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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Annora’s many legacy gifts to us


Joyce Sasse - When I first saw Annora Brown’s paintings in the late '50s, I was awe-struck. They were so much about us. Now we have the opportunity to hear others tell what they believe to be her legacy.

Those who knew her speak of “a wonderful person, who didn’t get the credit she deserved”. She was quiet, never promoted herself, was always dedicated to quality work and was a life-long educator. Students who carried on in the Arts were confident because of the basics she taught them.

An ardent environmentalists remembers Annora visiting with her grandparents. She spent time with we younger ones … told us about the different flowers, how they grew and why they shouldn’t be picked. “I adore her art and share her passion for the natural world.”

Gray Campbell wrote “She was born with the eye of an artist and the pen of a gifted writer.” 

Bob Sandford writes “I hold her as one of the most accomplished painters in this area of the Rockies”.

She showed the nation the first visual record of the Western Canadian landscape; captured images of wild places threatened by change; and celebrated the beautiful art of the Native People, referring to them as “the original naturalists and poets of the country.”

Reading her autobiography brings new depth of understanding. “She expressed what growing up on the Prairies meant to me. The paintings were a bonus.” The same person added, “I understood how she was torn between social expectations, family responsibilities and being true to herself. Coming generations of young women will have no idea of the enormous pressures she faced.”

Until she read Sketches from Life, another commented she “had never heard about (one Calgary male artist’s) appalling behaviour toward women artists.”

In response to some of our “Legacy Learnings”, one collector mentioned “I didn’t know any of this, and some things I thought I knew don’t appear to be right.”

We learn about her generosity within her own community: as a teacher, as an initiator of inclusive and forward thinking, and as a generous contributor to community events. 

Without a doubt, Annora Brown has given us “an exceptional body of work”. 

“We cannot let her work be ignored, forgotten or marginalized.”

There is a healing power that comes with studying this kind of creativity, with being touched by respect, reverence, wonder and gratitude. We are gifted by her in so many ways.

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