ASSINIBOIA — They say home is where your heart is. Former Assiniboia resident and Assiniboia Composite High School alumna, Kathy Bradshaw (Bearss), says Assiniboia will always be a special place for her.
Her art show entitled “Coming Home” featured in a two-month appearance at Assiniboia’s Shurniak Art Gallery is a note to her upbringing in a rural community and a celebration of simpler times.
“While living in a larger urban centre does have its advantages, I want people to know that rural life, and all that comes with it (the slower pace, the friendly atmosphere, etc.) is a lovely existence and a privilege, especially as our world continues to speed up and grow more complicated, “says Bradshaw.
The artist says through this body of work, she wishes to acknowledge and celebrate the exquisite prairie landscape, its varied and seemingly endless sense of space and the flora and fauna within it. Bradshaw has also made a concerted effort to work with materials and surfaces that are reminders of prairie history so she is hoping that people will find that aspect of the show interesting.
Assiniboia reaches out to artist, a former resident
Assiniboia’s Communication and Special Projects Manager, Crystal Thorburn, reached out to Bradshaw in January of 2023 asking if she would be interested in showcasing her work at the Shurniak Gallery.
“I was completely honoured as the Shurniak Gallery is a hidden gem and art destination in Saskatchewan. So, I do not take this opportunity lightly. The added bonus is that the gallery is in my home town and my family has strong ties to the Assiniboia community,” says Bradshaw.
The Saskatchewan artist is bringing 25 pieces for the two-month show, although potentially not all of them will be displayed. Bradshaw decided it was prudent to bring more so that there would be plenty of options to hang if the space is available.
Bradshaw notes that her friends and former classmates have contacted her through social media once they learned of her upcoming show in Assiniboia. “I am really looking forward to connecting with my school friends and larger community in general.”
Former classmates and community lauds Bradshaw
Some former classmates say they recall Bradshaw being great in academics and athletics, while fellow Class of ’79 member, Martha Chipak, says, “As long as I can remember, K-12, as a classmate of Kathy’s, she always showed amazing talent in her art projects from crayons, pencil crayons, pastels and paint.”
Chipak adds, “No one in our grades showed her level of talent or diversity. Kathy was not only a gifted artist; she was a smart student and great athlete. It is so wonderful for the town of Assiniboia, our hometown, to see and appreciate her amazing gift as an artist and I congratulate her on this well-deserved honor.”
A few Assiniboians have purchased the artist’s work as well as the Shurniak Gallery itself has one of her paintings in their collection. “Game Face”, a painting of Bradshaw’s youngest son wearing his football jersey and holding a football is on display and is from Bradshaw’s BFA Exhibition.
A workshop is part of opening weekend of the art show as Bradshaw says she is interested in sharing her learning with others and introducing people to encaustic. “In regards to encaustic: While painting with molten wax and an open flame is already a wondrous experience in and of itself, the luminous and tactile nature of encaustic is what intrigues me.”
Bradshaw hopes that others will gain a new appreciation of surfaces and effects in a more intimate setting at the Shurniak Gallery and she is grateful for the opportunity to share her work with the Assiniboia community.
“I have been painting professionally for about 18 years and I have embraced a full-time practice since retiring from teaching seven years ago. Initially I was an oil painter but since 2016, my encaustic work has grown and now represents about 90% of my practice.”
Bradshaw says she is self-taught and only recently started to experience retreats, conferences and residencies as opportunities to travel arise. There are very few full-time encaustic artists in Saskatchewan, or Canada for that matter says Bradshaw, developing her work means some travel.
Nov. 5 of opening weekend of the art show, Bradshaw presented a demonstration of her encaustic artwork, with the gallery serving refreshments and providing an opportunity to talk with the artist. Some of those that attended marveled on social media about her work, her engagement with those in attendance and the encaustic methods she demonstrated.
“May these artworks trigger your own memories of home and growing up on the prairies so that you may savour the privilege of living a rural life,” says Bradshaw of her artwork shown in Assiniboia
Embracing a dream while embracing her prairie roots was the theme of an August story on SASKTODAY.ca outlines some of Bradshaw’s background leading up to this hometown showcase. Encaustic artist says bloom where you are planted - SaskToday.ca