Thursday, June 29, 2017

Looking for lost artwork of painter-poet, Boschka (Betty) Layton

Montreal/California Canadian painter-poet, Boschka (Betty) Layton, former wife of Canadian poet Irving Layton, friend of Leonard Cohen, sister to Donald Sutherland, was a dear friend of mine in Guereville during the 1980s.

Her son, Max Layton is searching for his mother, (Betty) Layton's lost work: specifically paintings, drawings, literary mags, etc. Max Layton is working on a project to create a collection of her work online. If you, or someone you may know, have any of her artwork, especially her paintings, he'd love to obtain high quality photos of her work. He was also wondering if you had any photos, memorabilia, or memories to share?

There is very little on the internet about Boschka, so any little bit would help. Betty was an art student at St. John Vocational School in Nova Scotia during the 1940s, and moved to Montreal to found Canada's first avant garde modern poetry magazine, First Statement, with her brother John (Jamie) Sutherland.

Boschka Layton lived near the Peewee Golf Course, on the Russian River, in Guerneville, California until 1983, then moved to Goat Rock, near Jenner, and passed away from pancreatic cancer on Valentine's Day in 1984.

 Apparently her daughter, Naomi Layton lives in Santa Rosa. Her friends, Kat & Boz Williams of Sebastopol have one painting.

 If you know of an artist, or an art collector, or poet, who lived on the River from 1970 to 1984, please feel free to tag them too.  Any information you might have would be most appreciated.

You may leave me a message here, or you can post stories on my artist Facebook page. —Thanks, Maureen Hurley

Boschka Layton (Betty Sutherland) 1921 - 1984
Guerneville Poet Boschka Layton to Read at Copperfield's


Sara Lee Lewis said...

I have a Betty Sutherland print I'd like to share. I don't do Facebook.
Please contact me at the follow-up email address below.
July 10, 2017

Maureen Hurley said...

Hi Sara Lee Lewis,

How do I contact you? If you post another comment, send your email and I won't post it!


Sara Lee Lewis said...

Print has been passed along to Max Layton. Your blog has been most useful in helping me repatriate a touching wok of art. Thank you.

Maureen Hurley said...

Dear Sara Lee Lewis,

Thank you, Max did send me a copy of the photo you took. Do you have one that includes all of the right side? I'd love to post it here, with your backstory, if possible.


Sara Lee Lewis said...

Here’s how I came to connect with you, and with Max Layton.

I live in Wolfville, NS, a vibrant university town which has been my home since 1971. I moved here to remarry my longtime friend and fellow Montrealer, Herb Lewis,who had been invited to establish the Department of Philosophy at Acadia University back in 1959. We had both known Irving Layton (and some of his partners) during the ‘fifties.

An unusual spurt of closet cleaning led me to a stash of framed and unframed prints, most of them the work of my late brother-in-law, Stanley Lewis, a sculptor and printmaker with a iconic workshop opposite the Hebrew Delicatessen on Montreal’s rue Saint Laurent. To my surprise, I found a work by Betty Sutherland that had been cached with the others for more than forty years. Sadly, I couldn’t consult my late husband about its provenance (he died in 2001), but likely it was a gift or purchase dating back to the years in Montreal when both the Lewis and Layton families were neighbours on Hudson Avenue in Cote St. Luc. My stepdaughter Monika played dolls with Sissiboo (Naomi), and Herb and Irving often took evening walks, during which Irving would share his work-in-progress – including the first drafts of The Bull Calf. When Herb and his family departed for Nova Scotia in 1959, the Laytons sent them on their way with Spot the Cat, who promptly bore kittens in the back seat of the car. And they likely brought Betty Sutherland’s evocative print, The Panel, with them as well.

When I uncovered this treasure, I did a brief online search to learn more about Betty Sutherland. Maureen Hurley’s informative blog directed me to Max Layton, and I was delighted to be able to repatriate his mother’s touching work.

Sara Lee Lewis,
Wolfville, NS

Maureen Hurley said...

Dear Susan,

Thank you so much for your story, an integral part of the process of documenting and repatriating Boschka/Betty Layton as an important Canadian artist in her own right.

Maureen Hurley