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Home Arts Mann Art gallery puts focus on the north with newest exhibit

Mann Art gallery puts focus on the north with newest exhibit

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Mann Art gallery puts focus on the north with newest exhibit
Mary Joyce (left) and Myles Charles (right) discuss their paintings during the opening reception for the Mann Art Gallery’s newest exhibit: ‘Ways of Living, Ways of Painting: La Ronge and La Loche’. -- Mann Art Gallery/Facebook

The Mann Art Gallery’s newest exhibit puts the focus on social life in the north, but from two different perspectives.

‘Ways of Living, Ways of Painting: La Ronge and La Loche’ officially opened on Nov. 17. It features the works of Lac La Ronge Indian Band elder Myles Charles and award-winning painter Mary Joyce.

The two painters come from different backgrounds, but were paired together based on their mutual appreciation and fascination with life in the north. Exhibit curator Marcus Miller said he was pleased to get both artists in the same exhibit.

“It’s a cool thing that these two people have come together here,” Miller said. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful show, and they’re two very different perspectives.”

Joyce was born in Montreal, but has lived most of her life in Edmonton. However, in 1990 she travelled to La Loche to spend one year living and painting in the north. She created numerous drawings and paintings during that year, 20 of which were recently donated to the Mann Art Gallery. Those paintings focus on the role women played in the north, in cleaning hides, tanning hides, and looking after their families.

Charles has lived in the north his entire life. His work focused more on hunting, fishing, and life on the trap line. Miller said it was great to get a male and female perspective on northern life, as well as an Indigenous and a non-Indigenous one.

“They’re two very different painters,” he explained. “Myles paints things very straight—he’s just trying to look at things and paint things as they are. He’s a little bit like Allan Sapp in North Battleford.

“He’s painting genre scenes, just straight realistic scenes of guys going out into the forest on their trap lines, and going fishing and going hunting. Mary, on the other hand … her paintings are much more surreal. They’re swirling (and) from an artist perspective, it’s not an essay on how to tan hides. She’s looking and she’s listening to these women telling her what they’re doing.”

Miller began working on a joint exhibit after Joyce donated her paintings to the gallery. He initially began looking for contacts in La Loche, because Joyce had lost touch with the women she painted, and Miller hoped to reconnect them.

While there, he noticed Charles was a popular painter in the region. Since both artists tackled the same subject matter, he thought a joint exhibit would be of interest.

“When I went up to La Ronge, (Charles’ work) was in all these private collections,” Miller remembered. “He introduced me to all these people who had bought these paintings, and I borrowed like 20 paintings. I came back with a carful of paintings—back to Prince Albert—and we put them up in relation to Mary Joyce’s donation of her paintings from 1990, which are quite different, but they go together, really, quite beautifully.”

The Mary Joyce paintings are now in the Mann Art Gallery’s collection, but they won’t stay in the City long. Miller has already finalized a deal with the La Loche Friendship Centre to have them shown in the north on a rotating basis.

Miller said it’s a great educational opportunity to teach today’s youth what northern life was like 30-40 years ago.

The Mann Art Gallery exhibit runs until Jan. 14.