Wednesday, April 27, 2016

More To See in Western Canada This Spring!

In addition to "Whisperings", "Road Trip", "A Moment in Time" and "Mended" (to name but a few), two more exhibits are opening soon for Western Canada audiences:

Hanging by a Thread is a collaborative exhibit from Alberta artists Barbara J. West and Ilse Anysas Salkauskas.  It was shown in the Feature Gallery of the Alberta Craft Council in Edmonton in 2013, and is now opening at the CASA Gallery (East Side), South Lethbridge, Alberta.  The Opening Reception is Saturday evening, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m., and the exhibit runs to June 17 (per the CASA website).  If you are unable to get to Lethbridge until close to the end of the exhibit's run, please check the dates with the Gallery.

Here's a bit of background to the exhibit, provided by the artists:
The genesis for Hanging by a Thread arose when Ilse Anysas Salkauskas and Barbara J. West were studying the Marie Erickson Rug Collection (Middle Eastern) at the Nickle Arts Museum. There they discovered that during the wars in Afghanistan, Afghani women had been unable to acquire the wool to make rugs and carpets in traditional patterns. Women had been passing patterns orally from generation to generation, but without the material to make them, the oral tradition began to disappear along with women's cultural value. This inspired the pair to look at our culture and consider the transmission of information and learning among current generations of Canadian women.

 Along with Ilse's fibre art and Barbara's mixed-media installations, their children and a grandchild were invited to participate in this exhibition and present their own perspectives. Ilse's daughter-in-law Monika creates sculptural cakes and Ilse's granddaughter, Emily Ella Rigaux, an award winning singer, writes poetry. Robin West presents her poetry and sculpture. Pat Strakowski and her daughter Lynda were invited to demonstrate their transfer of skill from mother to daughter through the creation of altered books.
Having seen this exhibit in Edmonton, I can tell you that it is both moving and powerful.  I highly recommend it if you are the Lethbridge area while it is showing!

And...if you are venturing to or live near the Sunshine Coast this spring and early summer...on the heels of Catherine Nicholls and Anni Hunt's collaborative exhibit "Whisperings" -- closing May 15 at the FibreWorks Studio and Gallery -- you'll be able to take in Jill Sullivan's newest works at her solo show, "No Words Necessary", opening there May 21 through July 3.  The Opening Reception is Saturday afternoon, May 21 from 2:00 - 4 p.m.

Would that this writer could be in several places at once!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Calgary Road Trip

The Calgary-area POD opened it's first local exhibit, "Road Trip", at the Fish Creek Library on Sunday, April 18.  It was a gloriously sunny and warm day -- perfect for the 2 1/2 hour drive down the QE II to meet and greet the artists, and to take in this excellent show.

The atmosphere in the space was electric -- full of artistic energy, conversation and questions from the curious public.  Three long-time friends I'd not seen in years came by to view the exhibit -- and to see me, which was a sweet gesture on their part.  As I mentioned earlier this week on my personal blog, like an art show and sale, often an art opening is as much attended for the connections -- and re-connections -- one makes with the viewers and potential purchasers, as it is for the art itself.  Art-making and art-viewing bring people together.

It was wonderful to meet all the members I'd not yet met, to talk about SAQA with them, their friends, family and members of the general public who came by -- some who were just visiting the library and paused to take in this beautiful, unique artwork.  I managed to get a photo of several of the artists with their pieces, so...

Without further ado..."Road Trip"

Back Roads: 766 Calgary to Bergen, Alberta
(C) Lynda Williamson, 2016

Tree Tunnels 2 - Provence
(C) Nan Williams, 2016

Nan with Tree Tunnels

Road Trip Home
(C) Christina Thomas, 2016

Take Me for a Ride
(C) Lorraine Ross, 2016
Arizona Petroglyphs
(C) Janet Scruggs, 2016
Janet with ...Petroglyphs

(C) Marie McEachern, 2016

Marie with Sedona
Heart of the Rockies
(C) Margaret Jessop, 2016

Margaret with ...Rockies
Side View
(C) Terri Illingworth, 2016

Terri with Side View
Cabot Trail
(C) Theresa Duncan, 2016

Theresa with Cabot Trail
Grand Tour - Fading Memories
(C) Diane Duncan, 2016

Diane and 'Assistant' with
Grand Tour

Ride Like the Wind
(C) Alison Dean Cowitz, 2016

Alison with Ride...
Wind Hound
(C) Joyce Brown, 2016
How I Spent My Summer Vacations
(C) Leslie Barnes, 2016

For those in the area, this exhibit runs until April 30 at the Fish Creek Public Library in Calgary.  Free parking is available in the South Centre Mall parking lot right next door -- no busy streets to cross -- and there is easy access to the Library by Light Rail Transit (LRT).

