Visual arts: Art and soul

Visual arts: Art and soul

Saskatchewan has so many visual artists we could write a book about them. Oh wait, there is one – a dictionary of Saskatchewan artists. Here we note only a few high profile artists.

Favourite women artists

Selected by Frances Daw Bergles

Bergles established the esteemed Fine & Performing Arts Department of the Saskatoon Public Library in the late sixties, and directed it for decades. It still exists.

Iris Hauser. Painter of large, brilliantly-executed realistic oil portraits embodying fertile narrative symbolism. 

Annemarie Buchmann-Gerber.  Award-winning mixed-media artist based in textile/fibre materials and techniques, explored feminist and contemporary issues.

Heather Cline.  A multiple-award-winning artist and teacher, Cline has worked in painting, mixed media, acrylic, drawing, installations, and printmaking exploring narratives of place and personal history. 

Margaret Keelan: An internationally known clay artist who incorporates the tactile properties of her medium in her interpretation of the female form, her main source of inspiration.

Marie Lannoo.  Creator of aesthetic abstract installations that manipulate light through experimental means with experimental materials (prismatic foil, interference paint (mica flakes coated with oxide pigments).

Miranda Jones. An artist who works in a variety of media, including painting and metal work. Best known for her gilding with real gold and silver leaf, her work is heavily influenced by the Australian landscapes she grew up with.

Red scultpure by Sandra Ledingham
Red ceramic sculpture by Sandra Ledingham

Sandra Meryl Ledingham. Abstract ceramic sculptor whose work is informed by the notion of clay’s humble materiality where she looks with reverence to its usage from clay dwellings (Middle East, Africa, New Mexico) to humble pots in the world’s indigenous histories, to clay as a food source. Her ceramic sculpture can be seen in the rotunda of the Saskatchewan Legislature and in international collections.

Helen Billie Lucas.  Internationally known painter of captivating floral paintings that have been the subject of a multitude of awards, exhibitions, distinctions and publications over the years. 

Sandra Semchuk (GG). Photographer and videographer who explores herself, her Ukrainian background, cultural mythology, family, and women’s issues in both black and white and colour.

Margot Wawra.  An artist who worked in a variety of media, including painting, photography, and sculpture, especially structurist works in plastics

Favourite male artists

Selected by Frances Daw Bergles

Doug Bentham. Widely known and respected, nationally and internationally, Bentham’s sculptures are executed in steel, stainless steel, bronze, brass and wood.

Eli Bornstein. Internationally known sculptor of three-dimensional structurist works which incorporate complex colours, forms, and use of shadows. Founded an international art journal called The Structurist, published from 1960 to 2010.

William Epp: A prolific sculptor in clay, steel, fibreglass, stone, bronze, and wood, whose figure and portrait sculptures that have been exhibited across Canada and in the United States. He received many commissions and his works are found all around Saskatoon.

Joe Fafard: A sculptor who has worked in clay and bronze. His sculptures include large enclosed spaces, individuals and farm animals. He has received many large commissions for his work, including 1985’s The Pasture, featuring seven bronze cows—commissioned by Cadillac Fairview for the Toronto-Dominion Centre.

Terry Fenton:  Atmospheric landscape painter of sparse, open southern prairie spaces, Fenton is also an arts administrator and writer, critic and author on Canadian and international artists. 

Zach Hauser.  Photographer of startling images, blacksmith, blade-maker, and latterly, unique furniture maker in wood, glass and stone, sometimes incorporating paintings by his wife, Iris Hauser, 

Hans Herold: Evocative landscape painter of prairie scenes executed in delicate impressionistic style somewhat reminiscent of Japanese style.

Clint Hunker:  Powerful landscape artist in watercolour, oil, and pastel whose works portray human presence on the prairies.

Robert Murray: Internationally-known and respected sculptor of large abstract, industrial style works.

Allan Sapp painting
Iconic painting by Cree artist Allen Sapp.
Photo CP-5729 by Creative Professional Photographers, from Local History Room, Saskatoon Public Library, reproduced with permission of Allen Sapp’s estate.

Allen Sapp: A realist painter of First Nations people and life on the reserve, Sapp is regarded as one of Canada’s foremost Indigenous painters.

