Published on June 1, 2021

Art Adapts

Painter’s Guild Takes Their Annual Spring Show Outside

Adapting, pivoting, modifying: however you want to say it, everyone has been doing a lot of creative thinking this year when it comes to carrying on in this ‘new normal’, while faithfully following all provincial public health measures. Trying to, as Luise Mendler-Johnson calls it, ‘COVID-proof’ activities, classes and events has become a universally understood challenge, but luckily for Mendler-Johnson, she volunteers with a particularly creative crowd.

As part of the St. Albert Painter’s Guild, Mendler-Johnson has been working with a committee of guild members dedicated to hosting an art show safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last year, of course, everything came to a sudden halt just before we started to plan for our Spring Show,” recalls Mendler-Johnson. “It became obvious pretty quickly that even the Fall Show wasn’t going to happen and then the fall came around and it became obvious that even this spring show was unlikely to happen. So a few of us put our heads together to brainstorm some ideas of what we maybe could do to outsmart COVID.”

And that’s when the idea for Art in the Open was born. Based on Strathcona County’s studio tours, the Committee figured spreading the show out around the city and displaying the art on their driveways and in their yards was the best way to keep people safe, while still providing an outlet for guild members. As such, Art in the Open has become a city-wide, art yard sale where residents are encouraged to drive or walk around their neighbourhoods, stopping at different driveways to appreciate the art on display.

 “The aim is to show all the art that’s accumulated,” says Mendler-Johnson, “because we already had a whole bunch ready to go last year. Everybody is very anxious to show what they’ve done and make space for new stuff.”

A map of all the locations is already available online on the guild website. With 19 locations and 36 artists participating, there will be lots of paintings, prints and even a few other gift items on display. Residents can use the map to plot a course around the city, or simply use it to navigate their own street to discover their artistic neighbours.

“As far as our artists go, we have everything from landscape art to still life—acrylics, oils, watercolours, you name it, it’s all represented,” says Mendler-Johnson. “Abstract, realistic, impressionistic and everything in between. So, there’s a lot to discover and something for every taste.”

 The committee is encouraging visitors to wear masks, use hand sanitizer and will be strictly adhering to the maximum of 20 people for outdoor social gatherings with distancing. Twenty people will be the maximum outdoor social gathering allowed once Stage 2 of Alberta’s Reopen for Summer Plan takes effect on June 10. And while Mendler-Johnson admits it’s been a challenge to keep abreast of provincial regulations and adapt accordingly, the motivation to persevere comes from her fellow members.

“We are a great support to each other, and our membership is very appreciative of what we’re doing and cheering us on,” Mendler-Johnson says. “It has been a bit of a rollercoaster in trying to adapt, but it’s brought out some inventiveness in us as well.”

Art in the Open will take place on June 19, 2021.

For more information please visit the Painter’s Guild website or follow them on Facebook. 

Last edited: June 1, 2021