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Jones Siblings Expand From Gallery To Auction House

By Scott Pettigrew Nov 28, 2022 | 1:48 PM

A series of Maud and Everett Lewis paintings has put Jones Auction on the map, with a debut campaign bringing in over $86,000.

The newly opened auction house is part of Jones Gallery, which siblings Sarah and Caleb Jones started in 2010. Operating under a hybrid model, the auction for the Lewis paintings took place both online and in Jones Gallery’s 122 Prince William Street location, with bidders able to view the works from October 25 to November 15.

The paintings included the Winter Sleigh Scene and Winter Harbour Scene with Oxen Pulling Logs by Maud Lewis. There were also several pieces by Everett Lewis, many of which were collaborations with his wife, as Maud’s arthritis limited her ability to work. The auction also featured works from Michael Adamson, Molly Lamb Bobak, Fred Ross, and Claude A. Simard.

“It’s about presenting the work so that it can have a record, so that down the road if a museum wanted to exhibit it, there’s really good documentation done,” Sarah Jones says of the vision for Jones Auction House. “If we want to be taken seriously, nationally and internationally, we as an auction house have to hold ourselves to international standards in order to treat the work properly.”

That’s where Caleb Jones comes in. With his membership in the International Society of Appraisers, Jones Auction House can provide the level of rigor necessary to meet these standards, while still maintaining a local touch.

It’s that expertise that Jones Auction House brings to the table, filling a gap in the Atlantic Canadian art market.

“Everybody participates, no matter your background,” Sarah Jones says of the approach to art collecting in Atlantic Canada. “I think we’ve had so many artists working in Atlantic Canada for generations, it’s just part of what we do here – everybody collects original art.”

With many estate sales and downsizing of collections as people reassess what they have, being able to turn to a familiar face for help, makes a difference.

“It’s really intimidating to have to deal with a big auction house if you’re not doing it all the time. But it doesn’t mean that you’re not a good art collector. It just means you’re not kind of in that world,” Jones says.

“[Our clients] want to deal with someone local. There really seems to be interest in having an art-specific auction house that can handle that line of work.”

Atlantic Canada’s storied art history is gaining recognition throughout the world. At the same time, more pieces are coming to market as people discover works in family collections, acquired long ago.

The Maud and Everett Lewis pieces in the auction were part of a private collection from Joan Small of Digby Nova Scotia, passed down by her father owned a lumber mill and supply store in the town. A handwritten note from Lewis, requesting pieces of wood from the mill in exchange for the artwork, also paints a picture of the interconnectedness of rural Maritime life in the 1960s.

“These artists that come from these small communities. The artists aren’t tucked away in some studio, or isolated in their little art community, they’re part of the broader part of the Digby community or the Saint John community,” she says.

“They make all kinds of connections with their neighbours, the others in the community, not just other artists, and that is really unique to Atlantic Canada.”

As the reputation of Atlantic Canadian artists grows, more people who may never have dealt with a gallery, but instead acquired their pieces directly from the artists, will be looking for opportunities to sell.

“We’re Maritimers. It’s nice to meet face-to-face and build up a level of trust with someone who understands where you’re coming from. And who can understand why the work is important.”

Jones says the auction attracted interest from Maud Lewis collectors from around the world.

Jones Auction House has two more auctions upcoming, Prints & Editions, November 22-December 6, 2022; and Objects & Artifacts: Featuring the Collection of Dr. George Burden, Baron of Seabegs, which is tentatively set for January of 2023.

Alex Graham is a reporter with Huddle, an Acadia Broadcasting content partner.


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