Marko Spalatin: International painter of abstract geometric forms defined by manipulation of color and light. His works are in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Musée d’Art Moderne and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

Dimitro Stryjek:  A primitive worker in oils whose work included moving portraits and religious themes.

Thoughts on buying art

by potter Mel Bolen and Rebekah Joy Plett

When you buy from an independent artist you are buying more than just a painting, pottery, a novel or a song. You are buying hundreds of hours of experimentation, thousands of failures and various successes. You are buying days, weeks, months and years of frustrations and moments of pure joy. You are buying nights of financial stress, self-doubt and self-motivation. You aren’t just buying a thing; you are buying a piece of heart, and soul, private moments in an artists’ life. Most importantly, you are buying that artist more time to do something they are truly passionate about, something that puts life and creative enrichment into living.

Big Sky country

Depicted by Saskie artists

Ten other iconic artists whose work reflects a prairie ambiance (or works to take with you if you leave, to remind you of home)

Ivan Eyre — landscape painter, sculptor and printmaker — studied under Lindner and Bornstein at U of S and at an American university. He taught at the University of Manitoba, exhibited in various countries, and is represented in galleries across Canada. He grew up in Saskatoon.

Ted Godwin, one of the famous Regina Five, painted somewhat stylized images of forest fringes.

Big-sky paintings by Greg Hardy feature the sometimes-whimsical cloud formations that animate prairie landscapes. His works have been shown in galleries for more than thirty years.

Robert Hurley’s delicate, iconic watercolours usually depict big-sky prairie scenes with grain elevators. He usually worked on a small scale. (One of his paintings was presented to the Queen.)

The artistic vision of Englishman Augustus Kenderdine was born of his early European training, and his attraction to prairie wildernesses. He was a seminal figure in shaping the U of S art department and the Emma Lake art camp named in his honour.

Artist in studio.
Artist Wynona (Nonie) Mulcaster in her
Saskatoon studio in January 1975.
Photo CP-6940 J (file) by Creative a Professional Photographers, from Local History Room, Saskatoon Public Library.

Horsewoman and painter Wynona Mulcaster is renowned for her horse paintings and landscapes. After an illustrious career in Saskatoon that included teaching art at the University, she moved to an artists’ colony in Mexico.

Artist painting large canvas.
Saskatoon artist Dorothy Knowles touches up one of her iconic landscape paintings, Jan. 30, 1955. Photo CP-6940-1 by Creative Professional Photographers, courtesy of Local History Room, Saskatoon Public Library.

Naturalistic, sublime landscapes of Saskatchewan by Dorothy Knowles are instantly recognizable. She has an honorary doctorate from the U of R, and one of her paintings graces the Governor-General’s residence.

Ernest Lindner in studio, circa 1975
Ernest Lindner, circa 1975. Photo CP 6940-A-19 by Creative Professional Photographers, from Local History Room,
Saskatoon Public Library

Super-realistic paintings by Austria-born Ernest Lindner depict northern forests in intricate detail. In his day, his Emma Lake workshops were a mecca for artists, but he is also revered for shaping artistic sensibilities as art teacher at the Saskatoon Technical Collegiate.

Oversize paintings by William Perehudoff reduce prairie andscapes to their essence, in flat planes of colour. One of his enormous works adorned the stairwell of the Saskatoon Public Library downtown.

Edward Poitras (GG, Order of Canada), a Metis artist from Regina, combines natural and modern materials to create a blend of indigenous and European-inspired art.

Lorna Russell shines at autumnal prairie scenes with brilliant colours, but she is also well known for her undulating summer landscapes in soft hues. She has been an art teacher and consultant for several organizations. Her iconic work was recently profiled in Prairies North, fall 2019.

David Thauberger, born in Holdfast, paints sharp-edged hyper-realistic images of architecture in prairie cities and towns, plus mountain and lake scenes evocative of other parts of Canada. His many honours include being invested into the Order of Canada, and the Royal Academy of Arts.

Wilf Perrault of Regina studied under Ernest Lindner. He is perhaps best known for his representational cityscapes and back alley scenes.

Moulders & shapers

Notable sculptors selected by Larry Buhr

Saskatchewan has been blessed with many artists of sculpture especially in the post-WWII era after fine art departments were established at Saskatoon and Regina university campuses. Here are some notable examples, past and present.

