With a houseful of busy artists, it was inevitable that things would get a little wild at the Visual Arts Studio Association gallery in the Hemingway Centre.
So it’s fitting that several of the collective should get together for an exhibit that shows off our fair province’s vast array of wildlife and wildly diverse landforms. November’s monthly show, Wild Alberta, gives the viewer just that, thanks to Al Anderson, Victoria Armstrong, Carla Beerens, Cheryl Moskaluk and Monk.
“Several of the resident VASA artists are in love with Alberta’s natural wonders, so a few of us put our heads together and decided we would like to present a show at the Hemingway that celebrates our province’s natural wonders,” Armstrong explained.
“Wildlife is my passion so my paintings are all focused on Alberta’s wild animals.”
Fans of her work might be most familiar with her large multi-panel piece, Once Upon An Enchanted Forest, which is on permanent display in the children’s section of the St. Albert Public Library. She obviously has a fascination with creatures great and small, and the proof is all here in her fine-feathered eagles, swans and herons among many others.
Recently, she has rediscovered the grandeur of Big Lake and Lois Hole Provincial Park. There, she has seen many species of birds, including ospreys, as well as moose and coyotes.
“I’m a nature nut, so any excuse I can find to get outside with my camera generally sets off a chain of events that culminates in dozens – or hundreds – of photographs, then several sketches and perhaps finally, a painting,” she said.
“I have more reference photos than I could possibly use in a lifetime of painting, and yet I’m still drawn to go outside in order to experience the next wildlife encounter, because each one is pure magic. It’s such a thrill to capture that moment in time, and then translate the experience in my own way onto canvas.”
Beerens has much the same reaction except in an entirely different part of the province. For a few years now she has devoted much of her travel time to visiting Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park in Alberta’s southeast corner.
She swears that it’s a wonderland for keen nature observers, just not during the hot months.
“It’s a desert down there. Even in October like the first time I went down there, in the river valley, it was 32 degrees. Too bloody hot for me!” she laughed. “I like to go in May or October. I went in summer once – it was 38 degrees in the shade!”
The sights she gets to see once she does arrive though are well worth it.
“Right now, I’m in love with all of the Alberta badlands,” she explained. “I can’t say enough. I’ve been down there four or five times, to various parts. It is so unique. All the badlands are distinctive.”
Her current series consists of 30 to 35 large pieces of the desert-like region. She rejoices at the thought of going back to see more of the landforms shaped by the erosion of water so long ago, as well as the rattlesnakes, the petroglyphs and the pictographs that remind us of civilizations that made their own marks in the past.
“It makes me cry, every time I go down there. It’s so amazing!”
Featuring new works by Al Anderson, Victoria Anderson, Carla Beerens, Cheryl Moskaluk and Monk
Runs from Thursday, Nov. 1 to Saturday, Dec. 1
Opening reception tomorrow evening from 7 to 9 p.m.
25 Sir Winston Churchill Avenue in the Hemingway Centre
Call 780-460-5990 or visit www.vasa.ca for more information.