Rylie Landry has a bright, colourful personality and a knack for standing out, even when casually dressed in a bright T-shirt, torn jeans and several bold necklace strands.
She attended the opening reception of Visual Arts Studio Association 2023 Spring Member Exhibition displaying the work of 24 member visual artists. The Grade 12 Paul Kane High student, a guest artist, has hung four abstract pieces in a showcase that runs until Saturday, April 29.
Long-time VASA members Connie Osgood and Bruce Allen have mentored high school students for three weeks using different techniques. During the mentorship program, students are encouraged to experiment with materials such as gels, acrylics and oils that are cost prohibitive for school budgets.
Landry’s pieces are all abstract, a deviation from the normally realistic work she’s previously crafted. In two works, she used a clear gel on canvas that assisted a top layer of acrylic spread and mix. Despite the abstract nature of her art, the acrylic looks like streams flowing in a zig-zag pattern through various terrains.
“Creating the abstracts was a bit of a problem until I could see what happens. The composition was more about rivers and lakes. I see things like this in the mountains. My family does a lot of hiking and camping. We’re always outdoors,” said Landry.
Landry developed her technical skills through crafting realistic art.
“But not everything has to be about the skills," she said. "Abstract art makes you think about the process rather than the finished product.”
With spring and summer on the horizon, many member artists display art showcasing their interpretation of the season. Cathy Friesen's Flower Patch is a large, loose abstract featuring dazzling garden colours depicted using multiple layers of paint.
Brad Walt’s Song of the Island brings to life a misshapen tree growing on an island surrounded by a rushing river. Marg Oevering's Yellow-Bellied Cedar Waxwing is so realistic, the painting looks like a window into the outdoors. Peg McPherson’s Rest Stop illustrates a dragonfly sipping water on a creek bed.
The most striking piece is visual artist Juwariya Abdullahi’s Temperance, a dark blue expanse of angry ocean. One can almost feel the battering ferocity of never-ending waves as they appear to leap off the canvas onto one’s face.
Bob Marsden, a retired silk screen printer and nature lover, was a first-time visitor to the gallery exhibition. A man of many talents who dabbles in acrylic painting, martial arts and scuba diving, Marsden had nothing but praise for the collective.
“I’m a hunter and I like Heather Howard’s birds. She’s got this woodpecker down really well. And Marg Oevering’s Bison on a Golf Course is so realistic. It doesn’t get any better,” said Marsden.
Iryna Kyrylets, newly arrived to St. Albert from Dnipro, Ukraine in December 2022, brought her son and his friends to enjoy a series of craft activities. While strolling throughout the gallery viewing the different styles, she discovered Aicha Ba’s Divinity. The acrylic abstract is carefully constructed riot of reds, golds and black.
“I like the colour and there is passion in it. I like it for my living room. I think it’s very good,” said Kyrylets. Speaking about VASA she added, “This is new for me. I can talk to other people. Everyone is friendly and I can practise my English.”
VASA is open Tuesday to Saturday and attendance is free.