Archived Land: Gladys Reeves

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As I mentioned in my August 21st post, one of the main subjects that I am focusing on for my installation in the Archived Land : Terrain Archivé group exhibit is early Edmontonian, and one of my heroes, Gladys Reeves. As Edmonton’s Historian Laureate, one of my objectives is to shed light on some of Edmonton’s lesser known stories, and Gladys Reeves’s legacy is one that deserves recognition.

Detail of “Back to the Garden” painting by Marlena Wyman – encaustic, image transfer and oil stick

“Back to the garden” might well be a motto put into action by employed and unemployed alike; it costs little for seed, and the energy & time will be amply repaid by the fresh vegetables with which to help out our larder, & a few 10 cent packets of flower seed will brighten many a lot & cheer us up if we feel depressed.           

Excerpt from Gladys Reeves’s notes for her “Clean up, Paint up, Plant up” campaign, Edmonton, [1930]. Provincial Archives of Alberta #1974.0173.60. Photo of Gladys Reeves #1974.173.610, Provincial Archives of Alberta (photographer unidentified).

Gladys Reeves was an important figure in many sectors of Edmonton’s history. She is perhaps best known for being the one of the first women to own a photography studio west of Winnipeg. However, one of Gladys Reeves’s most significant contributions to Edmonton was her tireless advocacy for the beautification of our city and the preservation of the natural beauty of its ravines and river valley.

Page from the Edmonton Horticultural and Vacant Lots Garden Association Prize List brochure, 1924. City of Edmonton Archives #MS 89, Class 4, Subclass 3, File 4

In 1924 Gladys became the first woman to hold the position of President of the Edmonton Horticultural and Vacant Lots Garden Association.

Edmonton Horticultural and Vacant Lots Garden Association, [1924], Gladys Reeves, President, centre front. Provincial Archives of Alberta #B7334 Photographer: Ernest Brown 

Gladys was instrumental in the formation of the Edmonton Tree Planting Committee in [1923], responsible for planting by hand thousands of trees along Edmonton’s boulevards, in parks and on school grounds. Many of the mature trees that line our streets today are thanks to Gladys and her Committee’s efforts.

Re: the tree planting, I think I can say with truth that it was conceived in my studio when a Nursery representative called to ask me if the Horticultural Society would sponsor a peony planting campaign. I told him peonies were too much of a luxury…After further conversation the idea of a Tree Planting Campaign was formed.

Letter from Gladys Reeves to John Blue, Secretary of the Edmonton Board of Trade, February 20, 1925. Provincial Archives of Alberta #PR1974.0173.45a

Since 1924, the Tree Planting Committee have planted over 12,000 native trees on streets of Edmonton & Public Places such as Churches, Institutions, & Schools…Ash seed was taken from the streets of Edmonton, & Elm seed from the streets of Winnipeg & we now have a good stock of trees ready for planting out.

Notes by Gladys Reeves, n.d. Provincial Archives of Alberta #PR1974.0173.45a

Detail of “I Love Trees” painting by Marlena Wyman – encaustic, image transfer and oil stick

I love trees, I love beautiful home surroundings, & I want the visitors to our City to take home with them the impression that the People of Edmonton must love their City or they would not have taken the trouble to make it lovely.                     

Excerpt from notes for a speech by Gladys Reeves [1925], Provincial Archives of Alberta #PR1974.0173.39a. Photo of Gladys Reeves [1925], Provincial Archives of Alberta #B7351. Photographer: Ernest Brown

Gladys gave speeches and wrote letters to newspapers and City Council to champion and defend Edmonton’s ravines and river valley. She campaigned to restore and preserve these City treasures, which were being used for garbage dumps and other development that affected the beauty and environment of green spaces.

She encouraged her fellow citizens to participate in clean-up campaigns and avidly furthered the work of earlier citizen programs to plant gardens in vacant lots. These became relief gardens during the Depression, and Victory Gardens during the Second World War. The legacy of these gardens are seen in our community gardens and the Edmonton in Bloom initiatives of today.

