Gala Night in Warburg

Local artist Linda McLaughlin (L) (shown here with her mother, Elizabeth Szepesy) takes a moment to chat about her paintings.  Her daughter, Sasha McLaughlin of Edmonton, painted the lovely Asian inspired painting displayed in the background.

        Bigger and better than ever! That’s the best way to describe the Third Annual Warburg Cultural Society (WCS) Art Gala and Quilt Show and Sale held at the Cultural Centre on November 15th. The numbers were up—both in guest attendance (about 130) and artists (37) displaying photography; oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings; sketches; flower arrangements; sculptures; and quilts. Guests met with friends in the kitchen area to enjoy wine and cheese, hot cider, chocolate dipped strawberries and éclairs. The gala is one of many WCS fundraisers to benefit the Cultural Centre kitchen renovation and was sponsored by Capital Power.
“Did you notice our Wall of Fame?”  
        The beginnings of a collection of signed posters of entertainers and musicians who have played at the Warburg Cultural Centre now hang in the foyer.  More are coming according Warburg Cultural Society Executive Director Carol Rempel.
Cooking up a kitchen reno
        WCS has been enthusiastically raising money for the Cultural Centre kitchen renovation. 
        The Art Gala, the Brad Johner dinner theatre and auction, the upcoming volunteer opportunity at the Camrose casino, as well as the December 15th Community Christmas party are providing great fundraising prospects for this worthwhile cause.    
        In addition, the WCS is offering bookings to area companies for private and completely catered Christmas parties. “It’s fantastic,” said Rempel. “All they have to do is walk in the door!”
People’s Choice Awards: 
        Fabric artist Marg Bokowski’s “Asian Delight” was voted the favorite quilt. The pieced quilt’s gorgeous oriental-print fabrics in dark and light neutrals with contrasting solid red strips showcased Bokowski’s 40 years of quilting expertise. 
        Self-taught artist Henri de Groot of Entwhistle, one of Canada’s premier artists for over ten years, was voted favorite artist. The Calgary Stampede Western Showcase states de Groot produces “highly refined ‘Portraits of the West’.”  Working in graphite and oil medium, he produces “beautifully detailed images of people and horses that often convey his sense of humour and reveal a glimpse of a real life cowboy or rancher.”
3 guest artists:
Judith Sokolowski, with the Drayton Valley Fine Art Society, has been drawing and painting “since I could hold a crayon.”  It’s easy for people from major cultural centres to think that culture doesn’t exist this far out. Sokolowski admits when she first moved to the Buck Lake area, she was a bit concerned that it might be inhabited only by “buckeroos and red necks.”  She was pleased to discover many like-minded people who appreciate culture. She says she will often combine two or three mediums to get the effect she wants and finds it fun to puzzle through the light and shadow play of black and white paintings and drawings. “How much can you take away and still tell what it is?”
Peter Jacobs first became interested in painting after retirement and he will tell you he never fancied himself as an artist—not once. He will tell you it was only because he couldn’t watch TV that he turned to a painting course to while away the hours. Jacobs may not have placed much value on his talent, but his instructor, a teacher at the U of Alberta, saw something that Jacobs did not. Jacobs’ talent won him a university scholarship. 
“I thought I was the worst painter in Alberta. I thought my friends were playing tricks on me until the actual scholarship letter came!” Jacobs invested the scholarship on more art lessons.  His instructors encouraged him to enter his work in an art show where he sold his first painting.  It happened again and he smiled as he recalls thinking, “This is alright!”  
“After some initial success,” says Jacobs, “[new painters] may plateau.  They will really have to work for excellence. The important thing is this: don’t give up! If you practice enough, you will learn.” 
Jacobs is a past president of the Society of Canadian Artists and was on the executive of the Federation of Canadian Artists.
Sarah George of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta is a self-taught, Saskatchewan born and reared artist living in Alberta since 1990.  She launched her career in art after entering her first art show in 1995. She illustrated a history book for the Town of Rocky Mountain House, “Where the River Brought Them,” for the town’s bi-centennial in 1999. 
In 2005, Sarah was commissioned to paint 2 elk hide scrolls that were presented to Queen Elizabeth II during the Alberta Centennial celebrations.  
In 2008-11, she was commissioned by the Voyageurs to paint “Passage Denied,” an acrylic painting depicting the life and times of explorer David Thompson for the David Thompson Bi-Centennial. Sales of these prints are used for the promotion of canoeing for sport and recreation and for appreciation of Canadian history.
37 artists display their work
Programs featuring informative biographies of each artist were handed out for the first time this year.
Local guest artists from Breton, Warburg, Thorsby and Genesee were: Becky Sturge Perfilow, Linda McLaughlin, Nancy Gruninger, Eleanor Jehn,  Jean Gomuwka, Meta Siemens, Val Portas, Janette Barager, Peggy Lunde, Rose Mears, and Al Schoepp.  Locals desiring to learn to paint might wish to visit the Warburg Art Club, where artists learn from each other. The group meets from 10 am-2 pm every Wednesday at the Seniors Centre. 
Sasha McLaughlin, Pat O’Greysik and Bob Miller from Edmonton and Leduc respectively displayed paintings. 
Exhibiting artists Ryan Sturge, Barb Eckert, Judith Sokolowski, Peter Jacobs, Henri de Groot, Vilma Ebl, and Sarah George attended from Barrhead, Drayton Valley, Entwhistle and Rocky Mountain House.
Quilters from Warburg’s two quilting organizations proudly displayed their fabric art forms. The once-described “beginners” group, the “Young at Heart Quilters,” include Nancy Gruninger, Carol Moar, Lois Moar, Sylvia Schnick, Audrey Haggerty, Linda Sheetz, and Gloria Farmer. They have been meeting together for three years and have made many quilts for charity. New members are always welcome to join—the group meets at the Seniors Centre.
        “Sew Heavenly Quilters” also began in 2010 and includes eleven advanced and beginner quilters: Beverly Schmidt, Elizabeth Kugyelka, Gail Slursarczyk, Marg  Bokowski, Peggy Lunde, Shelley Munch,  Sylvia Flesher, Daphne Oulton, Elaine Mosicki, Francoise Jardine, and Sharon Johnson. This group meets Thursdays from 10-4 at the Cultural Centre. 
        “Sew Heavenly Quilters” donated “Strip Twist”—a queen-size quilt that was won by Bev Bunney.  Bernie Bredin won the Sunflower print—a limited edition giclee on canvas painted by Linda McLaughlin.  Barb Crow won the Musical Metal wall art piece.   Funds raised by the raffle will be set aside for the kitchen renovations in the spring.
        Thank you to all participating Gala guests and artists for “creating a home for the Arts in our community
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