Studio Visits

OUR West Country

As Art Curators it is important that we work closely with the artists we are exhibiting in our galleries and where possible it may involve visiting the artists’ in their own studios.

We can monitor the progress they are making toward the exhibition stage, and it helps both the artist and the Curator to stay on track with each other and avoid any pitfalls that may occur along the way.

Typically, exhibitions highlight the artwork of one or two artists. In, “OUR West Country”, we had invited 5 artists from Central Alberta to submit paintings either started or started and completed on site as is the process generally in plein air painting. We challenged the artists to create images they had done of places special to them from along Alberta’s ‘Eastern Slopes’.

With their exhibition slated to open in December of 2021, Joanne Gruenberg, my fellow Art Curator, and I visited 3 of the artists exhibiting in the show.

We had previously been to Susan Woolgar’s and Lynn LeCorre’s studios. Our first stop that day was to Judy Sutter who lives just south of Sylvan Lake.

From Judy’s we next went to Larry’s home and studio on the southwest side of Sylvan Lake. Larry’s studio is in the basement of his home and an intriguing workplace it is!

After we left Larry’s studio we finished the day with a visit to Kate More home and studio southeast of Rocky Mountain House. After these visits, Joanne and I had a clearer idea of what the artists would be bringing to the MAG and we could start, as Curators, envisioning the ‘look’ of the show.

Read on to learn more about each of our studio visits!

Lynn LeCorre

Lynn lives nears the MAG in one of Red Deer’s oldest neighbourhoods. Her studio is in her home like many of the others and she has created a very functional and comfortable workspace in an upstairs bedroom that faces south. When Joanne and I visited, she had many of the works for the OUR West Country show almost completed so we were able to see how she was progressing as well as think about how her works were going to look and be possibly positioned within the groups’ overall body of artwork. That is one of the most important aspects of a Curator’s role – to try to envision how an exhibit will look by seeing the individual works of art and imagining how all of it will fit together. Lynn was possibly the most travelled of the artists in the show. She travelled from southern Alberta to west of Red Deer to paint scenes that caught her attention on her road trips. It was fun seeing what she had chosen to paint and to hear some of her adventures while doing so. The picture we have of her painting on site was taken near the Ya Ha Tinda gates by a horseman just riding by!

Lynn LeCorre, at the opening event for OUR West Country

Susan Woolgar

Joanne and I made Susan’s studio our first visit. Susan lives in Red Deer so it was an easy but intriguing visit. We didn’t actually see her working space as she has dedicated a few spots within her home to paint, store and display her work. She is a prolific painter and teacher with on-line students attending her ‘classes’ from all over the world.

We were able to get a bit of a tour of the spaces she had been displaying her finished OUR West Country paintings. She had gone to a few different places she loves in the west country to paint as well as took most of the group on a road trip to the Ya Ha Tinda area so they could all paint together for a day. Susan has been painting for a number of years and her work reflects the progression she is making in her art as she slowly moves from traditional representation to a more abstracted vision and in the OUR West Country exhibition, she chose to concentrate on a water theme as it is her most environmental concern.

On the day that Joanne and I drove to Judy Sutter’s studio then Larry Reese’s and finally Kate More’s, we tried to spend some quality time with each artist.

Susan Woolgar, at the opening event for OUR West Country

Judy Sutter

Judy’s studio was the first place Joanne and I stopped at the day we did the three studio visits. She and her husband run a cattle ranch near Sylvan Lake. On the day we were there, she was pretty busy organizing a bull sale the next day, but she made time to tour us through her studio which faces west with a commanding view of the west country and mountains. It is a large space with the potential for her to do large work which she does occasionally. It has the feel and look of a true painting studio – works in progress are scattered around and paint tubes and brushes told where in the space she usually likes to work. It had a warm and inviting feel to it and reflected the artist’s character and personality.

Judy Sutter studio visit

Judy Sutter studio visit

Larry Reese

Larry and his wife live on the southern edge of Sylvan Lake in a pretty special place. Larry was a gracious host and willingly toured us through his home showing us all the artwork he has set up around the home. Larry is a prolific painter and the tour was fascinating in that we saw everything from the works he was making for the OUR West Country exhibition as well as still-lifes, portraits, and even social commentary ones. These are displayed throughout four levels in his house.

Larry Reese studio visit

Larry Reese studio visit

We ended up in the basement in what is his true studio space. There, he had the bulk of the work he was making for the “OUR West Country”. It is not a huge space but in it we were able to look more closely at the largest painting he has contributed to the exhibition and the plein air version he began on site west along the david Thompson Highway. Other works we see in the exhibition were also spread throughout the studio but these two captured our attention because of how his preliminary painting had grown, with a little imagination, into a fantastical view of a mountain stream you really wanted to visit.

Part of a Curator’s role is to try to envision the overall ‘look’ of a show and these two pieces were definitely going to be included in it. The one for being based on a real place that was the nucleus to a much larger finished work that still retained the original site but with a few embellishments.

Kate More

Joanne and I went on out to Kate More’s home and studio after we had visited first Judy Sutter and then Larry Reese at their studios one day. Kate lives in a painter’s paradise. She has built her own home and studio overlooking one of the best trout fishing streams in the west country of Alberta (won’t say where for the fish’s sake) and enjoys a spectacular view of meadows, foothills and mountains from her front door.

Kate More studio visit

Kate More studio visit

The studio was incorporated into the house plan so it also faces west and catches beautiful natural light all day. It is no wonder her subject matter often refers to the landscapes she is surrounded by, it is right outside her doors. After our visit we had to wait for a few minutes near our car to let a herd of deer leave the pasture we’d parked in. It was magical!

– Pat Matheson, Curator of Art

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