City of Edmonton Archives #MS 89, Class 4, Subclass 3, File 1

In her archives, Gladys Reeves refers to making Edmonton a City Beautiful. The City Beautiful Movement was an early urban planning concept that first emerged from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and was popular in Canada until 1930. It emphasized city livability, planned green spaces, and historic architecture to counteract unsightly industry, pollution and congestion that had become the face of urban living.

It promoted the planned creation of civic beauty through architectural harmony, unified design and visual variety…the amateur side of the movement was lively and active on the local scene. It was sustained by concerned citizens working through horticultural societies, newly formed civic improvement associations and even boards of trade. These smaller groups often effected greater change than the professionals, bringing to pass flower boxes on Main Street, street tree plantings, landscaping of public buildings, railway station gardens, allotment gardens and park creation.        The Canadian Encyclopedia – City Beautiful Movement

Gladys Reeves fonds, Provincial Archives of Alberta #PR1974.173.44

During the early years, the City saw the value of these citizens’ efforts, and supported the Horticultural and Vacant Lots Garden Association and the Tree Planting Committee in various ways such as financial and administrative assistance, the provision of City trucks for tree planting, and office space in City Hall. Unfortunately, not all later City Councils and management were as sympathetic, and Gladys was heartbroken in the 1940s when the City removed and severely cut back many of the boulevard trees that she and her committee has so lovingly planted.

Gladys Reeves died in Edmonton on April 26, 1974 at the age of 83, but much of her legacy of green remains.

Detail of “Gladys as River Valley Warrior” painting by Marlena Wyman – encaustic, image transfer and oil stick

Those of us who have lived among Edmonton’s ravines and river banks enough to know and love them, to have drunk in the beauty of the bursting leaf buds in the Spring; the restful swath of green in the Summer; the riot of color during our Autumn days & the magic of Jack Frost’s artistry on a hoar frosty morning in winter…wonder if the real beauty is better viewed from the top road, rather than by cutting a gash right through the centre of these lines of beauty…                      

Excerpt from Gladys Reeves’s letter to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal protesting road development in the river valley, [1930]. Provincial Archives of Alberta #1974.0173.33. Photo of Gladys Reeves #1974.173.603, Provincial Archives of Alberta. Photographer unidentified.

Archived Land : Terrain Archivé

Jackson Power Gallery, 2nd fl, 9744 60 Ave, Edmonton, AB

Opening reception 7pm, September 14, 2018

Exhibit hours: Noon to 5pm, Saturdays and Sundays, September 15 to 29

Or by appointment: 780-499-7635

Background information from the Provincial Archives of Alberta: Gladys Reeves fonds #PR1974.0173, the City of Edmonton Archives: Office of City Commissioners fonds #RG11 and Edmonton Horticultural Society fonds #MS-89, and Kathryn Chase Merrett’s book “Why Grow Here: Essays on Edmonton’s Gardening History”.

I would like to thank the Edmonton Historical Board and the Edmonton Heritage Council for their support.

I acknowledge that we are on Treaty 6 territory. I acknowledge all of the many First Nations and Métis whose footsteps have marked these lands for centuries

Posted by Marlena Wyman

 

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Archived Land : Terrain Archivé

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Opening reception 7pm September 14, 2018

Exhibit hours: Noon to 5pm, Saturdays and Sundays, September 15 to 29

Or by appointment: 780-499-7635

This is the final exhibit at the Jackson Power Gallery – come and be a part of history

Image (altered): Provincial Archives of Alberta #GR1983.0421

I am excited to be exhibiting alongside these exceptional artists.  Each of us works in the subject areas of memory and land, and my contribution to the exhibit is also one of my projects as Edmonton’s Historian Laureate.

My installation is the result of my recent research at The Edmonton City Archives and the Provincial Archives of Alberta.  During the early 20th century, Gladys Reeves and other citizens advocated for the beautification of Edmonton and the preservation of our natural ravines and river valley.

This concern is being revisited today with the pressures of potential development that are putting this treasured natural asset of Edmonton at risk.