Eli Bornstein: Arriving from Milwaukee in 1950 as the first head of the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Eli’s early work included sculpture of his own creation using the medium of welded aluminum. This evolved into three-dimensional relief ‘structurist’ works for which he is best known. At 96 he remains an internationally recognized artist residing in Saskatoon.

Abstract, metal tree sculpture “The Tree of Knowledge” by Eli Bornstein, outside the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation building, excited controversy in 1966.
Photo CP-4219-1 by Leonard Hillyard,
from Local History Room, Saskatoon Public Library.

William ‘Bill’ Epp: A prolific sculptor best known for his large bronze-cast works which adorn many spaces in Saskatoon. Bill taught sculpture at the U of S from 1967 to 1993.  In this capacity and via his home-based foundry he taught & inspired a large cohort of students, many of whom remain active as sculptors to the present. He also founded the Prairie Sculptors Association in 1982.

Susan Shantz: Since 1990 Susan has taught sculpture and multi-media at the U of S, especially focusing on themes of spirituality, sensuality and feminism.  Her choice of media expanded upon more traditional materials and include found objects, three-dimensional printing and organics such as tree branches, ash residues and tomato paste as a unifying coating upon multiple domestic objects.

Patricia Leguen: For several decades the only Canadian woman competing at the international level in non-permanent snow, ice, sand and fire sculpture competitions, Patricia creates large dramatic pieces often of Indigenous and historic themes.  Active since the 1980s, she has amassed a large number of prizes and awards in these categories.

Joe Fafard: Internationally-regarded from the Regina area, Joe began working in cast bronze in the mid-1980s and has incorporated elements of humour and intuitive understanding into subjects such as his famous large cows and other farm animals such as horses and pigs, as well as wildlife and people.  Accolades include commemorative postage stamps and The Order of Canada.

Lyndon Tootoosis: From Poundmaker First Nation near Battleford, Lyndon is known for his Indigenous-themed, carved stone sculptures of ancestral and animal figures and of similar-themed large bronze-cast pieces.  They share the stories and beliefs of his culture of which he also works to teach understanding and respect towards these artistic endeavors of traditional memories and in turn build wider community.

Vic Cicansky: As with Joe Fafard, Vic is a Regina-based sculptor of international reputation and recipient of The Order of Canada.  Likewise elements of humour and human insight permeate his work in which he has especially focused upon ceramic-sculptures of vegetables and “the garden of the mind.”  Large terra-cotta and ceramic relief installations of his imaginings are found in Saskatoon and Regina.

Douglas Bentham: Creating especially with Modernist abstract, constructivist themes, Douglas is a veteran figure in Saskatchewan sculpture.  He has worked in steel, bronze and wood including recovered materials from industrial settings.  Most famous for monumental scale installations of many surface treatments and hues, he has strived for elements of dynamic tension which challenge and draw in the observer.

Noel Lloyd Pinay: From Peepeekis First Nation, Lloyd was self-taught as a stone carver of Indigenous themes especially combining animal and human components.  He moved into bronze-casting, often incorporating bronze portions with carved stone.  Large commissioned pieces of his creation reside across Saskatchewan as at Wanuskewin Heritage Park and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum while in Ottawa the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument is perhaps his greatest opus.

Robert Murray: Saskatchewan-raised Robert is an abstract-design sculptor bestknown outside this province especially in the United States.  His often controversial works are usually in twisted shapes of steel: ‘Rainmaker’ was installed at the Saskatoon City Hall fountain in 1960 with frustration voiced from the public for its non-representational form.  Similarly his ‘Nimbus’ of 1978 in Juneau, Alaska was re-located amidst much debate in 1984.  Both are better accepted today with the passage of time.

Drawing attention

Gifted graphic artists

Saskie illustrators, cartoonists, film animators and creators of comic books and graphic novels. Some of have received Oscars, and one appeared on TED Talks.

Marian Bantjes, originally of Saskatoon, is an internationally recognized illustrator and graphic designer. Her colourful patterned and ornamental images and custom lettering have graced magazines, cards, posters and book covers. Her clients have included Saks Fifth Avenue, Random House, Houghton Mifflin, WIRED, The Guardian (UK) and the New York Times. She has also appeared on TED Talks.

Sand painting by noted illlustrator from Saskatoon
Sand painting by illlustrator Marian Bantjes, formerly of Saskatoon. Supplied photo.

