The Christmas season is the perfect time to view the colourful original artworks at the Red Deer Public Library.
After all, selfless goodwill is what The Gift of Ellen Lyons exhibit is all about.
Lyons, a Red Deer artist and art collector, has downsized her private collection by donating 40-plus original works to the Red Deer Arts Council to be used as a fundraiser for the organization that supports local artists.
All the diverse sculptures, prints, paintings and pastel drawings in the library’s Kiwanis Gallery were either created by Lyons, a graduate of the Alberta School of Art, or by friends and contemporaries she admired. These include notable Red Deer-area artists Kate More, Art Whitehead, Mo Leaney, Dennis Moffat and others.
“It’s wonderful of Ellen to think of us and do this,” said Diana Anderson, co-ordinator of the Red Deer Arts Council.
Although art has occasionally been gifted to the Council, Anderson believes this is by far the largest present of artwork it’s ever received. “I think our council is absolutely thrilled to be considered a good repository for something like this.”
The donations range widely in size and style — from an expansive painting of a moody forest watering hole near Fort Vermilion by More, to tiny comical ceramic animal sculptures by Mo Leaney. Some of Leaney’s people sculptures also carry a sense of humour. The case in point is Barbara Lost in Thought, which shows an eccentric smocked artist painting at an easel.
Anderson said she’s “very happy” with the quality and variety of art represented in the show and sale, which also include a Moffat animal print, and various Whitehead’s chalk pastels and paintings of kids, kites and a prairie sky.
Many of the donated works are done by Lyons, who is an accomplished artist in many mediums. Her colour pencil study, Burbank, a confident rendering of a tree bending over a creek bed, is one of Anderson’s favourites. And West of Art’s and North of Art’s are two acrylic expressionistic landscapes also created by the artist/benefactor, who once described herself as a landscape painter who sometimes paints people.
Anderson said Lyons often went on plein air painting excursions with More and Whitehead, and all three have exhibited their works around Central Alberta and beyond since the 1980s.
She noted the artworks in the exhibit are priced reasonably, in the hope they would all go to good homes for Christmas. (Purchased art will be released to buyers on Dec. 22.)
Members of the Red Deer Arts Council – which promotes artists through scholarships, programs, and other supports — will discuss how to best use proceeds from the art sale.