British Columbia Artists' Exhibitions

Vancouver Art Gallery 1932 - 1968

The Vancouver Art Gallery started its long-running B.C. Artists series of exhibitions in 1932, shortly after opening in 1931. Although the exhibitions were typically held annually, there were occasional summer and Christmas exhibitions as well. Sometimes selected works from an exhibition were sent on tour, for example to Chilliwack and Edmonton.

The Gallery took a 10% commission on sales from all of these exhibitions, to help defray the expenses incurred from putting on the shows, such as postage and envelopes for mailouts, printed labels & catalogues.

In 1937 the Gallery was requested to send a loan exhibition from the Sixth Annual show to Vernon. Seventy works were selected and shipped to the Okanagan. After that exhibition they were shown in Kamloops and Edmonton AB. The Editor has not yet found a separate list of the 70 works.

In 1939 the Exhibition Committee selected "40 watercolour paintings which had formed part of the 8th Annual B.C. Artists' Exhibition" to be sent to Sackville, New Brunswick, after which they went on tour in the Maritime provinces. Refer to "Maritime Art Association" for more information.

Honorable Mentions, 1939 & 1941 B.C. Artists' exhibitions

In 1940 W.H. Malkin initiated the "W.H. Malkin Silver Medal Competition" for the B.C. Artists' exhibitions, after the Beatrice Stone Award was given to Fred Amess for his watercolour painting "Artists in the Wind." H.A. Stone objected, as he thought the prize was intended for an oil painting. The silver medal competition continued until 1945. According to an information sheet on file at the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, all artists exhibiting in the show would have one vote each, it was noted that "no layman will be asked to vote." The Medal was awarded to the Oil Painting that received the most votes. After Amess, the medal was awarded to Myfanwy Spencer in 1945.

In 1945 twenty artworks were selected from the Fourteenth Annual exhibition to be toured by the Federation of Canadian Artists. These selections were noted in a copy of the exhibition catalogue on file at the Vancouver Art Gallery Library. The Editor does not know where or when the selections were exhibited.

In 1946 forty artworks were selected from the Fifteenth Annual exhibition to be toured by the Federation of Canadian Artists and U.B.C.. These selections were noted in a list from the FCA on file at the Vancouver Art Gallery Library. The Editor does not know where or when the selections were exhibited.

The pre-1950 catalogues are transcribed completely from the inaugural 1932 exhibition up to 1950, including all known annual exhibitions, summer exhibitions, and Christmas exhibitions. Five travelling shows are listed. Every artist listed in them has a biographical file in BC Artists listing every work that they exhibited. The remaining catalogues from 1951 to 1968 are referenced to all participating artists in the artist index with "BCA" and a year. Thus, for example, BCA56, for an artist who had work in the 1956 Annual exhibition, or BCA56-61 to indicate a range of exhibitions.

The selection process for the exhibitions varied over the years, and the jury or their selections were frequently a hotly debated topic in the art community. In response, the art gallery did their best by engaging professional curators to jury. In some cases almost no work was accepted, and the jury's comments in the 33rd Annual catalogue were particularly scathing about the lack of quality and originality in work entered. Up until 1945 there were only 2 BC Artists' exhibitions that were non-jury.

In September 1948 artist W.P. Weston wrote an article about this topic. It was published in the Vancouver Art Gallery Bulletin, prior to the (juried) seventeenth annual B.C. Artists' exhibition.

The second-to-last exhibition in 1967 was a juried show, and the jury of one selected only 10 out of 400 entries as being worthy of exhibition. I personally think that this probably surprised everyone. The exhibition committee would have made considerably more space available for the show than was actually required. Artists protested, of course.

For the 37th and final B.C. Artists exhibition in 1968, the art gallery threw in the towel, and exhibited one artwork - unjuried - from every artist who submitted. As a result, 473 artists showed their work, noted in the artist index or artist biographies as BCA68. It resulted in a very interesting mix of professional and amateur artists.


1932 Oct. 5 - 30 1st Annual Exhibition
1933 Sept. 22 - Oct. 15 2nd Annual Exhibition
1933 Dec. 1 - 17 Christmas Exhibition
1934 Sept. 21 - Oct. 14 3rd Annual Exhibition
1934 ? - ? Edmonton Exhibition
1934 Dec. 4 - 16 Christmas Exhibition
1935 Sept. 20 - Oct. 13 4th Annual Exhibition
1935 Nov. 22 - Dec. 8 Christmas Exhibition
1936 Sept. 18 - Oct. 11 5th Annual Exhibition
1936 Oct. 15 - 20 Chilliwack Exhibition
1936 Dec. 8 - 20 Christmas Black & White Exhibition
1937 Sept. 17 - Oct. 10 6th Annual Exhibition
1937 ? - ? Vernon/Kamloops/Edmonton Travelling Exh.
1938 Sept. 16 - Oct. 9 7th Annual Exhibition
1939 Sept. 15 - Oct. 8 8th Annual Exhibition
1939 ? - ? Maritimes Travelling Exhibition
1940 Sept. 20 - Oct. 13 9th Annual Exhibition
1941 Sept. 26 - Oct. 19 10th Annual Exhibition
1942 July 7 - Sept. 2 1st Annual Summer Exhibition
1942 Sept. 25 - Oct. 18 11th Annual Exhibition
1943 July 2 - Aug. 25 2nd Annual Summer Exhibition
1943 Sept. 25 - Oct. 20 12th Annual Exhibition
1944 July 4 - Aug. 30 3rd Annual Summer Exhibition
1944 Sept. 23 - Oct. 22 13th Annual Exhibition
1945 July 3 - Aug. 26 4th Annual Summer Exhibition
1945 Sept. 22 - Oct. 21 14th Annual Exhibition
1945 ? - ? FCA 20 Selections from 14th Annual Exh.
1946 Sept. 21 - Oct. 13 15th Annual Exhibition
1947 July 8 - 27 Summer Exhibition
1947 Sept. 20 - Oct. 12 16th Annual Exhibition
1948 Sept. 18 - Oct. 10 17th Annual Exhibition
1949 Oct. 8 - 30 18th Annual Exhibition
1950 Nov. 28 - Dec. 17 19th Annual Exhibition


1958 Oct. 22 - Nov. 16 27th Annual Exhibition
1966 Nov. 30 - 1967 Jan. 8 36th Annual Exhibition












1959 (Nov. 24 - Dec. 22)









BC '67