Canmore Leader, Friday, April 12, 2013
By Russ Ullyot
Canmore’s Solara Resort will host an exhibition of work from more than 40 artists that took up paintbrushes and carving tools to portray Canada’s west coast.
During a two-week period in June of 2012, a group of 50 renowned artists — including painter Robert Bateman and sculptor Craig Benson — travelled to the region on an expedition organized by Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
The exhibition, which will be in Canmore April 19-22, is in reaction to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline by Enbridge and its international partners.
“We want to raise awareness of this issue, particularly the Northern Gateway issue,” said Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s Brian Falconer. “Like two out of three British Columbians, the artists all feel that this is a really, really wrong project. It’s in a really wrong place. It’s just a place that doesn’t need or want oil tankers.”
The goal of the artwork, noted Falconer, is to bring attention to the dramatic beauty and ecological diversity of B.C.’s north and central coasts that will be at risk if tankers are permitted to ship diluted bitumen through the channel.
The original artworks were all donated to be part of a travelling awareness show, which begins an Alberta tour April 15 in Calgary at the Atrium of the Calgary Municipal Building.
“We wanted to pick some places in Alberta where people have both a connection with nature but also an understanding of the resource issues,” said Falconer, who spent more than 20 years sailing and working along the proposed oil tanker route.
“Calgary was the obvious first choice, but Canmore is a place where people really connect with nature … it’s a beautiful, beautiful part of the world.”
The exhibition travelled through southern B.C. this past winter.
More than 80 per cent of the artwork that will be on display, which includes a $50,000 signature bronze by Benson entitled Raincoast Bowl, has already been sold to collectors through an online fundraising auction during the B.C. tour that ran October through January.
The opening event in the Theatre at Solara on April 19, beginning at 6 p.m., will feature a 22-minute documentary on the expedition entitled Reflections: Art for an Oil-Free Coast.
“It’s a really powerful film,” said Falconer. “We have a question and answer period after, and the conversations have been absolutely amazing.”