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Saskatchewan boy, philanthropist, international art dealer



Like many who grew up in rural Saskatchewan during the 1950s, Frederick Mulder curled, played hockey and golfed in people’s backyards. Looking back now on his childhood in the tiny town of Eston, there was just one indication of the unconventional career he had waiting.

“My ex-wife used to say, ‘You used to go door to door selling Christmas cards, now you just go city to city selling prints.'”

Not just any prints but Picassos, Munches and Matisses.

Mulder, 76, is one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of 19th- and 20th-century European prints. He has sold art to private dealers and museums around the world.

As he walks around the Picasso and Paper exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, his faint British accent is a reminder that the man has been in England now for over 50 years.

“This is it. This is the one we sold,” said Mulder. “This is a linocut from 1962 of Jacqueline, his wife.”

Mulder graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a BA in English then attended Brown University in Rhode Island on a scholarship but made a last-minute switch to philosophy. His thesis adviser suggested he write his dissertation at Oxford or Cambridge.

“I thought that was a lovely idea,” Mulder says with a smile.

Borrowing to buy Picassos

With the help of a generous Canada Council fellowship, Mulder hopped on a plane bound for England with a book about investments. The last chapter focused on a man who collected the etchings of 17th-century master Rembrandt van Rijn.

Upon arriving, Mulder attended an auction containing one of the artist’s prints. With little experience in purchasing art, he picked up the phone to seek advice — and ended up dialling the famous Sotheby’s auction house.

“I treated London just like it was, as if it was this small town, really. I thought I could call anybody up or go and see anyone.”

Mulder bought his first Rembrandt print in 1966 and was instantly hooked.


Mulder, around four years of age, sits petting two kittens in his hometown of Eston, Saskatchewan. (Submitted by Frederick Mulder)


He later sold it and used some of the money to go to Paris. It was there he met up with a man named Paul Proute whose stock included Picassos, including an impression of The Circus — the only Picasso Mulder owned.

“I said to him, well, I’d like to buy yours. And he said, ‘I have a whole bunch of them if, you know, if you want more than one.'”

Mulder bought eight. But had to borrow the money to do it.

“I came back, told my bank that I had done this and said, ‘I hear you have these things called overdrafts,'” he says with a laugh. “The bank manager was amused. I don’t think he’d ever had a graduate student asking if he could, you know, borrow money to buy some Picassos.”

Within two weeks, he says, he’d sold every Picasso for double what he’d paid.

It was the start of a formula that propelled Mulder’s career forward: buy strategically, sell honestly, profit slowly. Eventually, the art would go for as much as $3 million.

Despite his success, Mulder never aspired to own a yacht or go on expensive vacations. In fact, his 20-year-old Volkswagen was stolen a few years ago so now he rides a bicycle or uses Uber to get around.

Instead, Mulder uses that money to give back.

Passionate philanthropist

“Fred’s passions go far beyond the art world, and I would divide them into two that are connected at the hip,” said University of Saskatchewan president Peter Stoicheff, who has known Mulder for eight years. “One is philanthropy … and the other is …  in environmental causes.”

Mulder estimates, and media reports confirm, he has so far donated around 10 million pounds (more than $17 million Cdn) to various causes. He says the environment is definitely a focus.

“I think that what we’re doing now is we’re stealing the future from our children. We don’t have the right to use resources that we should be leaving for you to use,” said Mulder.


Mulder’s childhood hockey team in Eston. Mulder, age 10, is third from left in the top row. (Submitted by Frederick Mulder)


“He’s very humble,” said Stoicheff. “It’s difficult to say exactly where that comes from, but part of it is that he grew up in small-town Saskatchewan.”

There are now Picasso works splashed across the Prairies — nearly all with ties to Mulder, and at least six of which he donated to the University of Saskatchewan (U of S).

In 2012, Mulder sold what he calls “the most extensive collection of Picasso linocuts in the world” to Ellen Remai. She subsequently donated it to the Remai Modern, a Saskatoon art museum named after her, and that sparked a partnership between the museum and the U of S.

The collection is valued at some $20 million.

Back to his roots

In May, Mulder will return to his home province for a Picasso symposium put on by the museum and the U of S, which in 2017 honoured Mulder for his lifelong contributions in the art world and his passion for philanthropy.”

“It’ll be nice to go back,” said Mulder. “I’ve often thought if I had come from the same background in the U.K. that I came from in Saskatchewan, which is a very remote farming town, I probably would have had the wrong accent, the wrong set of ideas.”


This Picasso linocut, donated by Mulder, hangs in the museum in Eston, pictured in this 2016 photo during a visit by then-lieutenant governor of Saskatchewan, Vaughn Solomon Schofield. (Submitted by Verna Thompson)


Asked what his younger self would think upon hearing about the life he has lived, Mulder says with a laugh, “I would have thought that they must be talking about somebody else.”

