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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Annora Brown cameo 15 - summing up

Annora Brown 1957
Joyce Sasse - “Annora Brown is the hand of the flower sower and the eye of time, for when the lily blooms no more, should man be yet alive, she will review for him the glory that was, and advise him of the glory to be …” What finer tribute then this, written by a reviewer who had just seen the Glenbow Wild Flower Exhibit of the artist’s work in 1971?

Now, with the photographing and digitizing of the paintings in the Glenbow Collection, the public will have access to a significant part of South Alberta’s art heritage. (http://glenbow.org/collections/search/ )


‘(This woman)”, wrote Gray Campbell, “was born with the eye of an artist and the pen of a gifted writer”. She showed the nation the first visual record of the Western Canadian Landscape. She captured images of wild places threatened with change. She celebrated the beautiful art of the Native People who she called “the original naturalists and poets of the country”. She risked being considered “an oddity” by some in her home town, and being shunned by some in Alberta’s art community, but remained committed to her calling.

Who else would dare to help us feel the fuzzy seeds of the clematis, the needles of the prickly pear cactus or the thorns of the buffalo berry? Who else would help us hear the buzzing of bees around the blossoms of the golden current? Who could laugh at herself like she did when she wrote about the grasshopper that landed in her cup of coffee on a painting expedition in the Thirties, and then sketch the grasshopper in her drawing of the mariposa lily? Annora Brown celebrated life through her artistic expressions as she revealed that which touched her heart and soul. These expressions might be considered as additions to the Sacred Texts.

Through the stories told by the artist and by those who knew her or knew of her, we can appreciate her ventures. “We cannot let this woman’s work be ignored, forgotten or marginalized” wrote Patricia Alderson in her 2003 thesis “Annora Brown: Forming a Regionalist Sensibility”. It is the work of the community to bring her story back to life, to discern the messages she painted and wrote about. We now have opportunity re-discover what was almost forgotten.

There is a healing power that comes with studying this kind of creativity, with being touched by respect, reverence, wonder and gratitude. It can be Annora Brown’s gift to each of us.

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