From short surrealist flicks to robotic dinosaurs — the many facets of Central Alberta’s contemporary art scene are explored in a new show at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery.
The Prairie Contemporary exhibit features subjective interpretations of how 10 local emerging artists feel about themselves and their world. The show could stretch people’s ideas about artistry — which was one of the goals of co-curators, Marnie Blair and Erin Boake.
“We hope viewers get a broader understanding of what is art, and also what’s happening now (artistically) in our community,” said Boake, who teaches art through the City of Red Deer and Red Deer museum.
Blair, a visual arts instructor at Red Deer College, noted how many traditional techniques, such as painting, collage, paper crafts and building with ceramic coils, are being used make unique statements about the artists’ environments.
Many works carry a nature theme — including Deirdre Ashenhurst’s Rebeccer & Kit, a seven-foot tall tangle of imagined paper flowers ‘sprouting’ from a nurse log.
There’s Layer III, a mixed-media work incorporating local soil, sediments and detritus, by Michael Reynolds of Olds. And the playful Fred, Tilly & Ben — consisting of small robotic dinosaurs moving between ceramic badlands canyons, by Carlene La Rue, who incorporated ground bones and minerals from the area into her ceramic glazes.
Nature also figures prominently in two short art films: Caulder’s View and and Umbrageous, by Jesse Pickett, a Red Deer native now based in Vancouver.
Since identity and time are other themes of the Prairie/Contemporary exhibit, Brian Usher, a California native now living in Red Deer, created detailed prints that reveal personal tensions, such as The Mandibular Clutch-Clutch of the Mandala Wheel of Lust, while Kayla Janz used a graphic approach for her surreal self-portraits.
Blair and Boake proposed this show, which also includes intriguing pieces by E.M. Alysse Bowd, Susan Delaney, Myken McDowell, and Glynis Wilson-Boultbee, because they believe contemporary emerging artists in the Red Deer area have had limited local opportunities to show their work.
Since both curators consider themselves emerging artists (although neither have works in this show and both are more focused these days on raising toddlers), “we wanted to feature other emerging artists,” said Boake.
She and Blair were overwhelmed by the applications they received and had a hard time paring entries down to just pieces produced by 10 artists who live or have worked between Ponoka and Olds, Stettler and Rocky Mountain House. “We could have put on three or four of these exhibitions,” said Blair, who’s impressed by the scope of talent from Central Alberta.
Although both co-curators have been plugged into the local arts community, many of the artists they selected for this show had previously flown under their radar. They are happy to help bring their work into the spotlight.
An opening reception for the show will be held from 7-9 p.m. on Friday, featuring a 7:30 p.m. sound art performance by E.M. Alysse Bowd and friends. Boake and Blair will also speak about Prairie Contemporary at 2 p.m. Sunday. The show runs to Nov. 20.