We lost a great artist and friend today. Ted Godwin passed away early Friday morning (January 4th) at the age of 79.
Ted was born in Calgary and settled in Regina in 1958 after studying at what is now called the Alberta College of Art and Design. He lived in Regina with his wife Phyllis (an artist in her own right) and their two daughters for 21 years before returning to Calgary in 1985. Ted was the youngest and last surviving member of the famous “Regina Five”— a group of painters who rose to prominence after their show, “Five Painters from Regina”, was exhibited at the National Gallery in Ottawa in 1961.
The Assiniboia Gallery’s association with Ted Godwin goes back over 30 years. The gallery hosted many shows of Ted’s representational landscapes over the past three decades. Often Ted's work would hang alongside Phyllis' whimsical coloured pencil drawings and his daughter Teddi Ruth's abstract oils. We think back on those shows and remember many of the paintings. Without a doubt, some of the best landscape paintings we’ve ever had the pleasure of selling were created by Ted.
My first “business trip” as the new owner of the Assiniboia Gallery was a trip to Calgary in September 1999. I went for the opening of “The Tartan Years” at the Nickle Arts Museum. At the ripe old age of 22, I was among a sea of strangers at the Nickle opening. Luckily, Ted and Phyllis made sure I was looked after. Later that evening, I was invited back to Dr. Ann Davis’ home. Ann was the director of the Nickle Arts Museum and the curator of "The Tartan Years." Present that evening from the Regina Five were Art McKay, Doug Morton and Ken Lochhead. It was a lovely evening sitting in the living room of Ann’s home, hearing the four talk about old times.
In 2006, I worked with the Co-operators Life Insurance Company to purchase a piece by each of the Regina Five artists. It was a great project, working with each of the artists (or in the case of Art McKay and Doug Morton, their families) to find just the right piece for the Co-operators. You can view the five pieces in the lobby of the Co-operators head office on College Avenue in Regina.
In 2009, Jeremy and I travelled to the Nickle Arts Museum in Calgary, this time for the opening of "Ted Godwin: The Regina Years 1957-1967." It was also curated by Ann Davis. Ted and Phyllis hosted a wonderful party that weekend in the Rec Centre across the street from their home. They invited old friends, family, artists and art dealers from across Canada. It really was a Who’s Who of the Canadian art world and we were honoured to be included.
While Ted’s art will live on, so will the many contributions he made as a teacher. Many of our gallery artists were students of Ted’s: Erica Grimm-Vance, Bob Boyer, Gordon Lewis, Terry Osborne, Russell Mang, Anne Meggitt, Eltje Degenhart, Darlene Hay, Sharron Labatt and Zhong-Yang Huang. As well, Ted was a contemporary of Joan Rankin, Luther Pokrant and Louise Cook (his sister-in-law), also represented by our gallery. There are many, many more names that could be added to this—artists across all genres, living and working all over the world.
Ted’s unique style—bold, colourful, larger than life— was much like the man himself. His booming voice over the phone always captured our attention. He kept us on our toes but beneath that gruff exterior was a teddy bear.
Ted taught us a lot about the art world. It was fun, Ted, and we’ll miss you.