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A fresh air show and sale, rain or shine

Instead of hosting an indoor show as per usual, today's Art in the Open will see 36 artists in 19 different locations across the city.

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Art in the Open

Today, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Open-air art show and sale at more than two dozen locations across the city, featuring works by Vanessa Ali, Al Anderson, Victoria Armstrong, Laurena Beirnes, Lorraine Bérubé, Deborah Blair, Valerie Boyko, Anne Brown, Carol Brown, Berni Buyse, Susan Casault, Mike Dendy, Christina Doehring, Brian Doran, Wayne Gorman, Julie Kaldenhoven, Clarence Kingsley-Pillai, Peg McPherson, Elizabeth (Liz) Meetsma, Luise Mendler-Johnson, Alexsandra (Sandy) Mitchell, Cheryl Moskaluk, Frances Pelletier, Claudette Pelletier-Hannah, Tracy Lyn Propp, Andrew Raczynski, Memory Roth, Annette Russell, Valerie Smith, Tom Steele, Diane Stone, Elizabeth (Betty) Tessier, Sue Waring, and Kateryna Young.

Visit for full details on artists and locations plus an interactive map.

Art is meant to be seen and appreciated, and purchased, so artists rely on public events such as show and sales to satisfy all that. The St. Albert Painters Guild had to quickly shutter plans for its annual spring show in 2020, and later the fall show. By November, they just knew the show this spring was not going to happen, either. Patience and creativity were needed to get back in the swing of things.

For the 100-plus guild members, this pandemic has marked a dry spell unlike any other. This weekend, they hope to change all that with Art in the Open, which starts today. It's perhaps the biggest event they've ever held and certainly the most unique. 

For Luise Mendler-Johnson and more than two-dozen other painters in the group, it will be a way to put the pandemic and all of its restrictions behind. 

A few of us had been to the Strathcona County Art Tour; it's a studio tour. We thought maybe it could be adapted to outside and we'll pick a date that's definitely safe. We thought middle of June, by then we should be good doing an outside event. We'll just do it in people's yards, or driveways, or green spaces in the neighbourhood, and space it out all over St. Albert," said the event committee chair. 

"It'll be a new experience."

She said there will even be some side benefits, including getting to know her neighbours a bit better. Some people on her street might not know she's an artist. Fair Oaks Drive is actually one of the city's hot spots for painters. Forest Lawn is nearly overrun with artists, Mendler-Johnson joked, but that's not the only quadrant of the city similarly populated.

Think of Art in the Open as a block party with paintings in all their glory combined with all the interesting conversations that follow. More than 30 artists will pop up, rain or shine, in at 19 locations across the city. A typical guild show and sale has a roster of 40 artists, so this one makes for a close comparison. The big difference is that what is typical would also be centrally located at St. Albert Place and last over the course of a weekend. 

That means the guild had to plan and plan and plan, and Mendler-Johnson praised all of the committee members for their diligence on dotting all the "i"s and crossing all the "T"s. Though the weather might be unpredictable, most venues will have garages or tents to retreat into in case the raindrops fall again.

There's nothing, however, that will stop this event from being a huge success. The chair even suggested this or something like it could become part of its regular schedule.

"For the future, I don't know, there might be different ideas, rather than doing it separate. This has its charm as well."

She also noted guests are encouraged to wear masks and use hand sanitizer. Attendance at each location will be kept to a maximum of 20 people at any one time (with distancing), as per the rules for outdoor social gatherings. 

To encourage visitors, there are three paintings in a raffle box. Guests will have an opportunity to enter the draw to win one of them at each stop. The more locations you visit, the more chances you have, she said.

Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.
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