SPECTACULAR-Lorna Johnson

Glass 2009 showcased at museum

Intricate, colourful art on display through September

The Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery is sparkling with an exquisit exhibit of art fashioned from glass. Featuring 35 works by 14 of Alberta’s emerging and established glass artists, ‘Glass 2009’ runs through Sept. 26.

The project has been organized in partnership with the Alberta Craft Council and features pieces acquired last year for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts’ contemporary glass collection.

“Two years ago they decided to make a concerted effort to collect fine craft,” explains Lorna Johnson, the Museum’s executive director. The collection is stunning in both vibrancy and skill.

“It’s spectacular,” says Johnson. “Everybody is impressed with the quality of the works. It really is outstanding work. And it’s really impressive when you look at where the fine craft movement in Alberta has come. The last 20 years has just seen this explosion in people working on an international level. The quality of their work would stand up anywhere in the world.”

Featured artists include Phillip Bandura, Tim Belliveau, Katrina Brodie, Ryan Fairweather, Mark Gibeau, Robert Held, Martha Henry, Jeff Holmwood, Ciara Hossack, Bee Kingdom, Darren Petersen, Nathan Philips, Julia Reimer, Tyler Rock, Leslie Rowe Israelson and Keith Walker.

“One of our objectives is to put local artists into a national or international context.”

Established in 1972, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Collection is a celebration of artistic diversity. It’s aim is to preserve the work of Alberta artists as a legacy for future generations.

It includes thousands of works produced in media from painting, printmaking and photography to installations, sculpture, fibre, ceramic and glass.

Another fascinating exhibit being shown through to Oct. 12 is ‘From Red Deer’s Attics’.

With more than 16,000 artifacts, the clothing and textile collection of Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery is the fifth largest in Canada, said Johnson.

Spanning a time period from pre-European settlement to contemporary time, the collection is particularly strong in garments from the first half of the 20th century. It’s a fascinating look not just a clothing from other times, but lifestyles and fashion choices from other eras as well.

One of the oldest pieces is a beautifully-crafted shawl which dates back to about 1823, said Johnson. “It’s an heirloom that a settler would have brought to Red Deer when they came.”

The clothes have to be handled carefully in terms of storage temperature, humidity and light in order to best preserve them. In particular, Johnson explains that light damage is irreversible – thus the soft, muted light sources enhancing what’s on display.

A couple of years ago, Marijke Kerkhoven, one of western Canada’s experts in historical clothing and textiles, examined the collection and developed the exhibit which features rustic outdoor clothes worn by emigrants to western Canada to cope with the ‘bracing climate’, glamourous party dresses from the 1920s and sports clothing from the turn of the century which pioneered the fashionable look of the 20th century.

“These are her choices of what she thought were really remarkable in our collection.”

Kerkhoven is scheduled to give a curator talk Sept. 26 at 2 p.m.

For more information, check out www.reddeermuseum.com or call 403-309-8405.

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