The vastly different landscapes of the forests of the B.C. Interior and the wide open plains of the Alberta prairie are the subject of the latest shows at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre.
In the main room is Forests – a celebration of the bountiful and beautiful trees around Revelstoke. The exhibit coincides with the 100th anniversary of the B.C. Forest Service and contains work ranging from paintings to photography to pottery.
In the side gallery is Wide Open Spaces by a group of local artists calling themselves the Immersionists. It is based on a trip to Rosebud, Alta., by Nicola McGarry, Tina Lindegaard, Gwen Lips, Cherie Van Overbeek, Aran McCormick and Valerie Speer.
The shows are a contrast – the dense forests with its canopied layers compared to the big skies and openness of the prairies.
Lindegaard had works in both shows. In addition to her participation in the trip to Alberta, she also contributed what she described as an “experimental” painting to the Forests exhibit.
“The open spaces are really freeing to do because you get these big expanses of colour,” she said. There’s less detail, she noted, but “less is more.”
The Immersionists is the name the original Art in the Park group, who have been painting together since 2009 (plus and minus a few artists), have given themselves. The trip to Alberta was yet another opportunity for them to experience a new landscape, following trips to Glacier, Pacific Rim, Yoho and Waterton National Parks. This time they stayed at the property of Aran McCormick in Rosebud, Alta., which is 90 minutes east of Calgary.
As usual, they spent several days exploring the landscapes and bringing back ideas for paintings. The result if the Wide Open Spaces show, full of big, bright, flowing paintings, as well as one bird house and a series of abstract wood sculptures by McCormick that stand out for their unorthodox style.
The contrast between the two shows was something that piqued my interest so I approached Jackie Pendergast, Margaret Pacaud and Carol Palladino. The three were already talking and they are all active members of Revelstoke’s art community.
“I think the prairie is a landscape that is so unfamiliar to people living in Revelstoke,” said Pendergast, who has never visited the prairies.
Palladino noted the difference in the lighting. Whereas forests result in fractured, broken lighting, the prairies churn out big, bright landscapes.
“It’s all about light and the play of light is so different from one to another,” she said.
Pacaud said it was a sign of the diverse landscapes that exist in Canada.
Pendergast pointed out that the paintings in the Wide Open Spaces exhibit were generally much larger, showing the artists were “overwhelmed with the size of the landscapes.”
“The forest works are smaller, but they still convey the big trees,” she said.
Forests and Wide Open Spaces are on display at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre at 320 Wilson Street until August 3.