January 16th, 2021

Creating, teaching and sharing art

By Submitted Article on April 14, 2020.

Wendy Aitkens

Since 1936, the Lethbridge art scene has flourished, in no small part due to the presence of an enthusiastic art club. Artists in the club have created art, showed and sold their work, and taught others the skills to make their own art ever since.

There were many reasons for the development of the Lethbridge Sketch Club, as it was originally called. Miss Edith Kirk, a professional British artist and art teacher living in Lethbridge from at least 1918 until 1953, inspired many locals to paint.

The newly established Banff School of Fine Arts taught visual arts starting in 1935. Annabell MacKenzie earned a scholarship from the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art, which allowed her to attend a summer program in Banff the following year. There she met Philip Jerome (P.J.) Collins and they decided to gather a group of Lethbridge artists who would offer each other support and creative inspiration.

Club members met and painted in places such as the old library building (where the Southern Alberta Art Gallery is today) and the Kinsmen skating hut until they moved into the Bowman Arts Centre. They held local and travelling exhibitions of art; brought in well-known instructors such as E.E. Reithman, Bart Pagnell, A.C. Leighton, Walter Phillips; and painted with A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven when he came to Lethbridge to visit his brother.

In 2016, the club hosted a portrait competition, Faces of Significance, to celebrate its 80th anniversary. This project featured talented local artists painting remarkable people from the community. The resulting exhibit was shown in six local and regional galleries, including the Galt Museum & Archives.

Today, the Lethbridge Artists Club members produce, show and sell their art as well as teaching the creative process to people of all ages. Follow their successes on https://www.lethbridgeartistsclub.com/.

Your old photos, documents, and artifacts might have historical value. Please contact Galt Museum & Archives for advice before destroying them.

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