Iconic Elevator, The

25 February 2022

The Iconic Elevator: Vanishing Horizons of the Western Prairies
by Fritz Stehwien
Published by Landscape Arts Publishing
Review by Michelle Shaw
$29.95 ISBN 9780991964925

There are few more iconic images on the prairies than the majestic grain elevators. In the latest release from the Fritz Stehwien Estate, 37 works of art showcasing these aptly named Prairie Giants are collected together in a beautiful hardcovered book.

Barbara Stehwien, who compiled The Iconic Elevator, says that the giant wooden structures under enormous skies left a large impression on the Stehwien family when they arrived in Saskatchewan and Fritz was fascinated by what he saw. “These old elevators add a scale to the vast perspectives like no other structures do. [They appear] to simply dot the landscape in the distance, [but] become quite momentous when up close.” She says the book is a tribute to the incredible visuals of the wide open spaces of Saskatchewan.

The Iconic Elevator features images from around the province, including Yorkton, Swift Current, Marchwell, Sintaluta, Fleming, Melfort and Hanley. One painting shows a view from Meewasin Park and another features the University of Saskatchewan Elevator in 1982. Some paintings are simply titled Prairie Summer, Harvest Time and Winter Road.

I particularly loved the paintings that captured the endless sky of the prairies in all its vivid color. After Sunset, a drawing in pastels from 1978, for instance, is a glorious merging of purples, oranges and blues that gave me a sense of the dynamic vibrancy of a Saskatchewan sunset.

The book notes that when Stehwien tried to explain “the large skies and the unobstructed lighting playing on the scenery in his first letters back home, he was more successful simply expressing it in oils and pastels.”

Some of the images are oils and pastels but others are simple sketches in ink or charcoal which express a different sense of perspective and emotion.

At the back of the book, there’s a handy guide which lists all the places featured.

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

Previous collections of his works include Absolute Prairie, Scenic Bridges and Of Prairies Past.


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