Donalda may have lost its grain elevators, antique mall and a tourist-drawing restaurant — but it still has its art.
The village of 200 residents is now officially within an agricultural disaster area, thanks to the drought. It’s main streets, like those of many rural communities with declining populations, are filled with empty heritage buildings.
But despite all this, Donalda’s creativity is continuing to thrive, as is evident by the village’s two art galleries. And as long as a community has creative spirit, it has life, said Glenda Beaver, a board member of the non-profit Donalda Gallery for the Arts.
“It’s good for the community to work together,” she explained — whether it’s in support of Donalda’s lamp museum, or its art galleries. “Art is something everyone can relate to.”
It also tends to draws sightseers to a centre.
Donalda’s two galleries, including Gallery with a View, have drawn people from Stettler and further afield, said Beaver. Students have also come on school field trips to see the village’s art displays, as well as Donalda’s giant lamp attraction, its lamp museum and the natural beauty of the nearby coulee.
Now the Donalda Gallery for the Arts, which has recently reopened for the summer, is hosting a month-long show featuring two Central Alberta artists — painter Arlene Oberg and glass carver Wayne Spink.
Beaver believes the exhibit of the popular artists’ works will continue giving out-of-towners a reason to stop in Donalda — besides seeing the hometown of supermodel and actress Tricia Helfer of TV’s Battlestar Gallactica fame.
Oberg will be showing 22 acrylic paintings in a new collection of representational landscapes called Country Colours. The Bashaw artist, who has been painting and drawing since 1972, has completed many commissioned works, including large murals for the federal government’s millennium Initiative. She also recently finished a trompe-l’oeil installation for the Bashaw Health Centre.
Lacombe-based Spink is one of only a few Western Canadian glass carvers. He uses compressed air and sand to blast away layers of glass to create a three-dimensional carved mural. Among his commissioned works are eight glass panels for the Town of Lacombe’s public buildings. Spink’s unique carvings are found in private and corporate collections across North and South America and Europe.
Beaver, who is a noted local painter, used to live in Donalda. but like quite a few people over the last few years, has moved away. She now lives in Bashaw because it’s closer to Camrose, where she’s receiving chemotherapy treatments for cancer.
Many of Beaver’s artworks remain in Donalda, however. They are exhibited on the second floor of the Donalda Gallery for the Arts.
Beaver said that’s the gallery’s other purpose — to provide area artists with a place to publicly exhibit their creativity.
The Donalda Gallery for the Arts is situated in the historic Imperial Bank of Canada Building at the end of Main Street, overlooking the Meeting Creek River Valley. The picturesque wooden siding-clad building, which contains the original band vault, is across the street from the Lampshade Museum. The exhibit of artworks by Oberg and Spink runs from July 1 to Aug. 3. The gallery is opened Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.