Donald Bird - Paintings & Drawings
Reception: coffee & tea reception: Saturday, July 23, 2pm
July 16 – August 11
It has become a tradition for the past several years for us to mount a summer exhibition that steps slightly outside the gallery’s usual programming. Continuing this practice, we are pleased to present the work of Donald Bird, a previously unknown artist who happens to be a resident of the Lighthouse supported living facility in downtown Saskatoon.
We first met Donald through the art supplies branch of our business. He has been a regular customer for a number of years, experimenting with a range of materials, first pencils and paper, and later venturing into acrylic and oil paints. We have come to know him as a kind and thoughtful person who has faced challenges due to circumstances as well as difficulties in communicating verbally. Art has become a refuge and an alternative means of expression; we have been told he will spend entire days drawing and painting between meals. The Lighthouse has not only provided a stable and comfortable place for him to live, they have also recognized his interest in art-making and facilitated his access to the materials needed to pursue this passion. It is a testament to both the positive impact art can have, and to the good work the Lighthouse does to support and improve the lives of people in our community.
A familiar face in the art supplies store for a number of years, it was only recently that Donald started bringing some of his finished paintings and drawings in for us to see. There was something immediately unexpected and beautiful about the works; mythic visions rendered in gestural brushstrokes, natural and supernatural elements colliding in a painterly mash-up. The subjects are varied and familiar--landscapes, hockey players, icons of Canada’s wilderness--but the rendering is always unique. As someone who has received no formal art training, Donald’s artistic choices are often surprisingly sophisticated. It would be easy to assume that the works are informed by some knowledge of abstraction or the expressionist tradition, but it is more likely Donald’s innate sense for design and aesthetics. In fact, he doesn’t even work from photographic references; every image comes entirely from his memory and imagination. To look at these paintings and drawings is to understand something of his personal vision, and to see and feel the sheer joy of creative expression through art.