Franklin Carmichael’s grandchildren frustrated with new Art Gallery of Sudbury delays

Two of the Group of Seven artist Franklin Carmichael’s grandchildren say they are frustrated with delays to build a new art gallery in Sudbury, Ont.

“Sault Ste. Marie has a gorgeous gallery, North Bay has a nice gallery and we’ve got an old 115-year-old house on the lake out in the middle of nowhere,” said Franklin’s grandson John Mastin, who lives in the Sudbury area.

John and his sister Catharine Mastin, an art curator, have donated several of their grandfather’s paintings to the Art Gallery of Sudbury.

He said his family has been working with the city for 13 years to get a new gallery in the city.

“It’s been three mayors, several councils and many, many things happening in between,” John said.

There were plans to move the Art Gallery of Sudbury to the proposed Junction East project, but city council scrapped those because of the $90-million price tag.

Earlier this month, city staff proposed a new plan to host the new library and gallery at Tom Davies Square, which is also home to Sudbury’s city hall.

The proposal said moving them to an existing building would save the city $1.1 million in annual operating costs.

Ian Wood, a special assistant with the city, said the building has enough vacant space to host both a library and art gallery.

“The option at the Tom Davies Square is a viable option to appease taxpayers and at the same time get a gallery and library together,” John Mastin said.

Franklin Carmichael was the youngest member of the Group of Seven, known for his watercolour paintings of the Canadian landscape. (Screencapture from Good Gauley Productions/Temiskaming Art Gallery)

His sister Catharine said she would need to know more about the building and location, but added “the library-gallery combination, generally, is a really effective one.”

But she added the process to find a new home for the gallery has already taken too long.

“They’re housed in a really compromised building,” Catharine said.

“Their location is difficult to get to and they need to be in a place where they’re going to be accessible to more traffic.”

Catharine added her grandfather’s work could be a springboard to drive interest in the gallery, but she would want it to be a place that brings attention to more artists from northern Ontario.

“I think Sudbury deserves better,” she said.

Morning North11:11Descendants of Group of Seven artist Franklin Carmichael would like to see the Art Gallery of Sudbury renamed after him

There was at one time a plan to rename the Art Gallery of Sudbury after Group of Seven artist Franklin Carmichael. According to his grandchildren, the idea is still alive, and they want to see it happen before they die. Morning North host Markus Schwabe met up with a couple of Carmichael’s descendants at the log cabin he built in the LaCloche Mountains.

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