Painting the Big Picture

Annual Art Symposium

Artists and art lovers from all over the Peace Region and beyond, are invited to attend the 10th Annual Art Symposium at the Centre for Creative Arts, Grande Prairie, October 18th–20th. These short biographies of this year’s world class artists will inspire you to mark the date on your calendar.


Written by Jenna Backer

Alexander,-David---Untitled-10-webDavid T. Alexander paints landscape as it should be painted. He captures time, human impact, and the true sense of the landscape; not photographic replica.

To understand a place, he makes repeated trips, gaining appreciation for the effects that weather has on colour, as well as the dynamics of the different seasons. He does not arrange the landscape as he wants it to be; he grasps it as it exists.

“I don’t know how to put a painting together, I don’t know how to structure a painting, but I do know that I allow that to happen,” says Alexander.

His artwork is not political, but he is also not afraid to include the impact that people have had on the rest of nature. Creating these honest representations, his paintings include human society in what is almost the negative space, as humans exist in each piece through the use and abuse of the land.

In his Wet Series, Alexander is clear that “[he is not] just painting water, [he is] understanding what water is.” Having observed lakes, rivers, and oceans his whole life, partly as his father was a tugboat captain, he suggests “a mud puddle can be perceived as an abyss. Symbolically, water could also represent reflections of a devastating fire […] It’s always about landscape.”

Alexander spent twenty-three years in Saskatchewan, before moving to the Okanagan. He has had exhibitions in many other countries, including Iceland, where his artwork met kindred spirits in the Norse landscape. Currently, his series The Shape of Place is on national tour.


web-ORIG-Jackie-Anderson-Serving-It-Up--From-the-Foothills-to-the-Mountains---2012--Photo-Credit-Guy-McCrumJackie Anderson is an artist who has always been captivated by delicate pieces of everyday life, thinking of how eyeglasses literally “frame” a person’s view of the world. She has carried that fascination into her creative work.

Born and raised in Calgary, Anderson was initially more interested in sewing. She pursued textiles at the Alberta College of Art and Design, until required to take metals as an option where, she says, “I initially quite disliked it.” However, one instructor saw her ability, and persisted until she switched to metalwork, which she has continued with ever since.

Practicality is not a factor in her pieces; it’s playing with scale that draws her interest. According to Anderson, “it wasn’t until I spoke in a lecture hall for the first time, and saw my pieces projected six feet tall onto a wall, that I really became fascinated with scale.” Bringing these large structures down into a six-inch realm, Anderson creates shapes and silhouettes in her art jewelry that are inspired by urban architecture, vintage signage, bridges, mountains, and more.

Making a Spectacle of Myself, her latest art eyewear exhibition, is a series that provokes consideration of the viewpoints from which we see our worlds. Using colourful acrylics and resins, Anderson’s pieces invite the viewer to see the world through each particular set of lenses, as well as through our own.

Anderson works with The Metal Collective, currently showing an exhibition titled À Table. Well-travelled, she’s considering starting a series utilizing that theme, as well as new tools in her work.


Neighbourhood-Icons_Richie-Velthuis-webRitchie Velthuis is an artist who will take a close and warmly personal look at you. In a project titled Neighbourhood Icons, Velthuis pulls the faces and bodies of his neighbours out of ceramics, transporting the hidden gems of his community into a series of visible works of art. Having your likeness made in sculpture, once a rare honour, is reimagined by Velthuis, as he demonstrates the true beauty and worthiness that individuals hold in a community.

Born and raised in the Edmonton area, he is involved in projects in the city, from chairing the Silver Skate festival, to working with the Edmonton Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in creating a public memorial to homelessness.

Thinking Big, the title of the memorial, also involved twenty people who had experienced homelessness at the time, with the finished piece containing ceramic tiles created by each person. “I love collaboration, I love working with people,” says Velthuis. Teaching once a week at the City Arts Centre, he also enjoys creating environments in which people can connect with their creativity.

“Process is my drug of choice,” quotes Velthuis, who has experimented with ideas ranging from creating visceral clay figures within short modeling sessions, to building monumental snow sculptures that eventually melt away. Although some projects take time, immediacy is the quality that draws Velthuis to both clay and snow.

Currently, Velthuis is completing projects in preparation for this year’s Silver Skate festival, as well as working on a piece with an Aboriginal youth, that hopes to elicit curiosity and contemplation in an area that is often misconstrued.

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