January 22nd, 2021

Artists inspired by Coutts Centre open exhibition at Penny Building

By Nick Kuhl on November 30, 2019.

Lethbridge Herald


Start with a lush 12-acre garden, complemented by rustic buildings. 
Add the backdrop of southern Alberta’s foothills and Rockies.
Then invite dozens of artists to capture that beauty on a balmy 
summer’s day.
That’s the magic of the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage, 
just east of Nanton. And then the annual En Plein Air art exhibition 
of the works they’re inspired to create.
Many Lethbridge-area artists have made good use of that opportunity. 
They’ve contributed many of the 144 original works on view downtown 
in the James Foster Penny Building on 5 Street South.
Open to all interested, an opening reception is being held there today 
from 3 to 5 p.m., with an opportunity to meet many of the artists.
  The no-charge show will continue weekdays through Dec. 20.
“The En Plein Air exhibition continues to demonstrate increasing 
strength and quality as a group exhibition while attracting new 
participants and submissions from southern Alberta and B.C. artists,” 
says Jon Oxley, administrative manager of the University of Lethbridge 
art galleries.
“The Coutts Centre gardens and buildings keep changing each year, and 
the artists keep finding new themes and focus all around its lush 12 
  Donated to the university in 2011, the Coutts Centre has become “a 
living classroom,” he says.
Students, faculty and visitors can make use of the natural setting 
over the summer to study the history, artwork, ecosystems and 
geography associated with the area.
This year, a record-setting 43 artists contributed the largest number 
of works for the exhibition. Many works by Lethbridge artists are 
among those available for purchase.
Leila Armstrong, whose wildlife images were featured on Lethbridge 
billboards this summer, captured more creatures at the centre. Janice 
Wilson has created something like a telephoto scene bringing the 
mountains closer to Nanton’s preserved grain elevators.
Karen Brownlee is exhibiting vivid new paintings — and so is her 
young grandson, Peyton.
And professional photographer Morton Molyneaux experimented with a 
basic Kodak “Brownie” camera, then did his own platinum and 
palladium photographic processing, to produce something quite 
different from his usual projects.
At the university, meanwhile, longtime new media professor Will Smith 
has simulated aerial photos of prairie farmland for a large 
installation piece, “On the Other Side of the Barn.”
And Lethbridge-area artist Jim Palmer brought a real-life cellist to 
the Coutts Centre to pose for this year’s largest framed work, 
depicting a summertime performance.
Many other artistic media are in play, including ceramics to magnify 
prairies seed pods, real-life flora as part of a three-dimension 
bouquet and a fabric representation of a farm outbuilding.
And highlighting a unique Coutts building, a ceramic model of the 
“camera obscura” structure invites the viewer to peer into the silo 
from above.
Co-sponsored by the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Coutts Centre, this 
year’s free “En Plein Air” exhibition will be open weekdays, 9 
a.m. to 4:30 p.m., until Dec. 20.

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