Edouard Manet’s work Luncheon in the Grass inspired part of this painting of beach-goers by David More. It’s showing as part of the Shore Figures exhibit at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Edouard Manet’s work Luncheon in the Grass inspired part of this painting of beach-goers by David More. It’s showing as part of the Shore Figures exhibit at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Central Alberta artist depicts those lazy, hazy (virus-free) days of summer at Sylvan Lake

David More’s Shore Figures exhibit is showing at the Red Deer museum

David More’s latest paintings at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery offer a glimpse back at a carefree, pre-pandemic world.

Throngs of diverse beach-goers are shown crowding the shores of Sylvan Lake — people who are young and old and of different ethnic backgrounds are shown enjoying a sun-soaked day by the water.

“It’s almost ‘the good old days,’” muses More of his Shore Figures — Sylvan Lake exhibit, which is on until Sept. 5.

His most recent trips to Sylvan Lake tell a more subdued story. The Benalto artist knows the lakeside “carnival scenes” of the past have been suspended this summer, due to the physical distancing requirements to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Even on the warmest days, crowds on the beach are sparser, as befits this worrisome era when local bylaw officers are tasked with ensuring two metres of spacing between parties.

For now, More admits the crush of humanity he has depicted in oils has to be a reminder of more “normal” times.

The artist’s seven Shore Figures paintings were inspired by decades of Sylvan Lake people watching.

Although best known for landscape paintings, More says he has always been interested in the human form.

“I’ve been taking pictures of people on the beach for 35 years, because I was fascinated by the diversity” of the spectacle, adds the retired Red Deer College art instructor.

He believes beaches are a great equalizer.

More visited Rio de Janeiro “a long time ago,” and saw rich people coming down to the oceanside from their highrises, and poor people travelling from their favela slums.

The two groups would mingle by the water. And, clad in bathing suits, “you couldn’t tell one from the other,” he recalls.

More purposely combined figures from the various Sylvan Lake beach photographs he’s taken, “like actors on a stage,” to play up contrasts, and hint at various personalities and scenarios.

In his work Black and Red, a modest woman wearing a head scarf is shown standing next to a sunglasses-wearing cowboy with his torso exposed to the sun. In another, a bold, black-clad, mustachio-ed biker-type strides by a senior and his small grandchild.

More’s work The White Queen shows a woman in a white bikini lounging majestically on a white inflatable chair. She’s flanked by two male “attendants” — just as she was in real life, recalls the artist, who took a photo of a seated woman being catered to by two men.

“I thought: She’s classic!” he says with a chuckle.

To preserve the beach-goers’ anonymity, More didn’t attempt portraits of his subjects, but rather aimed to capture their general stances and attitudes.

But art history buffs will notice similarities between some of the positioned people in his works and those in Edouard Manet’s painting Luncheon on the Grass and Georges Seurat’s The Bathers. The Venus de Milo also inspired More’s Venus and the Biker painting.

By referencing the past, More hopes to make viewers consider that people are people, regardless of the century, and that life is a trajectory with the present mirroring and repeating what’s happened before.

As to when Sylvan Lake will get back to normal, with its usual stretch of bathers, More knows that will also happen again, but he can’t guess when.

“At this point, it has to be a fond memory.”

Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The White Queen is a painting in David More’s Shore Figures: Sylvan Lake exhibit, now showing at the Red Deer museum. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

The White Queen is a painting in David More’s Shore Figures: Sylvan Lake exhibit, now showing at the Red Deer museum. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Central Alberta artist David More. (Contributed image).

Central Alberta artist David More. (Contributed image).

Just Posted

If you're heading out to the West Country have a plan in case things go wrong, says Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services fire chief Steve Debienne.
(Photo from CRFRS Facebook)
West Country visitors should have an emergency plan: regional fire chief

Cellphones can’t be relied on in many back country areas

The Red Deer PCN Women's Fun Run will take on a different look this weekend with rising COVID-19 numbers.
Women’s Fun Run goes ahead this weekend

With new public health measures in place because of rising COVID-19 case… Continue reading

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw asked Albertans to limit travel throughout the province as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears 900 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports additional 2,211 COVID-19 cases

David Eggen, the NDP’s advanced education critic, said the UCP government has been focused on cutting funding to post-secondary institutions across Alberta. (Contributed photo)
NDP worry new status for Red Deer College doesn’t mean more funding

This week the province announced that RDC will become a polytechnic institute

Stock photo
Report: Canada loves hockey, but sport has its issues

While hockey is strongly intertwined in Canada’s lexicon as a country, some… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services locked the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror on Wednesday morning after owner Christopher Scott refused to comply with health orders. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
UPDATED: AHS shuts down Whistle Stop Cafe for defying health orders

Justice minister promises to get tough with those ignoring public health orders

Home renovation savings prove elusive as wood prices at record highs

Home renovation savings prove elusive as wood prices at record highs

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. logo is shown at the company's annual meeting in Calgary on May 3, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian Natural reports $1.38B Q1 profit, plans to use cash flow to reduce debt

Canadian Natural reports $1.38B Q1 profit, plans to use cash flow to reduce debt

Logs are piled up at West Fraser Timber in Quesnel, B.C., Tuesday, April 21, 2009. West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. is reporting higher first-quarter sales and earnings after completing its $4-billion all-stock takeover of Norbord Inc. on Feb. 1. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
West Fraser reports US$665M in earnings, $2.3 billion in sales as it acquires Norbord

West Fraser reports US$665M in earnings, $2.3 billion in sales as it acquires Norbord

An oil worker holds raw sand bitumen near Fort McMurray, Alta., on July 9, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta eases security payment burden for oilsands companies

Alberta eases security payment burden for oilsands companies

A street sign along Bay Street in Toronto's financial district is shown on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
S&P/TSX composite falls despite commodities, loonie hits highest level since 2017

S&P/TSX composite falls despite commodities, loonie hits highest level since 2017

Nicholas Marcus Thompson is shown in Toronto on Thursday April 29, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Action needed to end anti-Black racism in public service: advocates

OTTAWA — The federal government must address anti-Black racism in the public… Continue reading

Victoria Police help BC conservation officers carry a cougar which was tranquilized in the backyard of an apartment building in the community of James Bay in Victoria, B.C., Monday, October 5, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Cougar believed to be responsible for B.C. attack killed: conservation service

AGASSIZ, B.C. — The British Columbia Conservation Officer Service says it believes… Continue reading

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

EDMONTON — Officials with an Edmonton hospital say they’re investigating what happened… Continue reading

Most Read