A relationship rooted in their shared memories of war, their mutual time in the Canadian armed forces, and personal traumas and tragedies united Leonard Woods and Carle Hessay back in 1950.
However, it was their shared love of art – at least in part – that kept the men connected through the decades to follow.
Today, it’s the friendship formed by these two Langley men – both multi-talented artists in their own right – that is being acknowledged with an auction benefitting a legacy scholarship at the Langley Community Music School (LCMS).
Woods was one of the original founders of LCMS, as well as one of the first teachers of music and music theory. His vision was for the school to be a cultural hub where music and visual arts could be displayed and celebrated. In fact, he donated many pieces from his own collection, including his bronzes and a few paintings by Hessay, to the school.
Hessay, on the other hand, ran a sign shop in Langley and pursued his love of painting with Wood’s critiquing.
Since his passing, works by Hessay (1911-1978), have rarely been made available for public exhibition let alone for sale.
Well now, one of Hessay’s paintings is available for the first time by auction to support the Leonard A. Woods Memorial scholarship fund, “a project that both Leonard and Carle would wholeheartedly have supported with great enthusiasm since both were generous teachers of the arts,” said LCMS assistant principal Carolyn Granholm.
Hessay’s painting, Abandoned Village, (which was painted in 1976, just two years before his death and which Woods wrote about in 2005 book Meditations on the Paintings of Carle Hessay) will be auctioned off.
The auction launches during the Concert Cafe Classico on Sunday, Oct. 16, at 2:30 p.m. This performance will feature the Rose Gellert String Quartet.
This new LCMS quartet-in-residence (which derived its name from the school’s concert hall and one of LCMS’ patrons, the late Rose Gellert) is comprised of LCMS faculty violinists Will Chen and Samuel Tsui, violist Peter Ing, and cellist Ben Goheen (see full quartet story online at langleyadvance.com).
Tickets for this concert are available from the box office at 604-534-2848 or in person at the school, 4899 207th St.
Meanwhile, Hessay’s painting holds a reserve bid of $1,500 and bidding closes Nov. 19, at a LCMS’ concert featuring legendary Canadian pianist Andre Laplante.
The scholarship provides support to students with their music educational goals, with scholarships awarded annually from interest earned.
“Langley Community Music School is honoured to receive donations towards a scholarship fund in the memory of one of our founders, Leonard Woods,” Granholm said.
“Leonard always kept a keen interest in the school, and took pride in its accomplishments.”
More about the painting
Abandoned Village is one of the poignant paintings in the “Cabins to Cities” series by Langley artist Carle Hessay (1911-78). It documents the sort of pioneer settlement that was once found in the B.C. Interior before progress passed it by.
Hessay often left his sign shop in Langley on weekends and journeyed deep into the wilderness to pan for gold and to collect pigments for his art.
Scenes of abandoned communities, like his Forgotten Logging Camp on display in the Langley Community Music School, inspired many of his most memorable paintings.
For Hessay, such remains of a former lifestyle might have echoed his own longings for an unrecoverable past following his losses after his gruelling experiences as a Canadian soldier in the Second World War.
As observed by Leonard Woods in his book, Meditations on the Paintings of Carle Hessay, this work is somewhat similar in mood to Emily Carr’s in which heraldic poles “constitute a deeply moving valediction on the collapse of an old native culture.”
Abandoned Village is more multi-layered and reflects the symbolic aspects of Hessay’s art. In its intensity, it seems also to announce a cosmic “tragedy of apocalyptic magnitude and power” – relevant to our own times, Woods explained.
The strong emotional overtones of Hessay’s paintings reflect the influence of German Expressionism from the time of his early art training at the Dresden Kunstakademie and the modernist trends of his schooling at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
Hessay was a member of the Canadian Federation of Artists. His futurist paintings were part of a Canada Council Explorations project and were also exhibited at the juried NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics “Universe Inspired Art.”
About the school
Langley Community Music School is a non-profit charitable organization committed to providing the “highest quality” music education to the community.
It enhances cultural development and fosters an environment where personal growth and cooperation are nurtured.
The school’s scholarship and bursary program recognizes musical achievement and supports students in financial need. Granholm said it is “vital to sustaining the school’s tradition of excellence in music education for all levels, and to ensuring the accessibility and inclusiveness of our programs.”
Marking the calendar
Earlier this year, the Langley Community Music School announced the lineup for its 2016-2017 concert season, for both the Rose Gellert Hall Concert Series, Friday/Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., and the Sunday afternoon Concert Café Classico Series with commentary and coffee at 2:30 p.m.
The four evening Rose Gellert Concerts include:
1) internationally acclaimed, Juno-award winner, pianist Andre Laplante playing works by Chopin and Liszt on Saturday, Nov. 19;
2) the Canadian Guitar Quartet, one of the “finest guitar ensembles in the world,” playing repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Brahms to Rossini’s Barber of Seville on Saturday Jan. 21;
3) the Vancouver Chamber Choir with the Bergmann Duo, playing a two-piano reduction of the orchestral score, Brahms Requiem, on Saturday, Feb. 18; and
4) “Canada’s pre-eminent clarinetist and wind soloist,” James Campbell, with pianist Marcel Bergmann, playing an eclectic program from the classics to jazz on Friday, April 28.
The five remaining afternoon Cafe Classico Concerts include:
1) the inaugural performance of LCMS’ Rose Gellert String Quartet on Sunday, Oct. 16;
2) Amanda Tosoff & Friends’ eclectic compositions of poetry, jazz, art song and folk-pop on Sunday, Oct. 30;
3) classical masterpieces performed by violinist David Gillham and pianist Chiharu Iinuma on Sunday, Feb. 26;
4) the Yaletown String Quartet performing modern jazz, blues, rock and ethnic music on Sunday, April 2; and
5) the LCMS Alumni Concert featuring Paul Williamson on piano, Roland Gjernes on cello, and Derek Stanyer on piano on Sunday, May 14.
“We are thrilled with the critically acclaimed talent that we have attracted to our concert stage for this coming year,” said LCMS artistic director of concerts Elizabeth Bergmann.
“Many of these performers are internationally renowned, award-winning musicians. It will be a season to remember!”
Tickets for the Rose Gellert Hall Series are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, $16 for students, and $10 for LCMS students.
Tickets for the Concerts Café Classico Series are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students.