Madrona Gallery owner Michael Warren and employee Brittany Scarfe in the lobby of the gallery’s Trounce Alley entrance. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Madrona Gallery owner Michael Warren and employee Brittany Scarfe in the lobby of the gallery’s Trounce Alley entrance. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

From emerging artists to rare pieces, Madrona Gallery in Victoria turns 10

Seven-foot Ted Harrison piece latest to come through gallery

On the cusp of its 10th anniversary, Madrona Gallery’s owner recalled starting as a local gallery that might not be here today if COVID-19 had come along during its first two years.

The downtown store, which is accessible from View Street and Trounce Alley, is currently hanging a wall-sized Ted Harrison, Glorious Lone Land, a five-foot by seven-foot piece from 1990 that recently sold to another dealer.

Their new exhibition will feature guest pieces from Madrona’s stable of artists, Meghan Hildebrand, Nicholas Bott, Clayton Anderson, Sean Yelland, and others. It is also showing historic and post-war works by E. J. Hughes, Takao Tanabe, Harrison, and members of the Group of Seven.

It didn’t start that way, but Madrona owner Michael Warren has become a savvy art dealer who has overseen the sales of seminal works by Canadian greats including Hughes, Tom Thomson, Emily Carr, Lawren Harris, Franklin Carmichael, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Tik-Tak, Pauta Saila and Kenojuak Ashevak.

Ted Harrison’s Glorious Lone Land, 1990, a five-foot by seven-foot painting hanging in Madrona Gallery ahead of the store’s 10th anniversary. (Madrona Gallery/Ted Harrison)

But those types of sales are not what Warren and his partner Theresa McFarland made when they started the gallery in June of 2010.

“In a lot of ways it feels like just yesterday we were opening the gallery and learning how to swim,” Warren said. “But we’ve done a lot. The business has grown, going from a local focus with a local footprint to sourcing work nationally and internationally.”

READ MORE: Behind the bronze sculpture at Oak Bay’s Haynes Park

About 13 years ago, Warren was an employee a few metres down View Street in the West End Gallery when he was poached and took an offer to work in a Whistler gallery. That’s when the art history major and McFarland, an historian, hatched plans to open their own space on View. He was there for two years before they opened Madrona.

What stands out about Madrona, especially right now with a series of Hughes pieces on the wall, is how they mix classics and contemporaries, often West Coast but not always.

“We try to connect the dots in terms of the story of Canadian art, which is always changing, but it’s great for us to show works like [Ted Harrison], past artists that influence other artists who are still alive,” Warren said. “Take Clayton Anderson, and then check this out next to a Hughes, and all of a sudden you’ve got this really interesting collection.”

Still, they continue to deal in everything, which means encouraging local emerging artists to build their career, to having a rare Thomson piece which will eventually sell in the millions.

The classics don’t always sell right away, and that’s okay, he said. Having pieces from a seminal artist come through the gallery can be a way to balance and contextualize a buyer’s comfort level.

READ ALSO: Harrison leaves behind colourful legacy

“Buyers can sometimes be anxious, not matter what level you’re spending at, you want to make sure you’re informed and comfortable with the decision,” Warren said.

The gallery is soon to say goodbye to the Harrison piece, Glorious Lone Land. Warren believes it is likely Harrison’s biggest work.

“It’s a really rare important piece of Ted Harrison,” Warren said. “He is probably the most important artist of the Yukon. We spotted this in an auction in Toronto, and really wanted to bring it back to Victoria. People around here want the best of Harrison’s work.”

Things are going well now but it wasn’t always easy.

“The first two years [McFarland] worked and that allowed me to put all my time, energy and money into the gallery,” Warren said. “We wouldn’t have survived without her working. I basically didn’t pay myself for those couple of years.”

Looking back, a COVID-19 pandemic would have been disastrous, he said. In surviving, that time allowed them to build a stable of artists and to become the gallery they are.

“There were times when we were new, there were artists or people that we thought were a going to be a good fit for the market and, even though the works were great, it just didn’t have a commercial market here,” Warren said. “Sometimes you fail, and then you learn and adapt to a new level of knowledge, and try to do better the next time.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Oak Bay Police officer handed out five tickets for “fail to obey stop sign” and two tickets for using a cell phone while driving, all within two hours at King George Terrace on Jan. 11. (Oak Bay Police Twitter)
Man confronts unmasked group at Oak Bay Marina

Oak Bay police issue plenty of tickets in short King George Terrace visit

A 45-metre tall call tower is proposed for Westhills Stadium. (Black Press Media file photo)
New cell tower proposed for Westhills Stadium in Langford

Tower will increase capacity in congested network: staff report

Sidney Pier was one of two sites in Sidney as the Netflix series Maid shot in Sidney in late 2020. The show starring Margaret Qualley was one of 38 productions shooting in Greater Victoria. (Bob Orchard/Submitted)
Head of Greater Victoria film commission warns of lost economic opportunity

Kathleen Gilbert said without full funding, region will not be able to attract productions

Victoria Police Department vehicles outside the headquarters building. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bastion Square attack leaves victim with life-altering injuries

Victoria police looking for witnesses, information

NEW CUTLINE Pacific FC fans fill the stands during a game at the former Westhills Stadium
 Starlight Developments has purchased the naming rights from the City of Langford for the next 10 years.(Gazette file photo)

Pacific FC slid into third place in the league after defeating FC Edmonton 1-0 at Westhills Stadium on Saturday. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Langford sells stadium naming rights for $500,000 to Starlight Developments

10-year sponsorship deal largest in the history of Langford, says mayor

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Heather Lucier, a pastor at Kelowna Harvest Fellowship, speaks to an RCMP officer outside of Harvest Ministries on Sunday, Jan. 10. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna church fined 2nd time for violating public health order

Harvest Ministries in Kelowna has previously said they will fight the tickets in court

Emma Nunn from Alberni Valley Rescue Squad waits at the summit of Mount Arrowsmith for the rest of the AVRS rope rescue team on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY DAVE POULSEN, AVRS)
UPDATE: Injured hiker among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons was appointed to the NDP cabinet as minister of social development and poverty reduction after the October 2020 B.C. election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. job training fund increased for developmentally disabled

COVID-19 has affected 1,100 ‘precariously employed’ people

Most Read