Skip to content

Pretty exterior masks the depth of new gallery exhibits

It’s springtime and everything is changing: the weather, the landscape… so it’s not surprising that the Humboldt and District Gallery is as well. Two artists came to the gallery to talk about their exhibits that went up in the gallery on April 1.
Lindsay Arnold explains the story behind her series, Garden Immaculate, which is being shown at the Humboldt and District Gallery, on April 1.

It’s springtime and everything is changing: the weather, the landscape… so it’s not surprising that the Humboldt and District Gallery is as well. Two artists came to the gallery to talk about their exhibits that went up in the gallery on April 1.

Sharon Eisbrenner is a Regina artist new to the art world – she became serious about art after retiring from her 30-year career as a computer programmer.

Her work, EtheReal, features colourful watercolour paintings of nature.

“When I was working with my paints, I loved the way they diffuse in water,” she said. “It made me think of the way you can see air on a foggy day and some sunny days in winter, you can see the snow in the air and it shimmers, and I thought about, do we ever notice the pollen when it blows, do we ever notice how the air moves after a bird has flown through it? If we could see that, what would it look like? And that’s what I was thinking of when I painted all of these works. There’s movement in there of various things that aren’t necessarily visible to the naked eye.”

After spending years working in a technical field, one would think art would be a difficult adjustment. However, Eisbrenner found that her computer training helped her stay organized, and her mentor pointed out that her art is similar to computer programming, in that both require her to solve a problem – one with a keyboard, and one with a paintbrush.

Eisbrenner said part of the purpose of her exhibit was to show lightheartedness and happiness.

“Light is hard … lightheartedness is an overlooked quality,” she said. “It helps you get through life a lot easier if you’re lighthearted about it.”

This is only her third exhibit, but she said the excitement of showing off her work outweighs her nervousness.

“It’s so new to me,” she said. “Because I came into the art scene so late and after so long denying it, to me it is such a joy – it’s a little nerve wracking – but to be able to show my work to people, to see how they react to it, makes me feel so good. It’s just a joy to be able to do this.”

Lindsay Arnold’s series, Garden Immaculate, has a different tone altogether. Each drawing on display shows a seemingly serene ‘50s housewife cleaning up a garden. The pieces are done in very pale watercolour and show scenes calm on the surface, but with an underlying darkness.

“It fools you into thinking it’s being calming,” said museum and gallery director, Jennifer Hoesgen. “You walk in and think ‘Oh, what a pretty, nice exhibit’ until you go, ‘Wait a minute, she’s got a scythe in her hand.’ It’s subtle.”

Hoesgen added that she thought a lot of women would like the exhibit.

“I like to make work about issues that women face in our society,” Arnold said. “I really like to dwell on the idea of perfection and the need for perfection and the appearance of it.”

That need for perfection is embodied in the series – the woman is constantly trying to keep the garden under control, but it is  an inherently wild and unpredictable thing.

“You can’t sustain the perfection. There’s always an imperfection about to make itself known,” Arnold said.

She pointed out the example of a butterfly that has escaped its tether.

“You can see that she’s not pleased with that,” she said. “A lot of the time you see that, where the natural part of the garden is winning a little bit and she has to go back in there and make it okay and make it all right and control it again.”

Arnold added that the nameless protagonist was “on the edge of violence” despite her tranquil exterior.

“For me, this work is about recognizing the process of the messages we get from the outside world through ads and through society’s norms and deciding whether or not they are actually healthy,” Arnold said. “Questioning why we need to clean our house before someone comes over and sees it, questioning why we need to fit a different size or why we need to control a lot of things that are natural impulses, and whether that is something you really want to keep doing.”

At first glance, the two exhibits don’t seem like they fit together. One is extremely colourful with a lighthearted tone, while the other is pale with a dark tone. However, both artists are happy being exhibited together.

“I love how she’s used light colour and a spare palette to show these dense stories,” Eisbrenner said. “There’s so much in her pictures that you can see so much going on and it takes you through … and you’re just drawn into this world where all of them tell a story. Mine are colourfully dense but because of that, the message is maybe a little more spare. It’s a lighter message in the denser picture, and she has a denser message in a lighter picture. I think it’s an amazing juxtaposition. I’m thrilled to have my work being shown with Lindsay’s.”

Arnold said she immediately thought Eisbrenner’s work was the perfect pairing for her exhibit, because both have more occurring under the surface than it would seem on first glance.

“I just felt that it really complemented my work on a visual scale just because I thought they played off each other. She uses these colours that I read as feminine, but it’s not girly,” Arnold said. “The way she does that is she has a little bit more aggressive, looser feel with the dye, and she goes in with these lovely sort of very compulsive mark making and I really enjoy that. I thought that gives her an edge, going in there with all these little marks. Same with my work: it reads as very pale and pretty when you look at it, and you realize there are these images and things happening that makes it no longer pretty.”

Eisbrenner’s exhibit is in the gallery until the end of June, while Arnold’s is there until April 23.