I was especially inspired by Gladys Reeves, who was most active from the 1920s to the 1940s, encouraging Edmonton’s citizens and politicians to take pride in the city’s natural beauty and help to preserve it and beautify the urban landscape.

Among other achievements, we can thank Gladys and her Edmonton Tree Planting Committee for planting by hand thousands of the mature elms and other beautiful trees that grace our boulevards today.

 I would like to thank the Edmonton Historical Board and the Edmonton Heritage Council for their support.

 I will be posting more about this exhibit over the next few weeks.

Posted by Marlena Wyman

A Historian Laureate’s Sketchbook – July 2018

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I took a lovely trip to Vancouver to visit my son this month. I have always found that I sketch more when I am not at home. Vacation gives me permission to disregard daily duties and open up my time.Vancouver

Vancouver

I also walk much more when I am on holiday, so not only am I happily sketching more, but I am living a healthier lifestyle and feeling less duty-bound. Of course, this can’t go on forever or the substructure of my life will crumble and there will be no more holidays and chaos will attend. Nonetheless, the impression of ample funds and time is sweet for a short time.

Vancouver

Vancouver

Which is all to say that although I did some sketching in my city, I did more while away.

Edmonton

Edmonton

Posted by Marlena Wyman

A Historian Laureate’s Sketchbook – June 2018

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My June sketchbook includes the subjects of heritage architecture and heritage trees and the efforts to save both. Progress and history can live comfortably side by side but it takes ingenuity and vision and the efforts of both government and citizens together. Hopefully, this will be the case here.

Urban Sketchers Edmonton are joining me in one of my goals as Edmonton’s 5th Historian Laureate: sketching Edmonton’s architectural heritage (or as much as we can!) You can see some of their inspiring sketches on our Urban Sketchers Edmonton blog.

For our second in this series of sketchouts, we sketched the historic A. Minchau Blacksmith Shop in the Ritchie neighbourhood of Edmonton. It was a clear choice because it is at risk of demolition. There has been a surge of support, including the Facebook page Save the Minchau Blacksmith Shop. It is a good example of vernacular architecture and represents the history of the regular folk of Edmonton who worked hard to support their families and help build this city. However, its fate is yet to be determined.

Heritage trees have also been in the news. The Manitoba Maple beside the First Presbyterian Church that I sketched here is thankfully not at risk, but it represents the fondness that Edmontonians have for their trees and green spaces.

The trees that citizens are concerned about are some of Edmonton’s signature elms and other mature trees that form a green canopy along Stony Plain Road where there is presently a plan for the Valley Line West LRT construction route. If the plan goes forward, over 1000 trees are at risk of destruction along with several historical buildings and residences, some of which date back to the early 1900s.

Heritage Manitoba Maple at the First Presbyterian Church, downtown Edmonton

The issue of preserving of Edmonton’s heritage and green spaces is not a new concern for Edmontonians. I am doing some archival research right now for a fall art exhibit, and I have been reading about the efforts of Gladys Reeves and the citizen-led Edmonton Tree Planting Committee. Many of the trees that grace Edmonton’s boulevards, school yards and parks were hand-planted by these publicly spirited citizens in the 1920s, keen on beautifying Edmonton and making it a lovely place to live.

Excerpt from a speech by Gladys Reeves [ca. 1925] (Provincial Archives of Alberta Acc# PR1974.173.39a)

Posted by Marlena Wyman 

 

 

A Historian Laureate’s Sketchbook – April/May 2018

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I have to say that I have not been as diligent with this project as I had planned, but I am forgiving myself since I haven’t kept the diary part of a sketchbook before and I am still deciding how to best integrate that. I am trying to keep late evening aside to record my thoughts, but it is also a matter of deciding what parts of my days are worth writing about, and how much I should write.

I am hoping that  this will all become a more organic process over time, and I will ease into it a bit more. For now, here are a few random pages, and I will carry on!

Posted by Marlena Wyman

 

A Historian Laureate’s Sketchbook

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It is a privilege and an honour to represent the City of Edmonton as its 5th Historian Laureate, 2018-2020. I am delighted and feeling a bit daunted, but here’s one of those situations where my years as Audio/Visual Archivist at the Provincial Archives of Alberta will probably come in handy.

