Maud Lewis painting found in thrift shop bin

A painting by Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis has turned up in a southern Ontario thrift shop.

Volunteers at the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Centre in New Hamburg, Ont., southwest of Kitchener, came across the piece while sorting through donations.

The work, entitled “Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fishermen, Bay View, N.S.” is painted on beaverboard, a pulp board Lewis used for many of her paintings.

Living in poverty for most of her life, Lewis sold her paintings from her small home near Digby, N.S., for as little as $2 and $3. Since her death in 1970, Lewis’s paintings have sold for up to $22,000.

After achieving national attention through an article in the Star Weekly and being featured in a CBC TV documentary, two of her paintings were ordered by the White House during Richard Nixon’s presidency.

The painting is to be sold through an online auction to support Mennonite Central Committee’s relief, development and peacebuilding work. The auction is to begin following an advance screening of the movie, “Maudie,” starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, on April 20 in Waterloo, Ont., and end on May 19.

“Maudie” celebrates Lewis’ life and has received awards and accolades, including the Super Channel People’s Choice award at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Following the film screening, the painting will be available to view along with other Maud Lewis pieces from a local art enthusiast who has also written extensively about Maud Lewis.

“There’s something moving about the work of an artist — who lived most of her life in poverty — supporting those also facing those same realities,” Rick Cober Bauman, MCC Ontario executive director, said in a release.

“By supporting emergency relief efforts, sustainable development initiatives, and peacebuilding projects in Ontario and around the world, the legacy of Maud Lewis’ work will extend even further, making a real difference for others in need,” he said.

Karla Richards, general manager of the thrift centre, said the work was authenticated soon after “one of our amazing volunteers noticed the painting in a bin of art.”

The painting will be on view from April 21 to May 19 at the Homer Watson House and Gallery in Kitchener.

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