Wednesday, 21 September 2011 14:34

TREX program brings contemporary art to some Alberta rural communities

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By Susan Quinlan — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The days of having to travel to Alberta’s large urban centres to view exceptional pieces of art are now long past, as the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA) Travelling Exhibition (TREX) program sets up in almost any venue.

“The mission statement of the program was to bring art to rural communities in Alberta. The TREX program assists in making both the AFA's extensive art collection and the work of contemporary Alberta artists available to Albertans,” said Xanthe Isbister, manager/curator of the TREX Program at the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre, Medicine Hat, one of four organizations which work together to ensure TREX is available to communities throughout the province.

“You’re busy with your life, your job and family, and there’s only so much time to travel. Also, kids are limited in the number of art projects they can do in school.

“The opportunity to see artwork in rural Alberta would be next to nothing if the program was not in place.”

For 2011-2012 the TREX offers a total of 14 new exhibitions representing the work of more than 100 Alberta artists, said Isbister. Exhibition themes are varied to suit every audience, with historic and contemporary artwork in a wide range of media.

Each exhibition comes with an interpretive/educational resource kit for use in schools. Exhibitions are designed for ease of handling and may be displayed in different ways depending on the type and amount of space available.

“We can also offer support for programs including video-conferences, artist visits and special events co-ordination.”

This year, three new exhibitions compose part of TREX and include the work of painter Dean Francis who lives and works at his home/studio along the South Saskatchewan River near Empress.

Francis’ exhibition is entitled Prairie Observations and features a selection of his recent landscape paintings, inspired by the natural environment he is immersed in, said Isbister. Imagery in the paintings such as sage-dotted short grass prairie, rhythmic coulees, dramatic skies and gnarled cottonwoods envelop the viewer.

There’s also Intangible Cultural Assets: Reflections of Korea, said Isbister, which is one of the most unique travelling exhibitions ever organized for the TREX program. For that exhibition, four metal artists including Linda Chow, Crys Harse, Kari Woo and Simon Wroot visually responded to their trip to South Korea where they saw museums of history, folk life and craft, and visited the studios of craft artists working in various media, and subsequently created a number of unique pieces.

New Visions is another new exhibition this year. It focuses on the growth of the TREX program, with over 400 exhibitions to date, and the influence technology has had on art over the last quarter of a century, said Isbister. This exhibition features works from the collection of the AFA including printmaking and photographic techniques called photo etching, mixed media pieces created with oil paint, collage, handmade paper, hand printed silver gelatin pinhole photographs, and techniques that combine photography and watercolour painting.

The TREX program is booked on a first-come, first-served basis, said Isbister, who recommended that requests be submitted early.

“Walking into a contemporary art gallery or museum can be quite intimidating. The nice thing about a library is that they’re so warm, so welcoming, it’s a whole (different) level of experience.

“We welcome southern Alberta venues of all kinds including schools, libraries, hospitals and visitor centres, to participate in our program and we look forward to serving your community.”

Cost for the TREX exhibit is $75 for each four-week loan period. The TREX program pays all shipping and insurance costs.

For more information about the TREX program, visit the website at: intro.html.

To request an exhibition, complete the form at the website or contact Isbister directly at 403-502-8586; email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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