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Wednesday, 09 July 2014 14:04

Swift Current art exhibition showcases the diverse perspectives of three regional artists

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Central Butte painter William Philpott (centre) speaks to visitors during the opening of the new Summer Series art exhibition at the Art Gallery of Swift Current, July 5. Central Butte painter William Philpott (centre) speaks to visitors during the opening of the new Summer Series art exhibition at the Art Gallery of Swift Current, July 5. Photo by Matthew Liebenberg

The diverse artistic visions of three rural-based artists are presented in the first Summer Series art exhibition at the Art Gallery of Swift Current.

All three artists were present at the exhibition’s opening afternoon on July 5 to talk to visitors about their works.
Art Gallery of Swift Current Director and Curator Kim Houghtaling said the purpose of the Summer Series is to highlight the work of three or four artists at a time. In previous years the gallery hosted a Summer Salon that featured the work of 10 to 12 artists.
“It was quite a wonderful and enjoyable survey of a lot of the professional and semi-professional artists working in this area, but it also didn’t spend enough time looking at individual artists,” he said.
The new Summer Series will be an opportunity for art lovers to gain a more in-depth understanding of the work done by regional artists.
“When visitors come here they want to see local art,” he said. “I always want to present local area artists ... but I want to focus on a fewer number of artists. In this case there are three artists. I’m thinking that two to three to four artists at a time, really curated, written about, do a more substantial job of presenting their works.”
Central Butte painter William Philpott uses his colourful oil paintings to tell the story of rural life around his hometown. Vladimir Marasovic and C. George Poole are both working out of studios located in the small hamlet of Admiral, which is about 65 kilometres south of Swift Current.
Marasovic paints landscapes of an imagined, idyllic world and Poole uses a variety of found objects to create multi-dimensional collages.
While their works are very different, Houghtaling said the three artists have a lot in common.
“They each live in a circumstance and work in a circumstance that is, I would say, in retreat,” he explained. “It’s not that they’re running away from something, but in fact, they’re moving to a better situation where they can settle down and concentrate and really spend all their time working on their art.”
The work of each artist also displays a strong sense of individualism and they are not “mannerists” who rely on the example or direction of other artists for their own work.
“They find their own way and achieve very personalized things,” he said.
Marasovic describes his paintings as dreamscapes that depict a world from his dreams.
“I just put my feelings into something,” he said. “I used to dream this and I called it dreamscape.”
He has always enjoyed looking at art, but he has never been interested in who created an art piece.
“I really never was influenced by anyone, just myself, my feelings,” he said “When I get them from somewhere I just did it.”
He was born in the former Yugoslavia and came to Canada in 1975. He worked in construction in Montreal and Toronto, and used his free time to paint. After a workplace injury in 1994 he focused more on his art.
He became friends with printmaker and publisher Gordon Novak, who convinced Marasovic to move to Admiral in 2010.
Marasovic is living and working in the former community school building, which has been converted by Novak into a studio.
“I enjoy painting here because it’s a big room,” Marasovic said. “It’s a quiet place. You can focus on yourself and your feelings.”
Poole has purchased the old skating rink in Admiral, where he works on his art during the summer. He is a 10-year lung cancer survivor and for health reasons he lives in Swift Current during the winter months.
He has befriended Novak and described him as an important influence. Poole has concluded a five-year agreement for the sale of his artworks with Novak.
“That blew my mind that my art was good enough that an international art dealer would sign a five-year contract with me,” Poole said. “This encouraged me tremendously.”
His artwork is inspired by his own life, his surroundings and by religion. He described his work as “California punk.”
“I paint the good, the bad and the outrageous,” he said.
According to Poole he is often asked by people about his inspiration and where he finds the ideas for his art.
“I believe I’m directed by God,” he said. “You’ll notice that all of my art all refers to God first. God is number one in my live.”
Philpott grew up on a farm near Central Butte, where his father produced purebred Shorthorn and Charolais cattle.
“We raised cattle on our farm and we also did grain farming,” he said. “Basically I take a sketch from a location and then I add content to it. I add stories from my life and the machinery, the lifestyle, the animals, the crop patterns, the rock piles out there.”
He wants to use his paintings to create a greater appreciation for Saskatchewan’s rural lifestyle, which is a cultural way of life.
“I think I’m very much part of the moment that says Saskatchewan is not a boring place and the rural life is a wonderful life to live,” he said. “A lot of people think they’re missing something in living here and I’m saying no. You have the best lifestyle there is in rural Saskatchewan and there are jewels in the culture to do with that agricultural farming lifestyle far beyond just the fact that you’ve made some money this year on your crops.”
His goal is to be a Saskatchewan artist and he has no interest in creating art that will appeal to people in a big city such as New York.
“Why are we trying to do New York when we’re living in Saskatchewan?” he asked. “Why not do Saskatchewan? Why not be a Saskatchewan person? Do art about what we live with right here.”
The Summer Series exhibition will be on display in the Art Gallery of Swift Current until Aug. 24. A walk and talk tour by the artists and curator will take place during the coffeehouse evening on Aug. 23. The event will start at 7 p.m. and there will be a $5 cover charge for the reception with hors d’ oeuvres, a cash bar and live music.

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