Edmonton Art Club celebrates 100 years at AGM, which it helped create

0


Content of the article

About three years before the early days of the 97-year-old Art Gallery of Alberta, the Edmonton Art Club is currently the oldest active arts organization in the province.

Advertising

Content of the article

In fact, as some of the early members of the creative club were instrumental in the creation of the AGM – initially known as the Edmonton Museum of the Arts – it makes perfect sense that the EAC’s centennial celebration takes place in the long-standing Provincial Gallery next to City Hall.

The two organizations have a long history together, after all – longer than virtually anyone you know with, well, anything.

But from 1921, the general mandate of the Edmonton Art Club was to spread a wider appreciation of the fine arts in the capital; raising local artists; and encourage the production of original works through the setting up of exhibitions, including the anniversary exhibition we are talking about today.

In this regard, with an eye on over 6,000 objects in storage, AGA’s current director of collections and assistant curator Danielle Siemens was truly the perfect choice to help the Edmonton Art Club put together the dozens of paintings, prints, sculptures, lithographs, historical exhibition brochures and even scrapbooks that make up the new exhibition, Making Art, Building Community: 100 Years of the Edmonton Art Club. It takes place on the ground floor of AGA until March 14.

Advertising

Content of the article

Over the past year and a half, Siemens has been browsing the AGM’s collection of EAC’s work, examining the 65 e anniversary exhibit held 35 years ago in the same building, chasing suggestions from current and past members, and offering an impressive dynamic and conversational exhibit on the ground floor of the gallery.

In its research, Siemens has examined the work of some 500 members over the past 10 decades, pulling work from the city and provincial archives, the University of Alberta, and even pushing private collectors.

“I’ve been thinking about a series of thoughts on how to prepare for the show,” she laughs on a zigzag tour through space. “Am I making it chronological – and what does that even mean?” The year of painting? The year the artist joined?

Advertising

Content of the article

Instead of a straightforward evolutionary timeline, however, Siemens has cleverly opted for the juxtaposition of work in broader categories and themes – landscapes, both urban and rural, for example, including many glimpses of the world. old Edmonton, less complicated.

Deep in its mind, however, Siemens made absolutely sure to highlight two arcs: a selection of dynamic works from the founders of the EAC; and the fact that women played such an important role in the first organization, including three of its 14 founding members.

“Women were part of the club from the start,” notes the curator, “and there were women presidents in the early years – and they were really active. “

And yet Siemens struggled to find existing examples of their work.

Advertising

Content of the article

But as we walk along the wall of the first limbs near the entrance to the exhibit, one of the most striking paintings in the entire gallery – a slightly abstract, hyperborean painting of Drumheller’s Badlands in white and blue – jumps off the wall in the middle of the rather British watercolor landscapes that surround it. This work that turns heads is that of Bérangère Mercier.

Drumheller Badlands by Bérangère Mercier showcases some of the art club's past work.
Drumheller Badlands by Bérangère Mercier showcases some of the art club’s past work. Photo by Fish Griwkowsky /Postmedia

“She’s Sylvan Voyer’s aunt, an important artist in the city,” explains Siemens. “He donated this to the Alberta Archives, and it was a treat because otherwise I wouldn’t have had women on this wall – and that was important.

Stroll through the gallery in any direction and you will see abstract icebergs, obligatory grain elevators, a brightly colored horse, and a pair of stunning, energetic paintings of an oil refinery and airport. Edmonton by Ella May Walker half a century back.

Advertising

Content of the article

There is a still life of flowers by Vivian Thierfelder, rather collectable, a magnificent pencil drawing of a pianist by Christine D. Storor and, one of my favorites, Arthur Evoy’s Studio Visitor, a painting of a woman waiting patiently behind. an easel without canvas on it. What is the artist saying here? Imagination swirls.

Three of Helene-Schalkwijk-Barendsen's paintings at the Edmonton Art Club exhibit at the AGM.
Three of Helene-Schalkwijk-Barendsen’s paintings at the Edmonton Art Club exhibit at the AGM. Photo by Fish Griwkowsky /Postmedia

Of note in a botanical bay of offbeat artwork from the main gallery are paintings by Helene-Schalkwijk-Barendsen, known locally as the “Mushroom Lady” for years, including an original watercolor for the book Mushrooms of Western Canada.

“Obviously the photographic technology was available to her,” says Siemens, “but she preferred to paint them because she was able to look at them more closely and really pay attention to the colors. To this day, some of his work is the definitive source on fungi in the region.

Advertising

Content of the article

Incidentally, the show consists of two parts, including a separate ground floor exhibit, A Century of Mark Making, which runs through January 23. The current members were each able to choose a piece to hang on the living room wall of the Ledcor Theater Gallery – there Johanne Septous’ acrylic painting of Jillybean cat catches the eye.

Janet Fraser is another current member of the underground show with a prairie landscape, Into the Wind. She joined the club in part because of her great-uncle, Murray MacDonald.

In the main gallery, MacDonald’s alluring Lower Maligne and his painting of an Edmonton brick power plant hang on the walls.

“He taught with members of the Group of Seven at the Banff School, including AY Jackson,” says his great-niece Fraser. “He taught myself and my aunt to watercolors at home, and our family trio had their first art exhibition in 1981.”

Advertising

Content of the article

To add to the Easter egg hunt, there’s also a portrait of MacDonald by Esther Skaar-Freeman, showing 1980s modernist brushstrokes. Showcasing a range of styles in portraits alone, this hangs next to it. ‘a gold leaf icon by Ilda Lubàne and a traditional and classic oil self-portrait by Egerton L. Pope from 1924.

These kinds of connections and contrasts hang like invisible threads throughout the exhibition. A bust of the gallery’s first director and president, Maude Bowman by Frank H. Norbury, for example, is to the right of a painting by Llewellyn Petley-Jones.

George Brown, meanwhile, who made the EAC plaque at the front door of the show, handed his etching press to Carolyn Kaufman. She has two watercolors of Edmonton churches – she handed Brown’s equipment to Thelma Manarey, who is also in the show with two prints near all of the paintings of horses.

“I’m not sure if she used the exact same press in these,” says Siemens, pointing to the tiny works of art, “but I really liked the bonds between the community, connecting several generations of people. “

This could, incidentally, include you – you can apply to become a member with your original art online at edmontonartclub.com , and perks including reviews, exhibits, and even discounts at select art retailers. And who knows, maybe 100 years from now your art will live up to the bicentennial, inspiring unborn children.

[email protected]

@fisheyefoto

Advertising

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour of moderation before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread that you follow, or if a user that you follow comments. Visit our Community rules for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail The settings.



Share.

Comments are closed.