UNIQUE SHOW - Diana Anderson of the Red Deer Arts Council poses beside some of the works on display and for sale in ‘The Gift of Ellen Lyons’. The exhibit features donated works from Lyons

Arts Council and Red Deer Public Library present new exhibit

'The Gift of Ellen Lyons' on display until Dec. 21st

Red Deer Arts Council and Red Deer Public Library are pleased to present ‘The Gift of Ellen Lyons’ which runs in the Kiwanis Gallery through to Dec. 21st.

The ‘First Friday Red Deer’ gathering is set for Dec. 2nd from 6 to 8 p.m. and refreshments will be served. The artists will be in attendance. Local guitarist Shannon Frizzell will be performing as well.

A private collection of art, including works from some of Central Alberta’s most notable artists, will be on exhibit and sale just in time for Christmas, said Diana Anderson of the Red Deer Arts Council.

“There’s some really fine work in here.”

Lyons, a local visual artist, donated numerous artworks created by herself, Kate More, Art Whitehead, Mo Leaney, Dennis Moffat and others – to the Red Deer Arts Council for fundraising purposes. Anderson said the exhibit really has been about two years in the making.

“I’m just thrilled with what she has provided us – there is some really awesome works here,” she said. “Ellen is a very, very generous lady.”

Meanwhile, putting the exhibit together and touching base with some dear friends in the artistic community has been an absolute joy for Anderson.

She’s enjoyed lengthy friendships with these artists, having worked with them via various exhibits over the years as well.

“What a delightful gift and we truly appreciate her generosity,” said Anderson of Lyons, whose work resonates with a compelling authenticity. Colours in some of the pieces are bold with a free approach to design; others are more intricately rendered with softer, muted colours.

Anderson added that Lyons attended Alberta College of Art and Design and had professors who wished to purchase various pieces that she created at the time. She’s proven to be a very versatile artist over the years as well, exploring various mediums while honing her own remarkable artistic skills.

“The Arts Council is indeed thrilled that Lyons found the Red Deer Arts Council to be a worthy recipient of such an impressive collection.

“The artworks also span the early careers of these artists – rare commodities in the local art market.”

Whitehead, More, Leaney and Lyons were and are prolific, talented artists whose works can be found in numerous private collections, as well as corporations, and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

As firm friends, they often exchanged artwork among themselves. “Now it is our turn to be wowed by these artworks and to have the chance to purchase works that won’t be available anywhere else.”

Anderson said Lyons had contacted her about some of her own personal collection, and wished to donate some of her pieces to a special exhibit that would benefit the Arts Council.

“Some of these works represent those older pieces that are no longer available,” she said. “Most of these artists’ pieces are in private collections.”

There are also a couple of pieces in the collection where Lyons couldn’t recall who the particular artist was. “Which is kind of fun,” pointed out Anderson with a chuckle.

There are several little sculptures by Leaney as well, and virtually everything is very reasonably priced, added Anderson.

“I’ve already purchased two,” she said, smiling.

Although Lyons has experience in a number of mediums, including zinc etching, copper engraving, plate and stone lithography, wood engraving, batik and fabric silkscreen, and sculpture and plaster casting, she said her favourites remain painting and printmaking.

Her work had been presented at various shows and sales in Western Canada, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.

Whitehead’s paintings can be found in private collections in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and the United States. His works are also in the collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

Leaney has had many shows and exhibitions over the last 30 years as well.

Meanwhile, receiving the works from Lyons also brought up the Arts Council program ‘Art Moves’ – a pilot program where individuals donate their two-dimensional art to the Council to be gifted to a variety of local organizations.

“We then arrange that the art finds a good home. This could include folks who are starting new lives or who have very limited resources and can’t presently afford to purchase art for their walls.”

Meanwhile, ‘The Gift of Ellen Lyons’ has a special place in Anderson’s heart. It brought about a wonderful opportunity to connect with old pals and look over collections of work that are absolute treasures.

“I’ve been friends with (these artists) for 30-plus years,” said Anderson reflectively. “We go back a long way, and they are good friendships.”

mark.weber@reddeerexpress.com