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Fall / Winter 2008

Issue 11

of the Peace A Publication for the Visual Arts

LAINE DAHLEN Master Apprentice Angles, Curves and Light Three Figure Artists art of the peace I

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The (First and) Last Word: Yin and Yang by Wendy Stefansson


or every truth, there is an equal but opposite truth. Yin and yang: a philosophy of duality.

Half black and half white, the two parts of the yin-yang circle make up a single unity. Each completes the other. Each is equal to the other, but opposite. Where one shape waxes, the other wanes, achieving its fullness elsewhere. And each half contains something of its opposite, the way the dark of the night contains the light of the moon and the day contains deep shadows. Duality is the theme of this issue, represented in both its form and its content. (If you haven’t noticed yet, flip it over. Check out our front cover and our other front cover!) Continued on page 3...




contents IX

Angles, Curves &



Editor: Wendy Stefansson Editorial Committee: Dale Syrota, Carrie Klukas, Suzanne Sandboe Design, Layout & Advertising: imageDESIGN Contributors: Eileen Coristine, Wendy Stefansson. Jody Farrell Publisher: Art of the Peace Visual Arts Association Box 25227, Wapiti Road PO, Grande Prairie, AB T8W 0G2 Ph: (780) 539-4046 (Dale); Printing: Menzies Printers Cover: Laine Dahlen, photo by Lindsey Mitchell.


Art Out There

Laine Dahlen

a gallery of ARTISTS

Art of the Peace Visual Arts Association acknowledges the financial assistance of: The Alberta Foundation for the Arts

Art Books in Review (The Other) Table of Contents

City of Grande Prairie Arts Development Fund

Q99 Radio Station

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art out there... Matta Fest


n the first Sunday in May for the past nine years, Christina Otterstrum-Cedar and her husband Mitch have held a celebration called Matta Fest at Historic Dunvegan Park. Through rain and shine and wind and snow, the maypole has been erected and the crowd has enlarged year by year. On May 4, 2008 the park was elegantly decorated with hand-painted banners, the sun was shining and several hundred people welcomed spring to the North Peace. This year the program included a fairy dance, belly-dancing, drumming, tai chi and a dance around the maypole.

Maypole at the Matta Fest

Mural in Fort St. John

A Painted Garden Art That Moves You


Judi Roberts painting for the Art That Moves You project.

f you’re waiting for a bus in Fort St. John these days, you will have more interesting things to look at than usual. The Fort St. John Community Arts Council, in joint partnership with the City of Fort St. John and British Columbia Transit, has commissioned eight local artists to paint large panels mounted on the sides of public transit buses in the city. “The idea is to promote the arts within our community and support local artists,” says Arts Council Executive Director, Tara O’Donnell. “The unique venue increases the exposure of these wonderful pieces to virtually everyone in our community.” The Art That Moves You project, as it is called, is in its third year. This year’s panels began circulating on buses in early September, and will be up for approximately three months.

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his past summer, the North Peace Cultural Centre invited the Fort St. John Community Arts Council to paint a mural on their southern exterior wall, facing their garden. Local artist John Green designed the wall as an abstract garden inspired by James Jean, the California-based illustrator whose ethereal images appeared on clothing by the Milan-based fashion house, Prada, earlier this year. The mural was then painted by two Fort St. John artists, Rosemary Landry and Suzon Anne Tremblay, each of whom brought her own influences to the work – the florals of Georgia O’Keefe and the sparkly metallics of belly dance costuming, respectively. The result is an aesthetic cross-fertilization worthy of a garden.

Pettit’s Peace


awson Creek, British Columbia photographer and graphic artist, Donald Pettit, launched his new book on September 3rd. The Peace: A Photographic History is a compilation of historical photographs of the British Columbia and Alberta Peace River regions. According to Pettit, the book is “all from local sources.” He didn’t go to national archives or even provincial archives: he sourced out his photographs in the places where they were taken. It’s all local, and that, according to Pettit, is “a big part of the book.” That’s why, when he was producing the companion DVD, Pettit sought out Dawson Creek composer and musician, Bert Goulet, to provide the original sound track.

Cover of Donald A. Pettit’s new book, The Peace: A History of Photography.

Pettit will be travelling throughout the Peace promoting his book and DVD in the months leading up to Christmas. Look for it – and him – in bookstores, libraries and museums across the region.

(from left to right) Shannon Butler, her grandmother Alveira Forbes and her mother Deborah Butler in the new kilnhouse studio.

