The Kelvington Arts and Culture Society brought another art exhibit to town, set up in the Kelvington High School (KHS) art room during the week of October 13.
Surreal Saskatchewan, an Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils presentation, was curated by Belinda Harrow. Born in New Zealand, Harrow moved to this province as a young child and now makes her home in Regina. As an artist she has worked with many different mediums including sculpture, print-making, drawing and fabric.
When putting together the travelling pieces of the Surreal Saskatchewan show, Harrow featured six Saskatchewan artists: Monique Blom, Trea Jensen, Vlade Marasovic, Sharon Strand Sigfuson, Jean E. Sonmor and Leesa Streifler, all of whom offer an “alternative vision of life on the Prairies.”
Patrons, when studying the paintings, were encouraged to read the descriptors provided by Harrow. While you can certainly appreciate art without knowing the inspiration, with this series the added information was enlightening.
Sharon Strand Sigfuson’s paintings were more fully appreciated when given context. Her “Jester Series” is a group of self-portraits with a jester at first controlling the artist and then losing the power as she comes to terms with her husband dying of cancer. You might assume that Puzzle Piece of a Saskatchewan Corn Patch is a family portrait, but it is actually the artist at various stages in her own life. It is a remarkable painting, the artist embracing herself at different ages with herself today, sitting in a wicker chair, paintbrush in hand, a wise grandmother to all the different people she has been.
Monique Blom’s paintings put the surreal in Surreal Saskatchewan and many patrons could not be blamed for not fully appreciating the works, even with descriptor in hand. Blom might be well appreciated by someone like author Margaret Atwood, whose recent novels describe ominous futuristic worlds. Harrow describes Blom’s pieces, in part, as “a time of childhood imagination where beanstalks sprout dogs,” or maybe as Beatrix Potter Meets Nicolas Boisvert, creator of the children’s television show My Goldfish is Evil.
Trea Jensen is from East End, a small town in a coulee-like setting in southwest Saskatchewan, famous for the archeological discovery of a T.Rex. Mostly barren of trees, there are no breathtaking lakes or soaring mountains in this landscape but once you know the history of the area, particularly as described by authors such as Candace Savage in Geography of Blood, the land takes on a whole new meaning. Jensen has captured this in some of her landscape paintings and her depth of field contrasted with blue hues are beautiful tributes to a land’s history.
A bonus of the show’s presentation in the art room at KHS was the opportunity to view some of the student work of art teacher Michelle Fidelack. Her Grade 11 art project, “I am From,” is an absolute must-see.
By Susan Lowndes