There was no art in Eston, Sask., when Mulder grew up. There is now, however, one Picasso linocut, donated by Mulder,  that hangs in the local museum, a testament to where the great art dealer is from, where he went and the endless possibilities of where anyone can go.

“These things happen. They could so easily not have happened,” said Mulder, “and if you take the opportunity that they provide, you know, they kind of transform your life.”

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Memorial University to Unveil Street Art Wall at St. John's Campus – VOCM



Memorial University is unveiling a legal street art wall at their St. John’s campus.

The launch for the street wall will take place tomorrow from 1 to 2 p.m.

The wall, located on the east side of the campus near MUN Daycare, is open to all artists of all levels of skill. Between sunrise and sunset, artists can tag and paint the wall any day of the week.

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Nature is an Artist explores relationship betwee art and nature –



Nature is an Artist

Nature is an Artist was released last week and is available wherever books are sold. 

by Stephen Dafoe

Sturgeon County’s intergovernmental advisor Jennifer Lavallee has published her first children’s picture book. 

Vancouver’s Greystone Books released Nature is an Artist, written by Lavallee and illustrated by Argentinian artist Natalia Colombo, on May 17.

The book looks at the various art forms children can find in the natural world surrounding them and follows a group of children exploring nature and discovering an art show in front of them. They are inspired to create works of art, recreating what they have seen in nature. 

Although Nature is an Artist is Lavallee’s first published picture book, it is far from her first published work. The author has previously written articles for local newspapers and magazines, including Morinville Online. She has also written for national publications and many of Lavallee’s short stories have appeared in anthologies. 

“Those have been more adult-focused stories, Lavallee said of her short story work. “This is my first professional publication in the world of children’s literature,” and that is where I am focusing all my efforts. That’s really where my passion is.”

Lavallee explained that when she was trying to determine the direction of her writing, it dawned on her that children’s writing was a great pairing to where her interests were.

“I’m an adult, but I still read middle-grade books and YA [young adult] and that kind of literature,” she said. “So it just kind of clicked – yeah, I should be focusing my attention here.”

Lavallee recently spent the day at École Morinville Public School reading her new book to students. Children were surprised to learn that an adult enjoyed books written for children. 

“I said absolutely I do because I think there is something so very special about pairing really beautiful illustrations [with words],” Lavallee said. “When you look at illustrations in picture books, you can find some really special artwork. Pairing that with beautiful text; it reminds me of magic, kind of, and it’s almost like comfort food.”

Lavallee said she has always been someone who loves fairy tales and someone who loves to watch classic children’s movies over and over again. Films like the adaptation of William Golden’s Princess Bride, Hook and Peter Pan have helped form her current writing path. 

“I’ve always just been in that space,” she said of her interests and the types of books she wants to write, paraphrasing author Toni Morrison’s quotation – ‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’  

But writing a children’s book is challenging for the mother of three, balancing full-time employment with Sturgeon County, completing graduate school, and taking care of her family. 

From the initial idea in the author’s mind, writing the manuscript, then being able to drive to Chapters and take the book off the shelf, was a four-year journey.

“It takes a long time. There are not even 500 words in here,” Lavallee said of the new book, adding that just finalizing the text with the publisher is a lengthy process. “It has to be exactly right, and the thing about this book is it’s a rhyming book. Not only do you have to find the right words, but the right rhyming words to match the story you are trying to tell. It was about a year to finalize the text.”

Working with Buenos Aires-based illustrator Natalia Colombo was also an exciting experience for Lavallee, which also took a year. 

“This is her twenty-third book, so that was a neat experience. Most people think I drew the pictures, but I wish I could draw,” Lavallee laughed. “The illustrations are what makes picture books pop, and I’m so pleased with how it came out. It’s very bright and cheerful.”

Great art is significant for Lavallee’s book, which is about the artistic beauty found in nature.

“You can go into nature and see things that are like fine works of art,” Lavallee said. “A sunset is like a beautiful painting, or a rainbow is like stained glass. The point of it is to inspire young readers to see themselves as artists, but in the context of also having respect for nature, and wanting to get out into the environment and the natural world. It’s the pairing of those two.”

Lavallee said Nature is an Artist is perfectly aligned to the existing curriculum, lending itself to simple crafts based on the content of the book. 

“Some of those things that you need to learn in the younger years about artistic styles are all interwoven into the story,” Lavallee explained. 

The author worked with the publisher to create some free downloadable companion guides to the book for parents and teachers. 

Nature is an Artist is available wherever books are sold, including Chapters and Amazon. It retails for $22.95 per copy.

Lavallee has written a sequel to the new book and hopes to see it published in the future. She is also working on a longer chapter book aimed at middle grades. 

