It’s not common knowledge that Saskatchewan is regarded as a pioneer in Canadian Art History. Much of this is thanks to the work of The Saskatchewan Arts Board (SAB). Founded in 1955, SAB was the first public arts council in North America - preceding The Canada Council of the Arts by two years. At the instigation of Premiere Tommy Douglas, SAB was the catalyst for what grew into a rich arts legacy for Saskatchewan.
This legacy is best showcased by The Mackenzie Art Gallery, appropriately located in the T.C. Douglas building in Regina. The Mackenzie is a 100,000 square foot museum including 24,000 square feet of gallery space. It also includes modern technical areas including everything from a conservation lab to a public resource centre to a 185-seat theatre. This impressive building is toured by over 160,000 local and visiting patrons a year. The gallery's name is a tribute to Norman MacKenzie, K.C, who was known in Regina as a prominent lawyer and vocal patron of the arts in the early 1900s
Although the Mackenzie features works from across the globe dating back nearly 5000 years, the curators put an extra emphasis on Saskatchewan-sourced material, as well as Canadian Indigenous works. This mandate is exemplified by the current permanent collection: "Walking with Saskatchewan" which displays to development of Saskatchewan art over the past 150 years.
I was also lucky enough to take in the locally sourced exhibition, "A Gardeners Universe", right before it’s close at the end of October. This highly-regarded exhibition is a 50-year survey featuring over 100 pieces by Regina’s own Victoria Cicansky.
Victor Cicansky grew up on Regina’s East Side, known affectionately at the Garlic Flats. A the time this was a primarily immigrant-populated community with mainly Eastern-European residents. Victor's family is of Romanian descent and his work reflects this heritage. His vision is also influenced by his father who was a blacksmith and his grandmother, who was an avid gardener. Since his emergence into the Canadian arts scene in the late 60’s, Cicansky has garnered national acclaim and his sculptures have been on display across North America.
Currently, The Mackenzie is hosting “Mitchel Wiebe: Vampsites” - a modern art exhibit brought in from The Confederation Centre of the Arts in P.E.I until December 22nd. Longer running exhibits include "Rajni Perera and Nep Sidhu: Banners for New Empires" and "Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch - Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth. Open until February and March 2020, respectively.
The Permanent Collection: "Walking with Saskatchewan"is open until April 2020 and offers a picture of Saskatchewan Art over the past 150 years.
To learn more about The Mackenzie Art Gallery, go to: https://mackenzie.art/