Carmen Haakstad: Looking Within

One - oil on panelNatures CrossBy Jody Farrell

Despite a serious car accident that has left him in a cast and hobbling on crutches, Carmen Haakstad is eager for me to understand the absolutely integral role art plays in his life.

He’s got journals of stories and poems, drawings, and fleeting thoughts he shares openly. He negotiates the stairs, with some effort, first to the garage, then to the second floor of his Grande Prairie split-level house to show me his workspaces – the lower one set up for painting the large-scale oil on plywood series he’d been working on before his accident; the other, a tidy, well-lit and accessorized studio where earlier works hang next to quick sketches and inspiring quotes.

From the mostly large, colourful pieces housed on every wall, to the abundant sketchbooks and well-worn journals, everything in this warm and pleasant home announces “an artist lives here.” And yet, I get the impression Haakstad himself struggles with the notion.

“I always wanted to be an artist,” he begins. “Now, I see myself as an artist doing fundraising for a living, with the art moving gradually to the forefront.”

The Bat Maker,  oil on panelHaakstad’s emergence into the world of art began in high school, but really took off when he entered the University of Minnesota-Deluth on a full hockey scholarship. He switched from a general arts degree to a Bachelor of Fine Arts, the heavy demands of his athletic commitment requiring him to stay on an extra year. He graduated in 1979, the university’s first BFA to have completed the degree by way of a hockey scholarship. The incongruous pairing of artist and athlete; that combination of deep reflection and full-out physical drive, was perhaps an early sign of what was to come.

The LaGlace native came back home, and, shortly after an exhibition of his BFA works, was made director-curator of Grande Prairie’s fledgling Prairie Art Gallery (PAG). Haakstad spent the next seven years helping to establish and permanently house the PAG, now a highly-esteemed Class A gallery whose status allows for international exhibitions. More than two decades of fundraising for non-profit organizations followed. Today, he is the vice president of external relations for Evergreen Park, a multipurpose fairground and trade show complex in the County of Grande Prairie.

“When I consider my art, I don’t know if I could do it full time. I like the interaction I have with people.”

Still, Haakstad approaches his day job in the spirit of an artist.

A powerpoint workshop he’s designed to help people develop fundraising and organizational skills includes several of his designs, most with spiritual overtones. He finds that the art, inspired by thoughts on humanity and the need for benevolence regardless of race and culture, is a welcome addition to the mix.

“Working with volunteers has been very exhilarating,” he says. “They are generally happy people who want to be doing what they are doing. I am interested in the attitude of volunteerism, and fascinated by philanthropists who have been successful and choose to give it all back to the community.”

Carmen in his officeBattle of Alberta, pastelHaakstad is also a good promoter. He set up a website in 2004, marketing both his art and merchandise bearing his images. He manages to be affirmative without being aggressive. There’s an element of confidence that many artists seem not to possess; one that was perhaps honed in his hockey playing days.

He speaks of the marketing of hockey images as something he’s moved past. While they too held deep meaning for him at one time, he sees them as part of a more youthful perspective. Haakstad feels that, at 50, his focus is increasingly turning to humanity and our daily treatment of our fellow man. The car accident, which also injured his wife Gail and eldest daughter Daneil, coupled with the loss of both parents, has impacted him in ways he is still figuring out. He has been working on a series of figures he calls “seekers,” inspired by a drawing he made while pondering his journey in life. Many are lone, monklike shapes, rendered in oil on plywood. They stand about five feet tall, and appear to be in a state of deep contemplation. The paint is applied like a stain, highlighting the grain of the wood in such a way as to restore it to its more woodsy, less manufactured origin. The figures often reveal a swirl in the grain that resembles some flow of energy, perhaps a soul. Interestingly, where earlier seekers’ hearts were located in the lower part of the body, a more recent one features the heart in its proper place.

“I’m always looking within for guidance,” Haakstad says. “That’s where the art comes from.”

Carmen Haakstad is one of three speakers featured at the Art of the Peace Visual Arts Symposium in Grande Prairie on Saturday, October 14, 2006. He will talk about how art has influenced his path in life.


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Twenty years after the Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art, watercolour and landscape still reign supreme with these former students.

