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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Flower Power

Begonia in Orange Cascade
Ninety square feet of canvas, over 200 linear feet of frame, countless tubes of oil paint and hours and hours of work are finally ready to take to the stage, or in this case the gallery walls.

It’s been a long journey, a long time coming, and a bittersweet accomplishment.
Having a solo show at the Northern Alberta Jubilee has not only been a dream of mine, but also a dream of my late husband Bernie.

Most people I know have hobbies they love; they find relaxation and a great deal of enjoyment in these interests outside of work, my husband loved to work.  He loved to work so much that his hobby was working at the Northern Alberta Jubilee part time. Although, he enjoyed his full time job, worked with great people, and met each challenge head on, it was a stressful job and consumed a lot of his life.  He wanted sometime to do in his time away from the job that would be fun and stress free.  When our children were involved in sports and other activities that kept both of us busy, we loved it, but once our children got to the age that they gave up some of their activities we found we had more time on our hands; I could always find something to occupy my time, my husband on the other hand found himself restless.    

Besides having a full time job, one of his sister's worked part time at the Centrium in Red Deer.  Whenever my husband and her chatted about her part time job he would tell me that it sounded like so much fun, wouldn’t it be great if he could find something like that to do!  It just happened at that time the Northern Alberta Jubilee was looking for staff.

I remember Bernie’s boss, Bonnie telling us at his funeral that he was the best employee she ever had; I could totally believe it.  He was so dedicated and hardworking and so much fun to be around.  She told all of us about the day he came in for an interview for a job.  The interview went well, but before she could say anything to him about getting back to him, he said to her something along the lines of “When do I start?”  I’m sure she was surprised by his confidence, it never occurred to him that he wouldn’t be hired, but that was my husband, never arrogant, but totally confident.

He started the job in September of 2005 and loved it.  He spend as much time as he could at the Jube, so much so that I asked him to put a limit on it.  He wanted me to apply and come and work with him, but our youngest needed someone home in the evenings.  I always looked forward to him coming home at the end of his shift and sitting down and hearing all about the evening.  He would always have an interesting or funny story about the events and antics that took place.  I knew from the very beginning that this was a special place to him.  Somewhere he felt he belonged, a place where I’m sure given half the chance he would have worked full time.

A couple years after I started painting in 2006 and my art started to get some notice, he mentioned to me that the Jube had a gallery in the lower level, the Kassa Gallery, and he thought I should apply to have a show.  I was curious about the gallery but didn’t feel ready to apply.  I went to the Jube one day with him to have a look anyway.  It was a big space and I knew I needed to increase my inventory before I could ever even think about applying; I put the thought aside.  Over the course of a few more years while I continued to paint and he continued with his hobby he mentioned over and over to me to apply to the Kaasa Gallery.  His boss also mentioned to him that she thought I should apply for a show.  I knew that one day I would, but I wasn't sure when that would be.

After Bernie passed away in 2012, Bonnie and the staff at the Jube were very supportive to me and my family.  I knew they cared deeply for my husband and thought highly of him.  Bonnie and a few other staff continued to encourage me to apply for a show.  Last year I was told that the Jube would open a new gallery on the 1st balcony, the Alcove Gallery, this gallery would be smaller and it might be a good fit for me.  But I knew if I wanted to apply for a show I would have to paint a series.

It’s all good and fine telling yourself you have to paint a series, but when you are a painter like me and just paint anything that you feel like painting, from portraits of people and pets, to landscapes, waterscapes, boats, signs and flowers, how do you pick?  I started to think about my art and what I wanted to be known for, but that in itself was hard.  I didn’t want to pigeon hole myself, I wanted to paint anything and everything, but as I started to really look at my art I realized there was a pattern.  I painted mostly portraits, not just people, dogs and other animals, but also boats and flowers.  Most of my paintings, other than landscape, had a singular subject. Once I figured this out I decided to go ahead and paint some flowers for my first series.  I had recently finished a rose that was well received and a great deal of fun to paint. This particular rose was large, three feet by three feet and I decided to keep to that size theme.  I knew from my photography that I would have lots of reference material and if I fell short I could always go and take more photos.
The Rose

