Weyburn’s Permanent Art Collection featured in Rotary talk

Future plans for moving into WRCC

The City of Weyburn’s Permanent Art Collection will be featured in new coffee table books and at the Weyburn Recreation and Culture Centre (WRCC), Rotary Club members heard in a presentation by Arts Council curator Regan Lanning. (See examples from the Permanent Art Collection above)

The arts council is also in a state of transition now, as the Signal Hill Arts Centre was emptied over the past week, and some programs and facilities will now not be available until the WRCC opens in September of 2021.

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The items in the city’s art collection are being catalogued by Weyburn photographer Chris Borshowa, and Lanning featured a few of the art works that have already been done as she took part in a Zoom meeting with the Rotary Club.

“We have over 200 pieces in the collection, and we’ve been adding one or two pieces to the collection every year from artists all over Saskatchewan,” said Lanning, who showed a number of examples by well-known and lesser known local and provincial artists.

Showing a photograph by internationally-known photographer Courtney Milne, she noted that when he passed away, he had instructions that all the photos in his studio were to be donated to Saskatchewan non-profit organizations, and the Weyburn Arts Council received a number of his photos.

One of the first works acquired for the city’s collection was by Cornelius Kievits, father of pottery artist Casey Kievits.

“He was Dutch, and painted much in the style of the Dutch masters in his work,” said Lanning.

Others shown included Art McKay, Michael Lonechild, former WCS art teacher and artist Eltje Degenhart, and other local artists like Joan Linley, Roland and Lois Olson, Gordon Stairmand, Kay Flury, Bev Sobush-Melby, Margaret Mainprize, Pieter van der Breggen and Kathryn Groshong, to just name a few.

Lanning noted that Rotary member Alex Miles donated his personal collection of works by Eltje Degenhart.

The coffee table books will feature photos of the artists and information about them, so people can learn about the art and the artists. There was an effort ongoing to get sponsors for the books, “then COVID happened. The project’s kind of on hold for now, but we’re going to go ahead with the documentation.”

Once the WRCC is finished, the City’s Permanent Art Collection will have a home there, and Lanning is making plans to do a big exhibition to show the collection pieces off.

For future acquisitions for the collection, Lanning noted that the criteria had not been updated since 1974, so she has been tweaking the criteria to make it more diverse, and to include more local artists from a wider range of years.

Meantime, the Signal Hill Arts Centre was sold by the City and all of the arts program equipment, furniture and materials have had to be moved out, with 99 per cent of everything out as of the weekend.

“We’ve been all-hands-on-deck, cleaning out 40 years of treasures from the building, and everything will be moved into storage,” said Lanning, noting that the hope is the WRCC will be finished by around next March, and they can start moving everything in to be ready for opening in September.

She noted the new gallery at the WRCC will be one and a half times as large as the Allie Griffin Art Gallery at the Weyburn Public Library, plus there will be her office, the pottery studio, and three arts education rooms all on the main floor.

The gallery area will also have mobile walls, so she can create smaller art shows within that space also, or even hold small concerts in the area.

One plus in the design is that there will be a walking track up on the second floor, and people can look down into the gallery area, perhaps to be drawn in to see an exhibit.

There will be a collaborative mural project for Weyburn’s Culture Days, with dates being set for Aug. 24-28, from 7-9 p.m. each evening, at the Leisure Centre’s Sun Room, Lanning noted.

The Culture Days will be a virtual event this year, featuring videos of artists doing their work, in addition to the mural project which Lanning is setting up with physical distancing in mind.

The mural project will use a photograph by John Woodward, and people can book a spot on one of the five evenings set aside for the project. To keep a physical distance between everyone to stay safe, only a certain number of spots are available each evening, said Lanning, with four tables to be set up to create parts of the mural. There is no cost to take part in this collaborative project.