By Eileen Coristine http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/bernice-trider-summer.jpg" title="Bernice Trider, Summer from Seasons of the Peace Series" alt="Bernice Trider, Summer from Seasons of the Peace Series" align="right" height="199" width="275" />

Bernice Trider

“You didn’t know there was so much art going on in Fairview back then did you?” Bernice asks, referring not only to the Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art, but also to three-day Peace Art Festivals and university credit courses that she took part in during the 1980s.“The Landscape School was great, really intense,” Bernice says. “I wished I was staying at the college instead of at home so I could have been totally focussed on it.” She loved the field trips to Whitelaw, Sand Lake and other local spots. Those locations inspired many paintings. One of those paintings, of Cliff Paul’s farm, won her the Peace Watercolour Society “On the Spot Painting Award.”Bernice began painting in 1969, returning to her childhood love of art. “At school I couldn’t wait for Friday afternoon art classes,” she remembers. “Once, after my children were a bit bigger, I saw a local art show in all the store windows in Fairview. I was enthralled. I haven’t missed a possible workshop since.”Oils were the starting point for Bernice’s painting career, but that all changed after a 1980 course by Robert Guest. “I fell in love with watercolour because I liked what I did,” she explains. “My work was now so much more soft and subtle.”Bernice is an avid art student who does a lot of research and reading. “I would have liked to have gone to college and learned design,” she says. Still a very active painter, Bernice is currently toying with the idea of watercolour portraits. Although a different subject, portraiture is consistent with her style, which she describes as realistic.Clearly Bernice has enjoyed her times of learning and painting in the Peace. “I’ve hada great time,” she tells me, her smile the picture of pleasures recalled.http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/bernice-trider-summer.jpg" title="Greg Jones, Harold's Murcury. Photo by Ziggy's, Fairview" alt="Greg Jones, Harold's Murcury. Photo by Ziggy's, Fairview" align="left" height="331" width="225" />

Greg Jones

“My mother put a set of paints in front of me when I was nineteen and convalescing from a motorcycle accident,” says Fairview painter Greg Jones. “That’s how I started.”Greg then began taking local workshops and the credit courses that were held at Fairview College through Grande Prairie Regional College. Teachers like Jim Adrain and Robert Guest were very encouraging and helpful. “Those classes were filled mainly with older ladies, many of whom became good friends,” Greg remembers. Since then many of those ladies have attended workshops by Greg and are always asking for more.In 1984 and ‘85 he attended Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art. Greg spent many hours in the field with the instructors. “I really latched onto Laine Dahlen’s way of painting,” says Greg.Greg had taken some drawing classes from fellow Summerschool student Doris Reynolds, but it wasn’t until later that he really appreciated the influence that she had had on him. “After I came back from art school, I recognized Doris’ talent. It was a great influence to see this in a local person.”While doing further studies at Red Deer College, Victoria College of Art and Alberta College of Art and Design, Greg tried out many materials and genres, but has always returned to what he calls his "minimalist landscapes" in watercolours. "I'm not sure where that came from, but people really respond to them because they are stark, like a relief."An event that resulted from the Summerschool had a huge impact on Greg's future. "Fairview College bought a piece of mine and tucked it away in the president's office. One month later I saw it, in the same room as their A.Y Jackson. That inspired me so much."Greg now resides near Calgary but visits Fairview every month. He says he is planning more workshops for his old friends from the Peace.http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/bernice-trider-summer.jpg" alt="Doris Reynolds, Russian Orthodox Church at Hines Creek, pen and ink" align="right" height="219" width="275" />

Doris Reynolds

"I paint what I see," says Doris. "I've never done abstracts. My favourite subjects are landscapes, and the Peace Valley and Mountain Parks provide never-ending inspiration for my work."Doris was directly involved as a planner of the Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art throughout the four years in which it ran. "The courses ran ten days, started with a show and sale by the instructors and ended with a show and sale by the students, both at Fairview Fine Arts Centre," she remembers. "The school's main emphasis was to work directly from nature when possible."Although the instruction by such accomplished artists as Robert Guest, Euphemia McNaught, Laine Dahlen and Inez Demuynck inspired and motivated her, Doris was already an established local artist and instructor in her own right. She remembers: "My mother was artistic and we always had paper and pencils." To this day, Doris says, "I like to make detailed sketches. My sketch pad and pencils are always part of my gear, wherever I travel."Doris began painting by teaching herself to use oils. That inspired her to go to classes, where she met Robert Guest and Jim Adrain. "They encouraged me to try watercolours, and I tried but struggled. I couldn't switch until I took two weeks just playing. Then I sort of got the hang of it." Doris had soon left oils behind and begun using watercolours or pen and ink for her realistic, detailed work.This past summer Doris painted enthusiastically and framed half a dozen new works, following a field trip to Buffalo Lakes with other Peace Watercolour Society members.
11 years ago

Twenty years after the Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art, watercolour and landscape still reign supreme with these former students.

