Canmore Art Guild (CAG) Gallery director Dana Roman had been thinking about an abstract art exhibit in Canmore for the past 20 years, but knew a more open and general consensus from art patrons was needed.
But the time has finally arrived with the opening of Abstraction, the first time the Guild will have a show focused solely on abstract art. The exhibit will run from Thursday, April 14 to 26. An opening reception with artists present to provide a few speeches about the abstract art presented will take place on Saturday, April 16 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
“For this show we mixed the beginner artists with the established ones, some who actually did their first abstracts for this show and others who have been serious about creating abstracts for many years,” said Roman.
“The exhibition was juried by most of the participating artists. This provided a democratic process that ensured everyone was satisfied with the quality of the work to be shown – we had 54 submissions and chose only 30 for the walls, plus several sculptures.”
Roman says the timing was finally right, with many Bow Valley artists quite excited about abstract art and producing pieces that do not attempt to represent external reality, but rather seek to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colours and textures to convey emotions.
“Mostly it’s to express their emotions. If you read the artist’s statements, most of them say it,” Roman said. “I believe, which is in my statement, that abstract art is more creative than if you paint what you see – it takes courage and you paint what you feel rather than what you see.”
Roman agrees the creative process comes from deep within, creating an interesting and vibrant process. “I hope for the viewers too, they’re learning – 20 years ago, viewers weren’t ready either. Some galleries were only doing abstract art, but now it’s changing and more people do like abstract art and want to understand it, so there is more of it,” Roman said.
“Some people pass it because they automatically say, ‘I don’t understand it,’ but that’s a mistake, because if they were to look at it for awhile, more often they would start to understand it.”
Abstract is not an art style that you’re supposed to be able to look at for 10 seconds, snap your fingers and say, “oh, I get it.” Especially if you’re an adult who was taught to think about everything in a certain way – that’s what artist Pascale Ouellet shares in her artist statement.
“Sometimes you get the children coming to a gallery and they totally understand the abstract art, but we as adults are already ruined, we don’t understand,” Roman said.
“The children know somehow automatically what they like, what they don’t like – they actually paint that way when they start, so I’ve noticed kids are attracted to the abstract art more than adults. They haven’t been shaped yet, they have natural understanding.”
The opening reception for the exhibit will offer patrons a chance to hear firsthand from attending artists what their personal intentions entailed during the creative process for their individual pieces.
“There will be speeches from the artists, but people should come back and look when it’s not as crowed for a different perspective,” Roman said.
There are about 30 pieces in the exhibit with a variety of mediums, including five sculptures. Peig Abbott has two Rundlestone sculptures.
New CAG member Robin Hammer, who has four pieces in the exhibit, has works that are very large. Two of Roman’s pieces are also quite large and Edge Gallery’s David Foxcroft will also exhibit.
“We have a good representation of great local artists in this show,” said Roman. “Joan Dunkley did some quite interesting work by using ground material, mud and rocks, actually, and pieces of melting ice to shape the mud. It’s quite interesting, so most of the artists did experiment.
“Most like to explore the materials because abstract lends itself to it. If you want to paint a realistic interpretation of Three Sisters, you don’t want to be experimenting with different kinds of media, but for this you need to explore.”