Fonds AR393 - Jack Wise fonds

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Jack Wise fonds

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  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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Dates of creation area


  • 1955-1998, predominant 1965-1992 (Creation)
    Wise, Jack, 1928-1996

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Physical description

2.4 m of textual records and other material

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Jack Marlowe Wise was born 27 April 1928 in Centerville, Iowa to Ralph Marlowe Wise and Zarilda Jane Morris. Wise attended the New Orleans School of Fine Arts in 1949, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Washington University in 1953, and a Master of Science in Arts from Florida State University in 1955. Wise married Mary Beatrice Winfield Hubbard in 1969 and they had three children: Jonathon Marlowe, Maria Zarilda, and Tomas Winfield. He spent his last years on Denman Island with partner Marilyn Hausman. Wise died 20 November 1996 in Victoria

Wise’s work from the 1950s consisted primarily of paintings in the abstract expressionist style. Wise met Anglo-Canadian artist and lifelong friend Toni Onley (1928-2004) while living and teaching textile art in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, from 1958 to 1961. After returning to the United States, Wise became dissatisfied with his art production and immigrated to British Columbia in 1963, where he spent several years farming in the province’s interior. After a brief period of no artistic output, he embraced a fine brushwork technique and a miniaturist style, his subject matter shifting towards microcosmic mandala patterns and calligraphic fields. Wise’s first solo Canadian exhibit was with the New Design Gallery in Vancouver in 1965. He traveled to India on a Canada Council Fellowship to study Tibetan art in 1966, and, beginning in the early 1970s, studied calligraphy with Chinese artist Lin Chien-Shih. Wise, along with Lin Chien-Shih, Emily Carr, and Mark Tobey, is identified with the Pacific Northwest School of Abstract Calligraphic Painting, which combined American abstract expressionism with Asian calligraphic tradition and Buddhist philosophy. Wise is also linked to the West Coast Surrealists, or Hermetics, who included Gary Lee-Nova, Gregg Simpson and Ed Varney. The art establishment associated these schools with the psychedelic era and experimentation of the 1960s, and initially overlooked the intellectual and philosophical richness of Wise’s work. Although Wise was most obviously influenced by Asian traditions, his art is cited as having a cross cultural significance resulting from his strong interest in Jungian psychology and its central belief in the universal collective unconscious.

Wise exhibited regularly from the 1960s to the early 1990s. Major exhibitions included: Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver (1967, 1970, 1972, 1975); Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery, London, and Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh (1969); Mendel Gallery, Saskatoon, and Polly Friedlander Gallery, Seattle (1971); Wells Gallery, Ottawa (1976); “Jack Wise: A Decade of Work” (a cross-Canada touring exhibit 1977-1978); Ken Heffle Gallery, Vancouver (1980); Kyle’s Gallery, Victoria (1981); Winchester Galleries, Victoria (1984); and “Karma of the Dragon: The Art of Jack Wise,” Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (1999). Wise also helped establish and develop the foundation programmes for the Victoria College of Art and the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts, on Vancouver Island. In the 1980s, Wise taught at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver and was artist-in-residence at the University of Calgary. His work is represented in many public, private and corporate collections, including the Scottish Arts Council, Canada Council Art Bank, the Victoria Art Gallery, the University of Victoria’s Maltwood Gallery, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Custodial history

Fonds was housed at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, then transfered to the custody of a third party acting on behalf of the Wise Estate , prior to donation to the UVic Archives in 2005.

Scope and content

Fonds reflects Wise’s artistic inspirations, philosophical development, research interests, interactions with fellow artists and patrons, and relationships with galleries, art dealers, schools and arts organizations. The fonds consists of correspondence, sales lists, exhibition catalogues and lists, photographs, clippings, sketches, poems and calligraphy, scrapbooks and notebooks, teaching materials, curricula vitae and biographical documents, publications, and seals and other objects used by Wise in his art practice. Correspondents include Robert Amos, Pat Martin Bates, Pat Bovey, Brian Brett, Lin Chien-Shih, Stephen Cummings, Fleming Jorgensen, Stephen Gislason, Colin and Sheila Graham, Robin Hopper, Nick and Karin Koerner, Ramon Kubicek, Lobsang Lhalungpa, Chin-Shik Lin, Brian Longworth, Max Maynard, Avon Neal, Gary Lee Nova, Toni Onley, P.K. Page, Syn Richards, Martin Segger, Doris Shadbolt, Madeleine Shields, Robin Skelton, Huston Smith, Pete Trower, George Woodcock, and Myken Woods. The fonds has been arranged into four series: art practice; biographical; publications and essays by others; and teaching. The art practice series consists of five sub-series: photographs; posters; exhibition catalogues; correspondence; prose, poetry and small works; and notebooks, scrapbooks and clippings.

Notes area

Physical condition

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Estate of Jack Wise


Language of material

  • Chinese
  • English

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Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Reproduction for research and private study purposes only. Publication requires permission from the Estate of Jack Wise, see UVic Archives staff for more information

Finding aids

Folder list available

Associated materials

The following objects included in the fonds were transferred to UVic's Maltwood Museum and Gallery in July 2008: ink stick with ink stone in a leather pouch; ink sticks; 2 seals in individual boxes; magnifying glasses for painting; box containing 9 seals, seal paste, ink stone and ink stick; incense box with polished blue stone, possibly Lapis lazuli; box containing a ritusl brush and brass pendant; 1 empty wooden box; a dagger in a leather sheath; and a wood and metal pointer

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  • English

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