Absolute Prairie

21 November 2019

Absolute Prairie: Saskatchewan Landscapes in Watercolor and Pastel
by Fritz Stehwien, Compiled by B. Stehwien
Published by Landscape Art Publishing
Review by Michelle Shaw
$19.95 ISBN 9780991964956

Absolute Prairie presents a collection of iconic Saskatchewan images that are beautifully rendered by a man who was passionate about both his art and the prairie landscape he came to call home.

Born and educated in Germany, where he was traditionally trained in fresco and mural painting, Fritz Stehwien immigrated to Canada and settled in Saskatoon in 1968 where he continued to express himself as a visual artist.

In the foreword to this small, beautifully captivating collection of Stehwien’s work we are told that “for a man of few words and one who never held a camera in his hands his estate of thousands of works tells an amazing complete and fully illustrated life story.”

This collection comprises 39 of his works and, while some scenes are instantly recognizable, there is a helpful list of the places he captured with his art at the back of the book. Subjects range from Pike Lake in summer, sunset on Wakaw Lake, the Saskatchewan River in Fall colors, a historic view to the University of Saskatchewan, moose grazing at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm, elevators in early spring, a grid road in winter and an old homestead in Fall. Not surprisingly, his works are apparently sought after by people who’ve moved away from the prairies but who “nevertheless want to take a piece of the prairie with them.”

Although Stehwien worked in a variety of mediums including charcoal; pencil, pen and ink; oil and even woodcuts, Absolute Prairie is a collection specifically of pastel and watercolor images.

Stehwien, who died in 2008, was a lifelong artist. “He sketched and painted wherever he went whether professionally or just to capture what compelled him.” Absolute Prairie includes a black and white photo of the artist battling the prairie winds to capture the Battlefords River Valley in oil. He was clearly committed to his art!


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