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EAGMExhibitsOur GalleryPermanent CollectionProgramsMuseumNew WavesContact

 

permanent collection 

As a dual mandate facility (arts & heritage) the EAGM's collections are comprised of two distinct components; a Fine Arts collection, and a collection of NWMP/RCMP artefacts (plus local history artefacts). The dual mandate enables the EAGM to provide a diverse exhibit and public programming schedule to the public which is not served by any other organization in Southeast Saskatchewan.

The EAGM's fine arts collection consists of prints/paintings donated to the Centre by the Saskatchewan Arts Board. These prints are from well-known Saskatchewan/Canadian Print-makers & Painters such as: David Thauberger, Ernest Lindner, Michael Lonechild, Doris Wall-Larsen, Ronald Bloore, etc.. Enhancing this collection, is a recent donation of Andrew King (former resident of Estevan and internationally established poster printer) printing block, prints and travel trunks. In the 1930's, Andrew King's business Enterprise Show Print was the only full-time show poster printing plant in Canada. He later moved to Estevan and renamed the business King Show Print, and continued to produce posters and sell them nationally and internationally. The King collection directly applies to Estevan's history and heritage.

The EAGM's artefacts collection consists of artefacts that are related to the North West Mounted Police and the 1874 March West from Roche Percee to Estevan. This collection includes the historic Detachment Post. Artefacts housed in the NWMP Museum consist of; buttons from the NWMP tunic's, nails found in the building and on-site, RCMP uniforms, rifles, arrowheads, riding gear, photographs and other paraphernalia related to law & order on the prairies in the 1870's + The museum building NWMP Post (located on the grounds of the EAGM is the oldest historic Detachment Post in Saskatchewan) is an actual artefact in itself and in 1987 it was declared a "Municipal Heritage Building" by the City of Estevan and the Saskatchewan Municipal Government, Heritage Department. Originally, this building was located where the Boundary Dam is now (a few miles South of Estevan). Artefacts contained in the museum are related to the NWMP & RCMP, didactic panels relate the history of the illegal whiskey trade between the "Indians" and the United States. The founding of the NWMP by Sir John A. Macdonald was to stop the illegal whiskey traders selling there bad whiskey to the Indians in Western Canada. (Whiskey trading with the Indians was outlawed in the USA, and it was quickly realized that the whiskey traders could move into the British Territory to do their trading with the Indians.) With all the bloodshed that was occurring due to drunkenness, Sir John A. decided to form this new group to try to prevent some or all of this continuing to happen.

As part of the EAGM's mandate as a gallery/museum, the collections are actively used for the advancement of life-long learning in arts, culture and heritage. Exhibiting artworks & artifacts demonstrates the EAGM's commitment to fostering knowledge in our local and regional history, art education/art history and art practice of Saskatchewan artists, gaining an understanding and appreciation of Saskatchewan and Canadian art.

 

Andrew King

Wait, can you hear it? Ladies & Gentlemen, step right up to the Greatest Show on Earth! The sound of the carnivals, the smell of the sawdust, cotton candy and popcorn, the promised excitement of daredevil spills, chills and thrills. Ah, those were the golden days of traveling entertainment companies, circuses, carnivals, acting troupes and thrill shows. These shows criss-crossed the North American continent and stopped in every community with a population of several hundred or more. Many of these companies advertised with brightly coloured posters produced by Andrew King of Saskatchewan.

Andrew King was owner and publisher of the Rouleau Enterprise. The small town newspaper developed a show print business as a sideline in 1912. The show print business was conceived and developed when King had the good fortune to commiserate with the promotion agent of a theatrical company whose advertising posters had gone astray. It was when the promoter enquired as to why there were no Canadian poster printing companies, that King realized that this was a golden opportunity, gaining King a major role in the history of the printing industry in Canada. By the 1930's Enterprise Show Print had become the only full-time show printing plant in Canada.

