This article appeared in the April 17, 2013 issue of the Interlake Enterprise…By Teresa Carey
Stonewall artist, Ralph Tanchak has painted a portrait of Stonewall’s “founding father,” Samuel Jacob Jackson. The painting will be one of 22 historical works of art on display for a one day show, to take place from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the at the Manitoba Legislative Building Rotunda, Apr. 18. From there, it will hang at the Winnipeg Sketch Club for a time.
Tanchak, who is a long-time member of the Winnipeg Sketch Club, and on its exhibitions committee, is one of 11 seasoned sketch club members taking part in the show, being put on jointly by the sketch club and Winnipeg School Division No. 1.
Ten senior students from five Winnipeg high schools and 11 mature artists from the Winnipeg Sketch Club have joined together to highlight the history of Manitoba in the show called, “Portraits of the Past”. A total of 22 paintings and a sculpture of a bust of Louis Riel will be on display.
President of the Winnipeg Sketch Club, Pam Rayner Moore, is a former school administrator and teacher with the Winnipeg School Division. Because she was familiar with the wealth of student talent there, she helped coordinate the show.
“The School Division said they wanted to have a one-time event. That was fine with us– and the fact that it is at the Legislative Building in Winnipeg [works well]. They prefer one-time events too,” she said.
Rayner Moore commented that the positive value of the art display lies in its being both educational and creative, as well as fostering a sense of appreciation of Manitoba’s history. Plus, the students get to “show their work alongside professional artists,” she said.
Tanchak had recently completed the 18″ x 24″ acrylic painting of Jackson, using only a small sepia toned archival photograph for reference.
“The large painting really brings the subject to life. It’s so much more meaningful than the photo,” Rayner Moore said.
Tanchak spoke about his creative process in a recent telephone interview. He said it was a challenge to decipher the actual colouring of Stonewall’s founding father. He studied the photo over a period of four or five months before starting on the painting in order to be sure of what Jackson would look like in the flesh. The painting itself took 20 to 25 hours to complete.
“By the lighting in the photograph I’m sure he had reddish hair,” Tanchak said.
Jackson was born in 1848 in Ireland and enjoyed a long life, passing away in 1942. After immigrating to Canada in his thirties, he became a merchant in Winnipeg. He eventually purchased land in Stonewall before it was developed and subdivided the land. He later owned the mill in town.
Jackson went on to become a prominent politician. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba for the municipality of Rockwood, and later a member of the House of Commons for the Selkirk area.
Tanchak, an Interlake native who has lived in Stonewall since the year 2000, chose Jackson because of the immense contribution he made to the growth of the town, and the fact that he was an interesting local figure.