Architectural detail – Arts Building, University of Alberta by Marlena Wyman

I have decided that I will keep a sketching diary during my term as Historian Laureate. I am not calling it a daily diary, because that promise will be as likely to be kept as a New Year’s resolution, but it will be a daily-ish diary. I will write and sketch not only those experiences that document the position, but also my everyday life both as an Edmontonian and as an artist.

Architectural detail – Government House by Marlena Wyman

I have included a few past sketches here that I have made of historical subjects in Edmonton, and I will keep adding to those in future posts.

Window at Rutherford South Library, University of Alberta by Marlena Wyman

I will also be out in the community doing other historically related things, and I’ll be posting more along the way, so please join me in my historic journey!

Edmonton Radial Railway streetcar, Fort Edmonton Park by Marlena Wyman

Posted by Marlena Wyman

Regarding Mary: Our Lady of Thrift

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In my first post about my exhibit, Regarding Mary, I talked about my Prairie Madonna theme, and in my second post I talked about Truth and Reconciliation.

The second and third themes of the exhibit’s trilogy are Mary Star of the Sea and Our Lady of Thrift.

My exhibit is one that is inspired by the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But why my attraction to her? I was a member of the United Church growing up, where Mary does not play a big part, and I am no longer a church-goer. I feel that I am a spiritual person, but I feel more connection with the concept of Mother Earth.

One of my Mary statues that I picked up at Home Depot and added a teacup saucer halo and rosaries that were a gift from a friend. 

Here are some of my guesses about my interest in Mary:

  • Mary is a powerful female figure in a religion that is male-dominated and that limits women’s roles and freedoms, yet she endures.
  • Mary is a symbol of motherhood.
  • Images of Mary express serenity, grace, strength and humanity.
  • Mary has been represented in artworks more than any other woman in history.
  • My second name is Marie – my maternal grandmother’s name.
  • I grew up in a rural area in southern Alberta. Art was not offered in high school, but Sister Angela, a nun from St. Rita’s Roman Catholic Church in Rockyford, was also an artist, and felt that this lack was not acceptable. So she taught evening classes for Art 10, 20 and 30, and as an aspiring young artist who was not just taking the course for “easy credits”, we formed a bond of mutual gratitude.
  • But really, I have no idea.

An illuminated lenticular Mary picture with another beautiful plaster Mary relief sculpture above her – both thrift store finds. The crocheted doilies and pot holders are a nod to my prairie women theme. 

Another Mary – Mary Joyce – saw my collection of Marys in my studio last year and suggested Mary as a theme for the exhibit that she was curating at the SkirtsAfire Festival. I created Mary Star of the Sea for that exhibit, and included it again in my Regarding Mary exhibit.

Mary Star of the Sea: image transfer prints from my Newfoundland Mary photos, and a 3-dimensional mixed media piece with shells and broken china. 

I still wanted to find a more intimate space to exhibit my Mary collection of icons.  I thought that the mandate for the Bleeding Heart Art Space was one that made for a good fit for that exploration: We curate creativity, connections, and conversations around art, faith, hope and love.

Some of my Mary icons

Our Lady of Thrift forms a shrine or Lady Chapel of sorts in the gallery space. Mary appears to me in thrift stores. Since many of these stores are faith-based charities, it is not surprising to find her there. She inhabits the knick-knack shelves of thrift stores alongside chipped ceramic kittens and salt shakers divorced from their pepper partners.  Perhaps as they sit beside her, these damaged and discarded denizens benefit from Mary’s sense of calm. I purchase some Marys for my collection and leave some for shelf-mate solace. As collections do, my Mary collection has also grown through gifts from friends and family.

The Mary reading corner

Part of the wall of Marys. The painting that is second from the left was painted by my mother, Doreen Wyman. She said that she painted it when she was living on the farm (near Rockyford, AB). The needlepoint on the right was made by Maria Muzyka of Vegreville, AB. She is a friend’s grandmother. 

