Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
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Owen James Bennett

1885 - March 21 1957

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The following information is from a letter sent by Bennett in 1935 to the Vancouver Art Gallery regarding the sale of one of his paintings. The first letter below is the covering letter by Bennett, and the second part is the biography of Bennett, written by his son.

This information is provided courtesy of the Vancouver Art Gallery Library.


           Box 71
                      Mission City
                                 Nov. 28 1935

Dear Mr. Grigsby:

           Many thanks for your letter of yesterday. It is indeed gratifying to, not only manage to get by your selecting committee, but also to have a picture sold through the Gallery.

           The biographical notes you ask for on behalf of the purchaser, written by my son C. James Bennett - feature writer; and local correspondent - for Vancouver Sun - are herewith enclosed. If any further details are required I shall be pleased to supply them.

           May I have the name, and a little information of the purchaser?

                                 Yours Sincerely
                                            O.J. Bennett.


Biographical sketch by C. James Bennett:

           "Owen J. Bennett was born in Crouch End, London 1885, son of an artist who had won a scholarship from the Kensington School of Art at the age of 13 years.

           He lived in New York from 1889 to 1896 where his father followed his commercial art as a wood engraver for the New York publications. His early education began at Flushing, Long Island.

           On the death of his father in 1896 he returned to England with his mother and the rest of the family where his uncle secured his admission to Parmiter's Foundation School for boys at Victoria Park, London. Private tuition followed until his uncle's illness forced him to take clerkships in London commercial houses until 1901 when he joined a ship going to South Africa. He "skipped out" at Durban, dodged the police, and went up to Petermaritsburg where he joined the Imperial Light Horse and did six months of the Boer War in Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

           After six years in Africa, spent in Military, Mounted police, and civil life, he left for New Zealand, Australia, and the Fiji Islands and wound up in central Canada in the fall of 1908.

           He married and settled down for eighteen years on the plains of Manitoba where he managed department stores in two places, raised three sons, Studied art under the direction of the Federal School of Commercial Design, Minneapolis, Min., and took a general illustrations course under the I.C.S. of Scranton Pennsylvania.

           He commenced to paint landscapes about fifteen years ago and painted a number of scenery sets and stage curtains for prairie town halls etc.

           He came to B.C. in 1927, spending one year in Caroboo (sic) as store manager and postmaster before becoming department manager of a store in Mission.

           His pictures have won prizes in all local exhibitions in which they have been shown and he keeps an ever-increasing flock of them on hand at all times. He has also sold about eight of them, given away about three-dozen, and has about two dozen about his home at present.

           He has always been interested in the world of art and has his own ideas and initiative to thank for most of his output.

                      "CB/OJB"

Bennett exhibited his work in the 1943 and 1945 B.C. Artists annual exhibitions, the 1944 and 1945 British Columbia At Work exhibitions, and the 1935 B.C. Artists Christmas Exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. In 1945 he was noted as living in Abbotsford.

B.C. Vital Statistics on-line states that he died in Matsqui, B.C. in 1957 at the age of 71.


EXHIBITIONS

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION LOCATION

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION ARTWORK
1935 Nov. 22 - Dec. 8 VAG   B.C. Artists Christmas xhibition Moonlight on Hatzic Lake
1943 Sept. 25 - Oct. 20 VAG   B.C. Artists 12th Annual Pacific Sunset
1944 Nov. 21 - Dec. 10 Labour Arts Guild   1st B.C. At Work Combined Operations Home Front
1945 Sept. 22 - Oct. 21 VAG   B.C. Artists 14th Annual Evening Skyline, North of Steelhead
Up Near Agassiz
1945 Nov. 13 - Dec. 2 Labour Arts Guild   2nd B.C. At Work Dairying Symbols

References

Clippings

"No. 7 Moonlight on Hatzic Lake" by Owen J. Bennett" by (unknown)
     "Mr. Bennett was born in London England in 1885. Son of an artist (commercial wood engraver). He has lived and worked in various capacities in London, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, The Fiji Islands and finally Canada, to which country he came in 1928. He is presently Manager of a Department Store at Mission, B.C. Mr. Bennett studied art under the direction of the Federal School of Commercial Design, Minneapolis Minn. and then took a general course in illustrating from the International Correspondence Schools at Scranton Pa. He commenced to paint landscapes about 15 years ago and has designed stage scenery. His pictures have won prizes in local exhibitions. He resides at Mission, B.C. (Box 71)."
     From "Pictures Purchased From 1935 Christmas Exhibition by Mr. D.N. Hossie"


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