Floral symbol of hope comes to Okotoks

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 08, 2014 08:33 am

Bluerock Gallery’s Karen Gimbel shows art donated by foothills artists last summer to The Alberta Flood Rose Project, now displayed in the Okotoks Municipal Centre.
Bluerock Gallery’s Karen Gimbel shows art donated by foothills artists last summer to The Alberta Flood Rose Project, now displayed in the Okotoks Municipal Centre.
Wheel File Photo

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Foothills artists who made the provincial flower a symbol of hope following the 2013 flood will have their work on display in Okotoks this month.

The collaboration of more than 450 Alberta artists will be showcased at the Okotoks Municipal Centre until Jan. 21.

The Alberta Flood Rose Project consists of eight arrangements of 81 donated pieces of art four-by-four inches in size depicting the wild rose. The exhibit raised more than $25,000 for flood victims through the Canadian Red Cross in a Calgary auction last summer and traveled to Alberta communities over the last four months.

Black Diamond’s Bluerock Gallery owner Karen Gimbel, who collected art from foothills artists for the project last summer, said it gave local artists a unique opportunity to make a difference.

“It gave many people who, for whatever reason, couldn’t get in and wear the gum boots and Hazmat suits and help out in that way, it gave them a meaningful way to engage in flood recovery,” she said. “It was a project that could include everybody.”

Even the Bluerock Gallery took part by donating a frame for one of the arrangements, said Gimbel.

The contributing artists and public had the opportunity to view The Alberta Flood Rose Project in the Black Diamond gallery briefly last fall. It was on display in the gallery for a weekend.

“It put a smile on a lot of people’s faces to see their work on display,” she said. “There is a broad range of people represented in the project, not just artists who are normally found in galleries, but many artists who are painting at home and may never have a show in the gallery.

“It was really fun to have the pieces in the gallery and have a lot of the artists who had their work included stop in to see the finished collection.”

Tour manager Caroline Loewen said The Alberta Flood Rose Project has been raising spirits across the province over the last few months.

“People are really enjoying it,” she said. “The venues are happy to have something to commemorate the flood. The work is wonderful and we had a lot of really good feedback.”

Loewen said she never imagined the project would be so successful.

“When we first put the idea out we weren’t really expecting this number of people,” she said. “We were expecting to maybe have a couple of artworks to tour around and auction off. We just had a huge overwhelming response.”

The pieces were displayed in High River, Canmore, Exshaw, Medicine Hat and Didsbury and will go to the Crowsnest Pass and Sundre before the tour ends in February.

Calgary artist Terri Heinrichs, who first came up with the idea, saw the project as a way to begin the healing process for those who lost so much when the flood hit southern Alberta.

“It really just became a huge coming together of the art community of the Calgary area and that’s exactly what I had in mind,” she said. “This was some way if they weren’t directly affected they could help their neighbours. It’s a reminder of the hope people have for the future.”

Heinrichs requested artists to donate one piece of art, but many donated more.

She was able to use most in the eight arrangements and had one arrangement consist of art made by children.

Gimbel encouraged those who haven’t had an opportunity to see The Alberta Flood Rose Project to view it in Okotoks.

“You’ll be amazed at how many different representations of the familiar Alberta wild rose you will see in different media,” she said. “The imaginations are quite astonishing. It’s well worth seeing.”

One of the eight arrangements is still available for sale as well as books containing one submission from each participating artist. For more information go to www.thealbertafloodroseproject.com

The books are also available at Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond.


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