Bentley artist’s paintings arrive at museum in Tuscany

After a brief hang-up in Italian customs, a Bentley artist’s paintings of Gull Lake have arrived at a Tuscan art museum.

Bobbie Seright Palanuik with one of her works

After a brief hang-up in Italian customs, a Bentley artist’s paintings of Gull Lake have arrived at a Tuscan art museum.

Soon European art lovers will get a glimpse of what Central Alberta looks like — through the artistic perspective of oil painter Bobbie Seright Palanuik.

Palanuik said she was surprised —and a little skeptical — when she was invited last November by the curators of the Chianciano Museum of Contemporary Art to submit two works for an exhibit celebrating the biennial of the Tuscan spa resort city.

She’d never heard of the museum — or ever been to Tuscany.

But after investigating and discovering the invitation was perfectly legit, it began to dawn on Palanuik what a great honour she’s been accorded, to be among 150 international artists the museum is featuring.

“I escalated between walking on air and experiencing total panic,” she confessed on her blog.

Palanuik, whose realistic landscape paintings were viewed on line by the museum’s selection committee, is thrilled to be able to provide what may be some Italian citizen’s first view of Central Alberta. “This is something that most people normally wouldn’t get to see in Italy: This is what Alberta looks like.”

As someone who cares deeply about nature and the environment, Palanuik said “anything that I can do to get people to see that beauty and feel the earthiness is important to me.”

Calgary native, who moved to Bentley in 1992, was a commercial artist before she began fine art painting in 1980.

While her work has been featured in some Calgary galleries and the Gallery on Main in Lacombe, Palanuik has only ever sold paintings within Alberta.

To have her art displayed to an international audience in Europe “makes me wonder, how is this possible?” she said. As far as getting exposure, “this is a beautiful way to go,” added Palanuik, who was impressed by her on-line research of the gallery in Chianciano.

The owner is well-known London art dealer Roberto Gagliardi, who had initially considered opening a contemporary art gallery in Luxor Egypt, not far from the Valley of the Kings, but was won over by the beauty of the old Tuscan city of Chianciano.

Palanuik thought she had “dotted all the ‘i’s and crossed all the ‘t’s” before sending her work across the Atlantic.

But her two paintings were hung up in Italian customs for about two weeks before Palanuik, who had filled out the wrong forms, could get the right paperwork in place to free them.

Her paintings, Autumn on the Ridge, which features old growth forest near the Gull Lake, and Early Winter Evening: Gull Lake, are now safely at the Museo d’Art di Chianciano. They will be on loan until the exhibit, which starts on Sept. 13, wraps up on Sept. 27.

While Palanuik won’t be able to travel to Tuscany this time, she hopes to make it sometime in the future.

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