Exhibitions opening at Mann Art Gallery show differing takes on Saskatchewan landscapes

Submitted photo. Judy McNaughton Banshee Video of automated assemblage behind drafting film print 112cm x 66.5cm 2018

The Mann Art Gallery’s latest pair of exhibitions features a pair of women artists creating landscapes inspired by north-central Saskatchewan, but using very different means of portraying the scenery.

Tonight the gallery is hosting an opening reception for a pair of exhibitions: a retrospective look at some highlights from Rigmor Clarke’s career and a multimedia show from local artist Judy McNaughton called ‘Being Among.’

“The commonalities are two professional female artists both living and working in north-central Saskatchewan and using the land and geography as the basis for their practice,” said acting curator Lana Wilson.

“They find their own ways to speak about the land. This is a really unique pairing — the media are very different because Judy is using digital and new media techniques. (Rigmor) paints with really big brushes — she has paint that is at least a quarter of an inch thick. In some areas of her paintings she is making these big sweeping gestures and layering colour right on the canvas with her brush, getting those great senses of movement.”

McNaughton’s work prominently features three televisions covered in translucent drafting film with drawings on them. The video flickers through the translucent paper and plays sounds as the multiple media in each piece interact with each other.

“This is a fantastic pairing because there are both dedicated artists that have deceased of studio practice informing their current work,” Wilson said.

‘They both take the landscape and the inhabitants of the landscape as their starting points.”

The Rigmor Clarke retrospective has been a show over two years in the making. Gallery curator Jesse Campbell, whose curatorial vision is credited with bringing the show together, made multiple visits to Clarke’s studio to carefully select and bring together pieces representative of several eras of Clarke’s accomplished career.

“What you don’t see here but anyone who knows Rigmor personally knows how incredibly prolific she is. She has thousands of paintings in her large Quonset studio,” Wilson said.

“It has an addition built onto it because the original Quonset was not large enough to hold all of her works.”

Rigmor Clarke immigrated to Canada from Sweden 70 years ago when she was 14. Her family moved to a ranch near Valemount, B.C. When she was 21, she took the eastbound train as far as her money would take her and ended up in Shell Lake, Sask. Later in life, she took art lessons with Bob Christie, Myles McDonald and George Glenn, and attended workshops at Emma Lake.

Her art is inspired by the scenes of Northern Saskatchewan. Her studio is called Forest Raven Art Studio. The raven makes many appearances in Rigmor’s work. She has dozens of large-scale paintings and thousands of smaller plein air sketches done on location when she’s painting.

Some of those plein air sketches make an appearance alongside the larger studio works they’ve inspired in the Mann Art Gallery show.

‘We’re showing works from the late 70s up until the most recent works painted in the bush on her last trip in 2014,” Wilson explained.

“Jesse really thought long and carefully about which pieces she wanted to choose to really show the breadth Rigmor’s practice. That’s why you see the floor mats in the Scandinavian folk art style and the Odin mural completed in 2018 in clay with the six panels talking about Swedish legends. We’re showing the range, depth and breadth of her practice.”

The opening reception for the two shows is set for 7 p.m. today at the gallery.