About the Artist
David Allan Thauberger was born June 26, 1948, the fourth of seven children born to John A. and Adeline (nee Folk) Thauberger in Holdfast, Saskatchewan (population 243). John was a farmer and grain elevator agent.
Studied in the college of Education at the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus (which became the University of Regina in 1974) from 1966 to 1967, and took a six-week summer art class from Russell Yuristy to fill his art requirement.
Taught public school in Regina from September 1967 to June 1968, then enrolled in fine arts at the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus, from fall 1968 to summer 1969.
Married Veronica Pawliw (Bob Boyer was the best man at their wedding) and worked as a substitute teacher.
David Gilhooly arrived in Regina to teach ceramics at the university. Thauberger attended Gilhooly’s first Regina lecture on the Frog World, “the California artist’s antic parallel universe peopled with frogs bearing distinctly human traits. Thauberger took the bait like a hungry fish. For the first time he realized it was possible to make art and enjoy it, while being serious about it at the same time.” (Canadian Art Fall 1987, p89)
He had been offered a permanent teaching position, but Gilhooly’s lecture (the one that also inspired Joe Fafard) inspired him to turn down the job and re-enrol at the university to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
Acquired the first work in his art collection by making a trade with Gilhooly: one of Gilhooly’s hedgehog fruit bowls for a pot of Veronica’s perogies and cabbage rolls.
Worked as a student assistant in the ceramics department at UofS.
Obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus.
His first solo exhibition, organized by the Memorial University in St John’s, Newfoundland, toured to Confederation Art Centre in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick Museum in Saint John, New Brunswick, Heritage Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Received a Canada Council grant to do graduate studies at California State University in Sacramento, California. In California, he started going to second-hand stores and collecting postcards. He bought his first Hawaiian shirt second hand for 5 cents. It was a way to get attention and stand out as a young artist. He saw work by Jim Nutt and Joseph Raphael, both faculty at California State, and William Wiley, Roy DeForest and Wayne Thiebaud, all of whom sparked his interest in painting.
Obtained his Master of Arts degree from California State University. He received a renewal of his Canada Council grant, as well as a grant from the Saskatchewan Arts Board, to pursue a second Masters degree, this time studying with Rudy Autio at the University of Montana in Missoula.
Thauberger’s first son Jonathan was born, now an award-winning chef in Regina.
Purchased a Patrick Caulfield piece, Black and White Cafe, from Peter Millard in Saskatoon, the first work in his collection for which he actually paid money, and the first work he bought by an artist he did not know personally.
Obtained his Master of Fine Arts degree from University of Montana and moved back to Regina, where he has lived ever since. He and his wife had planned to move to Toronto or Vancouver once they had saved up enough money, but Wayne Morgan at the Dunlop Art Gallery offered him a show and they ended up staying. The Saskatchewan Arts Board bought two works.
Was part of the group exhibition Ceramics International at the Alberta College of Art, Calgary, Alberta and won a medal for his work Hero.
Worked part time as a Visual Arts Assistant at the Saskatchewan Arts Board, cataloguing its collection of about 800 artworks, which had never been recorded. While cataloguing this collection Thauberger discovered the work of W.C. McCargar and began to search out other self-taught artists in Saskatchewan.
Was asked by Lea Collins of the Saskatchewan Arts Board to be a juror for the Watrous Art Salon in Watrous, Saskatchewan, a week-long open exhibition for professional and amateur artists that had run annually since 1967. There, Thauberger first saw work by Harvey McInnes, Molly Lenhardt, Cornelius Van Ieperen, Arnold Russell, Laura Harness and Harold Treherne.
Worked as a ceramics instructor during summer session at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, although it was around this time that Thauberger had switched to painting full time.
His son Christopher was born.
Received a Canada Council Explorations Grant to research and document Saskatchewan folk artists.
Conceived and organized the exhibition Grassroots Saskatchewan for the MacKenzie Art Gallery and subsequent provincial tour. It was the first major exhibition of Saskatchewan folk art, and included the work of sixteen artists, many of whom are well known today: Eva and Wesley Dennis, Ann Harbuz, Molly Lenhardt, W.C. McCargar, Harvey McInnes, Fred Moulding, Sam Spencer, Jeanne Thomarat. Thauberger, 28 years old at the time, had found a mentor in Wesley Dennis, who was 75.
