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Wednesday, 15 July 2015 16:55

Diversity of artworks on display at Southwest Open

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The annual Southwest Open, a non-curated exhibition for semi-professional and amateur artists, is currently taking place in Swift Current.

The exhibition at the West Wing Gallery, located in the Airmen’s Barracks at Kinetic Exhibition Park, started July 3 and artworks will be on display until Sept. 7.
An opening reception with a walk and talk tour took place July 11, with artists in attendance to talk about their works.
The exhibition displays the diversity of artistic talent in southwest Saskatchewan. Some of the artists have been in this exhibition a few times while others are displaying their works for the first time in an art gallery.
Eastend’s Robert Hagen has been drawing landscapes for about two years.
“I didn’t really want to get into painting,” he said. “I wanted to start drawing things with pencil and it just progressed.”
He draws with pencil on paper and also with wax crayon on sandpaper. Drawing helps him to relax. He enjoys looking at landscapes and drawing them.
“I just drive along the road and if I see something interesting I draw it or I keep it in my mind,” he said. “It might stay there for a few months at a time and then in the winter or some time I got time to do it, then I’ll draw it from memory.”
Hagen is excited to participate in this exhibition for the first time and he appreciates the opportunity to show his artwork.
“It’s a thrill of a lifetime and I just hope I can keep on doing it and get better at it,” he said. “This is the one way I can find out from other artists how to do things. I’m having trouble with the light and I’d like to make the subjects come out at you. That’s what I came here for, to learn.”
His works appear different against the gallery wall than when he looks at them at home.
“The way the lighting is here is really fantastic,” he said. “It jumps out a little bit at me now, and then seeing the other art too. It’s a really neat place to do it. I just hope I can keep improving now that I’ve seen what other people have done.”
Curcelle Stephens, who grew up in the Caribbean island country of Saint Vincent, is also excited to be part of the exhibition.
“My very first exhibition,” she laughed. “I just love colours and I just want people to look at something different. There are different types of paintings and art. It’s a view, what I perceive them from, what they see in my paintings, and I just hope that they love it — the colours and what I’m trying to portray.”
She has been staying in Swift Current since December. She saw a flyer about the upcoming exhibition that requested submissions from artists. She bought some canvasses and started to create new works.
“I just love painting and at home it will just relax me,” Stephens said. “Acrylics are very hard to come by in the Caribbean — it’s expensive. So when I got here, it was so accessible to me. I just took it on myself and I started painting.”
Stephens creates abstract paintings because it is a relaxing process when she expresses her thoughts through lines, circles and colours.
“It’s an emotional thing, it’s like how you’re feeling,” she said. “An object can come into my mind, a colour could come into my mind, an emotion, and then I just try to transfer that onto the canvas.”
Nicole Rewerts who was born and raised in Swift Current, has a strong association with the vast prairie landscape.
“I enjoy painting landscapes, rather than a still life or flowers,” she said.”Something about the prairies just affects me and I want to paint that.”
Rewerts will take photographs of landscapes scenes to use later when she creates a painting.
“I paint in the year of taking the picture so I can remember what it really was like and then whatever kind of mood I’m feeling, gets into the painting,” she said. “I try to use the colours and the brush strokes to express whatever I’m feeling.”
She has only exhibited her works a few times before. She participated in last year’s Imagine Swift Current exhibition.
“I haven’t exhibited much,” she said. “I’ve been trying to build my body of work more than promote it.”
She enjoys being part of this Southwest Open exhibition and receiving comments from people about her work.
“I like seeing how my artwork looks against some of the other artwork,” Rewerts said. “It just means more. If it’s just on my wall at home, it’s just on my wall at home. Here it’s out, people can look at it. I like hearing people’s comments, good or bad. It just makes it more worthwhile to go home and paint some more.”
The works of 16 artists are on display in the Southwest Open until Sept. 7. The other artists are: Geneviève Brideau (Swift Current); Julie Chickoski (Swift Current); Linda Duclos (Admiral); Milan Gerza (Kyle); Dennis Hall (Swift Current); Robert Horne (Swift Current); Parker Anthony Houghtaling (Swift Current); Dixie Kendall (Cadillac); Marilyn Kuhlmann Nimegeers (Swift Current); Michelle Pennington (Swift Current); Marilyn Sargent (Swift Current); Jody Seidler (Swift Current); and Charis Slusar (Swift Current).
The West Wing Gallery is open from 1-5 p.m. Friday to Sunday and holiday Mondays. Admission is free.

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