However, I am putting the word out that I am no longer collecting Marys. After I installed Our Lady of Thrift, I realised just how many I have. In fact, I am going to be divesting myself of all but a few select pieces, so if anyone would like a Mary or two, please let me know. My studio is becoming smaller all the time. Maybe that’s one of the messages that Mary was telling me. She doesn’t want to go back into a dark box. It’s time for sharing and spring cleaning and light.

Posted by Marlena Wyman

Regarding Mary: Truth and Reconciliation

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My previous post was about the Prairie Madonna theme in my Regarding Mary exhibit at Bleeding Heart Art Space.

I will be writing another post about my other two themes in the exhibit, Mary Star of the Sea, and Our Lady of Thrift.

Our Lady of Thrift installation in Regarding Mary exhibit by Marlena Wyman (photo by Bleeding Heart Art Space)

For now, I want to speak about truth and reconciliation.

I acknowledge that we are on Treaty 6 territory that includes nehiyowak (Plains Cree), muskowiyinowak (Swampy Cree), sakaw iyinowak (Woodland Cree) and apîhtaw kosisanak (Metis).

It is not my place to tell the story of indigenous people through my artwork, but because my subject matter lands soundly in the midst of that, I offer my support. This is not an area of expertise for me, but I am trying to learn.

My words are guided by my friend Joseph Naytowhow, an interdisciplinary artist and Nehiyo/Cree knowledge keeper from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation Band in Saskatchewan, and a kind and good man. I thank him for his guidance.

In my exhibit, there are two levels to be addressed regarding truth and reconciliation: religion and settlement. The church and government inflicted terrible harm on indigenous people and their culture, and settlement took over their lands and disregarded treaties. When speaking of women’s rights and treatment, which I did in my last post, it is important to remember that indigenous women have always carried the heaviest burden of oppression and harm.

The Anglican Church of Canada’s open letter to Senator Lynn Beyak regarding residential schools is titled “There was nothing good”. I encourage you read that letter.

My Dad, Barry Wyman, and his  sister June on the family farm, Baintree AB ca 1940

Settlement is part of my heritage. My paternal grandparents were part of the government’s prairie settlement plan, coming to farm at Baintree, Alberta in 1916.  My parents farmed there after them, and that was the land where I spent my childhood. My grandparents died before I was born and left few photos and almost no written legacy, so I have no idea what their attitude or interaction was with First Nations people, for good or bad. I suspect that, as is the case with many settlers, they did not know that they were a part of the government’s scheme to have the west populated in order to protect it from perceived American threat.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, immigrants were lured to the prairies by government propaganda promising a utopia that sadly did not exist. Their lack of knowledge about living within the harsh prairie environment caused these families poverty, starvation, and for some, death. What is rarely told is that indigenous people often came to their aid, sharing meat and fish, and showing them how to use the plants on the land for food and medicine.

The true story of settlement is very different than the glowing picture that government propaganda conveyed. These settlers fought to tame the soil that was often not suited for cultivation, and the wind then took the soil from them. The percentage of homestead failure among early settlers was 57 percent in Saskatchewan and 45 percent in Alberta.* However for the settlers, theirs was a suffering of neglect, not of intent.

So how do we reconcile the good charitable work that faith organizations do, with the evil that has and continues to be perpetrated?  When I asked a Metis friend of mine how any people with indigenous heritage could remain Christian church-goers, she said that it is a fact of the human condition that good and evil always exist together. I suppose that is true, but it is upon us to decide at every moment whether to choose good or evil.

*Gerald Friesen: Saskatchewan historian, author, professor, historical consultant

Posted by Marlena Wyman

 

Regarding Mary Exhibit: Prairie Madonna

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My exhibit Regarding Mary opened March 10, 2018 at the Bleeding Heart Art Space in Edmonton, AB. I was happy to see both familiar and new faces at the opening reception and artist’s talk. The following are some excerpts from my talk:

My Regarding Mary exhibit is consists of three parts (a Trinity of sorts): Prairie Madonna, Mary Star of the Sea, and Our Lady of Thrift. I will talk about Prairie Madonna in this post, and the other two in a later post.

