Artist at Work: Laureen Marchand, Finding Beauty

by Laureen on April 3, 2014

??????????????Laureen Marchand, “Three Sisters” (oil/board)

Occasionally in this spot I introduce the artists who exhibit with Grasslands Gallery. This week I’m celebrating a major event in my own artistic life.  

Being an artist is all I’ve ever really wanted. When I was in grade two and my family transplanted us to Edmonton from the small towns we’d lived in until that time, I discovered the big city library and a world of books that told you about art and craft made by other people, and how to make it yourself. So I did, everything from a Japanese garden in my bedroom closet to paintings from boxed paint sets to psychedelic posters as the 60s took hold. Then in grade 11 a new girl from Calgary moved to my school. She had always been “good at art” and taken real art classes, and we became best friends. By the beginning of grade 12 when I was applying to university, it was the art program at the University of Alberta I chose. I think the way my friend took her talent for granted made me realize you could just do that. Over the years my friend went on to become a lawyer and a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia! And I became the artist I feel like was born to be.

??????????????Laureen Marchand, “Two Stories about January” oil/board

Now after much time and change, I live in Val Marie, Saskatchewan where I work as an artist; operate Grasslands Gallery exhibiting and selling art and craft by almost 30 artists inspired by the Grasslands experience; act as a mentor to other artists helping them get themselves into their studios and their art into the world; and contribute to my community in the ways I can. I’ve exhibited widely for over 25 years and have more than two dozen solo or two-person exhibitions as well as over 30 group shows on my CV. My paintings have been recognized by the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Canada Council, and during my career I’ve been given two awards for service to the visual arts in Saskatchewan. So I’m a happy artist.

I painted people for over 15 years. Though the figures and faces were always clearly recognizable as someone, I was never as interested in the portrait itself as I was the meanings behind the way people looked. Then during the production of the exhibition Bequest, a two-person show with Honor Kever that toured western Canada for 20 months in 2002 and 2003, the figures began to walk out of my work. Searching for what might replace them, I discovered the rose.

018-Marchand-You-are-so-beautiful-4-webLaureen Marchand, “You are so beautiful” (oil/board)

The rose is among the oldest of flowers and among the most widely adored. Its delicate, sweetly-scented loveliness has been a symbol of nearly every kind of perfection, in mythology, religion, art, commerce, politics, war, and romance.  And always, whenever the rose is used, we think of the love that loveliness engenders. But like all that is alive, roses fade. And if beauty brings love, the fading of beauty must also bring the end of love. Or must it?

So I began to look for beauty in the fading of the rose, in its loss of beauty. I’ve explored these ideas in two solo exhibitions of my art since then. And now my art is about to be the subject of a major solo exhibition titled Beholder. It opens at the Art Gallery of Regina on April 9 with a public reception and continues to May 12, when I’ll give a talk to close the show. The gallery has done a full colour exhibition catalogue with an essay by Catherine Macaulay. As an artist Catherine Macaulay also has lives in Val Marie and shows at Grasslands Gallery, and has exhibited her artwork internationally. Catherine has written a wonderful essay. I’m pretty excited about the whole thing.

It feels like this exhibition marks the end of 10 years of artistic exploration. I could feel a bit adrift, but I don’t. I’m going to spend the summer with the gallery, and in my studio I’ll be exploring the beauty of the Grasslands, making small landscapes in oil paint to show and sell. Then in the fall we’ll see what comes next.

I guess for her whole life an artist never really stops wanting to find out what the next box of paints has in it.

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During the exhibition Beholder, Laureen Marchand’s paintings will be for sale at the Art Gallery of Regina. Afterwards you’ll be able to see them at Grasslands Gallery, where many other choices are also available for purchase. For stories about other Grasslands Gallery artists, please go here.

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Know someone who’d like to see this? Please feel free to pass it on!

The blog is a series of posts from one artist/art gallery owner’s life in her community in one of Canada’s most beautiful and remote wilderness regions. To receive updates with beautiful images, stories about the Grasslands and its artists and inspiration every week, just put your email in the box on the right. We never share your email address.


Hermina Joldersma April 3, 2014 at 10:42 am

I’ve looked at the Regina Gallery’s website several times now and can’t locate the show – wanted to send the link to a friend in the city.

Laureen April 3, 2014 at 10:52 am

No, so far the gallery is still promoting its current exhibition. Maybe you could send your friend a link to this post? And if she comes to the opening, be sure to tell her to say hello!

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