Several of the pieces are available for purchase; interested parties will have to contact the artist in question.

Please note as well that two of the above artists -- Marie McEachern and Janet Scruggs -- have pieces in the up-coming touring exhibit, My Corner of the World: Canada, which opens at the Stratford Perth Museum, Stratford, Ontario, on May 21.

Several others have pieces in Edge of the Forest, produced by the Surface Design Association, which is currently touring in British Columbia, and/or have work touring with the Fibre Art Network, an organization of fibre artists from across Western Canada.

Posted by Margaret Blank, Co-Rep (AB), SAQA Western Canada

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What Sue Said

Sometimes, when all appears quiet, currents are brewing.  This month is a bit like that around our Region.

  • Co-Rep Valerie Wilson is putting the finishing touches on her solo show, which opens within days.
  • The Calgary-area POD is preparing to mount its first show -- a local effort which we Reps hope will inspire them to take on one of Regional proportions -- which opens in Calgary in less than a week.
  • And Co-Rep Coleen Adderley is working on a venue for a Regional retreat, with dates tentatively set for the spring of 2017.

The annual SAQA Conference has just ended in Philadelphia...and the debriefings will begin this week.  In the aftermath, Sue Bleiweiss, recipient of the first Yvonne Porcella Volunteer of the Year Award, has written these words in the SAQA Yahoo group:
I am truly honored to be the first recipient of the Yvonne Porcella Volunteer of the Year award for outstanding rep given to me at the SAQA conference this past weekend. Being one of the reps for the MA/RI region for 2014 and 2015 was truly a wonderful experience. It gave me an opportunity to not only contribute to the overall success of SAQA but it allowed me to connect with my local SAQA community. We created and developed a lot of new opportunities and had some terrific programs at our quarterly meetings over the course of the two years I served as a rep. I say "we" created because although I received the award for outstanding rep I did not manage the region in a vacuum - I had a lot of help and support not only from the membership but also from my co-rep Nancy Turbitt. Nancy and I worked as a team to re-energize our region, hold quarterly meetings all over MA and RI and organize two exhibits, the first of which premiered at the Fuller Craft Museum and is now on view at Highfield Hall and Gardens. 

I've been a member of SAQA since 2007 but up until I became a rep for the MA/RI region in 2014 I stayed mostly on the sidelines being content with the extent of my membership benefits being just reading the Journal and the posts on the yahoo group. My only regret when I look back on those first 7 years is not making an effort to be more involved with the organization by volunteering in some capacity even if it was just to reach out to my local rep at the time to say "how can I help at the local level to make our region the best it can be". Please don't wait 7 years like I did to get involved and start taking advantage of all the benefits that SAQA has to offer! Reach out to your local rep or get in touch with Michelle Trachtman ( who is coordinating the volunteer database and she'll work with you to find an opportunity for you to contribute whether it's for an hour in a SAQA booth at a show, helping out with a short term project for a few hours or serving on a committee. 

My heartfelt thanks to those who nominated me, to Nancy Turbitt for being such a great teammate and to the SAQA organization for giving me the honor of being the first Yvonne Porcella Volunteer of the Year award for outstanding rep recipient. 

Sue Bleiweiss (emphasis mine)
Sue in her studio

I post this here for those of you who aren't participants in the Yahoo group or who may have missed Sue's post in the group's messages...and to identify what may be obvious to many of you but not to others: a Region doesn't run itself.  An international organization doesn't run itself.  Yes, SAQA (like many organizations) has some paid staff members who carry on the nuts and bolts of the operation -- and who often work many hours more than those for which they are paid.  But...most of us -- Regional Reps, Board members, project participants,  committee coordinators and members, local conference planners, exhibit docents, webinar presenters et al -- are volunteers who are passionate about SAQA's mission and purpose.

In just over seven months, my two-became-three year term as Co-Rep (Alberta) comes to an end.  I will stay on till the end of this year, but in reality, my replacement needs to be in place by the end of November so there can be at least a bit of overlap.

If you are passionate about your art, passionate about having it exhibited with the work of your colleagues in venues around the globe, passionate about educating others about your chosen medium...If the possibility to make a difference in the Western Canada Region makes your heart beat just a bit faster...please consider the Co-Rep position as a way to connect with your colleagues and with the art-viewing public in a new and vibrant way.

What Sue said.

Thank you.