By Eileen Coristine http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/bernice-trider-summer.jpg" title="Bernice Trider, Summer from Seasons of the Peace Series" alt="Bernice Trider, Summer from Seasons of the Peace Series" align="right" height="199" width="275" />

Bernice Trider

“You didn’t know there was so much art going on in Fairview back then did you?” Bernice asks, referring not only to the Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art, but also to three-day Peace Art Festivals and university credit courses that she took part in during the 1980s.“The Landscape School was great, really intense,” Bernice says. “I wished I was staying at the college instead of at home so I could have been totally focussed on it.” She loved the field trips to Whitelaw, Sand Lake and other local spots. Those locations inspired many paintings. One of those paintings, of Cliff Paul’s farm, won her the Peace Watercolour Society “On the Spot Painting Award.”Bernice began painting in 1969, returning to her childhood love of art. “At school I couldn’t wait for Friday afternoon art classes,” she remembers. “Once, after my children were a bit bigger, I saw a local art show in all the store windows in Fairview. I was enthralled. I haven’t missed a possible workshop since.”Oils were the starting point for Bernice’s painting career, but that all changed after a 1980 course by Robert Guest. “I fell in love with watercolour because I liked what I did,” she explains. “My work was now so much more soft and subtle.”Bernice is an avid art student who does a lot of research and reading. “I would have liked to have gone to college and learned design,” she says. Still a very active painter, Bernice is currently toying with the idea of watercolour portraits. Although a different subject, portraiture is consistent with her style, which she describes as realistic.Clearly Bernice has enjoyed her times of learning and painting in the Peace. “I’ve hada great time,” she tells me, her smile the picture of pleasures recalled.http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/bernice-trider-summer.jpg" title="Greg Jones, Harold's Murcury. Photo by Ziggy's, Fairview" alt="Greg Jones, Harold's Murcury. Photo by Ziggy's, Fairview" align="left" height="331" width="225" />

Greg Jones

“My mother put a set of paints in front of me when I was nineteen and convalescing from a motorcycle accident,” says Fairview painter Greg Jones. “That’s how I started.”Greg then began taking local workshops and the credit courses that were held at Fairview College through Grande Prairie Regional College. Teachers like Jim Adrain and Robert Guest were very encouraging and helpful. “Those classes were filled mainly with older ladies, many of whom became good friends,” Greg remembers. Since then many of those ladies have attended workshops by Greg and are always asking for more.In 1984 and ‘85 he attended Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art. Greg spent many hours in the field with the instructors. “I really latched onto Laine Dahlen’s way of painting,” says Greg.Greg had taken some drawing classes from fellow Summerschool student Doris Reynolds, but it wasn’t until later that he really appreciated the influence that she had had on him. “After I came back from art school, I recognized Doris’ talent. It was a great influence to see this in a local person.”While doing further studies at Red Deer College, Victoria College of Art and Alberta College of Art and Design, Greg tried out many materials and genres, but has always returned to what he calls his "minimalist landscapes" in watercolours. "I'm not sure where that came from, but people really respond to them because they are stark, like a relief."An event that resulted from the Summerschool had a huge impact on Greg's future. "Fairview College bought a piece of mine and tucked it away in the president's office. One month later I saw it, in the same room as their A.Y Jackson. That inspired me so much."Greg now resides near Calgary but visits Fairview every month. He says he is planning more workshops for his old friends from the Peace.http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/bernice-trider-summer.jpg" alt="Doris Reynolds, Russian Orthodox Church at Hines Creek, pen and ink" align="right" height="219" width="275" />

Doris Reynolds

"I paint what I see," says Doris. "I've never done abstracts. My favourite subjects are landscapes, and the Peace Valley and Mountain Parks provide never-ending inspiration for my work."Doris was directly involved as a planner of the Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art throughout the four years in which it ran. "The courses ran ten days, started with a show and sale by the instructors and ended with a show and sale by the students, both at Fairview Fine Arts Centre," she remembers. "The school's main emphasis was to work directly from nature when possible."Although the instruction by such accomplished artists as Robert Guest, Euphemia McNaught, Laine Dahlen and Inez Demuynck inspired and motivated her, Doris was already an established local artist and instructor in her own right. She remembers: "My mother was artistic and we always had paper and pencils." To this day, Doris says, "I like to make detailed sketches. My sketch pad and pencils are always part of my gear, wherever I travel."Doris began painting by teaching herself to use oils. That inspired her to go to classes, where she met Robert Guest and Jim Adrain. "They encouraged me to try watercolours, and I tried but struggled. I couldn't switch until I took two weeks just playing. Then I sort of got the hang of it." Doris had soon left oils behind and begun using watercolours or pen and ink for her realistic, detailed work.This past summer Doris painted enthusiastically and framed half a dozen new works, following a field trip to Buffalo Lakes with other Peace Watercolour Society members.
11 years ago

Twenty years after the Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art, watercolour and landscape still reign supreme with these former students.

