Currently not on display
Easter Sunday, 1979
Oil on board
18 5/8″ x 15″
Gift of Dr. Morris C. Shumiatcher, O.C., S.O.M., Q.C. and Dr. Jacqui Clay Shumiatcher, S.O.M., C.M., 2018; sc.2018.54
Chopping Wood, 1974
Oil on board
24″ x 20″
Gift of Dr. Morris C. Shumiatcher, O.C., S.O.M., Q.C. and Dr. Jacqui Clay Shumiatcher, S.O.M., C.M., 2019; sc.2019.148
Ann Harbuz (1908-1989) was a Saskatchewan folk artist best known for her charming paintings depicting the life of Ukrainian immigrants in early 20th-century Saskatchewan. Born in 1908 to Ukrainian immigrant parents, her family settled in Whitkow, Saskatchewan, located on Treaty 6 territory. Her work explored the unique challenges and lifestyle of those who were among the first to homestead the area. In the coming years, more Ukrainian families settled in the area, leading to a strong sense of community. Harbuz captures this sense of camaraderie and togetherness with Easter Sunday (1979) which depicts children, post-church service, free to frolic in the vast prairie fields whilst still dressed in their Sunday best. She offers us a glimpse into a memory ripe with feelings of childlike play and joy. In Chopping Wood (1974), Harbuz finds beauty in the simple and mundane, injecting humour as the logs appear much larger than reality, pointing to the laboriousness of the task at hand.
She had an uncanny ability to translate her memories onto canvas through her own romantic gaze, oftentimes playing with perception of time and space. She transports the viewer to an aerial view, overlooking large scenes unfolding or collapsing the walls of homes to create a diorama-like perspective into an intimate domestic moment. Her loose brushstrokes and light washes of colour inspire feelings of great nostalgia for a childhood spent on the prairies.
She began her career in her late 60’s after encountering paintings produced by her neighbour Mike Peryewizniak. Impressed by his work, she was motivated to start painting. Initially, what started as a means to document her childhood experiences and supplement her family’s collection of photographs became more than just a hobby, and she would eventually find her way into the budding folk art scene of Saskatchewan in the 1970’s and early 80’s. It was then that she would begin to constantly create, exhibit, and sell her artwork until her passing in 1989, producing well over 1,000 paintings over the span of her career.
Fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit as well as an intense passion, she took a business-minded approach to art making. She converted her North Battleford home into a makeshift studio and gallery. She was always ready to accept visitors and potential buyers with open arms and a freshly cooked meal. Those fortunate enough to visit her home recall the floor-to-ceiling display of paintings that plastered the walls. In addition to the mass of finished works there was an ever-present easel set up with one of countless works-in-progress, ready to be tended to whenever she found a spare moment.
Harbuz redefined what it meant to be a working artist in Saskatchewan. She was both a full-time artist and mother. Being self-taught and working in unconventional ways, she was able to make a name for herself without sacrificing her unique vision of prairie life. As well, she was able to successfully support her family through her career as an artist. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and in 1996 she was the subject of a solo exhibition titled Ann Harbuz: Inside Community, Outside conventional, at the Dunlop Gallery. Additionally, Harbuz was commissioned to complete a mural as part of the Grain Bin project, which featured Saskatchewan artists at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.