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Old 04-09-2017, 01:05 PM
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David Wren David Wren is offline
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Default The Group of Seven Guitar Project

Back in 2012 I remember hearing through the grapevine that Linda Manzer had an idea about partnering with a gallery to assemble a show that compared Jean Larrivee and some of his first apprentices with the Group of Seven artists. The comparison was maybe a little tenuous, but what the heck … I’m game!

The Group of Seven was officially formed in 1920 and with the notable exception of our rich heritage of indigenous art, their “Algonquin School” of painting was the first distinctly Canadian style. Before this collective was formed, if you said the words “Canadian art”, you would be hard pressed to bring an image to mind. After the success of these iconic painters, all of Canada would visualize wind swept landscapes rendered in a bold and unique style.

In a similar vein, I believe Linda’s thinking was that before Jean Larrivée and his early apprentices, if you said the words “Canadian guitar”, you’d be hard pressed to come up with an image. After Jean … you could conjure images of tight waisted instruments with classical influenced mosaic rosettes, clear pickguards and later, side ports, arm bevels and wedged bodies. Most of these features are prevalent across our profession today, but back in the seventies and early eighties, they often represented the Larrivée lineage of luthiers.

In any event, Linda decided to initiate meetings with some of the early Larrivée apprentices to knock around some ideas. We’d meet in coffee shops and bat around ideas that at the time I thought were ambitious to say the least. Linda felt the project should include an installation at a major art gallery and a feature length documentary film. I didn’t think the whole thing had a chance of getting off the ground but it was a hoot getting together with the old gang and having lots of laughs!

Well … never underestimate Linda Manzer. This May 6th will see the opening of The Group of Seven Guitar Project at the prestigious McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The documentary by award winning Riddle Films will premier at the Bell/TIFF Lightbox Theatre on May 10th.

Our official guitar Group of Seven Guitar luthiers are Sergei de Jonge, Tony Duggan-Smith, George Gray, Jean Larrivée, William “Grit” Laskin, Linda Manzer and myself, David Wren. I really wish though that a project like this could include all of the amazing luthiers who have earned the kind of exposure and recognition that this exhibit provides. There are just so many talented builders in Canada who have come out of the Larrivee tradition, and a good many who have taken a different path as well. The very first that comes to mind is Gordon Barry. Gordon apprenticed and worked with Jean over thirty years ago, and since then has created a body of work that has distinguished him as a world class luthier. Many many other builders come to mind as well … you know who you are. I really wish that it was the Group of Seventy-Seven!

Over the next month or so, I’d like to post some images and give updates regarding this show that I’m honored to be a part of. I hope you’ll indulge me.






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Last edited by David Wren; 04-09-2017 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 04-09-2017, 01:12 PM
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Woah.... may I be the first here to give all 7 of you a hearty congratulations!! This is quite a feat and achievement, and very much deserved, which resonates throughout the luthier community to bring light to all the amazing work you guys generate out of your humble workshops. Congratulations again!!
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Old 04-09-2017, 04:22 PM
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Default Congratulations!!!

Congrats to such a fabulous group of builders. This is a wonderful Canadian project, celebrating a great group of Canadian instrument makers.

I'm just a hobby builder, but take a lot of pride in being a very small twig on such an amazing Canadian lutherie family tree - finding my connection to that tree via my informal mentor Allan Beardsell, who studied with Sergie, who studied with Jean.

I love that this is being celebrated in Canada. Linda, thanks so much for initiating!!
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Old 04-09-2017, 04:23 PM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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That's super exciting! I so wish I could go to the show, but I'll settle for watching the film when I get the chance. Congratulations all around!
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Old 04-09-2017, 05:55 PM
runamuck runamuck is online now
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What a great thing!
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Old 04-09-2017, 06:37 PM
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This is an incredible project! I spoke with Linda about it for a bit this weekend at the Artisan Guitar Show, and she is so enthusiastic about it! She had some pictures with her of the guitar you are all working on together...truly amazing work! I'll be watching with anticipation for your updates...
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Last edited by drplayer; 04-10-2017 at 06:16 AM.
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Old 04-09-2017, 07:42 PM
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So excited to see the results of this amazing project, especially the guitar that you all collaborated on. I've heard all about it but of course no one is allowed to show pictures yet so... oh the suspense!!!
Anyway, I hope to be making it to the gallery opening so I'll finally get to meet you, David.
Great post by the way - you're right, there are many Canadian luthiers with the Jean Larrivee influence including "2nd generation" luthiers such as myself (which I am proud of). It's a great community to be a part of!
Cheers!
-Zach


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Old 04-09-2017, 09:47 PM
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Smile How wonderful!