Where Studio Meets Store


ort St. John ceramic artist, Shannon Butler, opened her combination studio and store in August. The business, called “kilnhouse studio,” is located on 101st Avenue, just a couple of blocks west of the Fort St. John bus depot. The studio houses Butler’s pottery wheel, workspace and kiln, as well as a display area where finished pieces are offered for sale. Butler’s wares include vases shaped into vintage dresses, mugs with carved muskoxen, sculptural pieces, ceramic pendants hung on silk ribbons, as well as “whimsical” watercolour paintings. The store is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm.

Following Betty’s Trail


he Euphemia [Betty] McNaught Homestead historic site near Beaverlodge, Alberta was once again the setting for an artists’ retreat weekend this spring. On May 23rd, 24th and 25th, artists converged on the site for workshops and demonstrations by Edmonton-based landscape painter, Jerry Heine. At the same time, Donald Pettit from Dawson Creek provided instruction and opportunities for field work in photography. According to event organizer Marjorie Henn: “The many diverse subjects available on the homestead [provided] … great fodder for the students to hone their skills and spur their imaginations.”

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Art of the Peace Symposium ‘08 by Jody Farrell

We’ve grown! The Sixth Annual Art of the Peace Symposium will be our biggest and most varied event yet! Running from October 24th through 26th this year, it has grown to include an auction, wine tasting, theatrical performances and hands-on art workshops in addition to artist’s talks by our three presenters. Beginning Friday evening, the arts-filled weekend continues right through to Sunday afternoon. Held in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, the Symposium will help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. Molly Raher Newman


olly Raher Newman pulls her car over so she can chat on the cell phone. The west coast actress is thrilled about her appearance at this year’s Art of the Peace Symposium as her favourite alterego, Emily Carr. “I am so excited to be coming to the fabulous north,” Newman enthuses. Emily Carr, the avid nature lover, would have approved. On Friday, October 24th, and again the next day, Newman will appear at the symposium in the person of the beloved Victoria, British Columbia artist-writer whose paintings and books have influenced much of how the world sees the Canadian west coast. Newman will inhabit the character of “Emilyas-painter” in about the 1930s, wearing her painter’s smock, and taking a break from her work. She’ll mill about the crowd, answering questions in her Newman-as-Emily persona. Newman knows her subject well; she’s been doing this for nine years, and has entertained audiences at the Emily Carr House and The Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. Emily’s love of nature, her somewhat shy, but witty character, and her many writings, both published and unpublished, greatly influence Newman’s portrayal.

Molly Raher Newman as her alter-ego Emily Carr.

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On Saturday, Newman presents her original “intimate theatre” performance, My Name is Emily Carr. The one-woman show covers much of the life and work of the artist. The setting is Emily’s studio, and includes Carr posters transferred onto canvas, as well as other props. She’ll speak of her many loves; nature, animals, and art. And she will sing. “Emily wrote songs and sang to her paintings,” Newman says. “Her music conveyed her joy of life.” Newman, herself both an artist and musician, infuses her show with quotes from Carr’s journals and writings, and her own extensive research. She welcomes discussion with audience members, answering, as best she can, in the person of the famous artist. Occasionally, a question arises that causes her to take off the Emily glasses, and answer out of character. Then, with glasses back on, in true Emily fashion, the renowned artist gives her final word on the subject.

Greg Crowe


his Perth, Australia, artist started pottery in 1974 midway through a degree in architecture, and though he did complete that first degree, working in clay became his life. Since then, Greg Crowe has travelled internationally, giving lectures and workshops on his unique wheel-throwing and wood-firing methods. Crow has built and used gas, oil and wood-fired salt kilns, as well as a number of wood kilns, ranging from 30 to 600 cubic feet. He has taught extensively throughout Western Australia, and the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Singapore.

Vessel by Australian potter, Greg Crowe.

On his homepage, Crowe states that his current work is salt-glazed, and concentrates on clay bodies and slips developed from locally dug materials. “I am fascinated by the colour responses in areas protected or shielded from full exposure to the salt vapours,” he says.

His vessels explore the textural boundaries of clay. Stretched and torn, roughly marked surfaces are enhanced by their salt-glazed veneers, and feature a diverse range in colour and translucency. His many approaches to working with clay, both directly and on the wheel have led to a worldwide reputation for enthusiastic and intuitive training. With over three decades of throwing clay to his credit, Crowe has imparted his knowledge to both beginners and advanced potters. He will speak about his own travels and techniques, as well as those used around the world. Crowe will also host a workshop in clay handbuilding techniques on Sunday.