Commissioned by the Saskatchewan Olympics and the Arts Committee to collaborate with Victor Cicansky, Joe Fafard and Russell Yuristy on a sculptural environment, titled The Grain Bin, as Saskatchewan’s Contribution to the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal. The sculpture consisted of a typical country grain bin with its interior converted into a prairie landscape. Other self-taught artists whose work was included were Frank Cicansky, Eva Dennis, Ann Harbuz, Molly Lenhart, W.C. McCargar, Fred Moulding and Linda Olafsen. The Grain Bin is presently in storage at the Western Development Museum in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
Commissioned by the Canada Council Art Bank to do a limited edition print, Velvet Bunnies (Ed. 20, 2 A.P. 88.9 x 83.8 cm, screenprint on velvet) with Grand Western Canadian Screen Shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This was the first of about forty prints he has made since 1977.
Worked as a research assistant for the television documentary on Canadian folk artists “From the Heart,” part of the CBC Spectrum documentary series. He also researched and wrote an article on prairie folk art, “Making a Home out of Existence,” for the October/November issue of ArtsCanada, and had one of his works on the cover of the book Peckertracks by Stan Dragland, published by Coach House Press.
From 1979 to 1987 he travelled to England, Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy, which was the beginning of a continuing plan to visit major art centres around the world.
One of nineteen artists included in the prestigious exhibition of contemporary Canadian art, Pluralities 1980, which ran from July 5 to Sept 7, 1980 at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. The other artists in the exhibition were Mowry Baden, Iain Baxter, Pierre Boogaerts, Roland Brener, Stephen Cruise, Max Dean, Joe Fafard, General Idea, Betty Goodwin, Garry Neill Kennedy, John Mcewen, Claude Mongrain, Roland Poulin, Don Proch, Robert Racine, Jeff Wall, Mia Westerlund and Alex Wyse.
Commissioned to do a limited edition print for the 75th anniversary of the Province of Saskatchewan Vision 80, Pasture Print (Ed. 45, 5 A.P. 58 x 74 cm, flocked silkscreen on paper).
Curated the exhibition Harvey McInnes at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta.
Received a commission from Canada Post Corporation to design a postage stamp for the Regina Centennial Canada Day (1881-1981).
A visiting artist at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Banff, Alberta.
Worked again for the Saskatchewan Arts Board as a visual arts consultant, where he was responsible for all programs related to the visual arts, including the distribution of grants to individual artists, organizations and galleries, and management of the permanent collection, including acquisition, care, maintenance, and loans.
Started donating his archives on Saskatchewan folk art to the University of Regina Archives and Special Collections, including 1300 slides of work by some 86 artists. The collection received Cultural Designation from the Federal Government in 1986.
Completed works for the Saskatchewan Heritage ’86 commission for the collection of the Saskatchewan Arts Board, and also for Molson Breweries Bicentennial Commission.
Created a 3.7 x 5.5 meter photo-mural commission for the Saskatchewan Pavilion at Expo ’86 World’s Fair in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Completed limited edition screenprints Peppermint House and Chocolate House, commissioned by the Toronto Dominion Bank.
Exhibited work at the International Contemporary Art Fair, Los Angeles, CA and the Chicago International Art Exposition, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
Completed a mural commission for Cineplex Odeon Corporation at Cloverleaf Mall in Richmond, Virginia, part of a Cineplex Odeon art program that commissioned works by over 50 Canadian artists in theatres across North America. The aim of the program was to create a broader cultural atmosphere for film patrons, promote Canadian artists, and explore the relationships between film and painting. The program is documented in the publication The First Ten Years: A Celebration of Contemporary Canadian Art by David Burnett (Toronto: Cineplex Odeon, 1989).
