‘Art at the Lake’ set to showcase works this weekend

The sixth annual Art at the Lake runs one day only – July 4th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sylvan Lake Best Western Hotel (5027 – Lakeshore Dr. across from the waterslide). There is no charge to attend the show and sale, which features fine arts and crafts by leading Central Alberta artists. Call 403-748-2557 for more information.

Local artist Pat Matheson, who hosts the event, said there has typically been a core group of artists featured at the event, with some new ones included every year.

Darrel Peterson, a glassblower and Mary MacArthur and Danny Lineham
of the Ponoka-based ‘Those Great Little Books’ will also be showcasing their creations. According to their web site, projects include, “Classic storybooks, sketchbooks, notebooks, diaries, gratitude journals, romantic books for lovers, guest books, photo albums and more. As well, we are always looking for unique one-off projects, either of our own creation or as special commissions.”

They also do rebinding of old or treasured books.

“They have really, really beautiful work. They are real artisans when it comes to putting these things together,” said Matheson.

Others included in the show and sale are local painter Kate More and Candice Meyer who creates silver jewelry. Arne Handley does the turquoise functional pottery and is featured in the Scott Gallery in Edmonton and the Willock and Sax Gallery in Banff.

Also featured this year is Wendy Meeres, who does both paintings and lamp work bead jewelry, and Trent Thomas Leach and Holly Elliott of the Red Deer-based Rogue Studios. Leach has 15 years of experience as a metal and glass artist and Elliott has more than 20 years experience with photography and 17 years in the adventure film industry.

Meanwhile, Matheson is excited about bringing together such a tremendous showcase of local talent. “The hotel is also just a phenomenal venue – it’s right on Lakeshore Drive, so it’s easy to get to. We also have a beautiful room to use – they just bend over backwards to make us feel welcome.”

As for Matheson’s own creative ventures, he didn’t originally set out to specialize in the creatively-rich medium of ceramics. Printmaking is what first held appeal.

But Matheson, who hails from Red Deer and now lives on a picturesque farm near Sylvan Lake, can’t imagine not working with clay and firing it in the ‘raku’ technique. The results? Gorgeous, iridescent pieces of art that are strikingly unique.

Matheson, who works as the City of Red Deer’s public art coordinator, couldn’t live on a more peaceful, scenic stretch of land – all the better for providing reams of inspiration. It was originally his grandparents’ farm, which they settled in the early part of the last century.

An interest in art surfaced at an early age, and Matheson went on to formally studies in visual arts initially at Red Deer College. But clay, as was already mentioned, wasn’t at the forefront of his thoughts.

He set his sights on continuing his education in Calgary with a focus on printmaking, but couldn’t get into that program. There was room in ceramics, however. It proved a pivotal season in his own artistic journey.

After he wrapped up studies in Calgary, he returned to Red Deer and began working at RDC. He later decided to pursue further education, so headed off to Regina for a Master’s degree and followed that up with another teaching stint at the university there.

After several years, he returned to Central Alberta and settled on the family’s farm in 2000. One of his first projects was to build a studio.

Matheson utilizes raku-firing with his ceramics. The method originated centuries ago in Japan, and features hand-molded pieces that are removed from the kiln while still glowing hot. He then places them in large metal containers filled with bunched-up newspaper, which of course promptly burst into flame. The containers are then covered and the pieces of clay are smothered in smoke. It’s all part of the magical process.

After a few minutes, they are placed in water and brilliant, shimmering colours and designs are the result. Beautiful, lustrous, and intricate, they also consistently look different under differing light sources.

Looking ahead, Matheson is also planning a multi-artist sale for Aug.15th at his place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. “Last year we had about 16 artists spread throughout,” he said. “I’m hoping for about 20 artists this year.”

For more information about the show and sale, call 403-748-2557. Check out www.patmatheson.com.