Sandy Kunze says she is pleased for the opportunity to show the works of Craig Friesen in her Kunze Gallery at the grain elevators.
Kunze, a graduate of the Alberta College of Art & Design in Calgary, has a soft spot for the college’s alumni, so she jumped at the chance to display Friesen’s unique and story-telling pieces.
“I think it won’t be long before a major urban gallery will want his work, so I am happy that we are getting this opportunity,” she said. Friesen dropped into Kunze’s Wynndel home gallery a couple of years ago while he and his wife were on a trip to visit relatives on Kootenay Lake. They have kept in touch since.
Friesen describes his art as “narratives created from play.” His work is concerned with the starting of a story for the viewer to be amused by, wonder about, and/or participate in. He makes work in a variety of media including digital graphics, drawings, paintings, and sculpture.
His series of paintings on school desks tells the story of the first North West Mounted Police journey to the west to take on the whiskey trade. Painted on old and battered school desk writing surfaces, Friesen found himself enamored with the writing and carving on the desks. He was surprised to learn that the “iconically Canadian” story about the NWMP had not been part of his early schooling, and began to conduct his own research.
A quirky combination of graffiti-style pictures and lettering tells the story in a visually compelling way.
Each piece includes an animal that the NWMP “would have encountered on their journey west through the plains and boreal forests.” Represented are the moose, fox, bear, buffalo, and deer, and Friesen says each has a trait that “those first officers would’ve had to possess.”
Also on display are a series of rondels—circular three-dimensional pieces (in different size formats) that are distinctively different than his other work. Simple lines and colours are featured on the layered landscape pieces.
“These latest Mountain Rondels are a departure in terms of energy and focus,” Friesen said about one of the series.
Craig Friesen’s works are on display at Kunze Gallery through the summer. For more information go to www.kunzegallery.ca.