One for the ages

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New AGSA exhibit features octogenarian artistic couple

The Art Gallery of St. Albert has a new exhibit by two of the most diverse and prolific artists that you’re ever likely to meet.

It’s likely that they’re also two of the oldest.

Oh, and they’re married.

Gene and Marg Brenda are both in their eighties and are accomplished artists of photography, ceramics, mixed media work and painting. They’ve been at it for nearly 50 years now and have shown their work previously through the gallery’s Guilded exhibit and at the Alberta Craft Council. This marks the first exhibit in which the two are the stars of the show, however.

“We’re pretty excited about it. We’ve wanted to show our pieces around. This has been a great opportunity,” Gene started.

“It’s quite a thrill,” Marg added about Creative Endeavours. She reminisced what it was like in the early 1960s when they were both just setting out on their artistic explorations.

“I started pottery as a way to get out of the house once a week every week when I had two little babies at home. I would come home and I would be so frustrated and covered with mud and I would be saying, ‘ruh-ruh-ruh … pottery,’” she said, mimicking her grumbling.

“Gene would say, ‘Ah come on, it’s easy.’ So I thought, ‘okay, I’ll sign you up.’”

He was hooked after the very first night, she said, and he hasn’t looked back since. He makes a variety of high fire stoneware such as functional dishes, and Japanese and Chinese lanterns. Recently, he has taken up painting, some examples of which you can see right there on his pottery.

“I’ve been involving my painting into the pottery. It’s become an all-encompassing thing. A number of my bowls have landscape scenes on them.”

Marg, however, mostly veered away from her own pottery about 25 years ago and took up painting, thinking that she could decorate his pots.

“I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll learn to paint.’ I took up the oriental brush so that I could decorate his pots. Well, he never lets me near his pots. He wants to do it all himself.”

The two have made art part of their everyday lives and have made a habit of constant learning too, taking courses through the Edmonton Lifelong Learners Association at the University of Alberta, Red Deer College, and elsewhere.

They admit to being strong proponents of art, often finding themselves telling their friends and family about the rejuvenating wonders of painting and pottery.

“We do it as much as possible … without being pushy. We encourage all our friends to try different things.”

Details

Creative Endeavours
Artwork by Gene and J. Marg Brenda plus photographs by Amber Bracken
Opening reception today from 2:30 to 5 p.m.
Artists will be in attendance
Exhibit runs until Saturday, April 8
Art Gallery of St. Albert
19 Perron Street, St. Albert
Phone 780-460-4310 or visit www.artgalleryofstalbert.ca for more information

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About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.