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Art exhibit focuses on Western and Indigenous culture

Among the many activities happening over the Labour Day long weekend were two art exhibits hosted by the St. Paul and District Arts Foundation from Sept. 1 to 3.

ST. PAUL – As people dispatched following the 2023 Rodeo Parade in St. Paul on Sept. 2, the day was far from over. Among the many activities happening over the Labour Day long weekend were two art exhibits hosted by the St. Paul and District Arts Foundation from Sept. 1 to 3. 

Walking inside the Foundation’s building, people were welcomed with an exhibit consisting of a collection of work representing the Western and Indigenous cultural traditions. There were paintings, sculptures, and photography, all exploring various themes. 

Valerie Pratch, a member of the Foundation’s board, said the exhibit aimed to create an inclusive space for members of the community to appreciate the cultural traditions. 

The exhibit, dubbed “Trail Blazers,” is part of the Alberta Culture Days celebration in St. Paul. 

Tammi Etherington curated the exhibit and contributed to more than half of the collection, either through her own work or her mother’s. She toured people around, telling them about the history behind the many collections, and the artists who created them. 

Etherington said she’s pleased with the “spectacular” response from people. For Etherington, the exhibit is not about making any kind of statement.  

“We just want people to come in and enjoy our beloved pieces of art that have taken so many hours of painstaking work to produce, and just have a few moments to appreciate them.” 

In addition to the exhibit, continuous all-ages art workshops were also held as part of the Trail Blazers program, teaching members of the community to create their own craft, taking inspiration from the exhibit. 

Samantha Mudryk, a local 15-year-old artist and painter, who is also a summer student for the Foundation, was among the teachers of the workshop. She guided people, helping them express their creativity. 

Mudryk also completed her mural painting the prior week behind the Foundation’s building – a depiction of what the Foundation is about – the celebration of art.  

Local Painter

Pratch noted the Foundation’s mandate of promoting art and artwork involves working with artists to help them showcase their work. Such is the separate art and sale exhibit by Krista Chenard from Elk Point, located just one room away. 

Chenard has been an artist throughout her life, having also taught piano for 23 years. She also started painting six years ago. Chenard’s painting, “Mount Assiniboine,” also won the beginner category during the North Zone of the Alberta Community Art Clubs Association (ACACA) art show held in St. Paul last year. 

“[Art] is my way of releasing pent up emotions. If I’m not doing music, I’m painting the music,” she said. Chenard’s paintings have an Impressionist style, an artistic movement dating back in the 19th century, encompassing both painting and music mainly developed in France. “That just means that I take what I see,” while putting her own spin to the style. 

Many of her paintings reference places in Alberta. 

Chenard said that selling her art and getting her name out into the community were among the reasons for putting on an art exhibit. But it was also about showcasing her paintings and allowing the community to enjoy them. 

Speaking both of the Trail Blazers exhibit and her own, Chenard commended the Foundation for hosting the exhibits. To have art-related events and activities happen in a small town is amazing, said Chenard.