The MAG’s art collection is made up of three main collecting areas: Indigenous art, Inuit art and art of Central Alberta.
The Indigenous and Inuit collections are comprised of a large bequest by local Red Deer doctor and collector Kathleen Anderson Swallow. Much of the Inuit art collected by Dr. Swallow focuses on the themes of family and mother/infant relationships. With the assistance of funds from the Dr. Kathleen Anderson Swallow Bequest, we have been able to add the work of contemporary indigenous artists to our collection.
Our art of Central Alberta collection encompasses work by a number of artists who call this area home including large collections by painter Dave More and printmaker Jim Westergard. This collection holds work that represents the landscape and history of Central Alberta. The Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery continues to build a collection that reflects the artistic practices of artists in the Central Alberta area.
The MAG’s collection of art by Central Alberta artists and of art depicting Central Alberta spans nearly a century. From early untrained artists to contemporary professional artists, this part of our art collection tells the story of Central Alberta’s landscape, the Red Deer cityscape and life in Red Deer and its neighboring communities.
In 2019, Central Alberta artist Dave More and his wife Yvette Brideau, donated nearly 200 pieces of his artwork. Paintings, drawings, sketchbooks and slides document the arc of Dave’s artistic career. In that same year, the museum hosted a retrospective exhibition curated by Mary-Beth Laviolette. And this year, 2021, we saw University of Calgary press publish a book about Dave and his work called Greatest Garden. This generous gift is a cornerstone of our art collection here at the Red Deer MAG.
Thanks to several generous donors, including Dr. Kathleen Anderson Swallow, the Red Deer MAG has a sizeable collection of art by indigenous artists. This collection reflects the practices of a geographically vast group of artists including Inuit, Anishinaabe, Cree and Blackfoot artists. With the bequest left to the museum by Dr. Swallow, the MAG has been able to grow this collection and will continue to focus on collecting the work of indigenous artists with ties to Central Alberta.
The MAG is fortunate to have an extensive Inuit art collection due in part to the generous gift of Dr. Kathleen Anderson Swallow. Dr. Swallow was born in Manitoba in 1914 and educated at the University of Alberta. She became a respected specialist in Pediatrics and Public Health, practicing and teaching at various hospitals and universities including Charles Camsell Hospital in Edmonton, John Hopkins Hospital and University in Baltimore and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. In 1974 she came to Red Deer to reorganize medical care at the Michener Centre.
Dr. Swallow actively sought out and collected a diverse range of artwork by Indigenous and Inuit artists. She had a strong interest in Kinngait (Cape Dorset) prints, carving and the artist Kenojuak Ashevak. She donated her collection to the Red Deer MAG in 1983 and established a bequest for the MAG to continue collecting Indigenous art. She passed away in Red Deer in 1984.