Regina Leader-Post

The Moun­tie ex­pe­ri­ence through an artist’s eyes

‘I have pride in the RCMP,’ says ca­reer of­fi­cer’s wife of her ex­hibit of paint­ings

- HEATHER POLISCHUK hpolis­chuk@post­media.com twit­ter.com/LPHeatherP Painting · Visual Arts · Arts · Royal Canadian Mounted Police · Sherwood Park · Barcelona · Spain · Escola del CIC · Barcelona

While she wasn’t a mem­ber of the RCMP, be­ing mar­ried to one gave Car­leen Ross a bird’s-eye view of what it is to be a Moun­tie.

Now she is hop­ing to give the pub­lic a glimpse of what she ob­served through a se­ries of paint­ings col­lec­tively ti­tled From Sea to Sea.

“To me, it was a story that needed to be told, but in a pos­i­tive way ...,” she says. “(The se­ries) was my way of ba­si­cally ex­press­ing and get­ting my story out about the RCMP. You see so much in so­cial me­dia, neg­a­tiv­ity with po­lice. And be­ing a mem­ber’s wife and know­ing the other side, it was up­set­ting to me. So most of my art, I try and fo­cus on the beauty, and try and find colours in it.”

Car­leen — born in Regina and raised largely in Al­berta — met her would-be hus­band in Sherwood Park 21 years ago, when Kelly Ross was about eight years into what would be a 24-year ca­reer with the na­tional po­lice force. (He is now re­tired.)

When Car­leen first thought up the se­ries, she planned to paint her hus­band in uni­form. But, with a back­ground in wildlife paint­ing, she ul­ti­mately de­cided to tell the story through bi­son — an an­i­mal with a long as­so­ci­a­tion to the RCMP.

The se­ries of six paint­ings takes the viewer through an RCMP ca­reer in sym­bolic fash­ion, bear­ing ti­tles like The Re­cruit, Morn­ing Shift, On Pa­trol and Re­mem­brance.

For Car­leen, it wasn’t sim­ply a study in what it’s like to be a Moun­tie; it tells her story as a spouse, as well.

“It was see­ing the world through what my hus­band did ... the morn­ing shifts, see­ing him get up so early in the morn­ing and see­ing him ex­hausted, but do­ing the work, get­ting it done,” she says.

Kelly spent some time at smaller de­tach­ments where he would of­ten be the sole avail­able lo­cal mem­ber on shift, the near­est backup of­ten some time and dis­tance away. Car­leen re­mem­bers learn­ing to deal with the re­al­i­ties of overnight phone calls that would awaken them and have Kelly re­spond­ing to a call with only a few hours sleep.

“There were some shifts that he was gone for 24 hours ...,” she re­calls. “And I think that’s some­thing that the pub­lic doesn’t see. I would call and just be like, ‘Are you in a ditch? You’re still there. OK. I’ve just got to make sure you’re still alive. Where are you?’ There are some (calls) that they came across some­thing that was big­ger than they ex­pected, and the next thing you know they’re gone 24 hours do­ing their job.”

Car­leen also learned to cope with the worry that would creep in while her hus­band was out on pa­trol and some­times un­reach­able by phone thanks to poor cell cov­er­age in ru­ral ar­eas.

“There was lots of worry, but we were lucky ...,” she says. “We’ve known a lot of mem­bers that weren’t as lucky.”

By the time the cou­ple had their chil­dren, Kelly had trans­ferred for the last time and was no longer in pa­trol duty.

While there were neg­a­tives, Car­leen says they were out­weighed by the pos­i­tives — such as see­ing a crowd in Barcelona, Spain erupt into cheers upon see­ing her hus­band and his fel­low Moun­ties march­ing in their red serge.

“I have pride in the RCMP,” she says. “I look at it for all the fan­tas­tic things that they do rep­re­sent. So to me, it’s na­tion­al­ism, it’s Canada.”

From Sea to Sea can be seen at the RCMP Her­itage Cen­tre through­out 2017. The orig­i­nals, as well as 150 prints of each (in hon­our of Canada 150), are avail­able for pur­chase.

 ?? MICHAEL BELL ?? Car­leen Ross stands in front of her ex­hi­bi­tion “From Sea to Sea” at the RCMP Her­itage Cen­tre. The se­ries of paint­ings fea­tures bi­son, an an­i­mal that has strong ties to the RCMP.
MICHAEL BELL Car­leen Ross stands in front of her ex­hi­bi­tion “From Sea to Sea” at the RCMP Her­itage Cen­tre. The se­ries of paint­ings fea­tures bi­son, an an­i­mal that has strong ties to the RCMP.

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