Harry & Jessie Webb: Artists in Vancouver's Jazz Age

Harry and Jessie Webb were among an influential group of artists, poets and musicians working in Vancouver in the 1950s. The Webbs emerged during a period of transformation when a regional modernism was developing and abstraction was a relatively recent form of expression on the west coast. The Webbs met at the Vancouver Art School while studying under Jack Shadbolt, Lionel Thomas and B.C. Binning. Fresh out of art school and newly married, the couple saw Vancouver’s gritty streets, neon and jazz music scene as primary sources to engage in.

The Webbs, who painted and made progressive linoleum cut prints were regularly featured in local exhibitions and appeared in pm magazine, a short-lived art and literary journal, created by George Wright and Yvonne Agazarian and printed by typographer Robert Reid. They became involved in Beat culture and Harry Webb designed a prominent mural (The Trio, 1954) interior fittings and posters for the Cellar Jazz Club.  Harry and Jessie Webb appear alongside Don Jarvis, Al Neil and Roy Kiyooka among others in Leonard Forest’s 1964 National Film Board’s In Search of Innocence, a documentary film profiling Vancouver artists, poets and jazz musicians.  The exhibition draws from the artists’ estate and places the Webbs in context with the city’s art and music scene in the 1950s and early 1960s.

The West Vancouver Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of Adrienne Brown for this exhibition.