Sunday, August 7, 2016

Perspiration and passion - Annora Brown cameo 10

Annora Brown's cratch art drawings from Old Man's Garden book

Joyce Sasse - How many miles did Annora Brown travel while pursuing her passion for art and her need to make a living?

How many times did she load and unload her car with painting gear, necessaries for spending time outdoors and equipment to keep her old vehicle going?

Repeatedly the Lethbridge Herald carried announcements about her coming to the City to present a paper, teach a class or display her paintings. Written between the lines we need to also think of the distance covered on rough roads, the weather faced and the drives up and down those coulee hills.

The Extension Department of the University of Alberta booked her to work with both art and handicraft groups. She did so much work designing rural motifs and working with members, the Alberta Handicraft Guild gave her an Honorary Membership.

Though she had to leave her contract with Mt. Royal College in 1930 to attend to her mother in Fort Macleod, Annora continued teaching occasional classes at the College, and also worked with the Banff School of Fine Arts in the summers 1945 – 1950.

More perspiration was expended getting her art works to galleries and customers across the country. The pieces had to be crated, taken to the station and picked up when they were returned. Fortunately there was good train service connecting Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal – and her neighbours were always helpful.

Her diaries speak of getting paintings, books (Old Man’s Garden), hasti-note and art cards to venders across the region with the hope they would sell.

Her story exemplifies how artists in rural Alberta had unique responsibilities. They operated their own teaching programs, developed their support networks and did their own marketing. It was through sheer force of will and persistence that she produced art of an exceptional quality.

Ken Liddell (1960) wrote “Her influence resulted in Fort Macleod having one of the most progressive Sketch Clubs in Alberta …”

A friend said of her in retirement. “(She) never ceased to think, feel and create art … Still so much to do.”

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