Manon Elder’s art is featured on Fox’s Sons of Anarchy
Michael D. Reid, Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, September 04, 2008

VICTORIA — When Manon Elder began painting professionally 20 years ago, she never thought she’d become a biker chick.

Then, the Oak Bay artist was best known for her oil-on-canvas portraits of great Canadian women. But she switched gears a few years ago to paint gleaming motorcycles and their leather-clad riders.

Maybe “biker chic” is a more apt description. Elder’s art will be featured on the new FX (Fox-Extended) TV series Sons of Anarchy, which debuted this week on FX stations across the U.S. There is talk of future air dates on a Canadian network.

The 13-part series stars Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal and Charles Hunnam and focuses on an outlaw motorcycle club and its turf war with drug dealers and real estate developers.

Elder, who was born in Ottawa, said the call from the Sons of Anarchy team came out of the blue last May. “They said they were doing a TV show on motorcycles and it would be like The Sopranos but with a motorcycle club as its base,” she said.

The production company came across Elder’s website during a Google search and initially purchased reproductions of three artworks — Open Road and Hear the Roar — to grace the walls of a master bedroom and above the piano in the bikers’ clubhouse, respectively, as well as Spring Snow, featuring a female biker who depicts a younger version of Sagal’s character.

Elder, a married mother of two, was equally stunned a month later when she was vacationing in the Okanagan and got a call from writer and executive producer Kurt Sutter.

He wanted to use another piece, Racing the Train, in the dining room set.

When she explained she didn’t have a reproduction, the producers bought the original.

Elder says she’s still trying to get her head around her unexpected TV debut. “If it was Vancouver you’d be thrilled,” said Elder, who graduated in fine arts from the University of Victoria in 1976. “But the thing about Hollywood is it has that panache that sends it into the ionosphere.”

UVic is now home to Honour the Women, Elder’s 10-part series of large oil paintings of notable Canadian women, including Olympic rowing medallist Silken Laumann, Victoria poet P.K. Page and singer Ann Mortifee.

The National Portrait Gallery also acquired her Mary Pratt portrait from High Tea, her symbolic 22-canvas portrait series of famous women, artfully featured without revealing their faces. The University of Ottawa also acquired the series, which is on permanent display in Tabaret Hall.

Elder says she caught the motorcycle art bug after deciding on a whim to paint Shaw Communications CEO Jim Shaw seated on his Harley for her series Men With Pens.

“On his motorcycle he became so animated. It was one of the truest to his being,” said Elder. “I found out I could paint chrome and from this came the spark. I painted leather and it became a textural feeling. It just hasn’t stopped. Sometimes you choose what you do and other times it chooses you.”

© The Vancouver Sun 2008