My paintings in Prairie Madonna are inspired by the archival diaries, letters, memoirs and photographs of early prairie women who were mothers. They write about the isolation that they felt in pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, and also about the joys that their children brought to them. The isolation and loneliness were a direct result of the homestead system imposed by the government. The checkerboard Dominion Land Survey, unlike the river lot system, created great distances between homesteads. Many women birthed their babies alone. If they were lucky, their husbands were there to help them, or a distant neighbour who had been fetched in time to help with the birth.

Prairie Madonna: Home Births by Marlena Wyman

                                                                         The Translation of the Holy House of Lorento attributed to Saturnino Gatti (Italian   1463-1520)

My painting was inspired by the following quote:

I was conducted into a small bedroom where the patient lay in agony. The clean bed was surrounded by several frustrated women, who were counting their rosary beads while praying loudly and fervently… I recognized a breach presentation; the delivery would indeed be a complicated and difficult one.

Margaret Charlotte Falkson Thomson memoir of summer 1920. Margaret came from Germany in 1919 to the Fort Assiniboine, Alberta area.

(Margaret had been awoken in the night by Tony, the father of the baby, who asked her to help with the birth. The mother’s name was Maria, who emigrated with her family from Italy and spoke very little English.)

Memoir: Provincial Archives of Alberta Accession #PR1984.0156, Photograph: Christina McKinnell & baby daughter, Teulon Manitoba [1902], Glenbow Archives #NA-5236-1

The symbol of Mary as new mother is one that is frequently represented by artists. Some of the poses of prairie women and their children in archival photographs that I have incorporated into my paintings reminded me of early masters’ paintings of the Madonna and Child, which I re-interpreted in a prairie setting.

Prairie Madonna: Blessed Children by Marlena Wyman

                                                               Madonna and Child (The Tempi Madonna) by Raphael, 1508 (Italian High Renaissance)

My painting was inspired by the following quote:

Now we were celebrating [Dolly’s] fourth birthday and as High Prairie was suffering a sugar famine, the birthday cake was of syrup…it did fall flat and was waxy but oh the joy of the little ones over it! …clapping hands, exclaiming and rejoicing, danced in front of it…Blessed indeed are we who look for our happiness in the lives of little children! To a grownup, the cake would have meant a flat failure…to Nookie and Dolly and Baby Jim it was the centre of a golden day.

Alda Dale Randall diary, 11 March 1920, Pg 100-101. Dale came from North Dakota to the Barons/Stavely area of Alberta in 1917, and then to the High Prairie area in 1919

Diary: Provincial Archives of Alberta Accession # PR1994.0202, Photograph: Mrs. Wright & baby Frederick, Calgary AB 1912, Glenbow Archives # PA-4048-95

My art practice focuses on the first immigrant women who came to the prairies. In my former work as an archivist, I found that one of the significant gaps in archival collections is that of women’s stories. In particular, the voice of early prairie women is largely excluded from mainstream history. Among other accomplishments, women were community builders. They started the churches, schools, and charities, organised social functions, and brought arts and culture to their communities.

The first women who immigrated here with their husbands had no rights and no choice in coming. If their husband wanted to go, they came along. They had no legal right to the land that they worked with their husbands. Although they were not considered legal partners, they were partners – not just helpmates – in the labour that it took to work the land. And when that work was done, they then shouldered most of the responsibility for work in the home. They had no reproductive rights to their bodies and the babies kept coming. Then, as mothers, they had no rights to their children, and could not claim custody if they were running from abuse or if they were abandoned by their husbands.

Prairie Madonna: Letters of Desperation by Marlena Wyman

                                             Madonna and Child Blessing by Giovanni Bellini, 1510 (Italian Renaissance)

My painting was inspired by the following quote:

I am a mother of 5 children, the oldest being 7 years. I am 25 years old. We live on the farm, but owing to sickness we haven’t got on very well. I trust we will do better soon, but debts are a very constant worry… Please send information on birth control.

