Having spent most of his life painting the region’s fields, streams and skies, local artist Dave More wanted to ensure that a broad array of this artwork stays right here, to be enjoyed by central Albertans.
The practising artist and retired Red Deer College visual arts instructor has made the largest single donation in the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery’s history by donating nearly 200 of his sketches, drawings and paintings to the facility.
“Red Deer and Central Alberta has been very good to me and my career, so I wanted to keep it local… I thought it was a chance to give something back to the community,” said More, who was raised in Red Deer and now lives and works in Benalto.
Lorna Johnson, the museum’s executive director, was touched by More’s generosity.
“When David first made the offer, it almost made me cry… It’s a monumental gift, and am very moved by it,” she said.
“He’s such an important painter in this region, and we very excited to bring his work into our collection.”
Gaining a body of artwork that covers his entire career — from 1977, just after More’s graduation from the University of Calgary, to the present — will provide the museum with enough material for many years of exhibitions, added Johnson.
“And it certainly sets the foundation for the development of our art collection.”
The “landmark gift” includes his sketchbooks, works on paper, small paint sketches and major works on canvas.
More said some of the pieces — including large portraits that he juxtaposed with landscapes — have never been exhibited. He’s happy to have them preserved for prosperity as a collection.
Johnson was amazed that More just opened his studio to the museum’s curatorial team and invited team members to select whatever they wanted.
“We worked with Dave to select the best and most significant works.”
More, who was born in Scotland and moved to Alberta as a toddler with his family, has been a key figure in the the local arts scene. Besides pursuing a painting career, he’s taught and mentored many central Alberta artists.
His paintings, which also depict gardens and places he has visited, such as New Brunswick and India, are already in many public and private collections, including Red Deer College, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and Charles Bronfman’s Claridge Collection of Canadian Art in Montreal.
One of More’s original works was also chosen by the University of Calgary to be presented as a gift to former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev when he visited this province.
As the Red Deer museum is building a collection of the best works of artists who have built their practice in central Alberta, Johnson said More’s gift presents “an excellent foundation from which to build.”
The facility recently renovated its art storage room to accommodate more artworks.
Plans are already underway to present the exhibit Dave More: A Painter’s Gift, in October. It will be guest curated by Mary-Beth Laviolette.