Whyte Museum hosts water exhibit amid environmental concerns
COLETTE DERWORIZ, CALGARY HERALD
Published on: June 18, 2015
BANFF — With the Bow River running through Banff, Canmore and Calgary, there’s a constant reminder of the role water plays in our lives.
We drink it, recreate on it and watch it rise in the spring — sometimes even causing destructive floods like the one Alberta saw two years ago.
“It’s on people’s minds,” said Anne Ewen, curator of art and heritage at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff. “We live on the Bow River, fed by a major glacier — and it’s melting.
“We sit very close to those melting glaciers and it’s a concern.”
The Whyte Museum is focusing on those concerns this summer with an exhibit, Water, that they hope will encourage dialogue and reflection about water through art, presentations, film screenings and tours.
Its location is within 200 kilometers of Snow Dome in the Columbia Icefields, considered the hydrological apex of Canada because the water flows into the Pacific Ocean, Arctic Ocean and through Hudson Bay to the Atlantic Ocean.
The exhibit, which opened on June 14 and runs until Oct. 18, includes historic and contemporary paintings, video and installations about water from local, national and international artists.
It includes the work of Edward William Godwin, a Calgary born artist who was part of the Regina Five, which had an influence on abstract painting in the 1960s; Tom Thomson, an Ontario artist who was part of the Group of Seven; and, Peter Whyte, who was born in Banff and was the founder of the museum with his wife, Catharine Robb.
There’s an installation called Johnston Falls, made to look like a waterfall with small plastic beads; bright-coloured fish in an installation along the floor; and, a tree made out of ceramic, metal, wood, paper mache and dried plants.
Michael Cameron, who lives and works in Banff, has a painting called ‘Melting Ice’ in the exhibit.
“It’s the rafting company in Banff … so I’d see him going down the river all of the time,” he said of the painting that features a raft full of people with a dog in the foreground. “It’s at a time when climate change and all of that is going on and I kept thinking, ‘Oh, these poor people are going down the river without a paddle.’
“If you look at it, the water is really high. You can’t see land.”
A photography exhibit by Henry Vaux Jr. also shows a century of changes in glaciers through photos taken by three generations of his family.
There will also be talks by water experts and screenings of documentaries related to water.
“It’s on our minds so we decided to look at water from a couple of different perspectives,” said Ewan. “As a curator, my attempt was to give an impression but a subtle one.
“I felt that based on those environmental concerns and then also the fact we are as a country bordered by three oceans.”
For more details about the exhibit, go to www.whyte.org