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Group of five gets warm reception in Virden

An artists' reception included music and camaraderie within Virden's Historic CP Station

The artists’ reception at the Historic CP Station last Friday kicked off the January show in the gallery, displaying work of Brandon artists Erin Witherspoon, Rebecca Chinn, Linda Aletha Tame, Douglas Brolund along with Virden’s George Baker.

As the reception began at 6 p.m., the main room resonated with clear, warm tones of soloist Daelyn Fefchak and her new Yamaha guitar. This was an ice breaker, followed with artists and guests visiting and exploring the work in the Station.

Sharing art and ideas is a highlight for the artists. The four Brandonites often paint together and support each other in their artistic journey under the banner Artist Heart Studio, operated by Linda Tame.

Baker brought variety to the show with three canvases, two oils – one with hard geometric lines and the other a still life with the contours of fruit and vegetables. Baker’s latest large canvas is different again – an acrylic sea-scape, impressionistic, with amazing colour tones.

Baker is employed with Virden business, Scotsmun Steel, but manages to find time for art. “One has to make time, because there’s always something that strikes you as more factual, relevant to the mundanities of day-to-day life… .” It’s usually Sunday afternoon when he’s ready to indulge in inspiration. He says with a grin, “When I’ve recovered from my work-week.”

Baker’s latest project is for next Christmas season. “I’m sketching out plans for my 2024 Christmas cards. It would be nice to do it while there’s still snow on the ground and I feel inspired to do a winter scene.”

Witherspoon displays a set of large originals, two of them are engaging portraits of her grandchildren.

“They come from my desire to paint faces,” she says, explaining that it was important to not include body images. “I came to art about four and a half years ago and started painting for therapy.”

Her method? “I stripped the picture back to between five and seven shades of gray. I use that as a road map and I don’t paint eyes and noses and lips, I just use chunks of colour.”

Always up for new ideas, Witherspoon says that lately, “I’ve been playing with fabric, covering the canvas with fabric and then I leave the shirt or the hat – a part of the image – just bare fabric, and paint the rest of the painting… I envision it as a way for someone to commemorate a loved one….”

She said she has learned her art and trade through various means including through Artist Heart. “I paint with this group, often.” They meet most Saturdays in the winter season at a Brandon business, the Green Spot Home and Garden.

“And then in the summer time we go, plein air, together.”

Working outdoors is at the heart of Douglas Brolund’s years of creativity, but one of his most recent pieces on display in the gallery was a music inspired painting. The oil painting inspired by a song of Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave, ‘Ghosteen Speaks’, from which Brolund’s painting is titled, ‘I am Beside You.’ Another, of plein air genre, depicts an abandoned McAuley, Manitoba garage.

Rebecca Chinn was a violin teacher in Brandon’s School of Music. Now retired, she calls her art, ‘play.’ Her ink drawn castle with a splash of red is of the 15th century castle in Matsumoto Japan. “I’ve been there, so the theme of the show is ‘Identity’,” she says. The castle is part of the Japanese city’s identity and that city is part of Chinn’s identity. “It has a very famous music school - violin school - where I attended, and studied and it became my profession.”

Her two ink drawings here are part of an online group initiative. Inktober is 31 days, 31 drawings. “Each day we’re given one word and we have to create something visual with ink. I love the challenge and it’s good for the creativity… you’re kind of living on adrenalin because you have to produce something every day and post it on social media.”

Linda Tame displayed two paintings from her 2021 Brandon University thesis show and another more recent canvas. She says her work has been cathartic.

“I was going through a whole bunch of stuff and this was my way of working through it.”

The smallest, a framed and very colourful abstract is new, composed with oils and cold wax, entitled ‘Havilah’ which means ‘land of gold’ and thought of as the garden of Eden was. “So, just as I was painting it, it came out as a kind of surreal place, a place I might like to go to.”

Arts Mosaic, operating in the Historic CP Station on Sixth Avenue in Virden, is an organization run by a volunteer board who works to make art understood and available to the public to view and to do.

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