I headed over to Woodbine after having a lovely visit with artists, Barbara Ballachey and David Foxcroft down at Calgary’s new Edge Gallery. There’s a big opening there next Saturday. I’m excited to see that one!
I’ve been a fan of Barbara Ballachey for a zillion years, having her as one of my first Artists in Residence at Cardinal Newman School the year after it opened up in the late 1980s.. She did a marvelous job conducting drawing sessions with almost 400 children. Anyway, Barbara is always generous and welcoming and I considered her a mentor as I tackled the subject of landscape years ago. I enjoyed, always, how she received pleasure from the land and had an amazing relationship with it. While my work was very much different from hers, I think I had a similar passion for the earth, water and air and still do.
We’re blessed here in the south where entrepreneurs are popping up with some warm and wonderful spaces where we don’t always journey to the core, but sometimes hang out in our communities. I consider Michelena’s Wolf Willow Studios to be among those beauties. For music, the Cornerstone Music Cafe is bringing in live performers that include Ruth Purves Smith (going on at this very moment).
So, once I made it to Feather Gallery, I had the chance to have beautiful, reflective and relaxing conversation with Samantha. I love her vision for her space. The gallery, a part of her living-breathing home, is warm and welcoming.
Directly from the Calgary Herald dated July 27, 2015, this…
“The home, incongruous among the usual mix of residential homes of Calgary’s suburbia, was built in 1931 as Leighton, recently married, set down roots in his adopted city. He’d been hired out of England a few years earlier by the Canadian Pacific Railway at age 23 — already acknowledged as a prodigious talent — and asked to paint the scenery of the Canadian West.
When he saw the Rockies he was stunned, so much so that, by 1929, he had put down roots in Calgary, resigning from the railway and accepting the role as head of the Alberta College of Art. Soon he’d met his bride-to-be and, once hitched, they decided to build a home, buying ten acres for $500 from rancher Alfred Crocker.
Fellow artist Walter J. Phillips visited Leighton and later described to the Winnipeg Tribune, the harrowing trip to the newly constructed home.
“A.C. Leighton telephoned to say he was coming to fetch us. He arrived very late, having driven all the way with the emergency brake on. We piled in the car, and having succeeded, by the grace of God, in getting headed in the right direction, we started immediately on an exciting seven-mile journey to his new country home.
“We emerged on a bare expanse of prairie, a desolate spot at night, but one which affords in the daytime an unrivalled view of distant mountains.
“In the East many artists’ homes have been built around a studio, but in the West I know of only two — Charles Scott’s in Vancouver, and Leighton’s in Calgary. Leighton’s is in the best tradition — high, wide and handsome, with plenty of light,” said Phillips.
Leighton and his wife moved on — their final home eventually proving the location for the art centre named after him near Millarville — and the house he’d built was captured and virtually swallowed by expanding Calgary. But something remained behind. A spirit of place, as D.H. Lawrence would have called it.
“It is a special place. There are a lot of people who come in and they feel something here. Sometimes we forget how special it is — people come in and they look up and down and around and you think ‘What are they looking at?’” said Samantha Malach.”
The artists are to be commended for a beautiful exhibit of figurative work…I’ve connected with so many of you over the years and I’m proud of your collective contribution to this show! (missed you, Paula, Daniel, Joanne, Mark, Luella, Bruce, Elena, Desere…)