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Art Gallery of St. Albert mounts Guilded Reflections

Five local arts guilds produced close to 80 works of art in a range of styles and materials

Every two years the Art Gallery of St. Albert serves up an extraordinary exhibition of creative introspection. Guilded Reflections, now on display until Jan. 28  is courtesy of the creative minds that inhabit the city’s five arts guilds: painters, potters, paper, quilt and floral guilds. 

“We host it every two years and that’s why it’s special to see these incredible artists. As far as I know, it’s one of our oldest traditions. I even found a record saying it was hosted in the 1980s,” said Emily Baker, gallery curator. “And the artists keep getting better and better. Just when we think they’ve hit a peak, then next time around they just get better.” 

The visual artists crafted original pieces throughout the past three years. It is a collection of experiences, memories and wishful thinking that ranges from charming playfulness to serious ecological activism. 

One of the most endearing is Lisette Puffer’s multi-media quilt titled Mother’s Embrace. A large female humpback whale wraps her fins around a young one protecting it in their underwater journey. What stands out is the remarkable 3D sea bottom plant life created from lace, ribbon, strings, yarns, rhinestones and glass beads. 

“The first time I saw it, I couldn’t believe how much texture there was. There’s lots of beautiful surprises and in talking with Lisette, she reflected on the caring and tenderness relayed in the quilt. This is an emotional, heartfelt piece,” Baker said. 

In another side of the female mystique, Heidi Russell’s Strong is a an acrylic, charcoal and glass face of half woman, half leopard bearing the same eyes. 

“Heidi is a new mom and is reflecting on the different parts of her.” 

Three painters, Holly Cheverie, Laurena Beirnes and Myra Emms collaborated on a group project titled 6 Feet Apart. Each artist painted an oil of themselves as black and white silhouettes standing in water. The only colour in the three paintings is a pair of shoes they’ve perched on rocks. 

“In this project, they could each harness their personality. The paintings are similar, but you get a little bit of sense of who they are and how they want to be seen.” 

Elaine Mulder’s mixed media painting instead veers into the realm of environmental and ecological activism. Our Legacy is a twisted, leafless tree attempting to grow in an urban environment surrounded by skyscrapers. Hidden below the ground is a pile of man-made junk suffocating the roots. 

“Elaine is a favourite artist in St. Albert. She celebrates natural spaces and the environment. She has taken her environmental passion and mixes garbage into her paintings. She takes egg cartons and wires and paints 3D images. Here you can see bottle caps and tubes. She asks the question of what we are leaving behind and what are the consequences. This is a favourite for aesthetic reasons. It really hits at the heart.” 

Anyone thinking of taking a Caribbean holiday will smile and nod at Lorraine Bérubé’s Wanting to Go Back, a whimsical watercolour pencil work depicting black sunglasses reflecting an image of palm trees and calm blue water. 

“The background is very dark, but the sunglasses have rainbow frames. It turns out they are her regular glasses. She’s probably thinking of returning to travel. It's something we let go of during the pandemic. It’s a nice little restful painting.” 

The En Pleine Aire group of 22 painters boasts the most artists participating in a single project. Throughout this past summer, members of St. Albert Painters’ Guild would meet and paint different locations throughout St. Albert. Their subjects reached from Riverlot 56 to St. Albert Botanical Gardens to Seven Hill, the Trestle Bridge and the Grain Elevator. 

To assist the viewer in finding the different locations, a map of St. Albert is pinned on a wall with the 22 paintings surrounding it. A thread runs from each piece of art to a pin on the map designating the painting’s location. 

“A lot of people look at the map and remember seeing painters. One person was telling me as they walked by the Trestle Bridge they saw someone painting and was wondering if the same person they saw was creating a piece for this show.” 

Memory Roth is another renowned city artist who uses the Sturgeon River for inspiration. Her oil painting, A Perfect Summer’s Day, reveals three kayakers paddling down the Sturgeon towards the Children’s Bridge and the Trestle Bridge. 

“I was so excited to see it,” said Baker. “Memory had just finished it before the drop-off deadline. It was a wonderful surprise. The willow trees really grabbed my attention. She balances hyper detail and softness, and you can’t capture that as well in photography.” 

Potter Heather Shepherd submitted two elegant amphora-styled vases depicting intertwined leaves. Each vase is about one foot in height with skinny necks and broad shoulders. The wheel-thrown vases were a pandemic experiment where she delicately carved the background from its leaves before they were fired. 

“There’s kind of a shallow relief carved into it – a slight recess. There is a stylized line of leaves and it’s warm and whimsical.” 

St. Albert Paper Arts Guild showcases 12 illustrated books of varying lengths. The artists created the books from nothing first making the paper and dyeing it. Each artist added their design skills which included sketching, painting, calligraphy and book binding. 

For instance, Carol Thomas created an English-Jamaican dictionary while Christine Ahmad painted a picture book of mountain landscapes that reflect Canada. Instead, Trudy Mason engineered a book of portraits sketching every generation from children to seniors.  

“This show is special because art happens here, and we have so many incredible artists. People have jobs and they volunteer, yet they are fired up about art and it adds so much passion and beauty to our community. They could be in one of your classes. They could be your neighbour, and it’s a pleasure to show them off. 

The Art Gallery of St. Albert is located at 19 Perron Street. For more information visit www.artgalleryofstalbert.ca or call 780-460-4310.


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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