What makes art relevant?

Art, is it important?

An untitled work of Phoenix Ski Hill by Leta Helberg.

In this day and age of globalization and instant communication – where you can access the world via the web, sometimes, in a moment of self-doubt – I wonder,  “Is local art important?”

Each region seems to have its own subculture that has been shaped by the local history, landscape and economy.

Being born and raised here with ties to the Doukhobors and the Freedomites, my upbringing was definitely influenced by my Baba and Deda, who had a hand in raising all of their grandchildren.

Although their ideals and stories conflicted, both had good intentions, so I’m not sure if I’m apprenticing to be a Baba or should shed my clothes and burn something (wink, wink).

Two things they both agreed on was that one: this was the best place to live, for its beauty, fertility of the land and safety of living in a small town.

And second, being a good person is about hard work and honesty

Oh and Baba made great borscht!

So where does that leave me?  I love to cook for others and if it’s from my garden, even better.

I love going up the North Fork to go fishing or this time of year for wood and I have a love of sports.

I also paint and talk about painting and encourage others to paint!

What is it about art that people gravitate towards?

Style, colour, composition, execution, and medium – these are all important elements that attract the eye of the viewer and add to the success of a piece.

But when it comes to what you know and feel most passionately about, the personal knowledge of a subject is perceptible to the keen viewer and that can be more important than execution.

Last ski season I had been working on a series of paintings about Phoenix Ski Hill.

I had collected photos through the season and contemplated different ideas on style and ways of interpreting a moment.

After painting a small collection, I approached the hill about showing the group of works in the lodge.

The response I got was very energetic and enthusiastic but there was one piece that kept standing out in people’s minds.

This painting was of the bottom of the mountain to the lodge. I utilized a stylization that A.Y. Jackson is famous for, where the contours of the land are emphasized by lines, leading your eyes up and down them.

I think for people that are very familiar with interpreting the lay of the snowy land, this was a great way to engage the viewers by triggering fond memories and conversation.

As an artist I consider this a great success by stimulating conversation and contributing to the feeling of community up there.

With so many positive experiences to be had around us, we shouldn’t be hard pressed to find inspiration to add strength to our community by encouraging others and forming new friendships with those who share in our interests.

I believe everyone has a part to play in building a stronger community. I am actively choosing to try to be approachable to as many viewers as possible, hoping to increase the appreciation of art.

If you would like to talk about your art or comment on what you see here or would like to see here, we can be reached at artpalette@hotmail.ca.

-submitted by Leta Helberg

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