Thinking about Canada’s vast expanses during this country’s 150th birthday year led to the latest art exhibit at the Kiwanis Gallery in Red Deer: Trains, Planes and Automobiles.
“We thought it was a cool title” — and an appropriate one, considering the distances Canadians must travel to go from shore to shore, said Diana Anderson, executive-director of the Red Deer Arts Council, which operates the gallery downstairs at the downtown public library.
The 18 artworks were created by eight Arts Council visual artist members, who contemplated journeys from the past into the future when they made their paintings, prints and three-dimensional pieces.
Their subject matter ranges from literal interpretations of the exhibit’s title to metaphoric journeys to trips down memory lane.
Artist Sheila Wright painted industrial parts of trains and steam engines. Her inspiration was childhood memories of sitting with her grandfather, watching “pusher” steam engines thrusting loads up Red Deer’s north hill.
Printmaker Robin Byrnes also leaned on nostalgia, creating a whimsical series that recalls the 1968 Disney movie The Love Bug. Her Punch Buggy cyanotypes (sun exposure prints) of Volkswagen Beetles range in candy colours, from lime green to fuchsia.
Anderson admitted it was a challenge deciding how to hang these fabric prints. Options range from a “grid” (grouping of four cars), to a “parkade” (a stacked vertical row) or “autobahn.” She opted for the latter, so the punch buggies are displayed in a horizontal row, as if on an expressway.
Margriet Hogue created three collage-like works based on her personal journey of emigrating to Canada from The Netherlands. A windmill, ocean liner and train are depicted, along with maps and changing birds species.
Ceramicist Issy Covey hand-built two plates, glazed in moody tones, based on her love of the North Atlantic. The works were sparked by her memories of spending time on the beaches of her native Scotland as a child, and of later visits to Nova Scotia to see her children’s paternal grandparents: “Oh, such happiness, to see the ocean again!”
An abstract dimensional work, made by Matt Gould of leather and felt, is etched with drawings of vacation images — while paintings by Susan Barker and Marianne Harris also feature sights they’ve experienced while on holiday.
Harris’s largest features the striking blue hills around Osoyoos, B.C.
Anderson is pleased with the variety of works in the exhibit, as Red Deer-area artists share their stories of travel, real or imagined.
Trains, Planes and Automobiles runs to April 23.