An unknown local artist between 1913 and 1921 created this painting of an aerial view of the city of Lethbridge.
The work spent most of its early life hanging in the Arlington Hotel, a downtown establishment that operated under a variety of owners and titles from 1910 to 2007, when it was demolished.
In 1971, the hotel's proprietors, John and Walter Mysyk, presented the painting to the newly founded University of Lethbridge as a gift from the Ukrainian Canadian Association of Lethbridge.
The painting's current condition gives us clues about its storied life. Sometimes the back of a painting has as much a tale to tell as its face. This painting has a large bulge at the left side which, when examined from the back, is explained by an extensive tide line indicating previous water damage. At the front, the blue sky has turned orange-brown from the discolouration of a layer of varnish, but likely also caused by the tobacco smoke from the hotel bar. Large areas have been painted over at some point, likely to cover the water damage, and to disguise, but not obliterate, location arrows and names of neighbourhoods as they changed over time.
To prepare this artwork for display at the Galt Museum as part of The Greatest Years You Never Knew exhibit, it has been closely examined, cleaned of loose dust and repositioned in its frame to prevent slippage. The back of the painting received most of the attention, getting a soft liner to reduce abrasion in the frame, new framing hardware and a new protective backing board. These preventive conservation actions allow it to be exhibited safely, and further treatments can be addressed in the future.
The Greatest Years You Never Knew exhibit runs at the Galt Museum's Discovery Hall, Apr. 30 to Sept. 11, 2011.
For a look at the Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.