Joe Winters was the poster artist this year and it is quite an honour to be chosen. His art is on the poster ..of course, and he has the privilege of having the best table in the arena to display his work and the Lunenburg Hertiage Society purchases the piece that is displayed in the poster…it’s all good, but…it’s not, Joe passed away in February of 2016. I didn’t know Joe that well but I could tell he was the real deal.. a true folk artist. I could tell by the way he talked to the collectors at the festival and I could tell by his work, like Chris Huntington says, “It (folk art) has a life of its own or it doesn’t”….and Joe’s work had life.
I spoke to Marilyn, Joe’s wife, about him and she said he loved making folk art. He was into “dumpster diving” as he liked the idea of using recycled materials for his work. She said one of his favourite pieces he made was the Louis St. Laurent, an ice breaker that Joe was commissioned to create. He also made a mural of Lunenburg and was known for the “Little People” carvings at the White Point Lodge.
David Stephens, a fellow artist and friend said:
I think Joe’s art creations were drawn from a range of influences, with an emphasis on his time spent as a sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy, then as a civilian, “Dockyard Matey” at the Navy Dockyard, and later as a house painter. He was able to draw on a vast range of experiences, skills, talents and abilities, which shone through in his work, from the primary execution of the piece, right down to the details and the finished painting. He truly was a “wizard in wood”…. Joe had that special something which made him and his work unique, and that is the indescribable ability to take in the world around him, and to express what he saw and experienced in a way that enabled him to share his thoughts and his humour with an appreciative audience….He was forever humble and down-to-earth, the genuine article, who never tolerated bullshit. Joe always managed to see the bright side of life and events. So very much of that was also down to his best friend, his life companion, his dear, loving wife, Marilyn. I always looked forward to catching up with both of them at festival time, to see what was new, particularly what colour Marilyn had dyed her hair – or what they may have added to their art van, and to their hot pink Hummer. They were a team – but most importantly, they were a loving couple, so very much in peace and harmony – always with a smile, a joke, and a laugh to share, to help brighten up the world around them. He will be missed.
I asked Marilyn if there was a gallery carrying Joe’s work and she said, “No, what I have on the table is what is left.” On the table was an unfinished piece. Joe had plans to make a painting as a tribute to David Stephens but wasn’t able to complete it. I asked David if he would finish it ..he replied, “No..too hard.”
Marilyn gave me a copy of Joe’s obituary and what gave me a lump in my throat was at the end it said, “In memory of Joe’s creativity, it is requested those attending on Saturday, please wear bright colours.”