Weyburn curator shares her journey as an artist

From an early age, Regan Lanning knew she wanted to be an artist, and now as an adult, she gets to both be an artist and to work with artists as the curator for the Weyburn Arts Council.

She shared her journey with the members of the Weyburn Rotary Club as she spoke about her position with the Arts Council and about her personal work as an artist.

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“My parents are both incredibly practical people,” said Lanning. “I tried my best not to be an artist, but it didn’t work.”

As curator, she looks after booking shows for the city’s three art galleries, including the Allie Griffin Art Gallery, the Signal Hill Art Gallery at the Signal Hill Arts Centre, and the Credit Union Art Gallery, each with their own focus.

The Allie Griffin gallery will have shows by nationally or provincially-known artists, Signal Hill will have locally-known artists, and new or unknown artists are generally shown at the Credit Union gallery.

In addition to this responsibility, she looks after the City of Weyburn’s Permanent Art Collection, which has over 200 pieces of art in a climate-controlled storage space in the basement of City Hall.

A project that has been keeping her busy in the last while has been planning for the new art gallery space and pottery studio that will be a part of the Weyburn Recreation and Culture Centre, which is currently under construction along with the new elementary school.

She has been working with city on trying to determine what the needs for art and culture are going to be in the next 20 years.

“I am now figuring out art programs and booking shows for a gallery that doesn’t exist yet. It’s challenging,” said Lanning, adding she is also attempting to organize shows based around the City of Weyburn’s permanent art collection, including for the opening of the WRCC, when she plans to have most or all of the collection on display. The collection was begun by the city in 1974, and every year after they added one or two pieces, starting with one by Cornelius Kievits.

She is also working on developing a show in tribute to the late Eltje Degenhart, who was an art teacher at the Weyburn Comp and an artist in his own right.

Lanning attributes his influence to why she became an artist. “I couldn’t have had the fortitude to stand up to my parents and say, ‘no, I’m an artist’, if he hadn’t been teaching,” she said, noting she will be borrowing pieces of his work from private collectors in addition to the three pieces in the City’s permanent collection.

As an artist, she noted she cannot enter local competitions such as the James Weir People’s Choice or the local art adjudication, because of her position as curator. Thus she entered an art adjudication competition in Estevan and won there, and is now putting together a show that will be exhibited in Estevan in November and December. For this show, she is combining her love of drawing with her love of pottery, with the theme of representing the relationships she has with her loved ones, such as of her two children.

“Some of the plates will be displayed broken, some will be repaired, just like some relationships are repaired, because all of that can be overwhelming,” she said.

Her ceramic projects are called “Aftermath Ceramics”, which is a reference to her growing up with teachers as parents.

“With a math teacher as a parent, I was only allowed to do art after my math was done, so …” she said with a smile, adding she also makes ceramic jewelry and teaches adult pottery classes. The six-week classes are prerequisite for any adults wanting to join the pottery club at Signal Hill.

“Art is all about authenticity. Art is not just pretty pictures. I feel something art does really well is it can teach us about different topics. I get to create these art pieces about people I love, and I have a really great network of friends,” said Lanning.

She added that she will be an artist until the day she dies. “It would be pretty hard to separate it from who I am,” she said.