Gary Nowlan wants help to solve a mystery involving paintings that hung in the Heather Hotel before its closure in 2008.
Self described as hobby artist, Nowlan said he painted two portraits of the downtown New Glasgow landscape in 1991 and hung them for sale in the Heather Hotel.
The paintings were still there when the hotel closed in July 2008, but life was busy at the time so he never followed up on what happened to them.
“When I was part of the Pictou County Artist Association we were able to put paintings in the Heather,” he said. “When the Heather closed, they were there along with another half-dozen smaller paintings.”
He said the two paintings were about 16x24 inches and acrylic paint on Masonite.
The Heather Hotel was officially closed in July 2008 by its owner, instead of doing necessary building updates to meet fire safety regulations.
The hotel operated in Stellarton, near what is now the roundabout, for 40 years. A 2008 news article quotes a Town of Stellarton employee as saying the building has been gutted and its contents were auctioned off. The hotel was demolished in October 2008.
“I had always planned at the time that if they had not sold, I would give them to the town to put up. As I am getting older, I am thinking that it would be nice to have those.”
Nowlan did the two paintings in 1991 when he was recovering from a heart attack. He is an architecture draftsman by trade so drawing comes naturally to him. However, it was his late wife Marilyn who put a paintbrush in his hand.
“It was one of those things that, when I took a heart attack, I was off work for a little while and Marilyn, my wife, was working. I would feel good for the mornings and start doing things like making jam and by mid-afternoon I would flake out. She would come home to stuff being burnt and pots on the stove,” he said.
She knew he’d always talked about trying his hand at painting so she decided to make her life a little easier by getting him started.
“She was getting ticked off so she went to town and bought a whole bunch of paints,” she said.
He eventually had a small gallery of his own in downtown New Glasgow as well as having his paintings exhibited in Gallery 448.
“When you are painting, your mind is always on that,” he said. “You can’t focus on anything else. It kind of slows you down. I have a bit of an A type personality so there are 10 different things going on in my mind. When I paint, it also goes away, if you can focus on that.”
Nowlan said the two missing paintings are important because they are now historical pieces because they depict a landscape that no longer exists in the downtown core.