Colonnades of Commerce John Vanderpant, Colonnades of Commerce, 1926.

John Vanderpant


Chosen by: Donna Partridge, Manager of Art Rental and Sales


“A number of years ago, a photo by John Vanderpant was for sale at an arts benefit auction I attended. As I walked through the room, reviewing the items up for bid that night, I saw his framed piece on the silent auction table among other contemporary photographs. The image stopped me in my tracks.

I was born in a small farming community in Manitoba, so it may be my prairie roots that drew me to Vanderpant’s representation of the grain elevator as a monument of Canadian architecture and economics. His perspective and lighting of the towering columns seemed to reference a spiritual temple… but from a different time and place. The image was so simple –  so modernist and graphic  -  that it was hard to believe it had been taken over 80 years ago. I knew nothing of Vanderpant and his work at the time, but I knew I wanted that photograph.

I learned a lot about Vancouver’s contemporary photographers after that night. I learned that, in the international art world, we are known for producing great ones. And that, in the 1920′s, Vanderpant’s Robson Street gallery had a real influence in establishing the modern photography movement in this city.

But, the big lesson I learned from that night was, that if you want to take home a piece of art at a benefit, never take your eyes off the bid sheet. After writing my name beside my offer, I turned my head for a moment. When I looked back, the sheet was gone… and so was the Vanderpant photograph. I lost the piece to someone else that night. But I will never forget the image.”


John Vanderpant, Colonnades of Commerce, 1926. Silver gelatin print. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund.

Donna Partridge has since gone on to successfully acquire quite a few works of art at charity auctions by keeping her eye on the bid sheet. She now helps other people to acquire works of art of their own through the Art Rental and Sales program. Art Rental and Sales is a not-for-profit program run by the volunteer Associates of the Vancouver Art Gallery.  Operating since 1952, the program raises funds for the Gallery and specializes in the rental and sale of original artworks for the home and office.


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