Art and literature combine in local art show

Susan Delaney is a Red Deer visual artist that started exhibiting in 2007.

Her latest show, Readings, at the Harris-Warke Gallery downtown, is described as a solo mixed media/sculpture exhibit.

“It is equal parts aesthetics, logos and whimsy,” says Delaney. “It started with an idea running around in the back of my mind that became a contemporary look at the Book of Hours (the medieval Book of Hours contained richly illustrated prayers said at specified hours of the day).

“It’s been in the works for quite awhile and is made up of eight sculptures and two paintings. Knowing about the Book of Hours is not crucial to understanding or appreciating the show.” Perhaps not surprisingly for a show entitled Readings, the sculptures are made from old books.

In her artist’s statement she says, “This idea intersects with an exploration of notions of meaning, which fascinate me not only in themselves, but in the way they wander through the disciplines, connecting, crossing paths and coming full circle again.

“For example, one of the works, Botticelli’s Beviary is a completely closed book, but the cover is excavated so it has two little windows, and in one you can see a clamshell and in the other a little Venus,” echoing classical artist Botticelli’s famous work of Venus rising from the sea.

Delaney is probably better known among the City’s art community for her colourful paintings of fish and the Red Deer River.

“Once I decided I could do this show any way I wanted, it was a lot of fun creating it. I’m generally a painter, so this is a step out of the box for me.”

Readings opened Jan.10 and closes Feb. 11. A reception at the gallery (4924 Ross St.) Feb. 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. and is part of next month’s First Fridays.

Delaney says she’s always dabbled in art, but it was only after her family was grown and she moved on from a career as a writer/editor that she was able to devote more time to art.

While she holds down an almost full-time job in administration at RDC, “I’d love to have more time to do art.” That could happen in the future.

She’s taken many courses through RDC’s Visual Arts program and tutored there too. She says the department “Has a well-deserved national reputation and you can interact with other artists, especially those with more experience.

“The department is a major influence on me; it energizes my creativity. Red Deer is an extremely supportive community for artists and there are a lot of little galleries around town.”

Delaney has had numerous solo shows in Red Deer and contributed to others. Her work is in private collections and in collections belonging to the City of Red Deer, RDC and the Red Deer Golf & Country Club.