By Eileen Coristine http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/bernice-trider-summer.jpg" title="Bernice Trider, Summer from Seasons of the Peace Series" alt="Bernice Trider, Summer from Seasons of the Peace Series" align="right" height="199" width="275" />

Bernice Trider

“You didn’t know there was so much art going on in Fairview back then did you?” Bernice asks, referring not only to the Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art, but also to three-day Peace Art Festivals and university credit courses that she took part in during the 1980s.“The Landscape School was great, really intense,” Bernice says. “I wished I was staying at the college instead of at home so I could have been totally focussed on it.” She loved the field trips to Whitelaw, Sand Lake and other local spots. Those locations inspired many paintings. One of those paintings, of Cliff Paul’s farm, won her the Peace Watercolour Society “On the Spot Painting Award.”Bernice began painting in 1969, returning to her childhood love of art. “At school I couldn’t wait for Friday afternoon art classes,” she remembers. “Once, after my children were a bit bigger, I saw a local art show in all the store windows in Fairview. I was enthralled. I haven’t missed a possible workshop since.”Oils were the starting point for Bernice’s painting career, but that all changed after a 1980 course by Robert Guest. “I fell in love with watercolour because I liked what I did,” she explains. “My work was now so much more soft and subtle.”Bernice is an avid art student who does a lot of research and reading. “I would have liked to have gone to college and learned design,” she says. Still a very active painter, Bernice is currently toying with the idea of watercolour portraits. Although a different subject, portraiture is consistent with her style, which she describes as realistic.Clearly Bernice has enjoyed her times of learning and painting in the Peace. “I’ve hada great time,” she tells me, her smile the picture of pleasures recalled.http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/bernice-trider-summer.jpg" title="Greg Jones, Harold's Murcury. Photo by Ziggy's, Fairview" alt="Greg Jones, Harold's Murcury. Photo by Ziggy's, Fairview" align="left" height="331" width="225" />

Greg Jones

“My mother put a set of paints in front of me when I was nineteen and convalescing from a motorcycle accident,” says Fairview painter Greg Jones. “That’s how I started.”Greg then began taking local workshops and the credit courses that were held at Fairview College through Grande Prairie Regional College. Teachers like Jim Adrain and Robert Guest were very encouraging and helpful. “Those classes were filled mainly with older ladies, many of whom became good friends,” Greg remembers. Since then many of those ladies have attended workshops by Greg and are always asking for more.In 1984 and ‘85 he attended Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art. Greg spent many hours in the field with the instructors. “I really latched onto Laine Dahlen’s way of painting,” says Greg.Greg had taken some drawing classes from fellow Summerschool student Doris Reynolds, but it wasn’t until later that he really appreciated the influence that she had had on him. “After I came back from art school, I recognized Doris’ talent. It was a great influence to see this in a local person.”While doing further studies at Red Deer College, Victoria College of Art and Alberta College of Art and Design, Greg tried out many materials and genres, but has always returned to what he calls his "minimalist landscapes" in watercolours. "I'm not sure where that came from, but people really respond to them because they are stark, like a relief."An event that resulted from the Summerschool had a huge impact on Greg's future. "Fairview College bought a piece of mine and tucked it away in the president's office. One month later I saw it, in the same room as their A.Y Jackson. That inspired me so much."Greg now resides near Calgary but visits Fairview every month. He says he is planning more workshops for his old friends from the Peace.http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/bernice-trider-summer.jpg" alt="Doris Reynolds, Russian Orthodox Church at Hines Creek, pen and ink" align="right" height="219" width="275" />

Doris Reynolds

"I paint what I see," says Doris. "I've never done abstracts. My favourite subjects are landscapes, and the Peace Valley and Mountain Parks provide never-ending inspiration for my work."Doris was directly involved as a planner of the Peace Summerschool of Landscape Art throughout the four years in which it ran. "The courses ran ten days, started with a show and sale by the instructors and ended with a show and sale by the students, both at Fairview Fine Arts Centre," she remembers. "The school's main emphasis was to work directly from nature when possible."Although the instruction by such accomplished artists as Robert Guest, Euphemia McNaught, Laine Dahlen and Inez Demuynck inspired and motivated her, Doris was already an established local artist and instructor in her own right. She remembers: "My mother was artistic and we always had paper and pencils." To this day, Doris says, "I like to make detailed sketches. My sketch pad and pencils are always part of my gear, wherever I travel."Doris began painting by teaching herself to use oils. That inspired her to go to classes, where she met Robert Guest and Jim Adrain. "They encouraged me to try watercolours, and I tried but struggled. I couldn't switch until I took two weeks just playing. Then I sort of got the hang of it." Doris had soon left oils behind and begun using watercolours or pen and ink for her realistic, detailed work.This past summer Doris painted enthusiastically and framed half a dozen new works, following a field trip to Buffalo Lakes with other Peace Watercolour Society members.
11 years ago