Doug MacLean


his Canmore, Alberta, owner of Canadian Art Gallery has over 25 years experience in exhibiting and representing artists from across Canada. He has worked with many important dealers and art auctions and attended countless openings and galleries. Doug MacLean will speak about some of the now-recognized Western Canadian artists who, in his eyes, got a short shrift in history. Illingworth Kerr, Marian Nicholl and Maxwell Bates, are all artists whose work was overlooked by a Canadian art scene overly-fixated on the Eastern part of the country. He will include an overview of the work of Euphemia McNaught, whose art and Beaverlodge homestead figure prominently here in the Peace. MacLean will tell of his own relationship with area artists McNaught and Robert Guest. Doug MacLean

“It’ll be a fairly reality-based look at where Western Canadian art stands in history, and why this standing is not better,” MacLean says. “Even in the seventies, I saw [the above mentioned artists] as important. But they were ignored in the larger picture. I will make critical comments about why they were forgotten in the bigger picture.” MacLean likes to “stay loose” about his speaking topics. He will present a general overview of the Canadian art scene, past and present, what is selling, what price art fetches and why, and who to keep an eye on in the province and elsewhere. MacLean will also talk about government funding for the arts, as well as some the more positive aspects of creating art in “a void of listening and looking.” art of the peace IX

Angles, Curves and Light: Three Figure Artists by Eileen Coristine

Leona Cochrane


bserving and appreciating what is there is key to Leona Cochrane’s art since joining the Grande Prairie Figure Drawing Group. “I try not to have an objective,” she says. “If I can focus on the presence of the model I can produce something very strong.” Leona joined the group after studying art at the University of Lethbridge and Grant McEwan College. Working in the group has helped her sense of form and given her lots of ideas. “My process, on Thursday nights, is to get down the basic outlines very quickly in coloured chalk. This gives me a gesture statement of the figure that I fill in with an earth yellow, then I gradually block in the shadows.” “Observing what is there instead of trying to make it look interesting or dynamic can be a life altering thing,” Leona says.

Leona Cochrane. Calm Space.

Usually Leona works in oil on canvas producing large paintings of urban lansdscapes; familiar scenes are enhanced with colour and brushstrokes. Inspired by her weekly sessions with a model, Leona is now working on a graphic novel. “Figure drawing activates the brain to think of forms and maybe character,” she says. “I can draw out of my head now.”

Dale Sales


ale Sales’ figure drawings may result in paintings. Mostly though, he goes to the weekly sessions to get himself out of his comfort zone. “Every Thursday night I’m in a non-critical environment. I’m forced to draw and forced to share it,” Dale says.

Dale Sales. Contemplation.

Dale’s grandfather drew horses at the first Calgary Stampede and was an inspiration to the young artist. Horses are Dale’s favourite subject and he finds a similarity between drawing them and drawing from a nude model. Dale says the models have a positive experience with the drawing group; there is what he describes as an honouring atmosphere. Yet he recognizes that figure drawing has a stigma. “The public can’t handle figure drawing because of the taboo of nudity,” he says, “but you don’t even see the model when you’re drawing [him or her], you see angles and curves and light.” Along with angles, curves and light, Dale believes that there is a recognizable energy that is transferred to the painting or drawing. “It has nothing to do with the subject,” he explains. “What you’re painting or drawing is you – your energy. Paint with energy and emotion. Stay with the scale and let it flow.”

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Karen Longmate


aren Longmate is always up for the weekly challenge of figure drawing. There is an immediacy and requirement of presence that excites her. She asks herself “How do I transfer this amazing form onto paper?” Karen loves that by figure drawing, she’s part of a classical study. She feels successful if her drawings are true to the person modelling and have quality. “I like testing myself,” she says, “Proportions are always a challenge and so is capturing the likeness.” During the figure drawing sessions at the Centre for Creative Arts, the group warms up with twominute gesture drawings and then begins to work on a series of three twenty-minute poses. Although twenty-minute poses seem quite short to some artists, Karen is sometimes lulled by their length. She tells of a Red Deer Series instructor who took her class to a turkey farm to draw. “Turkeys are always in motion,” she recalls. “Back in class he had us draw from ten-second poses; they seemed luxuriously long, after the turkeys.”

Karen Longmate. Edo. Pencil.

Working with the models and seeing the interpretations of the other artists keeps Karen exploring art. “We have this beautiful drive to manifest the possibilities.”