I decided that it was time, I went to the Jube and met the person in charge of the shows and had a look at the new gallery space.  I felt confident that I could fill it.  I told her I was going to send in an application for a show.  She said that was great and explained how the jurying process worked….wait a minute….there was a jury, I wasn’t a shoe in?  As it turned out once you send in an application it goes through her and then it goes to a jury of the board members of the Jubilee, well, I didn’t know any of them, what if after all this time I was turned down, what if after all this time I didn’t get accepted?  I sent in the application and waited nervously.

As I was waiting to hear from the Jube I had work to do.  Daffodil Gallery in Edmonton had approached me in the spring of 2013 and asked me if I would be interested in becoming one of their commission people portrait artists.  This was a new feature they wanted to start at the gallery.  It took them a while to get the logistics worked out, but finally in March of 2015 I accepted and took a large portrait of my daughter down for them to put on display.  I had also been accepted into a group show for the month of May, which meant I would need the portrait back, but I wanted to paint another one to replace it.  This time it would be a large portrait of my son and I really had to get busy and get it done.

As all of this was taking place I heard back from the Jube, I was in!!!  The board liked my work and gave the thumbs up.  I was slated for November and December of 2015; the first artist in the new gallery with eight months to paint, which for me, is not enough time, but I was going to give it my all!!! 

Serenity - Maluhia
I finished my son’s portrait the end of April and had started painting the under paintings of the flowers in May, my eight months was now down to six.  Then, I got an email from the Jube telling me that my show had moved up to July and August.  I knew I could never finish in time, so I got a hold of the person in charge and we decided that I would have my show in September and October.  That was better, but still I was rushed, my six months was now down to three. 

I was on a roll, I had everything figured out, how much time I needed for each painting, how many hours I needed to work each day.  Things were coming together, I was working like crazy and had only two paintings to complete when just a few weeks before the start date of the show, it was pushed back due to some issues with the hanging rails, after all this is a new gallery and hiccups were pretty much to be expected….but I was on a roll and now I had six additional weeks to work…………have you ever met a procrastinator?  Well, hello.  I took three weeks off, why you ask, because I could.  I actually did have good reasons, I had to do the books for my son’s business, get them to the accountant, work on my yard a bit, which I had planned to do once everything was finished, read a book or two and think about painting. The show dates were now October 19, 2015 to January 4, 2016, lots of time to work.  Which in the end I did work.  Once I got back into the rhythm of things the paintings came together.  But then another hiccup emerged and as it has turned out my show starting date has been moved back to the opening reception date of Friday, October 23, 2015, which is not a bad thing, more time to fine tune things.

It’s getting close and I’m getting more excited.  Only one more painting to touch up and frame.  I’ve been working on the promotion, the marketing and have had two interviews with Scott Hayes of the St. Albert Gazette.  Bryan Young of the Gazette came over in the summer and took photos of me and my art and Scott plans on putting something in the paper next Wednesday.  It’s been hectic, it’s been a lot of work, but most of all it’s been fun.  I’ve never painted so large, I hope I can get the painting in my van, I guess I should have checked that a while ago…

I look forward to next Friday evening with the hope that my friends, family and supporters will come out to the opening reception to see my art.  I look forward to having the patrons of the shows who go through the Alcove Gallery see my work over the next 3 months.

It’s been a long time coming since the first day my late husband told me I should apply to have a show at the Jube.  Well, I did and it’s almost here.  I hope it’s successful, I hope it’s well received and I hope I did him proud and I wish he was here to share in this moment.

Flower Power 
A Solo Exhibition by Memory Roth

Northern Alberta Jubilee - Alcove Gallery
1st Balcony
Edmonton, AB

October 23, 2015 - January 4, 2016

Opening Reception - Friday, October 23, 2015
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

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