KYLA experience ‘surreal’ for guest artists
The opportunity to discuss their art with the public is daunting for any artist, whether a seasoned KYLA member or one of their show and sale guest exhibitors
For at least two of Prince Albert’s artists, Sunday night’s KYLA show was a long-awaited achievement.
Painters Kim Morrall and Mary McLeod were guest artists at the 39th annual KYLA show and sale. They were joined by James Cathcart, Bonnie Denny as Rhonda Rasmussen as guests of the artists’ collective, meaning even though they don’t belong to the KYLA group, they were invited to show their work Sunday.
The KYLA show is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Prince Albert Kiwanis Club. It features hundreds of works by the 15 KYLA members and five special guests.
Sunday night’s exhibition included 371 individual pieces spread across the Mann Art Gallery and the Rawlinson Centre stage.
KYLA leader Cheryl Ring said she was pleased with the turnout at the annual show.
“We’re always happy with the show,” Ring said.
“As artist we are stunned when we get the show together. We work with the other artists, but it’s exciting to see new pieces coming out, especially when we get a cohesive show hung. We are all so unique and have very different styles, but it always comes together.”
Ring also opened the show with a speech delivered on the Rawlinson Centre stage. When she concluded, the red curtain was lifted up, artists in front, art behind, to unveil the exhibition for all to see.
“In central Saskatchewan, particularly here in Prince Albert, we have a robust arts community. We are very lucky that there are lots of opportunities to fill our eyes with robust art,” she said in her prepared remarks.
“Original art is energetic. It is a truer, more raw expression of life’s essence. Original art changes lives.”
Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp also spoke to open the show. She thanked the artists and the Kiwanis volunteers for putting together the annual show and sale.
“I would like to thank all involved. It takes many hands to put on an event of this calibre,” Lennox-Zepp said.
“The KYLA art show raises the profile of the City of Prince Albert.”
The show also raised the profile of the guest artists.
When Kim Morall first came to a KYLA show years ago, she couldn’t have imagined being able to display her work alongside the art group.
‘”It’s a wonderful opportunity to get that exposure,” she said.
“My first KYLA show, I wasn’t even an artist. But once I became an artist, it was a goal to be a part of this community.”
Morrall said the other KYLA members were friendly and helpful, even offering help preparing her works for hanging. She said the experience affirmed that people do enjoy her work.
“It was a little stressful because I’m not a trained artist, so I sometimes wonder if I’m worthy to be here,” she said.
“Even though I’ve sold art, and fell like I can consider myself an artist, just having people come up to me and say they loved a piece is affirming to me that I’m in the right direction. Even if I don’t sell anything, it’s validating to have people say ‘great job, I love your work.’”
One thing that became clear about Morrall and her art is that she doesn’t do small pieces. With few exceptions, Morrall’s paintings were some of the largest on display.
“I think it has something to do with my personality,” Morrall said. “Most would say I have a big personality, and generally I like working on a larger scale. That’s just how I think.”
Fellow guest artist Mary McLeod also found a theme running through her works on display this year – lots of trees.
“I like trees,” she joked, “I didn’t realize I did, but I keep painting them, so I must.”
Sunday night, McLeod was still getting used to the idea of seeing her art on display.
“It’s odd. For weeks it’s been in my dining room where I’ve been working on it. Now there are people looking at it. It’s kind of surreal.”
McLeod said she was excited when KYLA invited her to be a guest artist.
“At first I was pretty nervous, because it has been 39 years. It’s a tall order, but it’s exciting.”
Despite her initial apprehensions, people were enjoying McLeod’s work. One piece in particular, with the moon shining through a tree stand, got a lot of positive feedback.
“A lot of people seem to like that one in particular,” she said.
“I just paint what I like, and if people like it, it’s great. Not everybody is going to like what you do, but that’s why it’s nice that there is a lot of variety, a lot of different techniques, types and artists, different media — it’s crazy.”
Even established artists enjoyed an opportunity to directly connect with fans of their art.
Chris Dansereau, who only included wooden and steel works in this year’s show, was seen having a passionate discussion with some art fans who were equally as enamoured with his work.
That part – interacting with discerning art fans – can be daunting.
“I get a little nervous because you never know how people are going to react,” he said.
“It’s nice to see when they do love what you do.”
Dansereau isn’t afraid to work in any medium, but right now he’s drawn to wood and metal.
“As a series, I’m exploring more meal and wood. I’m putting the pieces out there so people can see it. I want to see what their reactions are,” he said.
“I enjoy taking found pieces and making something beautiful out of them”
( Above) A pair of art enthusiasts examine some of the KYLA pieces Sunday night. (Below) an ornate jug attracted a lot of attention.