RDC receives large art donation

  • Feb. 27, 2013 3:43 p.m.

Red Deer College received a large art donation at a reception held on campus Tuesday evening.

Central Alberta artists Les Graff and his wife Jacqueline Stehelin donated more than 100 pieces of art to the College. The artwork has an appraised value of $286,000.

Graff, the former director of Alberta Culture, also gave a lecture to attendants on surviving as an artist.

“My message to the students was to be positive when they leave this institution and also give them advice on what they can do to help themselves,” he said. “I’m very much aware of how students begin. I’m very much aware of the problems after they leave town. They step out of their fourth year and they say ‘now what’?

“One of the other pieces of advice to students is that once they graduate, they don’t need a whole lot of space to work. They can get by and you can do things without a lot of resources and facilities that have been offered by the institution. The resources offered to students in the institution are great while they are learning, but afterwards students won’t have that.”

Graff also had a presentation on Stehelin’s work, which has spanned more than three decades, that showed her progress over that time and how she dealt with the challenge of that.

Graff and Stehelin studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary. They were married shortly after.

“Then we went to Cranbrook, Michigan and I studied there for the year. During that time Jacqueline became a mother and a homemaker,” said Graff, adding the couple ended up having four children all together. “The children grew up and finally the last one was in school. Jacqueline decided to retrain herself as an artist. She went to the University of Alberta because at this point we were living in St. Albert.”

Graff, who is an abstract artist, has been painting for more than 50 years while Stehelin, who is a figurative artist, has been painting for 35 years.

“Over those years we have accumulated a lot of inventory. I am past 5,000 works of art. That’s a lot of drawings and a lot of paintings – big and small. Jacqueline has done 1,500. We have an awful lot on hand.”

As for the donation to RDC, Graff added he thought it could serve as an example to students.

“The work chosen by the College was basically the work that would appeal to the training of the students. This is education by example and that is really what the donation is all about,” he said.