ed Deer Art Club member Susan Barker with two of her recent paintings.

Can’t beat original art

More people are eating local produce and shopping at local stores — so how about buying local art?

More people are eating local produce and shopping at local stores — so how about buying local art?

Lucille Gaumond, president of the Red Deer Art Club, is tired of seeing the mass-produced prints of the Tuscan countryside that have become a staple of mall art shops and some people’s homes.

How about hanging some original art that’s created by talented local artists, who shop, work and live in this community? Gaumond suggests.

You can’t beat the vibrant energy of original art, says club member Susan Barker, the featured artist at a Red Deer Art Club show and sale on Sunday, May 3, at the Golden Circle.

Barker’s realistic watercolour renderings of people, animals, still-lifes and nature have won provincial awards in Alberta. Fellow art club member Marion Low feels such original art has more “drama” and impact than mass-produced prints.

While area farmers and merchants have long been banging the drum for shopping local, community artists have been largely left out of the sustainability equation. And Gaumond believes there are too many talented artists in the Red Deer region to ignore. “The talent is here. It needs to be supported,” she says.

Certainly, the local art scene could use more love.

While local businesses, including The Olive, Rusty Pelican, Alberta Art and Drafting and Comforts the Sole, support local artists by giving them wall space, Red Deer’s 26-year-old Artwalk festival has ended, due in large part to volunteer burnout.

And the feasibility of Centrefest, which has featured some art sales tables, was called into question this month since more funds are needed to launch this summer’s street performers’ festival.

Red Deer now has only one recently opened commercial art space — the white gallery attached to Sunworks.

By comparison, Gaumond noticed while visiting a similar-sized U.S. city last summer, that it has 31 for-profit galleries.

Even when accounting for greater regional population density, that’s an impressive number, added the local painter and pastel artist.

“These galleries are all making it. Why can’t we support even one gallery here?”

The Red Deer Art Club, which has been active since 1948, has about 40 members and is looking to expand its membership. One way this could happen is through a recent fee-for-service grant the club received from the City of Red Deer. Gaumond plans to visit youth groups in the city to hand out black paint and card stock, as well as ideas for zen-inspired art projects.

She hopes to spark these young people’s creativity.

About 16 Red Deer Art Club members work together every Thursday afternoon at the Golden Circle. With a drop-in fee of only $1, it’s the best deal going, said Low, who paints and works in pastels.

Club benefits are fellowship with other artists, monthly art “challenges” and peer critiques, regular skills-expanding workshops held on various Saturdays, and opportunities for showing and selling art.

The Red Deer Art Club is a member of the Alberta Community Art Clubs Association, and is hosting this year’s ACACA Central Zone Show on June 20 and 21 at the Golden Circle.

Two- and three-dimensional artworks will be showcased from across Central Alberta.

They will be juried by professional artists for the chance to move on to a provincial show.

Through the Red Deer Art Club’s own show and sale, from 1 to 5 p.m. on May 3 at the Golden Circle, members are hoping to challenge the public’s perception about what to hang on their walls.

Gaumond said supporting local artists can be quite affordable — most original pieces at the show will sell in the $50 to $500 range.

Of course, the real advantage of buying local art is that no one else will have the exact same picture hanging in their home or office.

More information is available at www.facebook.com/RedDeerArtClub.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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