The author is also doing workshops at the upcoming St. Albert Children’s Festival.

Click here for more local news
Click here to visit author’s website

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Contest open to young artists; art grads needed more than ever – SooToday



Art students in Grades 6, 7 and 8 are invited to submit samples of their work to be included in a separate exhibition and contest within the annual St. Mary’s College art show to be held at the Second Line East high school beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 14.

Students have until 3 p.m. Thursday, June 9 to submit their drawings, painting or digital art work with their identification and contact information in person at SMC’s main office.

While the SMC art show is an annual event – featuring work by artists from Grades 9 to 12 and including not only visual art but also musical and dance performances in one night – this year marks the first show and contest for students in Grades 6 to 8.

The contest is the brainchild of Adriano DiCerbo, SMC art teacher and Samantha Lance, an SMC graduate now pursuing a career as an art show curator in Toronto.

“Adriano approached me with this idea. He wanted to get the ball rolling on this and try to attract kids’ attention to this. We came up with the title Spring Back To Life, to get students to think about what inspires you about this new season?” Lance said.

That includes:

  • What images of spring best represent your personal connection to this season?
  • What moments of spring do you cherish?
  • Are there certain aspects of spring (flowers, plants, landscapes, animals) that hold a special place in your heart?

The contest poster has been designed and will be sent out soon to parents and teachers across the H-SCDSB system.

DiCerbo hopes word will get out to art students in Grades 6 to 8 students in other school boards.

Students and parents can contact DiCerbo by email

Lance will judge the Grades 6 to 8 art show.

“I first got immersed in visual arts in Grade 10 with Mr. DiCerbo’s class and then I started helping with the arts festivals from Grade 10 to 12 and I realized, while curating the work, that art is what I wanted to do as a career,” Lance said.

Lance graduated from SMC in 2017 and went on to study art for four years at Toronto’s Ontario College of Art & Design – OCAD University. 

There she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts, specializing in Criticism and Curatorial Practice, learning how to organize art shows at galleries, museums, art shows and festivals. 

She plans to attend the University of Toronto in September to begin a Master of Curatorial Studies program.

At OCAD, she was inspired by the work of many artists including Vincent Van Gogh, American photographer Nicolas Bruno and Christian painter Akiane Kramarik.

“After I graduated from high school I came back to help curate the arts festival at SMC. Every year it was nice to see the work and the talent students brought to the table,” Lance said.

“I appreciate art history and love looking at the different types of media people bring into their art. When I go for my Masters in Toronto I want to support local, national and international artists by showcasing their art,” Lance said, adding she’ll always enjoy keeping in touch with the Sault arts scene.

Admission to the June 14 SMC art show is free for kids, $10 for adults.

Proceeds from admission go to Tumaini Afrika, a Sault Ste. Marie-based, non-registered group of volunteers dedicated to working with children and women in Kenya in such spheres as education and nutrition.

“After COVID, everybody needs this art show,” Lance said.

Both Lance and her high school art mentor DiCerbo spoke of the importance of art and art education for kids despite the heavy emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math in schools.

“Art speaks when words can’t,” Lance said.

“Art gives anyone – students, young and old – to speak about their background, their culture and their response to everything that’s happening in the world in their own way, it gives them that freedom to do that. That’s so critical, to express yourself, and to have that confidence.”

As for exposing younger students to art at an early age, Lance smiled “if we nurture this at the beginning in younger students we could be fostering the next Monet or Van Gogh.”

“I believe in having a well-rounded education. Yes, science and math, but the arts as well,” DiCerbo said.

“That enables students to have creative skills, critical thinking skills and they need those opportunities to be self expressive. It’s an incredibly valuable skill for the 21st Century, more than we realize. It helps us to connect with nature and each other. An arts festival is a celebration of when we come together and celebrate creativity.”

“There are jobs out there for creative people,” DiCerbo said.

“They’re just not as visible as the teacher, the doctor, the dentist. There are so many creative people behind the scenes working in traditional and digital media, architectural studies, the business world needs creative thinkers. They’re needed.”

“Imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower. What if the Mona Lisa vanished? It’s priceless. These are iconic pieces of art that help define who we are. The Group of Seven helps define who we are. Filmmakers, musicians give us a sense of identity and belonging. How can we possibly take that out of our world? We need more of that particularly during these times more than ever before,” DiCerbo said.

“Hopefully we get a lot of submissions,” Lance said.

“We’re not expecting students to donate a huge painting or drawing, but it’ll be exciting to see what comes in.”

Lance said she hopes it will be an encouragement for kids to start building a portfolio and consider a career in art.

It’s late in the school year but kids can submit work they’ve done earlier in the current school year.

Prizes of $100, $75 and $50 will be awarded to first, second and third place winners in the Grade 6-8 show and competition.

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