John Snow RCA

1911-2004


John Harold Thomas Snow was born in Vancouver in 1911.  His family moved to England but returned to the Olds/Innisfail area of Alberta in 1919.  He began a career with the Royal Bank of Canada in Bowden then Calgary that was briefly interrupted with his enlistment and overseas tour during the Second World War.  On his return to Calgary, again working for RBC he pursued a second professional interest – art.  From 1946-48, he took life drawing from Maxwell Bates at the Provincial Institute of Technology.

In 1953 fate sent Snow an unexpected gift.  Western Printing and Lithograph Company was disposing of two old lithograph presses and several well-worn limestone blocks.  When Snow heard, he and Bates “whisked down with a truck” and rescued the disassembled equipment from the alley.  A Western Printing employee helped reassemble the presses in Snow’s basement and the art form for which he is best known became part of his life.  Snow and Bates began experimenting with fine-art lithography.  Further influenced by two summer sessions in 1953-4 with Glen Alps, a printmaker from the University of Washington in Seattle, Snow quickly established himself as a master lithographer.  John stated simply that, “There is something special about working with stone.”  He produced 410 lithographs as well as assisting colleagues such as Illingworth Kerr, Bates, Janet Mitchell, and Pat Gordon with numerous editions of prints.  Snow retained two complete sets of his own work, which are used extensively for exhibitions in Alberta and across Canada.  One set formed the heart of the 1989 Edmonton Art Gallery show, John Snow: Four Decades, curated by the late Mark Joslin.       

Snow’s work of landscape, figures, florals and still lifes has been described as moody and rich-hued, varied and venturesome.  It often evokes the prairie experience by way of his unique artistic vocabulary.  John’s style is unmistakable and distinctive. 

A prolific artist, Snow worked in watercolour, oil, mixed media, concrete sculpture, textiles, and intaglio relief as well as lithography.  His work was exhibited widely, for example his oil painting Woburn was exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art as part of the Canadian Group of Painters Expo ’67 show.  Generous, approachable and gentle, he was deemed a mentor to new artists and helped usher Alberta into the modernist period.  He also designed and printed books of poetry.  Two are in the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library at the University of Alberta: Beginnings, a 1969 collection of poetry by Snow’s son, John Vance Snow, and Images, a 1971 collection of Helen Wright’s poetry.   

Dr. John H.T. Snow, LL.D (Hon), R.C.A., A.S.A., received the Alberta Order of Excellence on November 21, 1996.  This award recognizes people who have rendered service of the greatest distinction and of singular excellence for or on behalf of the residents of the province.       

John Snow, banker, artist, and 'exemplary citizen' died peacefully on August 23, 2004 at the age of ninety-two, after several years of failing health.  He was a sweet and kind man, who gave much to many.

Selected Collections

Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Edmonton, AB
Alberta Government House Foundation
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON
Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa, ON
Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa, ON
City of Calgary Art Collection, Calgary, AB
Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, AB
Medicine Hat Art Gallery and Museum, Medicine Hat, AB
Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB
MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, SK
Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery, Victoria, BC
Medicine Hat Museum and Art Gallery
Museum London, London, ON
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary, AB
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON
University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, MB
as well as many private and corporate collections.

Our gallery represents the Snow Estate.