One of the first non essential purchases my parents made was an oil painting. They bought it in a jewellry and gift store at the Oshawa Centre. I remember that they went back several times. Spending $50 was a huge decision. They had admired several pieces by a Finnish artist who lived locally named of *Erkki Jalava. Although they preferred his works that showed splashing waves, the price was prohibitive and they ended up selecting an autumn scene, this autumn scene.
I liked it well enough at first, but then, over the years, twenty to thirty years, I began to tire of the picture. Part of the reason was that it seemed "dated". I thought it was time for my parents to revisit their living facilities and try to move into a newer decade of home decor. I had a friend whose parents had almost the exact same picture, painted from a slightly different perspective. In fact, they had met the artist who informed them that these were his "bread and butter" paintings.
In later years, I was surprised to see yet another version of the same painting, a winter scene at the home of my inlaws. Mr. Jalava seemed to be doing well in the "bread and butter" department. I also learned that there was a sister-in-law, Anna Jalava who painted similar scenes. I don't recall the exact location of the works, but they were painted near an Ontario cottage which the Jalava family owned.
After my dad died, the painting was homeless. We took it in. For awhile, it was hanging in our basement hallway. I hesitated to part with it...nostalgia I suppose. I still didn't particularly care for the colours or style. It didn't match my tastes at all, nor did it fit into my small house.
I researched similar paintings. Most were in the $325 price range. Some were even marked "sold". I decided that this was too small an amount of money to part with a piece of my family's history.
Imagine my surprise one day recently, when my daughter in law, admired the picture. "I really like that painting and the frame matches our furniture really well." she said. I remembered their grand house with its spectacular and tastefully decorated formal living, dining room containing French provincial furnishings. I had an idea.
Erkki Jalava would have a good home. I could visit from time to time. Everyone would be happy.
The Jalava family arrived from Helsinki Finland in 1952 and included Mauri and Anna-Liisa Jalava, Mauri’s brother Erkki and his wife, also named Anna-Liisa, their mother Orvokki and Mauri’s brother-in-law, Paavo Hyttinen. Mauri Jalava had worked in Finland as location manager for two studios and as a freelancer for Finnish movie trade magazines. His wife Anna-Liisa was an accomplished artist, as was Mauri’s brother Erkki.
Erkki Jalava is listed in the National Gallery of Canada archives.