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LUKE, Alexandra Margaret (1901-1967)
Recent auction results 17-05-12 Epitaph To Eos 40 x 36 in 46,800 28-11-13 Untitled 20.5 x 39.5 21,060 28-05-07 Composition In Blue 50 x 40 15,600
It wasn't until her late 20s that Alexandra began to create art. Inspired by two local artists, Dorothy Van Luven and Dorothy Henderson, she began to paint and organize arts classes around the city. She used her wealth to help build the arts community in Oshawa, and became a member of several boards and societies including the Oshawa Women's Lyceum Club and Oshawa Historical Society.
Alexandra painted landscapes in a large, third floor studio in her husband's home and soon discovered abstract art after visiting modernist exhibitions in Toronto and Ottawa. Desperate to be seen as more than a hobbyist painter, in 1944 she sought out a portfolio review by landscape artist Caven Atkins. Atkins gave her a blunt review and told her that her Group of Seven-inspired style was not viable. This pushed her to further explore abstraction and receive formal art training at Banff School of Fine Arts (renamed Banff Centre) in 1945 then the Hans Hofmann School of Art in 1947. From Hofmann's teachings, Luke began to understand how create energy in her paintings with colour, texture and usage of white space.
She began to exhibit her work in the early 1950s at different venues, including the Canadian Group of Painters and the Picture Loan Society. In 1952 she organized the first Canadian Abstract Exhibition, where she met the members that would form the Painters Eleven. With this group, she was inspired to create more paintings and she was able to showcase her works in a wide range of venues in the United States and Canada. Luke championed for the promotion of Canadian abstract art and had a "strengthening, inspirational" role in the group.
Alexandra continued to paint and support abstract arts up until her death by ovarian cancer on 1 June 1967. She had created a sizable volume of work and participated in over 80 group exhibitions and solo shows. She had also been accepted into prestigious arts societies including the Canadian Group of Painters in 1959 and the Ontario Society of Artists in 1960. Shortly before her death, Alexandra and husband Ewart offered major financial support and works from their own collection toward the creation of a public art gallery for the City of Oshawa. This became The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, named after Ewart's grandfather, in 1967.