Reception for both exhibitions: Thursday, June 27, 2019
7:30 to 9 pm – Snacks and cash bar – Meet the artists!
James R. Page has been shooting photos since the age of 12, when he received a plastic Kodak Brownie Starflex camera as a birthday present. He bought his first 35mm camera in 1964, and published his first photo in 1965 in a local newspaper in Quebec. Since then several thousand of his images have appeared online and in print media: books, magazines, calendars, cards, posters, and more. He was the photo columnist and features writer for the national magazine Explore from 1988 to 2000 and during that period taught the Nature & Wildlife course at the Western Academy of Photography in Victoria, BC. He has run independent photo workshops in both BC and Saskatchewan. His book, Wild Prairie, was published in 2005 by Greystone Books.
In recent years James R. Page has been official photographer for the Living Sky Pow Wow in Swift Current and is a regular contributor of photos to Prairies North magazine. Thanks to 25 years of wilderness backpacking, his knees aren’t what they used to be, but he believes that his eyes are better than ever. He lives in Val Marie.
James R. Page: “Out here on the living grasslands of southwestern Saskatchewan, everything is measured against the powerful, raw forces of nature, and to borrow a phrase from Lorna Crozier, everything is small beneath the sky. I’ve been photographing the wild prairie here for nearly twenty years: the landscapes, the critters, the plants, the rocks, the wetlands, the storms, the people… but most of all, the light. Prairie light is like no other light I have seen. Anywhere.
I’m always trying to get to the essence, the core. To photograph the prairie well, you have to come to terms with space. The spaces between things. The apparent nothingness between the lichen-encrusted, glacier-deposited rock at your feet and the buttes rising from a flat— but not really flat—horizon. Walk across that terrain and you quickly discover that it isn’t empty at all. Winter tracks on the frozen river tell you who has been by in the night; summer birdsong, frog chorus, and the wind itself welcome you to a place as primal and as sweet as any on earth.
Wild prairie captivated me the first time I experienced it, camping alone out in the newly created Grasslands National Park in the 1980s. It bowled me over like a feather in a 100 kph gust of wind, and it has never stopped. I hope it never will.”
Early in 2019, a call went out to Saskatchewan artists, far and wide, inviting participation in a group exhibition. Every artist who responded would have at least one work included and the only restriction was one of size—all works were to be no larger than 9 x 12 inches.
Art events such as this always surprise and inspire, and provide an opportunity for beginning artists as well as more experienced ones. The work is as varied as the audience.
“Desolate? Forbidding? There never was a country that in its good moments was more beautiful. Even in drought or dust storm or blizzard it is the reverse of monotonous once you have submitted to it with all the senses. You don’t get out of the wind, but learn to lean and squint against it. You don’t escape sky and sun, but wear them in your eyeballs and on your back. You become acutely aware of yourself. The world is very large, the sky even larger, and you are very small. But also the world is flat, empty, nearly abstract, and in its flatness you are a challenging upright thing, as sudden as an exclamation mark, as enigmatic as a question mark.
It is a country to breed mystical people, egocentric people, perhaps poetic people. But not humble ones. At noon the total sun pours on your head; at sunrise or sunset you throw a shadow a hundred yards long. It was not prairie dwellers who invented the indifferent universe of impotent man. Puny you may feel there, and vulnerable, but not unnoticed. This is a land to mark the sparrow’s fall.”
– Wallace Stegner, Wolf Willow
In the Cloakroom Gallery: Meditations on the Grasslands by John J. Penner
John J. Penner, 70 Mile Butte (photograph: salt print)
In the Museum Gallery: Apron Pocket Archives by Madonna Hamel
Madonna Hamel, Gleaners, Scavengers, Foragers (mixed media)
In the Cloakroom Gallery at PWSS, Saskatoon photographer John J. Penner presents Meditations on the Grasslands, an exhibition of salt-printed photographs that invite the viewer to enjoy a moment of contemplation and fill their eyes with the expansive spaces that are the great Canadian grasslands. “In a digital age, images are ubiquitous and consumed voraciously, then discarded without much thought,” says Penner. “Handcrafted images slow down this process and allow for a more contemplative approach to visualization.” The salt printing process was invented in the 1840s and was the first reproducible process to yield an image on paper which could be waxed to make it transparent enough to act as a negative. The photographs in this exhibition seem to take the viewer back in time to imagine the past when vast herds of buffalo roamed the North American central plains.
