit “Captured on Canvas, Exploring Our Past Through the Work of Clara Harris” was featured in Toronto’s west end at Lambton House www.lambtonhouse.org and Montgomery’s Inn www.montgomerysinn.com. Sponsored by MomenTO www1.toronto.ca and on the itinerary of the Toronto Doors Open Weekend May 27–28, attendees came out in full force! The success of these exhibits was the result of months of planning by the Lambton House and Montgomery’s Inn working committee, volunteers, collectors and friends.
Clara’s debut was highlighted in this Toronto Star article: https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/2017/05/25/forgotten-painter-depicted-torontos-rural-past.html and for four days and four venues Clara’s art as history was celebrated opening the door for future exhibits.
The Baby Point Heritage Foundation, Baby Point Club House, Thursday, May 25, 2017.
Clara returned in spirit to her old neighborhood on May 25, 2017.
At the invitation of the Baby Point Heritage Foundation http://babypointheritage.com I had the opportunity to give a presentation about Clara and her historical contribution to their community. It was held at the Baby Point Clubhouse. This was my first visit and I was not disappointed. The Club had been a focal point of Clara and her husband Fred’s social lives. Fred’s 1930’s diary described evenings with friends playing bridge, lawn bowling, winning prizes and dining. I’d also read the book, Baby Point: The Place Where We Live www.blurb.com/b/4617266-baby-point-the-place-where-we-live. The picture of the clubhouse on the cover of the book was intriguing. I now had the chance to see this historic building that holds memories of past events, a venue for present activities and welcomes the people who discuss preservation plans for the future.
The Baby Point Heritage Foundation is a dedicated group whose mission statement is to preserve and protect the unique heritage of the neighbourhood. The members were welcoming, familiar with Clara and extremely interested in her work. Clara is featured on their website in the Notable Residents section http://babypointheritage.com/historical-importance/notable-residents/ .One attendee lives in her house while others knew “someone” who had known her back in the old days. Local scenes of her work were well received: the Humber River a favourite.
Clara outside her home, 23 Valleyview Gardens. Was she about to embark on a sketching and painting road trip?
At the end of the presentation I was given a hard cover edition of Baby Point: The Place Where We Live and this gives me a good reason to return to the clubhouse: I need to get it signed by authors Pamela M. Slaughter and Robert D. Galway.
Thank you Baby Point Heritage members. The “Clarathon”was off to a good start!
The Captured on Canvas Opening Reception, Lambton House, Friday, May 26, 2017.
The reception signaled the beginning of the two-day exhibit that had been months in the making. The working committee of dedicated people from Lambton House and Montgomery’s Inn chose the articles and corresponding information to be exhibited. Lambton House was the reception site.
Friday, May 26, 2017 was installation day for Clara’s art, ephemera and accompanying contemporary photos at Lambton House and Montgomery’s Inn. Each site had its own atmosphere, exhibit rooms and idiosyncracies. The exhibits may have had the same theme but the ambiance of each was unique.
By late afternoon the exhibits were ready to go and the final reception details were in place. At 7:00 pm Clara collectors and volunteers started to greet the guests. We were honoured to have members of Clara’s family from Michigan and Lindsey, Ontario. Government officials, historians, environmentalists, members of the press, art professionals and enthusiasts, and local residents attended.
Madeleine McDowell of Lambton House gave a brief introduction acknowledging that we were meeting on the traditional territory of First Nations and that the exhibit was part of MomenTO, the City’s program of events during Canada’s 150th birthday. I followed up with an introduction of Clara Harris, her work and its relevance to Toronto’s heritage.
Lambton House Interior
During the reception there was also a surprise call prompted by the Toronto Star’s article from “Florence W” who was unable to attend. Florence had been a student of Clara’s and had lots of information to share. Her story will be featured in the “Blog” section of the site.
The reception was a success thanks to so many people. The acknowledgements are as follows:
Madeleine making her introductory comments
Verna at the podium
Special thanks to Etobicoke School of the Arts students Krystyna Poremba and Georgia Mackay who provided contemporary photos of Clara’s landscape scenes. These complemented the exhibit in a meaningful way.
Clara’s relatives, collectors and volunteers who have contributed to these Doors Open Exhibits deserve special recognition. The paintings, diary, sketchbook, genealogical research, photographs and stories could not have otherwise been obtained. Sue, Jeff, and Pam Norton; June Read, Ann Moynes, Wayne Stickley, Linda Harp, Terry
and Nancy Dockrill; Dan McDonald, Lyn Christiansen, Clare Parfitt, Christine Kowalyk, Robert and Denise Bruyere; Grace Hallett, Adrian McInerney, Sandy Raskopf and Diana Starbuck shared their Clara stories and art. The list is endless.
And last but not least without the support of my family, husband Francis and children Alexa and Chris McInerney none of this ever would have happened……
Acknowledgements: The Creation of the Clara Harris Community and Doors Open 2017 Exhibits
The Clara Harris website is the product of many minds, hands and ideas. The information forms an archive that belongs to the collectors: the Clara community. As Curator of the website it is my role, as conduit, to maintain the integrity of the site as an academic research tool and archive.
I could not have done this without the expertise of Kristine Knapp Czarnecki, graphic artist. Her patience and artistic ability created and continue to enhance the look and feel of the Clara Harris website.
Special thanks to Rita Davies, Chair of the Ontario Arts Council and her husband John McGrath, Principal of the McGrath Group Strategic Communications, who encouraged me to undertake this venture.
