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‘Painting the Purcells’ comes to the Art Gallery of Golden

Meet visiting artists at the opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8.
Artist Valerie Speer

The Art Gallery of Golden is presenting “Our Fragile Environments” is a group show featuring the paintings of Jaffray’s Anne Aitken Anderson, Fernie’s Melanie McVoy and Rosebud, Alberta’s Valerie Speer. Sub-titled “Painting the Purcells” all of the works came from a week long artist in residency with the Alpine Club of Canada.

“Waking up in the crisp air, my view filled with mountain peaks glowing with warm morning light, I felt excited to be alive in the mountains! Last August, I joined the Alpine Club of Canada Artist Week high in the International Basin of the Purcell mountains, to explore and paint. With the alpine meadows literally bursting with wild flowers amongst snow capped peaks it was idyllic and almost surreal to wake each morning to that vision. What a privilege! As we hiked, painted or sat in awe of where we were, the desire to raise awareness of both the majesty and fragility of the wilderness grew. Though these wild places can be unpredictable and daunting there is always a nurturing of the soul and a feeling of “being home” that resonates deeply,” said Valerie Speer.

Anne Aitken Anderson is a long time Southeastern B.C. resident and emergent artist who seeks to capture the emotion and beauty of the surrounding landscape in oil and acrylic paintings.

Anne grew up on the East Coast of Canada in a home surrounded by artists and eccentrics. Strongly influenced by the wackiness of her childhood home where her mother (water colour artist) painted a giant colourful mural of “Noahs Ark” and all the animals across the front of the family house. Her father literally built the house around the his family of five children, following the architecture of Frank Loyd Wright. She often spent time at the neighbours, renowned Canadian war artists Molly Lamb Bobak and Bruno Bobak.

Artist Anne Aitken Anderson
Artist Anne Aitken Anderson

Anne spent the first half of her life as a left-brained world, BSC Mathematics and Computers, only to have a life altering experience and discover her right brain. An artist friend showed up at her door with paints and said, “Let’s get started.”

Her friend wanted to paint from a photo, but Anne was instantly drawn to paint the scene outside the window. Since then she has become a fulltime artist pursuing watercolours then oils and studying and doing workshops with Doug Swinton, Sharon Lynn Williams and Charlie Easton to name a few, as well as mentor Melanie MacVoy.

Anne loves to have fun painting “en plein air” in the mountains of B.C. and the seaside of New Brunswick – or wherever her paints take her.

Melanie MacVoy was born and raised in Southern Ontario. Her creativity and love for the outdoors was nurtured from a young age. Melanie’s grandmother was a prolific muralist, painting scenes on the doors, walls and entire rooms of her home. Annual camping trips to Algonquin Provincial Park cultivated MacVoy’s appreciation for the Canadian landscape and intrigue with artist Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.

Melanie studied fine arts and arts administration at the University of Waterloo with renowned Canadian artist Tony Urquhart being her most influential professor. During a summer co-op placement, Melanie relocated to Vancouver where she completed her fine arts degree through UBC and Emily Carr University.

While exploring the Coast mountains and rainforests on Vancouver Island, Melanie fell in love with the outdoors lifestyle that B.C. has to offer.

Seduced by “legendary” powder skiing, Melanie joined the small mountain community of Fernie, in 2000 where she worked for more than 10 years as a Snowcat operator at Island Lake Lodge while also pursuing her dream of becoming an artist.

After starting a family in 2012, Melanie decided to focus full-time on her art career while also being given the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. After attending a workshop led by Charlie Easton in Jasper, Alberta, Melanie started to practise outdoor painting on a regular basis. These short but intense sessions facilitated a period of artistic growth while also incorporating her active mountain lifestyle with landscape painting.

New directions emerged through meeting other like-minded artists and going on inspiring painting trips together in the Canadian Rockies.

Valerie Speer works in acrylics, painting landscapes with a quiet rhythm that conveys a sense of serenity. Her use of flowing lines, play of light and blending of colour evoke this peaceful essence which is her signature. Her mountain paintings capture a sense of solitude in places of stunning grandeur, as she desires us to remember those moments when the rush and anxiety of our life falls away and we enter into being present in the wild places, hear the sounds, feel the warm sun, inhale fresh scents and let ourselves be nurtured.

Artist Melanie MacVoy
Artist Melanie MacVoy

Trained in visual arts, Valerie has painted professionally since 2002. She continues to be inspired by her outdoor experiences and the works of other artists including Lauren Harris. You can visit Valerie in the Arts Village of Rosebud, AB just east of Calgary, where she displays her art in the Speer & Brush Studio and Gallery.

She is also represented at Paint Ur Art Out, Calgary, Lineham House Galleries in Okotoks and The Vault in Strathmore AB. and is an active member with the Federation of Canadian Artists, working towards her Signature Status.

Come meet and greet Golden’s visiting artists at the opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8. The artists will speak about the backcountry residency and their paintings around 5:30 p.m. All are welcome. The art gallery is located at 516 9th Ave N.