Celebrating Canadian Rural Living Through Art
The fourth annual Desmond Juried Art Exhibition and Sale opened Saturday in the Alumni Lounge of the Agronomy Building at the Ridgetown Campus of University of Guelph. Invited guests and artists were entertained by guitarist Rory Morris. The theme “Celebrating Canadian Rural Living” drew a record 82 submissions from which the jurors selected 51 works by 35 artists. The exhibition continues to 31 July.
As the founder of this event, Ridgetown lawyer Douglas Desmond says “I am pleased that once again a connection has been made with University of Guelph thanks to the participation of University of Guelph art teacher Pete Smith as one of our three jurors.” Smith was joined on the jury by industrial designer, musician and artist Cliff Simon and by Phil Vanderwall. Phil is a practicing artist, teacher and owner of Morpeth’s Talbot Antiques. The exhibition was expertly hung by Terry Birch with a team including Phil Vanderwall and Douglas Desmond. Maize Johnson and Donna Attewell assisted in organisation of the exhibition. Alex Schmoll’s team at London’ Brickhouse Productions created the web site.
A highlight of the evening was the acceptance by Ridgetown Campus President Art Schaafsma of the donation by Douglas Desmond of the mixed media work “Kent Heyday” by Irene MacCreadie. The first place winner in the 2008 Desmond show, “Kent Heyday” was inspired by work the artist did in the Wallaceburg Museum on the local history of sugar beet farming. “This is the first artwork ever donated to the Ridgetown Campus and we are delighted to be able to display it in the Rudy Brown Centre” declared Schaafsma.
The first place winner this year was Toni Hamel’s “The Wait”. The oil on canvas depicts a young girl asleep under an apple tree with a plastic container on her stomach. The seemingly idyllic image is a metaphor for the rhythm of rural living – a living spent “waiting for the eggs to hatch, for the harvest to start, for rain to fall”.
“Green Gold: Wheat” earned Lindsay Beaubien second place. The acrylic on canvas was “inspired by a walk down the lane at [her] grandfather’s farm near Kent Bridge.” The high detail of the heads of wheat in the foreground gives way to a more abstracted portrayal of the distant landscape. The predominant colour is “green gold” – a vibrant yellow/green which sings on the canvas.
Third place was awarded to Loralie Clemmensen’s lino relief “Silent Cover” – a stark image of tree trunks and shadows on pristine snow in the bush. The contrast between rigid upright trees and diagonal shadow lines hold the viewer as frozen as the landscape.
David Desmond, Irene McCreadie, Art Schaafsma
The jurors named four works for honourable mention: Rob Bajer’s “Rural Ruin 1″ acrylic of a highway #3 abandoned brick farmhouse which each year loses more of its fine architectural detail; “Reflection in the Lake, Northern Ontario” by Caroline Larsen – a thickly painted oil on canvas depicting an abstracted view of vibrant reflections on water; David French’s disturbing “Raccoon Cab” of a bloodied dead raccoon on the remnants of an abandoned truck in a dilapidated barn; “Harvest Time” by Joan LeBoeuf showing autumnal clouds above and a partially harvested hay field below.
Other works in the show stand out. Barbara Jane Jack sold all three of her entries at the opening including a Rondeau cottage threatened with demolition, the tail fin of a 1960′s car at a small town car show and a country shed. Photographer Peter Adamson showed a beautifully balanced image of rounded wheat set in front of upright wood fencing. Val West caught a rainbow crossing silos behind a field of corn. Marie Harold sold her typically delicate watercolour of “Whitehead Island”. Rosemary Hasner continued her fascination with fairy tales and fantasy with mixed media photography “A Midwinter’s Dream”. Ruth Driedger’s “Branching Out” emulates collage with acrylic images of autumn trees suggesting various ways of ‘branching out”; Brenda Braun’s art necklace references archaic relics, two red-winged black birds indulge in town gossip in Christy DeKoning’s “Morning News” and “Winter Silence” by Michael Pal is a life-like ramshakled old barn.
Artists to watch for include Karen Cantello who shows a giant cow portraits with “Talya”. Since exhibiting two bovine portraits in Ridgetown last year, Cantello has gone on to her first solo exhibition in Toronto with a second one person show planned for next year. Charlene McGill recently won second prize in the inaugural Tastefest Art Exhibition. Here she depicts half a dozen baby chicks with a slightly menacing attitude. And Ridgetown artist Fran Lucid’s diptych “Don’t Fence Me In” shows a growing understanding of her emotive landscapes.
The show is open daily except Sunday from 10am to 4pm until Friday 31 July. For further details check the exhibition web site on www.desmondart.com.
For further information please contact Douglas Desmond at 519 674 1944 or email email@example.com