As word spread about Enterprise Show Print, so did the list of customers. Beginning in 1914, King produced a catalogue which illustrated the posters his company had in stock. By 1919 King was supplying posters to customers from Vancouver to St. Johns and southward to Kentucky and the Pacific Coast states. That same year, when railway employees walked off their jobs during the Winnipeg General Strike, a poster plant in Winnipeg couldn't ship its orders and as a result, lost customers to King. By the 1920's, big time operators such as Conklin and Garratt (forerunner to today's Conklin Shows), Royal American Show and the Dailey Brother Circus were giving their orders to King. Elite printing contracts such as the Coldstreams Guards Band and the Royal Air Force Band of London, and thrill shows including Jimmy Lynch's Death Dodgers of New York and the Flash Williams Thrill Show of the Springfield, Mississippi, were among King's customers. Even during the 1930's, as businesses crashed and farmers went broke, the public's need for entertainment raged on and Enterprise Show Print flourished.

King's specialty was the production of posters by the wood block process. King's hand carved letters and numbers in wood, were as large as seven feet high. At first King produced his own poster designs or used commercial artists. Eventually he teamed up with Herb Ashley, a park warden in Banff Alberta, who worked part time as a commercial artist. The partnership lasted twenty years. Ashley would produce a drawing or a poster-sized watercolour which King would transpose onto and then carve from basswood boards - a tough wood with a soft, close grain imported from Wisconsin.

With their simple and dynamic design and striking colouring, King's show prints attest to an especially engaging and effective means of promotion. King's posters were unique from a commercial point of view because they were printed with wood blocks. Wood block printing is a relief process; when the design is carved, the remaining areas - the "relief" are where the ink is applied. Usually three blocks - one for each of the primary colour of red, yellow and blue - were carved to create the whole picture. Up to five colours could be used, by transposing one colour over another.

Although commercial lithography was a far more prevalent and economically viable process, Andrew King's mastery of wood block printing and his adaptation of the process to suit the needs of bold and catchy show business printing made his business a uniquely Canadian venture. King was the first man in Canada to engrave wood blocks from which multi-coloured pictorial posters were produced at his plant. Andrew King became famous throughout Canada and the United States for his production of posters for all the major shows that toured in the days when circuses were flourishing.

Poster sizes had been standardized for years, but the 24-inch by 42-inch one-sheet size didn't limit the creative possibilities. Posters nearly seven feet high and more than 10 feet long were created by piecing together the poster sheets to produce a billboard. Such billboards, with their splashy colours and larger-than-life shapes, were slapped onto the sides of barns or empty buildings so that they could be seen, and more importantly, identified from street distances.

Three storey buildings, running 100 feet long were covered in posters in about ten minutes, leaving no time for the proprietor to disagree with the promotion. Sometimes these bill-boards were made up of over 100 sheets of printed paper, creating the visual imagery that promotes circuses, rodeo's and carnivals.

In 1944 King purchased the Estevan Mercury and moved his plant from Rouleau to Estevan, Saskatchewan, renaming the business King Show Print. After the move to Estevan, King continued both the newspaper and printing businesses. At the end of the Second World War, the businesses were owned jointly by King and his two sons and employed about 30 people. In a June 1947 article published in a magazine called Canadian Business, King is described as a "typical country editor, a well informed, quiet, but affable fellow who looks as though he is always thinking things over..." perhaps he was.

By the 1950's, traveling circuses and shows were disappearing and television was becoming a national pastime. Posters announcing a local rodeo or fair, their message had been usurped by the aggressive advertising techniques of an electronic media saturated generation. Billboards were forbidden within 500 feet of a highway, and by 1958, when King sold the business, they hadn't printed a 24 sheet poster in 10 years. The market was dwindling, the large posters were a dying form of advertising.

Because of the intricacy of the process he used, King's role in Canadian printing history has been recognized by many, including the University of Toronto. A tribute to his contribution, includes posters and some of the original wood blocks, is in a permanent display called King's Corner in Massey Hall at the University. Most of the blocks were carved by King and his two son's, Stirling and Bill King. King used wood blocks because they were less expensive than lithography. Although King had to teach himself the technique of carving wood blocks, perfecting the art through trial and error, the printing business was familiar to King.

King did make money from King Show Print, he was also a carnival buff who'd let the owners get away without paying their bills. He kept churning out the posters - millions of them over the 46 years - and consequently left a legacy worth far more than the mighty dollar.


 

Current Exhibits

 

The Estevan Art Gallery & Museum
118 4th Street
Estevan, SK, Canada S4A 0T4
[p] 306.634.7644
[f] 306.634.2940
[e]
eagm@sasktel.net

© 2007 EAGM. All rights reserved.

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