In the Museum Gallery, Madonna Hamel is showing Apron Pocket Archives, colourful mixed-media collages that are the result of two years of research, writing, collecting, corresponding, conversing and musing about the apron. “As a portal into the history of women, whose role and presence in society have, for the most part, served as supporting characters advancing the biographies and stories of the men in their lives, the apron contains gleanings of wider stories,” says Hamel. “Apron Pocket Archives is a creative attempt at exploring encounters between settlers and indigenous people, past and present, dreams and waking, animals and humans, by use of “traces”, “ghosts”, juxtapositions and introductions of characters who more than likely never had a chance to meet.”
Prairie Wind & Silver Sage works in partnership with the local community and Grasslands National Park of Canada to promote the conservation of native prairie landscapes, while inviting the exploration and appreciation of prairie culture and natural history. PWSS is open seven days a week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm until August 31, and then weekends until September 16. The exhibitions continue throughout this summer season.
2016 art exhibitions at Prairie Wind & Silver Sage
In the Cloakroom Gallery: Amazing Sky, photographs by Sherri Grant
Sherri Grant, Winter Dance
Sherri Grant is first and foremost involved in agriculture, and she and her husband Lynn, along with Lynn’s brother Dean, operate the Grant Ranch near Val Marie, an 11,200-hectare spread with 1,600 head of cattle and harvesting both annual crops and forage. Grant Ranch celebrated 100 years in 2010. In the early 1990s, in a desire to show others the beauty and diversity in the prairies, Sherri Grant began taking photos of wildlife and flowers around Val Marie and soon had a photographic collection of over 70 species. This has evolved into her current passion for the mystery and magic of the night sky. Sherri continues to capture the beauty she sees in her area.
In the Museum Gallery, My Mother’s Apron, photo collage with mixed media by Madonna Hamel
Madonna Hamel, The Making of the Last Harvest Supper
Madonna Hamel, BA, BFA, studied performance and literature. Her performance pieces/monologues/collages have been published in literary journals such as Capilano Review, Room, Fireweed, and others. As a journalist she contributes to CBC radio and the Globe and Mail. Her radio documentaries have won awards, including the New York Festival of World’s Best Radio. In Quebec she fronted the band Aunty Maddy and worked as a backup singer, touring professionally in the United States. She continues to write songs and is currently working on a book, Habits, Orders & Vows, about faith as inheritance. Her mother was born in Val Marie in 1930.
2015 art exhibitions at Prairie Wind & Silver Sage
In the Cloakroom Gallery: Articulated Places, oil paintings on TerraSkin paper by Edie Marshall
Edie Marshall is a Saskatchewan landscape painter who is interested in the environment, the history and culture of the land. Most of her work is about the prairies where she finds an unlimited and often overlooked source of colours and shapes, ideas and images. Edie paints large energetic canvases and small intimate ones as a way to describe the vastness and energy of the land with its diverse and unique ecosystems. Edie’s studio is located in Regina, Saskatchewan and whenever possible she works outdoors researching new ideas, often with brush in hand.
In the Museum Gallery: The Last Cowboy and a New Generation, photographs by Judy Gunter
Judy Gunter is a lifelong ranchwoman as well as a self-taught photographer. She brings her insight into the colour, light, and rhythms of ranching to all her photographs, so viewers too can experience the lifestyle that is the southern Prairie’s foundation. Part of Judy Gunter’s aesthetic is her faith in being able to make her camera see what she sees. She does not edit her photos as many digital photographers do; she allows them to speak as they were made. This immediacy is the start of the viewer’s encounter with Judy Gunter’s land and life near Val Marie.
2014 art exhibitions at Prairie Wind & Silver Sage
In the Cloakroom Gallery: Postcards to Buffalo Land: Scenic Salutations and Storms of Controversy, oil paintings on paper by Diana Chabros
“Diana Chabros” Impending Storm
Diana Chabros strives to honour the land and therelationship humans have to it. She maintains a studio practice, operates a B & B, and consults with performing artists from her home in Val Marie, near Grasslands National Park. Diana Chabros’s artwork can be found in both private and public art collections including the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Village of Val Marie.
In the Museum Gallery: Landing Hard: Honouring Prairie Women Settlers, Limited edition beeswax transfer prints on paper by Marlena Wyman
Marlena Wyman, Prairie Mother
Marlena Wyman is a third generation prairie woman, born and raised on her family farm near Rockyford, Alberta. She is an Edmonton artist who received her degree in Visual Art Education at the University of Alberta. Her work has been exhibited across Canada, and is included in private and public collections in Canada and the U.S.