 Letter from “Another Reader” to the Western Producer newspaper, November 10, 1927

 I am 31, the mother of 7 children, eldest 11 years, and youngest 8 months, not at all strong, and owing to farm conditions, very heavily in debt. I would like to have any information I can get re birth control.

 Letter from “Mrs. E.J.M.” to the Western Producer newspaper, September 29, 1927.

(These and other similar letters were written to Violet McNaughton (nee Jackson), the Editor of the Western Producer newspaper’s Women’s Column from 1925 to 1950. Violet was an agrarian feminist and among her many other accomplishments, she headed a campaign to bring trained midwives and health care to farm families. With Violet’s help, farm women were able to obtain birth control information, which was illegal at the time, through cover activities such as sewing circles.)

Photograph: Unidentified woman and child [1900], Provincial Archives of Alberta #A21376

In spite of the endless and exhausting work, it was these same early prairie women who amazingly found the time to gain rights and freedoms for women all across Canada. We owe them a debt of gratitude and we cannot let these rights fall away, especially in an age where we are seeing regressive human rights policies.

Prairie Madonna: A Corner of the Earth by Marlena Wyman

                                                                   Virgin and Child in a Flower Garland attributed to Jean Baptiste Morel, (Flemish 17th century)

My painting was inspired by the following quote:

In log cabins and sod shacks, fifty and even one hundred miles from the railways are thousands of brave women living on the western prairies, bearing the cross of motherhood without proper care and giving the best of their lives in the struggle to win a corner of the earth which they and their families may call home.

Front page, The Grain Growers Guide, 27 November 1912. Photograph: Pauline, friend of artist’s paternal grandmother, Lily Wyman [1916] Collection of the artist.

As an artist, I honour these women’s considerable contributions, advocate for their rightful place in history, and encourage women to deposit their own and their foremothers’ records in archives.

I also want to take time to express gratitude to the good men who supported women historically in their fight for rights, and who continue to do so. When women were granted the right to vote, it would not have been possible without the good men who supported them.

Posted by Marlena Wyman

 

 

Alda Dale Randall Travels to Okotoks

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My exhibit Illuminating the Diary of Alda Dale Randall opened at the Okotoks Art Gallery March 3, 2018. It was first installed at the Provincial Archives of Alberta’s exhibit space from February 2nd to August 20, 2016.

Illuminating the Diary of Alda Dale Randall exhibit at the Okotoks Art Gallery

Because the subject matter of this exhibit holds personal meaning for farm families, I had been hoping to take it to a rural gallery. I am very pleased that the Okotoks Art Gallery accepted my submission, and that “Dale” has now been able to travel to southern Alberta.

The Eagle 100.9 Okotoks Online carried an article about the exhibit. For further background, you also can read my previous posts from 2016 here.

For the closing of the exhibit at Provincial Archives of Alberta, a family reunion event was hosted for the Randall family. I think that Dale has a way of bringing family together, because at the opening of the Okotoks exhibit, my family came from Rockyford AB, Calgary AB, Lethbridge AB, Edmonton AB, Penticton BC, and Maple Ridge BC for a family reunion. Twenty of us converged on the Okotoks Art Gallery and we had hug-fest and then moved on to a family supper and more celebrating after the opening.

 

While at the Gallery, my brother Todd lost a button from his shirt. He became part of an interactive art performance with my artwork The Sewing Chair and The Garden in Back. I borrowed a needle and thread from the chair and re-enacted the heritage handiwork of many prairie women before me.

I was pleased that Illuminating the Diary of Alda Dale Randall is paired with Kim Henigman Bruce’s Disbound in the other exhibit space at the Okotoks Art Gallery. The subject matter of women’s lives is one that underlies both of our art practices.

Illuminating the Diary of Alda Dale Randall exhibit at the Okotoks Art Gallery

Artist Marlena Wyman in front of one of her paintings and a reproduction of a page from Alda Dale Randall’s diary. 

Illuminating the Diary of Alda Dale Randall exhibit at the Okotoks Art Gallery

Both exhibit run until April 7, 2018. If you are in the area, please come by and check them out.

Posted by Marlena Wyman