The James Weir Peoples' Choice exhibit is currently on display at the Allie Griffin Art Gallery. The much-loved January tradition is an opportunity for local artists to display their works and for art lovers to vote for their three favourite pieces. Until January 31, anyone can visit the gallery, which is located on the lower level of the Weyburn Public Library, during regular library hours.
According to Weyburn Arts Council chair, Heather van der Breggen, the purpose of the James Weir show is to give exposure to local artists of all different levels of accomplishment.
"This is a fabulous opportunity for up-and-coming artists and selling artists to expose their work to the public," she said, noting that although many people are drawn into the gallery by the works of more popular artists, everyone gets to see the rest of the artists' works as well.
This year's contributing local artists are Shelly Babiarz, Barry Lautner, Tara Keating-Jaap, Janie Himsl, Don Morton, Heather van der Breggen, Gary Cooney, Erin Sidloski, Todd White, Rickee-Lee Webster, Tina Hudson, Jon Gillies, Terry Creurer, Lyn Johnson, Jan Keating, Grace Rose Holyer, Erin D. Graas, Donna Kolbinson, Alex Miles, Diana Hume, Kim Schneider, Jean Fahlman, Max Himsl, Shelley van de Sype and Regan Lanning, as well as a newcomer to Weyburn, Peter Tucker.
Peter Tucker's submission to the Peoples' Choice competition is, at first glance a seemingly quaint, pastoral scene. The painting, 'Canola Harvest' certainly is a picture of the prairies, speaking to progress as well as to perspective, with detailed attention to the relationship between the patterns of nature and the super-imposed patterning of agriculture.
The work's canvas is square, which is certainly not traditional, while the content of the piece is like looking out a window onto a prairie field. Anyone who hasn't seen other works by the Toronto-born artist would likely conclude he is a product of the Land of Living Skies.
Tucker's fascination with the prairies goes back to a time when he was a child and his family moved from the city life to a small town in northern Saskatchewan. Although his family only spent three years there, the prairies left Peter with a lasting impression of the freedom and beauty of open spaces.
Five years ago, Tucker visited Regina and during his flight home to Montreal, the 'patchwork quilt' view of the prairies from the sky sent him on a new path of inspiration.
Tucker enjoys portraying the patterning of land, its divisions and its networks.
"If you don't know my other work, then you think I am a traditional painter," said the artist, who makes his own canvas out of wood, in order to accommodate his use of casein paint.
"Casein is the protein from milk," said Tucker. "It's used as the binder, but it's brittle, so you can't use a flexible surface." He noted that he began using casein as his medium more than 25 years ago, after quickly realizing that, for him, it was 'the medium to work with'.
"The oldest paintings found have been of casein, because of its longevity," he said. "It can last like no other paint. It's got so many attributes that other paints don't have. For one, the colours, I find, are a lot like oil, but it dries very dry - it's not oily, it's not viscous, so you can actually do many layers and sand it down, through the layers."
A woodworker by trade, Tucker also paints landscapes onto wooden spheres, depicting an aerial view of, for example, the prairie patchwork, sanding through several layers to reveal a heavenly perspective of the land. Tucker has created these works using a variety of images. In fact, he is currently working on one that incorporates the local landscape.
The Peoples' Choice should be a boon for the new resident of Weyburn, who just moved from Montreal in July of 2012. The lifelong artist's first full show at the Allie Griffin is scheduled for 2015.
The James Weir competition will conclude with a gala on January 31 at 7:00 p.m. at the Allie Griffin Gallery. The winners will be awarded and refreshments will be served. All are welcome to attend.