January 22nd, 2021

Mortar & Brick exhibit deals with COVID-19 pandemic

By Jensen, Randy on September 23, 2020.

Arts and events coordinator Courteny Hasper displays a work by local artist Diana Zasadny as part of the upcoming UnMasked exhibit at downtown gallery Mortar and Brick. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


As part of Lethbridge Art Days and Alberta Culture Days Gallery Stroll this week, Mortar & Brick Arts and Events will be hosting a very timely art show entitled “UnMasked” which deals with local artists’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Artists truly are the recorders of what is happening in our culture, and what is happening in our lives,” says Mortar & Brick owner Cheryl Baxter, who is excited to be hosting her first post-COVID live exhibit on Saturday. “They are ahead of the trend to talk about conditions of what is happening in the world. There was such a huge burst of incredible work that came out after the shutdown. Everybody let loose again. We just saw them come forth with a ton of new work informed by what has happened to all of us (during COVID).

“It is very timely, for sure.”

About 22 local and Alberta artists will have works displayed in the exhibit, and Baxter says it is obvious looking at the collected works the artists all seem to be coming from a similar place.

“They were tapping into the common experience, everybody’s experience,” she confirms. “When I created the title for the show ‘UnMasked,’ I used the tagline: ‘What now?’ Because that is what these artists are constantly experiencing: a what now? What do we do? We know nothing about what the future holds. That’s a lot of what the commentary is about.

“Some of it, too,” she adds, “is just a celebration of being free again, and feeling like they could move around and interact with other people again. Some of it was that type of response, and some of it was a little bit darker and more sombre. That feeling that this virus is going to change our lives indelibly.”

“Human beings always think they are in control of everything,” Baxter concludes, “and then all of a sudden life throws you another indicator that ultimately we don’t have much control over things at all.”

On top of a walk-thru tour of the exhibit, Mortar & Brick will also be giving out special birthday cupcakes to guests in celebration of its two-year anniversary in the community. Additionally, there will be live artists painting outside for the public to enjoy, weather-permitting, Baxter confirms.

Baxter says there is already a buzz about the free event in the community.

“We are all reaching for community in some way, and artists really have a lot to say about that,” she says. “I think this is a very positive show, and we are very excited about seeing people out and about again. I think people are really looking forward to a celebration of culture in Lethbridge. This is an incredibly vibrant arts community, and I am always blown away by what happens here.”

The “UnMasked” Alberta Culture Days Gallery Stroll event kicks off at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The exhibit will run from Friday until Oct. 23 at Mortar & Brick Arts and Events for those who can’t make it out for the Alberta Culture Days show.

Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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