Much gratitude to Alexandra Kim and her team at Montgomery’s Inn and Madeleine McDowell and her team at Lambton House. Their professionalism and tireless efforts are stellar.
Clara’s work was well received. The linocuts with corresponding greeting cards were extremely popular.
Greeting cards made from the linocuts
Clara ephemera: sketchbook, diary, photos and her portrait
The Captured on Canvas Exhibits, Lambton House and Montgomery’s Inn, Saturday, May 27 – Sunday, May 28, 2017.
The “Captured on Canvas, Exploring Our Past Through The Work of Clara Harris” exhibits were the product of months of planning and hard work by the Lambton House and Montgomery’s Inn committee. A number of Clara’s paintings were considered based on their locale and relevance to the west end of Toronto. The committee decided to exhibit eight paintings provided by five collectors. The ones chosen were from the 1920’s and ‘30’s: Malton Road, Church Street, the Kingsway, Morning, May 16, 1934; Royal York Road North; Spring Break-Up, Etobicoke Creek Before Hurricane Hazel; House in Snow, Raymond Avenue; Elms in Winter; Little Falls at Lambton in November; Humber River and Valley Road. To emphasize the change in the landscape as a result of urban growth, contemporary photographs of the same locations were provided. This section was titled “Captured on Camera” the photographs taken by Etobicoke School of the Arts students Krystna Poremba and Georgia Mackay.
Ephemera including linocuts and accompanying greeting cards; a sketchbook and diary were displayed and received much attention. Clara’s portrait graced the exhibit.
Elaine E., Organizer of Meadowvale Doors Open Art Walk, Mississauga and Verna
Clara’s Family and Verna
Montgomery’s Inn exhibit room with attendees
Displays at Montgomery’s Inn
The exhibits represented a collaborative effort: the combination of the two historic sites, Lambton House and Montgomery’s Inn, the paintings of the collectors and the photos by the art students. This brought a lot of energy to the event: older participants bringing their knowledge of the past while the younger ones with their enthusiasm, inherit what remains today and can work to preserve it.
An unexpected but logical occurrence was the number of attendees who brought pieces of Clara’s art, described how they were obtained and provided valuable information. Their stories will be described in more detail in the Blog section of the site.
Exhibit room at Lambton House
Verna, her husband Francis and son, Chris McInerney
Claire P. volunteer and local resident and Verna
Clara’s family and Verna
Collector Emanuel and Verna
Collectors and volunteers Nancy and Terry D. with their painting “House in Snow, Raymond Ave.” and Verna
Montgomery’s Inn Assistant Curator Lauren McCallum and Verna
Collectors and Volunteers Christine K., Denise and Robert B.
Two days of intense work at two venues and approximately 2024 visitors later the exhibits were over, but not their significance.
These exhibits laid the foundation for future dialogue and exhibits of Clara’s work. Attendees’ comments shape the direction of future events - not just for Clara but for Toronto’s heritage:
Should be a visiting display at AGO and the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg.
I wish you would pursue selling some of the woodblock prints. They are a wonderful collection of historic Toronto scenes. A slice of life long gone.
So glad this has been archived.
Thanks for preserving her legacy and for the present residents of Etobicoke.
The McMichael gallery would be a good fit.
Fascinating to see these memories captured on canvas.
Good to see Clara’s work in two places.
Thank you for allowing me to meet Clara! I am so thrilled to know that I now live in her house that had so much creativity in every room!
Love the photo comparison.
Thank you for a great display. Congratulations on your hard work and dedication to the Inn and Etobicoke.
A permanent exhibit at Toronto’s Old Mill Inn illustrates this point. We think Clara would have been pleased!
Closing day at the Lambton House exhibit, Ann M., Madeleine, Verna and Wayne S.
Clara Harris Exhibit , Toronto’s Old Mill Inn, Permanent Installation May 2017.
Researching Clara and her significance to Toronto’s history established an ongoing connection with the Old Mill Inn www.oldmilltoronto.com for Clara and for me.
Clara and her husband Fred painted by the Mill and met their friends there. And found in their personal affects were photos of the Mill and descriptions of the Humber:
Photo of the Humber River and Bridge
From Fred’s diary: May 14, 1938 – out to Humber River in morning
Consequently when the Old Mill celebrated its 100th anniversary Clara was featured in its March 14, 2014 blog “An Artist in Your Midst” www.oldmilltoronto.com/blog as well as on Clara’s site in the Monday, April 14, 2014, Curator’s Blog “Is Clara’s art relevant to the 21st Century”? www.claraharrisart.com/single-post/2017/03/06/Is-Clara’s-Art-Relevant-to-the-21st-Century
And for me, over the sixth month period while working on the exhibits for the Doors Open exhibits, I stayed at the Old Mill repeatedly. I got to know the staff pretty well. Natalie Bauer, Director of Marketing and Events and Michael Kachala, Managing Director, appreciated the contributions of Clara’s work historically and its value to the Mill not just in the past but for present and future visitors. On Toronto’s Doors Open weekend they installed a permanent exhibit of Clara’s work on the second floor. So repeat history: just like Clara and Fred, make a trip to the Old Mill Inn you won’t be disappointed.
Photo of Tea Garden at the Old Mill Inn
Plaque of Clara’s Bio that accompanies the exhibit
Clara’s Permanent Exhibit of Eleven Local Scenes of the Area and Her Self Portrait taken from two angles.