Absolute Prairie
Landscape Art Publishing / 21 November 2019

Absolute Prairie: Saskatchewan Landscapes in Watercolor and Pastelby Fritz Stehwien, Compiled by B. StehwienPublished by Landscape Art PublishingReview 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…

Index: Roula Partheniou
Dunlop Art Gallery / 13 August 2019

Indexby Roula PartheniouPublished by Dunlop Art GalleryReview by Juliana Rupchan$29.99 ISBN 978-1-988404-01-1 Index is an art catalogue collecting the works of Roula Partheniou, a Toronto artist working primarily in sculpture. Index was published in Saskatchewan by the Regina Public Library’s Dunlop Art Gallery, and Regina locals may also recall seeing Partheniou’s exhibit, “Chalk to Cheese”, which was on display at the Sherwood branch of the gallery in fall 2016. Even a casual observer could find this catalogue satisfying to flip through: Partheniou’s work deals mainly with simplified, handmade replicas of everyday objects, making the book a veritable I-Spy of recognizable items. The primary colours and smooth designs have an oddly satisfying and almost relaxing effect, but closer observation also draws one into a strange in-between world, real but not quite, with the unsettling air of an optical illusion. It’s these questions, about how we perceive objects we might initially dismiss as mundane, that are central to the collection. The book includes photos of eight different exhibitions: several, including “Chalk to Cheese” consist of an array of replica household objects, leaving the viewer to determine possible connections between them or logic behind their arrangement. Others, like “Twofold”, take a more abstract…

Steeps of Time, The
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 6 December 2018

The Steeps of Time: Poems & Paintings by Victor Carl Friesen Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Reviewed by Ben Charles $25.00 ISBN 9781988783222 The Steeps of Time: Poems & Paintings is the latest publication from legendary Saskatchewan poet Victor Carl Friesen and his fourth collection of poems and accompanying paintings, both of which produce warm, nostalgic, and detailed recollections of the beautiful nature found in Saskatchewan and of life on the farm. Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing, this riveting collection of fifty-five poems is separated into two portions that each illustrate different themes in the author’s life. The first section, titled “A Burgeoning”, is comprised mainly of descriptive, traditional poetry that, as mentioned, describes natural phenomenon and rural life in Saskatchewan. The latter section, titled “The World Illuminated”, is far more abstract and delves into the emotions, opinions, and outlooks on life of the author. In both segments Friesen showcases his uncanny descriptive abilities that immediately transport the reader to the bountiful natural beauty found in Saskatchewan. While reading such poems as “A Leaf in the Wind” or “Spring’s Regalia”, I was reminded of times being out in the fields while hiking or hunting, appreciating the beauty of…

Assortment, An: Darkly Delicious Literary and Visual Oddments
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 8 December 2017

An Assortment: Darkly Delicious Literary & Visual Oddments by Marie Elyse St. George Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $19.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-83-6 The enticing title of Marie Elyse St. George’s latest book says it all. Delve into this tickle trunk of poems, stories (both fictions and truths), drawings, paintings, and cartoons, plus a tribute to now long-passed writer Anne Szumigalski, and you’ll indeed find something darkly delicious to make you smile, laugh, and think. Saskatoon’s St. George has earned an esteemed reputation as both a visual artist and a writer, and a career highlight’s been her 1995 poetry and art collaboration (with close friend Szumigalski) Voice, which resulted in both an exhibition at the Mendel Art Gallery and a book which garnered the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1995. She’s also collaborated with poet Patrick Lane, provided art for the covers of numerous literary journals and books, and published an award-winning memoir. While reading An Assortment: Darkly Delicious Literary & Visual Oddments, I procured an image of a young girl skipping through a field of wildflowers, plucking blossoms here and there for an atypical bouquet. This image was no doubt hastened by the book’s…

DAG Volumes: No. 1
Dunlop Art Gallery / 25 January 2017

DAG Volumes: No. 1 (2012) Editors Dr. Curtis Collins, Blair Fornwald, Wendy Peart Published by Dunlop Art Gallery Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $60.00 ISSN: 1929-9214 The Dunlop Art Gallery is a department of the Regina Public Library, thus it’s fitting that Library Director and CEO Jeff Barber provided the foreword to DAG Volumes: No. 1 (2012), a limited-edition hardcover celebrating seventeen insightful essays by eleven contributors, and 130 full-colour photographs that are the next best thing to visiting the DAG in person. The exhibition retrospective features work from DAG’s Central Gallery, its Sherwood Village location, and in situ art. As this comprehensive volume of the gallery’s 2012 exhibitions and events was released a handful of years ago, a little Googling enlightened me that then-director Dr. Curtis Collins now heads The Yukon School of Visual Arts (Dawson City), but I turn to his introduction for words on DAG’s 50th anniversary – the reason for this first in a prospective series of books. “Such a feat of longevity in Canada, by any cultural institution, should be duly noted.” Agreed! The opening essay, written by Linda Jansma, concerns the retrospective of art by Shelagh Keeley, an accomplished Canadian who works on paper…