The Alberta Society of Artists presents



a juried interprovincial travelling exhibition of S M A L L W O R K S OCTOBER 18 - NOVEMBER 16 Crowsnest Pass Allied Arts Council, Gallery on Highway 3 in Frank, AB

Judi Roberts Artist

p. 403-562-2218 | Opening: October 18, 1-3 pm

AUGUST 12 - SEPTEMBER 20, 2009 Chapel Gallery, North Battleford, SK

Other inter-provincial shows to be announced To join the Alberta Society of Artists call (780) 426-0072 or visit (250) 262-1445

Northern Arts Studio & Gallery 8038 - 100 Street South, Fort St. John, BC art of the peace XI

Art Books in Review Expressive Portraits: Creative Methods for Painting People by Jean Pederson by Wendy Stefansson If you are a regular reader of The Artist’s Magazine, you’ve no doubt seen the work of Calgary painter, Jean Pederson. Best known for her watercolour and mixed water media portraits, Pederson’s signature style combines figures rendered with depth and painterly sensitivity, and backgrounds flattened or textured almost to the point of abstraction. An award-winning painter with works in collections throughout the world, Pederson is also an instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design and Red Deer College’s Summer Series, she is also a contributing editor to The Artist’s Magazine. In writing Expressive Portraits: Creative Methods for Painting People, she appears to have collected many of her previously published articles, including a number of step-by-step “demonstrations” of her painting process. She has covered topics ranging from the fundamentals of watercolour materials, to colour theory, to comprehensive lessons on proportion. Pederson provides the basic building blocks to get a painter started, and then encourages him or her to take risks and break the rules. According to Pederson: “Expressing the human figure in a language that reflects the twenty-first century is perhaps the greatest challenge in figurative work today.” Funnelling both her passion for painting and a vocation for teaching into this book, Pederson has written what is essentially a phrasebook that will help artists to learn and develop this language.

'The Front Range, Evening Moon' Oil Knife Painting, 12 x 16”, 2007

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Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada art of the peace XIII

Laine Dahlen. Fall Afternoon. 1993. Oil on canvas.

Laine Dahlen Feature

Laine Dahlen Master Apprentice by Jody Farrell


aine Dahlen is projecting slides of his landscape paintings onto a screen in the visual arts studio. Slowly, I begin to lose all sense of time. There’s something so polished, so pristine about these fields and hillsides, that for a moment I wonder if it is the work of some long-dead master I’m viewing. I’d seen a couple of Dahlen works before, but the detail and old world feel of these images throw me into another era altogether. My art of the peace XIV

drive west across the Alberta border to his space in Dawson Creek, BC’s Northern Lights College has landed me back farther than just the one hour time difference. While all of Dahlen’s landscapes are local — some near Peace River, others toward Spirit River — the paintings, given their deliberate rendering and style, could easily be taken for over a century old. Grande Prairie artist Jim

Stokes, who years ago was himself inspired by a Dahlen landscape in the Prairie Art Gallery’s Permanent Collection, says the works call to mind those of 19th century painters Jean-BaptisteCamille Corot and Gustave Courbet. Those artists’ meticulous and deliberate pieces — unlike the more direct, somewhat brash paintings that came later in the 19th century — feature layers

of underpainting and carefully built-up compositions. Dahlen’s works draw from such masters’ techniques. “His landscapes are more realist, not loose, not impressionist,” Jim remarks when, a week after the Dahlen interview, I am still humbled by what I have seen and am pressing Stokes for historical references. “They are not painterly, but solid, built up, more like those that came just

Laine Dahlen. The Dealer.

before and influenced impressionism.” Dahlen’s creative abstinence of late has him calling himself less a painter and more a teacher. Stokes recalls his frustration at a similar comment Dahlen made at a recent arts symposium: “I just wanted to shake him when he said that ...‘How can you say that?’ I thought.” But Dahlen, who at 60 concedes to having “one foot in the nineteenth century,” maintains that truly calling oneself an artist requires constant devotion and practice. “I am such a traditionalist. Part of me would like to see the old guild system like the seven year system in Florence, where you worked under one person,” Dahlen says. He despairs at the seemingly dwindling practice of master techniques and realism. The excess of flat imagery coming out of our fast-paced technological world has resulted in students who, though many have a flair for animé and tattoos, show little aptitude in the studio. It’s perhaps in defiance of high-tech domination

that Dahlen does not use computers and describes himself as digitally illiterate. And yet in his single-year, eight-month course, he somehow manages to whip even the most perspective-challenged into shape. Val McMeekin, a former student and studio assistant of Dahlen’s who went on to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Lethbridge, Alberta, says her only instruction in traditional technique came from him. And while she sometimes faltered under his drive for perfection, she has no regrets about apprenticing under the teacher she affectionately dubs “Master D.” “He is a fabulous teacher and artist, very traditional. Of the artists I know, he is probably the most talented drawer and painter. I am glad my first classes were with him.” McMeekin found Lethbridge University art instruction, in contrast, to be completely conceptual. “They do not teach the basics of painting and drawing. In many cases it doesn’t matter if one can draw these days,” she remarks. Dahlen teaches a wide range

