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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Spiritual nurture for tough times - Annora Brown cameo #5


Joyce Sasse - Not only was Annora Brown unfortunate enough to graduate from Art School just in time for the Depression, she was called home to Fort Macleod to care for her invalid mother in 1930. Family responsibility and financial hardship weighed heavily on her. “If I must starve”, she resolved, “it will be with dignity, in the clear air of the out of doors”, sketchpad and watercolours in hand. “It is the life of the spirit that counts.”

Annora had long since recognized the strength of the women around her. Two decades previous, her mother and friends cared about the struggles inherent in getting the “woman’s vote”. Emily McClung, Louise McKinney and Emily Murphy had all visited her community. Henrietta Edward Muir passed discarded art supplies on to her.

She wrote about her admiration for the toughness of the sun-bonneted women who came with their husbands to homestead in the West.

The respect she had for the intellect and ability of these women sustained her when she was, herself, financially and physically most desperate. If they could sell their turkeys for eight cents a pound, and they got ten cents for a dozen eggs, surely she could do the same with her art. On 4” x 5” black mat she painted one wild flower and sold her “midget paintings” for a dollar. Each was a bit of beauty to brighten their stark surroundings. These became immensely popular.

She tells about one school superintendent who dashed any prospect she might have to teach art in his school. “There’s no place for Art in the school or in society”, he declared as he scoffed at anyone who wasted her time taking an art course.

But as the life of the spirit was important for her, so it was also important for others. Her art education presentations not only enhanced the cultural life of Fort Macleod, she spoke at local art clubs in surrounding communities. Lessons were then offered in her home studio. To this day there are those who boast that she was their teacher.

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