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Pandemic inspires Red Deer-area artists to connect with spectacular Alberta nature

COVID-19 lockdowns gave some artists new perspectives
Paintings by Eelkje VanderMuelen-Smart, of Red Deer, are showing at the Marjorie Wood Gallery in the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. (Contributed image).

Nature provided solace for many Albertans during the pandemic.

Local artists were particularly drawn to landscapes around our province — and multiple art shows around the city are now featuring the arresting vistas that were observed during COVID lockdowns.

Red Deer painter andrea dillingham-lacoursiere feels these unprecedented times have made her question how she’s been living. The state of the Earth has become her main concern, and revealing “the connection that is in all of us, to all things” is the aim of her artwork.

“The complexities of the lives we created… are constantly, loudly ringing in my ears as a reminder of the choices we made,” stated dillingham-lacoursiere, whose abstracted landscapes are showing at the Velvet Olive Lounge.

Now working completely remotely from home, she feels the last 2 1/2 years have allowed her to slow her pace, “shrink my circle and think about my footprint in ways I hadn’t had the capacity to before.”

At the Kiwanis Gallery in the Red Deer downtown public library, painter Tracie Stewart-O’Brien and Joffre-area photographer Judy Murray-Spenceley are jointly showing works that sprang out of their observations of nature and sunsets during the pandemic.

The artists feel the constantly changing views helped them gain an appreciation for the simple things in life. And they hope viewers of their exhibit, A Kaleidoscopic Mirror, will also perceive sunsets as an opportunity for reflection, introspection “and renewed hope for tomorrow.”

Their joint show, presented by the Red Deer Arts Council, continues to Nov. 27.

Red Deer artist Eelkje VanderMeulen-Smart also feels the strict COVID-19 lockdowns early in the pandemic have changed her way of thinking. “I have evolved… attaching myself to the landscape which surrounds me.”

VanderMeulen-Smart feels her strength “comes from contemplating the beauty of the earth. Painting the mountains, lakes and prairies have become my world.”

Her pandemic output is 60-some impressionistic landscape paintings made with heavy brush strokes to create texture and depth. These can be seen in the Painting the Alberta Landscapes show, on until Dec. 3 at the Marjorie Wood Gallery in the Kerry Wood Nature Centre.

Other Alberta landscapes, by Carol Lynn Gilchrist and guest artist Kristen Federchuk, of Edmonton, are showing in Wild Beauty: Portraits of Alberta, at the Riverlands Studio and Gallery, 5123-48th St.

Most art galleries in Red Deer have receptions on Friday, Nov. 4.

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