Laine Dahlen. Peace River at Taylor. 1993. Oil on canvas. Detail.

of painting methods that include imprimatura or underpainting, glazing (painting a thin transparent layer over a pre-existing one.), scumbling (layering a broken passage of colour over an underlying colour); and also a variety of media, including collage and silkscreen. McMeekin is grateful for Dahlen’s instruction on the deliberate building-up of layers, and recalls the considerable attention he gave to colour temperature and the push-pull effect of cool and hot colours. He is indeed fascinated with dualities and the interplay whereby elements can be both complementary and opposite. And not just the backgroundforeground spatial elements created in paintings, but the negatives and positives found in life itself. Several of his figurative works, while built up in the same manner as his landscapes, include an element of storytelling filled with double meanings, borrowed and reversed imagery, and elements both dark and humourous. The Dealer, a painting Dahlen made for himself, includes an homage to Edouard Manet’s

Bar at the Folies Bergère. To further push the intrigue in an already mysterious painting, Dahlen has flipped Manet’s barmaid’s reflection in the mirror. He painted her in a direct style, as opposed to the more traditional, built-up techniques employed in painting the coat of the man in the foreground. Another woman in the back sports a mask. “It all has to do with mirrors, what is reality, and what isn’t,” Dahlen says. Dahlen uses the painting to encourage, even provoke his students. This work, along with his trompe l’oeil surrealist painting Mysteriarch, betrays a fondness for manipulating reality. His collage Anima, named after psychologist Carl Jung’s term for the male’s unconscious, inner feminine personality, is also rife with dualities and doublemeanings. “He most definitely has the trickster in him,” McMeekin says of her former instructor. Still, Dahlen wishes he were “looser” in his work. Collage makes for more experimentation, allowing the “crazy and cockeyed” to reveal itself. art of the peace XV

“I am fond of it,” he says of the technique that culls from existing materials, photos, clippings, and art to create a new, assembled whole. “I’m more likely to grab two photographs that I would never have combined had I composed the image myself. Your subconscious takes over.” But even here, Dahlen will go to great lengths, adding and scraping layers of graphite in one, and lifting off images using lacquer thinner in another. “It’s still tight,” he says of his style.

vague earlier, saying that a rumour had circulated last year —“perhaps a wishful one”— following a celebration of his 30-year anniversary as a teacher. He spoke of a “hunger” for his kind of instruction, and wondered who might give it if he were to leave. Now however, having talked at length about those many years of coaxing creativity out of others, and nodding to some drawings he’s made of a would-be studio, Dahlen appears to be warming up to his own creative drive.

By the end of the conversation, which has spanned several hours if not centuries, Dahlen is toying with the idea of retirement. He’d been

“I’m an old bugger,” he says with a smile and a shrug. “Maybe it’s time.”

Laine Dahlen. Anima. (open)

Laine Dahlen. Anima. (closed)

Never in the Sunlight


aine Dahlen was born in Edmonton, Alberta and has lived in Rolla and Dawson Creek since 1948. He spent six years in Nelson, BC, where he completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Notre Dame. He also completed an etching (intaglio printing) course in Florence, Italy in 1986. He has approximately 50 years experience in painting, drawing and art history. His works reside with patrons throughout Canada, as well as in Britain, Italy, Japan, the United States, Australia and Hungary. A personal biography Dahlen wrote to accompany an exhibition in 1995 includes this argument for investing in his original artwork: “Original artwork offers you a one of a kind image, done by hand, not a limited edition done by machine. Each individual piece is signed and dated. [My paintings are made of] the best of durable, well-constructed materials and techniques. They are images of this area, or from the imagination, composed from original drawings or a combination of drawings and photographs taken by me, and have good resale potential.”

Laine Dahlen. Untitled.

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A footnote on the pamphlet asks that you “support your local artists and crafts people, and remember... Never hang your valuable, original artwork in direct sunlight.”

art of the Peace | Issue #11 (Part 2)  

Laine Dahlen: Master Apprentice Angles, Curves and Light: Three Figure Artists