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Did you know that July is watercolour month?

Wright Home 2006 4 3

This watercolour painting currently on display in Artful Architecture in the Art Space at 34 Frank is one of many done by artist John Kolstein. He was born in Holland and immigrated to Strathroy with his family in 1957. In his early years in Strathroy, Kolstein was commissioned to do a number of paintings of local businesses and houses. Many of his works were watercolour though he was known to mix in pen. He passed away September 22, 1991 in Strathroy. The Museum’s Collection houses many of his paintings.

One painting in particular is of the old Wright family home located at 40 Kittridge (Kittredge) Ave. W, Strathroy. The house was built in 1871 by James Wright (1837-1914). It was occupied by James, his wife Keziah Clark (Chinnick) and their children – one of which was Ernest Joel (E. J.) Wright who founded the Wright Piano company. After James’ death his wife and eldest daughter, Mary Jane (Polly) moved closer to the downtown core. They wanted to avoid having to climb up the hill to Kittridge and moved to 27 Metcalfe Street. Keziah lived there until her death in 1926. After Keziah passed another of her daughters Margaret Susan and her husband Alfred Brock moved in. After Alfred’s death in 1933 the sisters, Polly and Maggie, continued to live in the house for another 18 years or so until they both passed away (Polly in 1949 and Maggie in 1950).

A photograph taken in 2009 shows renovations occurred that removed the porch and the second floor balcony. Further renovations occurred, as can be seen in this 2014 Google Street photograph, with the porch being added once again.

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Ideas on how to take part in Watercolour Month

First if you have never tried it before, go for it. Pick a photo or go outside, paint with friends and family, or take a class.
Always wanted a watercolour in your living room? Support a local artist by purchasing a piece of art.
Have a favourite watercolour painter? Highlight a work of art on Facebook and other social media platforms.


For the month of December the Museum has placed 5 of John Kolstein’s sketches in the Art Space.  Below is a short biography on the artist.

image of John Kolstein

Self Portrait 1988

John Kolstein was a man who says he was born with a pencil and pen in his hand.  Kolstein recalls he was always drawing, ever since he was a child.  “It’s a natural talent I just developed my own technique”.

Early on in his career he was commissioned to draw a number of businesses and homes in the community and many have stayed in the area.  Kolstein was the first artist to showcase his pieces here in the original gallery and he continued to put on regular exhibitions.  He was a strong supporter of the library, museum and local art groups.

 He often worked in pen combined with watercolours.  “I have never seen this style done this way by anybody else”.  Kolstein would travel with a camera and a sketch pad all the time when something of interest caught his eye he would begin a preliminary sketch and photograph the subject.   An 8×10 inch sketch would take Kolstein about two weeks to complete.

“The technique I use appeals to people and brings me great pleasure.  I just hope that when I’m gone that people will remember me.”  Kolstein died on September 22nd 1991 in Strathroy at the age of 73.

These paintings are part of the Art Gallery Collection that Museum Strathroy-Caradoc holds.   This collection contains over 80 pieces, many of them done by local artists.

About the Museum

Museum Strathroy-Caradoc opened to the public in 1972. As a community museum we strive to preserve and tell the story of Strathroy-Caradoc, and inspire residents to explore and understand the community around them.

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