New Minas — A startling and implausible discovery was made last weekend at the County Fair Mall Value Village. Maud Lewis, the seminal Nova Scotian folk artist, was found alive and well, crouched on the very last shelf in the back corner of the store.
“I don’t think people realize how unusual this actually is,” said Art Gallery of Nova Scotia curator Sage Goodfellow, 43. “It’s not often you find someone who has been, uh, assumed dead for nearly 50 years.”
Part-time Value Village employee Kevin Barnstool, 17, was just as shocked.
“Sometimes a shift will be so dead, it could be hours before anyone steps into the store. It creeps me out to think how she could’ve been watching me the whole time, or that she had to see all the weird stuff I do when I’m all alone.”
The ultra-rare relic was found by Halifax yuppie couple Ashton Curwin, 33, and Allison Delucry, 28, who were coincidentally already hunting down Lewis’s artwork. The Manatee was the first (and only) reliable news source to discuss the purchase with the young pair.
“A few days before, I had gotten into an fight with a buddy about whether or not I liked Lewis’s body of work before she was big, and I let it slip that I own a whole gallery’s worth of her early stuff,” explained Curwin. “He didn’t buy it, so that’s why we were looking — I need to prove my lie, and that he’s wrong.”
Lewis, who was believed to have died in 1970, has experienced a resurgence of interest in her art. In 2017, a one-of-a-kind Lewis painting sold for over $125,000 after being discovered in a Kitchener donation bin.
“I was really taken aback,” said Delucry, who unearthed the artist. “We were about to give up when I moved some ragged deer-print blankets that were hanging in front of a shelf, exposing her. She flinched at the light, coughed up some dust, and we made eye contact that didn’t break for about two minutes.”
Curwin and Delucry think that Lewis is adjusting well to her unfamiliar surroundings.
“On our way out of the store we snagged her an old doghouse, and just popped it up in our backyard,” said Delucry. “We just want her to feel — ”
” — She better like it,” interrupted Curwin. “Why would she complain after living on a shelf for god knows how long? Either way, she doesn’t say much. Just wanders around the yard, staring at her feet, and painting on the fence.”
Hoping to put Lewis to work, the duo have struck up a deal with Hallmark Canada, who plan to release a new collection of Lewis’s cards for the holiday market.
“Personally, I don’t get it. Looks like something you’d find in an supply-starved daycare, or something John Wayne Gacy would draw for therapy or whatever,” said Curwin, laughing.
Looking for a comment from Lewis, we stopped by her used doghouse. When we arrived, she lifted a bed sheet covering a wall tacked with newspaper clippings, maps and red yarn.
“My dear husband Everett was killed in ’79 during what they claim was a botched home invasion,” she said, staring off in the distance. “They haven’t caught the bastard yet — I’m hoping to finish this.”