Many congrats and kudos to you all! And to all the wonderful luthiers here on AGF and elsewhere, turning wood into music.

May all your herds increase!!!

Cheers

Paul
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Old 04-10-2017, 03:19 AM
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I spoke with Linda at the Artisan Guitar Show this weekend about this. How cool David. She had some pictures. That guitar is really special. Great work. I look forward to hearing (and seeing) more of the story. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 04-10-2017, 05:19 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Wonderful, David. Thanks for letting us know. I'll look forward to the show at the McMichael Gallery.
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Old 04-10-2017, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Wong View Post
Woah.... may I be the first here to give all 7 of you a hearty congratulations!! This is quite a feat and achievement, and very much deserved, which resonates throughout the luthier community to bring light to all the amazing work you guys generate out of your humble workshops. Congratulations again!!
Thanks so much Marcus ... it's definitely a project near and dear to our hearts!

Quote:
Originally Posted by phil1 View Post
Congrats to such a fabulous group of builders. This is a wonderful Canadian project, celebrating a great group of Canadian instrument makers.


I'm just a hobby builder, but take a lot of pride in being a very small twig on such an amazing Canadian lutherie family tree - finding my connection to that tree via my informal mentor Allan Beardsell, who studied with Sergie, who studied with Jean.


I love that this is being celebrated in Canada. Linda, thanks so much for initiating!!
Thanks Phil ... very much appreciated!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SJ VanSandt View Post
That's super exciting! I so wish I could go to the show, but I'll settle for watching the film when I get the chance. Congratulations all around!
Thanks SJ ... the documentary should be a hoot to watch!

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Originally Posted by runamuck View Post
What a great thing!
Thanks runamuck!

Quote:
Originally Posted by drplayer View Post
This is an incredible project! I spoke with Linda about it for a bit this weekend at the Artisan Guitar Show, and she is so enthusiastic about it! She had some pictures with her of the guitar you are all working on together...truly amazing work! I'll be watching with anticipation for your updates...
Thanks for taking the time to watch this thread!
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Old 04-10-2017, 03:25 PM
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(above) Larrivee workshop in the '70s

Upper photos left to right: Jean, George Gray, Linda Manzer, David Wren, Tony Duggan-Smith :Lower photos: Grit Laskin and Sergei de Jonge





Planning the show at the McMichael Gallery ... first time we'd all been in the same room in forty years!
left to right: Grit Laskin, Tony Duggan-Smith George Gray, Sergei de Jonge, Jean Larrivee, Linda Manzer, David Wren


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Old 04-10-2017, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zacharius View Post
So excited to see the results of this amazing project, especially the guitar that you all collaborated on. I've heard all about it but of course no one is allowed to show pictures yet so... oh the suspense!!!
Anyway, I hope to be making it to the gallery opening so I'll finally get to meet you, David.
Great post by the way - you're right, there are many Canadian luthiers with the Jean Larrivee influence including "2nd generation" luthiers such as myself (which I am proud of). It's a great community to be a part of!
Cheers!
-Zach


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Hey Zach ... hope to see ya there! You're right ... it is a great community to be a part of!
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Old 04-10-2017, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
Many congrats and kudos to you all! And to all the wonderful luthiers here on AGF and elsewhere, turning wood into music.

May all your herds increase!!!

Cheers

Paul
Hey Paul ... thanks! Not sure if the herd is increasing but the BS seems to be piling up nicely ... HA!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cigarfan View Post
I spoke with Linda at the Artisan Guitar Show this weekend about this. How cool David. She had some pictures. That guitar is really special. Great work. I look forward to hearing (and seeing) more of the story. Thanks for sharing!
Hey Dennis ... that's great that you connected with Linda at the show! Thanks for the kind words too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
Wonderful, David. Thanks for letting us know. I'll look forward to the show at the McMichael Gallery.
Hey Charles ... hope to see ya there!
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Old 04-11-2017, 08:18 AM
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David Wren David Wren is offline
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At the start of this project, we were asked to choose one of the Group of Seven and research them thoroughly, after which we were to build an instrument that was inspired by both the artists's life and work. What an interesting departure point for designing a guitar!

Unfortunately, we're not supposed to post any photos of the actual instruments until the show starts, but I'll stretch things a bit by posting a number of these detail shots over the next 25 days or so (until the May 6th opening). There are definitely some intriguing features!
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