Lau­rent Frey and the Filles d’ar­doise

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL NEWS - By Nick Fonda

An ar­chi­tect by train­ing and a graphic artist by pro­fes­sion, Lau­rent Frey has long had an in­ter­est in Rich­mond’s Main Street and he sees the tem­po­rary art gallery at the old Na­tional Bank build­ing as a serendip­i­tous step in the right di­rec­tion.

“Both the gallery and the cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion came about through a happy con­flu­ence of events,” said the co-co­or­di­na­tor of La Ga­lerie Couleurs en Prin­ci­pale.

Frey points to three prin­ci­pal play­ers who contribute­d to the in­stall­ment of the art gallery.

“The Town of Rich­mond opted this year to not hang flower bas­kets along the town’s main thor­ough­fares but in­stead to hang colour­ful ban­ners de­pict­ing flow­ers,” he ex­plained.

“The orig­i­nal art­work for the ban­ners,” he con­tin­ued, “was done by Madeleine Lemire who is an in­ter­na­tion­ally known artist who di­vides her time be­tween Canada and Mexico. Rich­mond is where she lives and paints for about half the year.”

“The ban­ners were de­signed and printed and ready to be in­stalled,” Frey re­called, “and it seemed fit­ting to hold some kind of in­au­gu­ra­tion. At about the same time, I ap­proached Nathalie Gagnon about a pop-up art gallery. Among other things, she owns what is re­ferred to as the old Na­tional Bank build­ing (and what some still re­mem­ber as the Myra Theatre), and op­er­ates the gym, Espace en Mou­ve­ment on the sec­ond floor. Since the de­par­ture of the Rich­mond branch of the Na­tional Bank, the first floor of Nathalie Gagnon’s build­ing has re­mained an empty store­front.”

“She loved the idea and, since it was go­ing to be a tem­po­rary gallery, of­fered us the use of this space at no cost,” Frey said. “It made sense to in­au­gu­rate the ban­ners and hold an open­ing of Madeleine’s ex­hi­bi­tion at the same time.”

The in­au­gu­ra­tion was very well at­tended and the ex­hi­bi­tion by the RCA artist ran for six weeks. De­spite the three-let­ter acro­nym the pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tion is for­mally called the Royal Cana­dian Academy of the Arts and mem­ber­ship is by in­vi­ta­tion only. The only pre­vi­ous Rich­mond artist to be of­fered mem­ber­ship was Fred­er­ick Coburn, al­most a cen­tury ago. Madeleine Lemire has been a mem­ber since 1996. Her colour­ful can­vasses are dis­tinc­tive and often flirt with the line be­tween re­al­ism and ab­strac­tion.

“It was a very suc­cess­ful ex­hi­bi­tion on sev­eral lev­els, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial” Frey noted. “Sev­eral of the paint­ings on dis­play were sold the same day the ex­hi­bi­tion opened.”

This re­sult was es­pe­cially pleas­ing be­cause art gal­leries are gen­er­ally strug­gling these days.

It was this suc­cess that led Lemire and Frey to con­tem­plate a sec­ond ex­hi­bi­tion.

“We sat down and brain­stormed,” the gallery co-or­di­na­tor said, “each of us sug­gest­ing names. We didn’t in­tend at the out­set to cre­ate an all-woman show; that was just the way it turned out.”

En­ti­tled Filles d’ar­doise as a nod to the fact that, at one time, the area’s slate mines were of sin­gu­lar im­por­tance, the ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures paint­ings, sculp­tures and draw­ings from five women who all live in the Rich­mond-danville area. All five are ma­ture artists who have hefty CVS, and, be­tween them, some two cen­turies of ac­com­plished artis­tic en­deav­ours.

In ad­di­tion to Lemire, four other no­table artists are in­cluded in the ex­hi­bi­tion.

Beatrice Multhaupt stud­ied fine arts and, start­ing in the 1970s, taught the dis­ci­pline. She is a skilled and highly re­al­is­tic por­trait artist with a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween heal­ing and en­ergy. Among other paint­ings on dis­play are a num­ber that pay homage to shamans and faith heal­ers of the past.

Pa­tri­cia Bar­row­man traces her in­ter­est in art back to her grand­mother who in­tro­duced her to draw­ing and paint­ing. She stud­ied in both Canada and the United States, even­tu­ally grad­u­at­ing from the Nova Sco­tia Col­lege of Art and De­sign in Hal­i­fax. She has ex­per­i­mented with many dif­fer­ent art forms in­clud­ing pot­tery. Horses have fas­ci­nated her since her teenage years, and her pa­pier-maché horse is the largest sin­gle piece of art­work in the ex­hibit.

Noel-ange Coderre is a na­tive of Sher­brooke but a long-time res­i­dent of Danville. She taught art for many years and has been inspired by Nor­man Mau­rice, Que­bec’s fa­ther of re­cy­cling. Pri­mar­ily in­ter­ested in sculp­ture, she works with bronze, alu­minum, wood, stone and resins, often mak­ing us of re­cu­per­ated ma­te­ri­als to cre­ate her dis­tinc­tive pieces.

Paule Lévesque stud­ied in Eng­land and in Switzer­land be­fore em­bark­ing on a ca­reer that in­cluded stints at the Na­tional Film Board and at Ra­dio Canada where she did both an­i­ma­tion and graphic de­sign. In 2000 she de­cided to ded­i­cate her­self ex­clu­sively to paint­ing. Her work has been ex­hib­ited in­ter­na­tion­ally in­clud­ing at the Rock­e­feller Cen­ter in New York City. Her paint­ings are to be found as part of the per­ma­nent col­lec­tions of sev­eral mu­se­ums.

“The Filles d’ar­doise ex­hi­bi­tion opened on Novem­ber 7,” Frey pointed out, “and we had over 100 peo­ple in at­ten­dance. We’re con­scious of Christ­mas be­ing just around the cor­ner and while we have a num­ber of larger pieces on dis­play, we also asked all of the artists to in­clude some smaller pieces of art­work as well, things that might eas­ily be pur­chased as a Christ­mas present.”

Vis­i­tors can, for ex­am­ple, buy pack­ages of greet­ing cards from dif­fer­ent artists. The art­works them­selves range in price from $120 for small-for­mat paint­ings to $90 000. The $90 000 art­work is not, strictly speak­ing, in the show. How­ever, for the in­ter­ested party, Pa­tri­cia Bar­row­man’s pa­pier-maché horse can be ren­dered in bronze, pos­si­bly in time for the hol­i­days.

“If you didn’t make it to the ex­hi­bi­tion’s open­ing,” Lemire said, “you are wel­come to the ex­hi­bi­tion’s clos­ing on Novem­ber 24 at 2:00 pm. Lately it has be­come quite fash­ion­able to cel­e­brate the clos­ing as much as the open­ing. “

La Ga­lerie Couleurs en Prin­ci­pale is lo­cated at 60 Main Street in Rich­mond and is open from Tues­day to Fri­day from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

NICK FONDA

Lau­rent Frey

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