Soap flowers that look good enough to eat, by Amy Nielsen, of Delburne. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Into the Garden exhibit at Red Deer public library offers colourful respite for winter-weary eyes

Show runs from Dec. 29 to Feb. 19 at downtown branch

Because it’s cold and bleak out, Red Deer’s Kiwanis Gallery is set to break out in colourful flowers and foliage.

Into the Garden Renewal opens Friday, Dec. 29, in the Red Deer Arts Council-run gallery, downstairs at the downtown Public Library. Twenty-five artists from across Alberta have created two- and three-dimensional works celebrating gardens in whatever state they are found: wild, natural or groomed.

With ‘highs’ in the -20s C this week and nothing green budding for months, “People are craving growth and colour, and this is something different to do in January,” said the Arts Council’s executive-director, Diana Anderson.

She hopes the paintings and sculptures, which depict the Canadian love of gardens (perhaps more intense for our short growing season), will provide escape from “the winter blahs” for Central Albertans who can’t get away to warmer climes.

Viewers will see vines and blooms created through a variety of approaches – from Marianne Harris and Jeri Lynn Ing’s abstractions, to Teresa Barrett’s felted Glory Garden, and Robin Byrnes’ cyanotype prints.

Red Deer painter Sheila Wright realistically portrayed the “first flower of spring” – a dandelion. Local watercolourist Susan Barker’s nostalgically mixed plantings with wooden children’s blocks, while Calgary photographer Jean-René LeBlanc created “snow in the garden” photos in Greece, using infra-red techniques.

Delicate flowers were also sculpted from soap by Amy Nielsen of Delburne.

Anderson encourages viewers to come to the First Friday opening Jan. 5, from 6-8 pm. wearing Bermuda shorts, summer frocks, or gardening gear. “Come dressed as if you were heading out to a garden party or to enjoy the hot weather!”

That’s what many did for earlier incarnations (Into the Garden exhibits started at the Red Deer museum and were held in 1993, 2000 and 2006). “We had some friends show up in bathing suits!” recalled Anderson, who also remembers patio furniture and a gazebo set up in the museum.

If balmy escapism is needed this time of year, she believes the Into the Garden Renewal will provide some colourful respite for winter-weary eyes. The show runs to Feb. 19.

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Three cyanotypes by Robin Byrnes are in the foreground. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)

Encore and In My Backyard, paintings by Margriet Hogue (on left) and Still life with Delft Vase (on right) by Atanas Chongarov. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

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