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Shaping Saskatchewan: the art scene 1936-1964


June 14 to September 15, 2013

Talk/Tour: Sunday, September 15 at 2 p.m. with curator Sandra Fraser

The emergence of a distinct art scene in Saskatchewan between 1936 and 1964 can be defined by several key moments and a number of determined artists and advocates. During this time period, many artists, art professors and collectors had emigrated from Europe and the United States, or had studied abroad. As a result, there was lively cross-fertilization of ideas and approaches to artmaking. These decades are notable for the camaraderie and support that existed amongst artists, as well as the formalization of that support through various associations and government agencies, the development of art education through the University of Saskatchewan and artists’ workshops, and the professional presentation of art and enhanced collecting activities through dedicated gallery spaces and travelling exhibition programs.

Works selected from the permanent collection of the Mendel Art Gallery demonstrate an often self-conscious and experimental attitude, and a synthesis of regional imperatives with international concerns. Among the artists working at this time were: Ernest Lindner, Robert Hurley, Reta Cowley, Stanley Brunst, Wynona Mulcaster, Otto Rogers, and Art McKay. This was an exciting time for the arts, with artists drawing on international experimental approaches while often utilizing local subject matter and concerns.

The period of 1936 to 1964 saw significant growth and change in the arts across Canada. Shaping Saskatchewan provides a regional context for the concurrent exhibition, The Automatiste Revolution: Montreal 1941-1960. This era, as one looks back, is characterized by an almost utopian sense of optimism and astonishing productivity.