Fritz Stehwien: A Retrospective
Landscape Art Publishing / 18 September 2015

Fritz Stehwien: A Retrospective by Barbara Stehwien Published by Landscape Art Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $9.95 ISBN 9-780991-964918 The softcover book Fritz Stehwien: A Retrospective, originally published in 1993 and later released with an updated biography, was a family affair. The book-not unlike a gallery catalogue produced to accompany a major artist’s show-is prefaced by introductions to the German-born artist’s life and work by daughter Barbara Stehwien and daughter-in-law Nancy Robinson-Stehwien. What follows is 20 attractive pages of black and white and colour images of the prolific artist’s work, including landscapes, portraits, and still-lifes. First, the man. In the introductions we learn that Stehwien was the quintessential artist, always ready to capture the spirit of what was around him, and as such he lived a full and interesting life. “I have not known him to go anywhere without his materials,” his daughter writes, adding that if he didn’t have everything that was required, he would “improvise using the back of painted or printed matter, even restaurant napkins.” She says he would use “any old pen rather than lose an important moment.” The use of “moment” here lends a clue to the value the subject of this book saw…

Wilf Perreault: In the Alley
Coteau Books / 2 June 2015

Wilf Perreault: In the Alley Edited by Timothy Long Published by Coteau Books and MacKenzie Art Gallery Review by Courtney Bates-Hardy $59.95 ISBN 978-1-550505955 Wilf Perreault: In the Alley is a stunning coffee table book. The book design itself is enough to tempt anyone into picking it up and buying it. A sizable book at 12” by 10”, it certainly does justice to Perreault’s beautiful and large-scale images, although it’s difficult to top seeing them in person. What the book offers is an engaging and insightful background on Perreault’s life, art, and the many ways he has touched others. In the Alley begins with an introduction by Timothy Long, the head curator at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. He gives a brief overview of Perreault’s childhood on a farm near the French-speaking villages of Henribourg and Albertville. The book, it should be noted, is appropriately presented in both French and English. Long moves from Perreault’s childhood to his time at the University of Saskatchewan and then as a teacher, all the while tracking Perreault’s growth as an artist and the connections he makes within the community. The most fascinating parts of Long’s introduction are the back stories he includes for some…

The Vaults
University of Regina Press / 25 September 2014

The Vaults: Art from the MacKenzie Art Gallery and the University of Regina Collections edited by Timothy Long and Dr. Stephen King Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $39.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-289-2 Opening The Vaults is like cracking open a safe, revealing the cultural treasures stored in the collections of the MacKenzie Art Gallery and the University of Regina. This visually inspiring coffee table book explores only a fraction of the more than 4,500 works of art. The core of this collection originated when prominent Regina lawyer Norman MacKenzie started amassing art by European and Asian masters, along with emerging Canadian artists such as Inglis Sheldon-Williams. When MacKenzie began building his collection, art was not greatly appreciated in Regina. People thought he was foolish to spend his money this way. He lamented that it would be easier to sell 200 automobiles than to give away oil paintings. MacKenzie had to rebuild his collection after a tornado in 1912 virtually wiped out the pieces he had accumulated. One painting, ironically titled Storm at Sea, survived the storm and is reproduced in this lavishly illustrated book. When he died in 1936, MacKenzie bequeathed his collection of artwork and antiquities…

In Black and White
Landscape Art Publishing / 14 May 2014

In Black and White: A Stroll Through Canadian Landscapes by Waltraude Stehwien Published by Landscape Art Publishing Review by Jessica Bickford $19.95 978-0-9919649-0-1 In Black and White: A Stroll Through Canadian Landscapes is a book unlike any other I’ve encountered. It is a collection of scissorcuttings, also known as papercuttings, which are an art form with a history that traces all the way back to sixth century China. Using only black paper and negative space Waltraude Stehwien creates evocative landscapes and cityscapes that are instantly recognizable to anyone who has travelled through Saskatchewan and Western Canada. The only text in the book is the title of each piece, and the only colours are the simple black and white of Stehwien’s artwork, but as you flip through each page, you can’t help but feel there is a story here. There is also a depth and a kind of warmth that comes from Stehwien’s work, and almost a sense of nostalgic serenity from the prairie scenes that are often devoid of people and wildlife. You can tell you are looking at something that took a lot of time and skill to create, and you can almost feel the chill winter wind, or…

Building a Legacy
Coteau Books / 3 April 2014

Building a Legacy: Edmonton’s Architectural History by Ken Tingley, with Lawrence Herzog Published by Coteau Books Review by Keith Foster $39.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-545-0 Every city deserves to have its own coffee table book displaying its heritage structures and architectural marvels. Building a Legacy: Edmonton’s Architectural History is a shining example of how such a book can be organized. This 234-page hardcover book shows Edmonton’s history through hundreds of black and white and colour photos of its buildings. Lawrence Herzog, who has photographed and written about the city’s history for more than a quarter of a century, took many of the photos, supplemented by photos from the City of Edmonton Archives. Author Ken Tingley’s narrative is well-researched and well-written. Each chapter covers a period from the fur-trading days at Fort Edmonton up to the 21st century. He also includes an index and glossary of architectural terms. The book provides basic information on each building, such as its address, date of construction, and date of its designation as an historic resource. Tingley then gives a fascinating narrative background on the buildings and the people involved with them. Tingley notes some of the city’s more colourful characters, and this is where the book…