The late Dr. Jim Coutts (LLD ’12) left a legacy to the University of Lethbridge with the establishment of the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage, and now, that legacy will endure thanks in part to an auction of Coutts’s personal items in support of the Coutts Centre.
In 2010, Coutts donated his family homestead outside of Nanton, Alta. to the University to establish the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage. He also donated a significant portion of his personal art collection to the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery. This gift currently numbers over 300 pieces that are a part of the collection and is a much-cherished resource for the students of the University and the people of southern Alberta.
Prior to his passing on December 31, 2013, Coutts had expressed his desire that items remaining from his personal collection of art and furnishings that were not given to the U of L Art Gallery be publicly auctioned, with the proceeds going to support the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage.
“Jim entrusted the University with a significant part of his life's work and passion by gifting his art collection and family homestead in Nanton to the stewardship and care of the University of Lethbridge,” says University of Lethbridge President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mike Mahon. “We were humbled to receive that gift at the time and remain grateful to Jim for leaving such a legacy to the University with the expressed desire to see it benefit Canadians. This auction will further that vision.”
Jim Coutts was a southern-Alberta based art collector and philanthropist who made his mark professionally and politically as the former secretary and advisor to two Canadian Prime Ministers (Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Trudeau).
The auction will be conducted online from Oct. 6 to 18, 2014 by Levis Fine Art Auctions & Appraisals. It will feature more than 200 pieces from Coutts’s collection, including paintings, prints, sculptures, photography and a collection of over 40 unique and unusual walking sticks and canes. A live auction of select items will then take place in Calgary on November 23, 2014.
“Jim’s life was one that was well-lived and the items available for auction represent the many aspects of his vibrant character,” says Mahon. “He truly was a one-of-a-kind individual and an iconic Canadian. We’re very grateful to have had such a great relationship with him.”
Coutts never failed to express his affinity for his hometown of Nanton and the southern Alberta area, and upon reflection, recognized how it shaped his art collection.
“Part of the landscape you know as a youth travels with you – and part of you always remains in your home landscape. That was my experience of southwest Alberta – especially the Porcupine Hills,” Coutts once wrote in an essay on collecting for the University. “There is a German expression, “Heimweh”, which translates as “home pain”. It is more than home-sickness – it is the profound and lasting longing in the stranger to be home – a feeling that over the years gave much substance to works of art and song. The works that I’ve collected along the way usually reflect my “home pain”.
For more on the Coutts art auction, visit the Levis Fine Art Auctions & Appraisals website.
For additional information on the life of Jim Coutts, visit the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage website.