Weekend Warrior: Ian MacDonald
Credit: Lionel Trudel

Some of MacDonald's more than 80 art pieces are displayed at his winery

The Liquidity Wines president learned about art on the job

About 35 years ago, I had been the marketing manager for Salomon, the ski binding and ski boots company. I went to an organization known as Montreal Creative Centre, in its day the cutting edge for creative and design work for advertising in Canada, and said, “I’d like to work for you guys and learn about creative conceptual work and advertising design.” A team of over 125 very gifted artists did advertising creative work during the day but would do fine art at home at night. I wasn’t really buying art in those days, but I was getting to understand and appreciate it. 

In 1983, I ended up in Calgary at a company called Sunice, one of the biggest apparel brands in the country. At that same time I bought a very old warehouse complex in Calgary and turned it into a business arts and creative centre, incubating a lot of small creative businesses.

One of them was iStockphoto—I was the angel investor for that company. There were also a lot of artists that used the building. When I got to know an artist, I wanted to have something of their work, and so I started to collect.

I used to go to graduating classes for the Alberta College of Art and Design, the Emily Carr Institute, other places like that. If I saw a young artist that had some real potential, I would say, “If you’re having a show or doing something, let me know. I’d love to see what you’re working on.” I made a conscious effort to try and pick up at least a couple of new pieces of art every year. Even if I wasn’t making much money, I would put a little bit aside.

My budgets have grown over the years, and I continue to acquire more pieces. I did pretty much all the design work for the gallery at Liquidity with the intention that it would be a place where I could show some of my art to the public.

WARRIOR SPOTLIGHT

In 2008, when former Montrealer Ian MacDonald bought a 30-acre vineyard in Okanagan Falls with two partners, he was still actively involved with Moving Products Inc., a company that has provided uniforms for personnel at every Olympics since. MacDonald left in 2012 to launch Liquidity Wines Ltd., which produced 5,600 cases of wine in 2017 from estate-grown grapes and includes a bistro and gallery.