Completed a commission for Via Rail Canada for the Mural Lounge in the Park Car on The Canadian (Rundle from Vermillion, 97 x 183 cm, acrylic and glitter on aluminum)
The first comprehensive survey of his paintings, David Thauberger Paintings 1978-1988, was organized by the MacKenzie Art Gallery and toured to Memorial University Art Gallery, St. John’s, NL; The Koffler Centre of the Arts, Toronto, ON; Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, ON; Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, SK; Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, MN; Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. A concurrent exhibition of works from Thauberger’s art collection, curated by Peter White, was held at the Dunlop Art Gallery from October 8, 1988 to November 6, 1988. It included work by Rudy Autio, Clayton Bailey, Lorne Beug, Cyndy Chwelos, Vic Cicansky, Eva Dennis, Wesley Dennis, Adam Deutscher, Jerry Didur, Joe Fafard, David Gilhooley, Ann Harbuz, Molly Lenhardt, W.C. McCargar, Fred Moulding, Mimmo Paladino, Don Proch, Barbara Rossi, A. Russell and Andy Warhol.
Thauberger’s work was used on the cover of From the Belly of a Flying Whale by Byrna Barclay, published by Douglas & McIntyre.
Visiting artist at the Burlington Cultural Centre in Burlington, Ontario.
Completed a second commission for Canada Post Corporation, a Canada Day postage stamp design for Saskatchewan, which was part of a nationally touring exhibition titled Canada, Our Home and Native Land: Living the Landscape organized by Canada Post Corporation.
Participated in the Artist-in-Residence Program at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, supported by the Programme Assistance of The Canada Council. Thauberger travelled along the north and south shores of the Island photographing houses and barns, ending up with a photographic image bank of Island architecture that inspired a series of paintings, one of which, The Chappell Picture, he donated to the CCAG. The seven-week residency included studio visits with artists on the island and concluded with a panel discussion exploring representational painting of the cultural landscape with artists Henry Purdy and Terry Graff, and curators Cliff Eyland and Susan Gibson Garvey.
One of fifteen artists who spent one week in and around Kluane National Park, Yukon, as part of the Canadian Art Odyssey. Other participants included Jean Blodgett, Aikang Chang, Domingo Cisneros, Ramsay Cook, Judith Currelly, Carol Geddes, David General, Vivian Gray, Dan Hudson, Janet Moore, Carroll Moppet, Toni Onley, Ann Smith, Jeffrey Spalding, Sheng Tian Zheng and Tim Zuck.
Thauberger’s work was used for three book covers: Local Colour: Writers Discovering Canada, Carol Martin Ed., Douglas & McIntyre; Street of Dreams, by Gary Hyland, Coteau Books; A North American Education, by Clarke Blaise, General Publishing Co. New Press Canadian Classics.
Appointed to the Board of Trustees for the MacKenzie Art Gallery. He became an Executive Member from 1995 to 2000.
Became Member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, one of Canada’s most enduring cultural institutions, which elects members on the basis of a significant body of work that has been recognized by their peers for excellence and innovation.
Participated in North by Midwest: A Charles Burchfield Symposium and Exhibition at Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio, including a panel discussion with Michael Hall, Kenneth Ames, Martha Fleischman, Nanette Maciejeunes, Roald Nasgaard and Richard Wooten.
Participated in the International Sculpture Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Thauberger was included in the panel discussions “The Ghost of Grant Wood: Regionalism for our time” with Michael Hall, Carl Cheng, Paul Krainak and Lisa Stone, and “Main Street as Mainstream: Popular Culture and Art” with Lew Alquist, Mary Douglas and David Wilson.
Became a member of the Art Advisory Committee for the Canada Council Art Bank and served until 2002. He then served on the Board of the Canada Council for the Arts as Chair of the Governance Committee from 2006 to 2008 and Nominating Committee from 2005 to 2008.
Sat on the President’s Advisory Committee on Art at the University of Regina.
Executive Member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, an organization established in 1957 as an independent division within the Canada Council for the Arts, which promotes collaboration among nations to contribute to peace and security through education, science, culture, communication and information.
Named to the Order of Canada, cited for his contributions to the promotion and preservation of Canadian heritage and folk art in the province of Saskatchewan. “Dedicated to ensuring the vitality of his craft, [Thauberger] also actively promotes the work of other Saskatchewan artists through numerous curatorial ventures, and by purchasing their works and donating them to various galleries, public collections and the Canada Council Art Bank. An advocate as well as an artist, he promotes an attitude of open-mindedness and awareness of the international context of art and the place of folk art within it.” (http://www.gg.ca/document.aspx?id=13570)
Received Lieutenant Governor’s Saskatchewan Artist Award.
Received Saskatchewan Order of Merit.
Awarded Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.