Cameron Cardow, formerly of the Regina Leader-Post, twice won the National Newspaper Award for editorial cartooning. When last heard of, he was editorial cartoonist for the Ottawa Citizen.

Paul Dutton, originally from Yorkton, was assistant director on the animated film The Illusionist, nominated for an Oscar for hand-drawn animation, and a Golden Globe award. It did win a European Film Award in 2010 and a Cesar.  He also does X-Box video games.

Computer animator Andrew Ford of Humboldt, a U of S grad, worked on the award-winning film Zootopia that won a Golden Globe award in 2017. He also worked on Moana, nominated in 2017.

The masterful cartoons of Brian Gable (CM), former cartoonist at the Regina Leader-Post, and the Toronto Globe & Mail, have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, Time Magazine, and The Guardian, among others. He won a National Newspaper Award seven times.

Tom Grummett, who lives in Furdale outside Saskatoon, is a comic book and graphic novel artist and “penciller” (the artist who pencils the first drawings in a story). Having worked with Gorilla Comics, Marvel Comics and DC Comics, his specialty is superheroes such as Superman, Batman and Robin.

Three U of S grads worked with the animation team at Disney that won an Oscar for Toy Story: Deborah Fowler, Larry Aupperle and Darwin Peachey. Aupperle also worked on technical aspects of the animated films Toy Story 1, and Finding Nemo.

Homer Groening, an early cartoonist in Saskatchewan and father of Matt Groening, creator of the hit TV cartoon series “The Simpsons.” Matt chose the name Homer for the anti-hero of the series.

Will James, famous author of Smoky the Cowhorse, illustrated his own best-selling books.

Mark Matthews, schooled in Saskatoon, created computer graphics algorithms for Dreamworks, for whom he worked for ten years. His algorithms were used in animations in such films as How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda.  

Ed Sebestyen, StarPhoenix editorial cartoonist for decades, created a classic cartoon booklet during Saskatchewan’s Medicare crisis, Is There a Doctor in the House?

Michael Thurmeier from Regina was nominated for an Oscar for best short animated film, for No Time for Nuts.

[Toy Story Oscar:; Green & White spring 1996]

Behind the lens

Some well-known Saskie shutterbugs (among legions)

(Portrait photographers are not included here.)

Dick Bird of Regina, photographer and cinematographer, the official film-maker for Saskatchewan in his day. He was a Fellow of the Canadian Press Association, the Photographic Society of America and the Zoological Society of America, and a nature photographer for Disney.

Hans Dommasch, celebrated as a photography instructor and guru of the photography department at the U of S for many years.

John Gibson of Saskatoon, creator of a photographic ouvre of hundreds of city scenes.

Ralph Dill, prolific shutterbug and creator of hundreds of Saskatoon’s most historic photographs, including a first Nations encampment near the city.

Leonard Hillyard, prolific industrial photographer associated with Creative Professional Photographers of Saskatoon.

William James came west to Prince Albert before 1890 and worked at a sawmill before setting up a photography studio in 1894; he left a record of priceless images of the early days. His father had been part of the Wolseley Expedition of 1870.    

Robert & Arlene Karpan, prolific authors who explore remote locations to photograph outstanding vistas and unusual formations.

Peter McKenzie, early photographer who captured many important historic images including some of First Nations people in natural settings around 1900.

Rusty Macdonald, a Saskatoon photographer who published many of his pictures in his book Four Seasons West. He was better known as executive editor of the Western Producer, editor of its magazine, and founder of Prairie Books.

Courtney Mile as child, raking leaves.
The late photographer and author Courtney Milne as a boy. Photo LH 9394, courtesy of Local History Room, Saskatoon Public Library.

Courtney Milne, creator of several high-profile books of photography and an articulate personage on the lecture circuit.

Geraldine Moodie, creator of an impressive visual record of life here in her time. She married a Mountie, came west in 1880, and photographed Inuit, Cree, and ranchers. 

Photographer Sandra Semchuk added to her laurels a Governor-General’s award in 2018, in visual and media arts.

Brock Silversides, creator of several books of photography.

Gord Waldner, Saskatoon StarPhoenix photographer, won a National Newspaper Award in 2006.

Wilfred West operated a studio in Regina starting in 1930s; it was taken over by son Mick West.