Manitoba artists' works on the big stage

Longing, by Peter Graham, which received an honourable mention in the competition.
Longing, by Peter Graham, which received an honourable mention in the competition.
Nearly 50 Manitoba artists are getting a boost in prestige and profile today as their works are unveiled at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
The annual Manitoba Society of Artists' open juried competition and exhibition is being held at the WAG to recognize the 110th anniversary of the organization and the 80th anniversary of its contest and show.
Organizers say it's the first time in about 20 years that the WAG has hosted the province-wide showcase for amateur and professional entrants.
"It's a huge honour, always, to get accepted into this show," says Pat McCullough, co-chairwoman of the event and one of the featured artists. "This year, being at the WAG, the ante is really up."
The society received double its usual number of entries because of the prestigious venue. And the exhibition is more elite than usual because it's only half the size that it has been in recent years, at various venues such as the sixth floor of the Bay downtown.
The show, displayed on the WAG's mezzanine, has a free public opening today from 2 to 4 p.m. After that, regular WAG admission applies for the run, through April 22.
First place was awarded to Andrew Gillies of Winnipeg, second to Shirley Rayner of Winnipeg, and third to Arthur Oscar of Brandon. Honourable mentions went to Peter Graham, Sophie Lavoie, Rodger Lourenzo and Fran Partridge, all of Winnipeg.
The diverse show of 49 works includes watercolours, oils, acrylics, mixed media, prints, etchings, ink drawings, pastels, sculptures and more. A few of the notable artists are Luther Pokrant, Jill Brooks and Deborah Danelley. Every artist receives a small fee for participating. Almost all the works are for sale, at prices from $200 to $4,000 (the free catalogue lists the prices).
Most of the 48 artists, ranging from a recent University of Manitoba fine arts grad to a veteran in her 80s, are of professional calibre, the organizers say. Some earn a living from their art, and others pursue it as a part-time passion.
The WAG is hosting the show in its own centennial year to honour the long-standing, mutually supportive links between it and the MSA. "It's a recognition of roots and intertwined history," says event co-chairwoman Bonnie Taylor, president of the MSA.
The non-profit society, founded in 1902 by artists and art supporters, played a pivotal role in lobbying for municipal and provincial art institutions.
Those dreams were realized with the establishment of the WAG -- Canada's oldest civic art gallery -- in 1912 and the Winnipeg School of Art in 1913.
The MSA helped the WAG in its early days to arrange for loaned exhibitions from outside Manitoba.
Past members of the society have included distinguished artists with works in the WAG collection, such as Walter J. Phillips, L.L. FitzGerald, Leo Mol, Robert Bruce, Clarence Tillenius, Betty Dimock, Caroline Dukes and Tony Tascona.
The works in the 2012 MSA show were chosen from 430 entries from 191 Manitoba artists. Entrants don't have to belong to the MSA, which currently has about 100 members.
The jurors were Andrew Kear, WAG curator of historical Canadian art, and British Columbia landscape painter Robert Genn.
Organizers wanted to increase the number of rural entries this year. Because sending in their works has been a challenge for artists outside Winnipeg, the MSA secured a new sponsorship from Gardewine Transport. The company agreed to ship artworks to and from Winnipeg at no charge.
The move was so successful, Taylor says, the number of rural pieces submitted surged from 37 to 108.
Artists from Brandon, Gimli and Morden are among the 10 prize winners.
Art Preview
MSA Open Juried Competition and Exhibition
Winnipeg Art Gallery
Free public opening today at 2 p.m.
Regular admission applies, April 8-22
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 7, 2012 G5