At 99, this great artist realizes her dream

A residence for seniors in Montreal North was the scene of a most moving story. That of an artist – and not a Sunday one, we will learn – approaching 99 years old whose wish to exhibit her works one last time will be granted. And this, thanks to the dedication of an accommodation advisor from her residence.

Danielle Belliveau had no idea that by visiting her resident Jeanne Auclair Courtemanche, she would discover magnificent paintings in the apartment of the lady living alone.

As you can imagine, the Accès Résidences counselor “Googled” her name… only to realize that Ms.meAuclair Courtemanche was “not only talented, but also recognized in her field,” wrote Danielle by email.

Jeanne Auclair Courtemanche (standing in the back in the photo) made the puppets of Pepinot and Capucinethe first Radio-Canada TV show, broadcast in the 1950s.

Curious, we imitated her, noting in our turn that Jeanne Auclair Courtemanche is a luminary who notably made the puppets of Pépinot and Nasturtium, characters from the first children’s TV show — and the inaugural show! — by Radio-Canada, broadcast in the 1950s. A work that left its mark on an entire generation of children and paved the way for Bobino, Master key and othersFelix and Chives.

The lady, who is the subject of a file in the Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec (as well as a Wikipedia page), had as a teacher at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal in the 1940s none other than the avant-garde Alfred Pellan, the first Quebec painter to shine in France, who helped shape the province’s art history.

She dreamed of an ultimate exhibition

Jeanne Auclair Courtemanche often mentioned her dearest wish: to hold one last exhibition, says Danielle. Joining forces with the artist, the counselor set in motion a project for a small exhibition in the residence… which the COVID-19 pandemic sabotaged.

Fortunately, the situation then “took a turn for the less unusual” when an employee of the residence, also an artist, saw the works of Ms.meAuclair Courtemanche. “She was left speechless,” says Danielle.

The employee immediately invited the founding president of the organization Artists in visual arts of the North of Montreal (AAVNM), Sergio Gutiérrez, to come and contemplate them in turn.

“You have no idea what this woman brought to modern and contemporary art. She is an extraordinary multidisciplinary artist. She has works in several public places in Montreal. What a gift for the artist that I am to be able to meet her in person,” said the curator and multidisciplinary artist, deeply moved, to Danielle.

In his eyes, it is out of the question for these works to fall into oblivion, lurking at the bottom of cupboards.

Retrospective exhibition and tribute

Her dearly desired exhibition, Jeanne Auclair Courtemanche finally got it!

The AAVMN gallery is indeed presenting a retrospective exhibition of his career until September 24th. Its opening will take place on Sunday, as part of the Montreal-North Visual Arts Symposium, an outdoor exhibition bringing together several artists in Ottawa Park this weekend.

Sunday, Danielle and Sergio will reserve a vibrant tribute to the guest of honor dear to their hearts, whom we will have the chance to meet. He should be “up to this extraordinary woman”, assures his accomplice, still by email.

She has done so much, it’s amazing! I’ve been seeing her for three years, and I learn about her every day… I’m flabbergasted! When you go around the gallery, you can’t believe that all these different works were created by the same artist.

Danielle Belliveau, Accommodation Advisor, about Jeanne Auclair Courtemanche

In Danielle’s eyes, the important thing is that MmeAuclair Courtemanche can showcase her talent while she is still alive. And maybe she will have the opportunity to sell a few paintings in order to “benefit from them during her lifetime”? Danielle hopes, according to which it would be “priceless recognition” of the legacy of this great artist, coupled with a great opportunity for connoisseurs of the visual arts.

After all, although the artist – who is approaching 99, let’s remember – has lived off her practice all her life, like many artists, “she doesn’t roll on gold”, underlines Danielle. Sales would allow her to afford a sweet end to the journey thanks to quality care when her autonomy declines, she says.

Opening of the retrospective exhibition of Jeanne Auclair Courtemanche

Sunday, August 28, from 11 a.m.
AAVMN Gallery
3440 Fleury Street East

Montreal North Visual Arts Symposium

Saturday, August 27, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, August 28, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ottawa Park

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