A recent exhibit of paintings at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina by a prolific prairie painter has cabin and cottage owners checking their properties for “Flexie” paintings. The exhibition, titled A Sublime Vernacular: The Landscape Paintings of Levine Flexhaug, is organized and circulated by the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie with support from the Museums Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. It will travel to five different galleries in 2015 – 17. This Saskatchewan born, itinerant painter, Levine Flexhaug, or “Flexie” as he was commonly known, spent many summers in Waskesiu painting and selling his paintings. From 1938 to the 1950s, during the summer months, Flexie painted at resorts across the prairies including Manitou Beach, Waskesiu, Jasper and Waterton Lakes. He often lived out of his car and took his family on the road with him. Set up in a busy tourist location, he painted in oil based house paint on beaver board, selling his paintings to passersby. With a goal of making affordable, approachable, original art for visitors to purchase as souvenirs of their holiday visits, he prolifically and consistently painted variations of the same forested lakeside scene. Often there were mountains in the background, but not in the Saskatchewan paintings. Variations include a small cabin or silhouetted animals such as flying birds, elk, moose, or bear. More information, including details about the exhibition, links to articles, and a film about Flexie, can be found at the website levineflexhaug.ca.
The three paintings pictured here were purchased from Flexie by Mel Brayford when Mel and his brother Daryl were operating the boat livery, Brayford Boats. Flexie would set up down by the docks to paint and sell his art. The trio has hung for many years in the Brayford cabin at Waskesiu.