The beautiful gardens of the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage continued to inspire artists throughout 2017 during the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery’s En Plein Air artist opportunities, and the fruits of their labour will be on display at the Dr. Foster James Penny Building December 2-22.
From May through August 2017, the uLethbridge Art Gallery hosted three “En Plein Air days” and the Faculty of Fine Arts hosted the Coutts Centre Arts Festival on July 23 – a day of live music, art making, garden tours and a performance by the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society. The works submitted for the En Plein Air 2017 exhibition represent the work of participating artists, depicting the many moods, weather systems, and lighting conditions of the Coutts Centre, from blossom to harvest. The array of colours and media in this exhibition are as diverse as the grounds at the Coutts family homestead.
“This year we are excited to present 97 distinct pieces from 29 artists that joined us at En Plein Air this summer,” says Jon Oxley, uLethbridge Art Gallery administrative manager. “There are 92 2D works, with one artist submitting 26 small pieces installed in a grid, and the rest are 3D sculptural works including a grouping of five ceramic poppy heads with metal stands, small knitted yarn pieces, a wall mounted grain silo and a large quilt.”
Donated to the University of Lethbridge in 2011, the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage has become a living classroom where students, faculty and visitors can make use of the natural setting to study the history, artwork, ecosystems and geography associated with the area.
“Dr. Jim Coutts believed strongly in supporting the arts,” explains Oxley. “It’s an honour to help continue his legacy by inviting artists to his property each summer and seeing their work exhibited soon after.”
Co-sponsored by the Faculty of Fine Arts and Alumni Relations, En Plein Air opens with a reception on Saturday, Dec. 2, 3-5 pm in the Penny Gallery. The exhibition, running until Dec. 22, is open to the public Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.