David More’s painting Black and Red, showing until Sept. 5 at the Red Deer Museum, highlights the diverse, dense summer crowds that gathered at Sylvan Lake when physical distancing wasn’t a requirement. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

David More’s painting Black and Red, showing until Sept. 5 at the Red Deer Museum, highlights the diverse, dense summer crowds that gathered at Sylvan Lake when physical distancing wasn’t a requirement. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Benalto artist depicts those lazy, hazy (virus-free) days of summer at Sylvan Lake

David More’s Shore Figures exhibit is showing at the Red Deer museum

David More’s latest paintings at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery offer a glimpse back at a carefree, pre-pandemic world.

Throngs of diverse beach-goers are shown crowding the shores of Sylvan Lake — people who are young and old and of different ethnic backgrounds are shown enjoying a sun-soaked day by the water.

“It’s almost ‘the good old days,’” muses More of his Shore Figures — Sylvan Lake exhibit, which is on until Sept. 5.

His most recent trips to Sylvan Lake tell a more subdued story. The Benalto artist knows the lake-side “carnival scenes” of the past have been suspended this summer, due to the physical distancing requirements to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Even on warmest days, crowds on the beach are sparser, as befits this worrisome era when local bylaws officers are tasked with ensuring two metres of spacing between parties.

For now, More admits the crush of humanity he has depicted in oils has to be a reminder of more “normal” times.

The artist’s seven Shore Figures paintings were inspired by decades of Sylvan Lake people-watching.

Although best known for landscape paintings, More says he has always been interested in the human form.“I’ve been taking pictures of people on the beach for 35 years because I was fascinated by the diversity” of the spectacle, adds the retired Red Deer College art instructor.

He believes beaches are a great equalizer.

More visited Rio de Janeiro “a long time ago,” and saw rich people coming down to the oceanside from their high-rises, and poor people travelling from their favela slums. The two groups would mingle by the water. And, clad in bathing suits, “you couldn’t tell one from the other,” he recalls.

More purposely combined figures from the various Sylvan Lake beach photographs he’s taken, “like actors on a stage,” to play up contrasts, and hint at various personalities and scenarios.

In his work Black and Red, a modest woman wearing a head scarf is shown standing next to a sunglasses-wearing cowboy with his torso exposed to the sun. In another, a bold, black-clad, mustachio-ed biker-type strides by a senior and his small grandchild.

More’s work The White Queen shows a woman in a white bikini lounging majestically on a white inflatable chair. She’s flanked by two male “attendants” — just as she was in real life, recalls the artist, who took a photo of a seated woman being catered to by two men. “I thought: She’s classic!” he says, with a chuckle.

To preserve the beach-goers’ anonymity, More didn’t attempt portraits of his subjects, but rather aimed to capture their general stances and attitudes.

But art history buffs will notice similarities between some of the positioned people in his works and those in Edouard Manet’s painting Luncheon on the Grass and Georges Seurat’s The Bathers. The Venus de Milo also inspired More’s Venus and the Biker painting.

By referencing the past, More hopes to make viewers consider that people are people, regardless of the century, and that life is a trajectory with the present mirroring and repeating what’s happened before.

As to when Sylvan Lake will get back to normal, with its usual stretch of bathers, More knows that will also happen again, but can’t guess when. “At this point it has to be a fond memory.”

Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The White Queen is a painting in David More’s Shore Figures: Sylvan Lake exhibit, now showing at the Red Deer museum. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

The White Queen is a painting in David More’s Shore Figures: Sylvan Lake exhibit, now showing at the Red Deer museum. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Central Alberta artist David More. (Contributed image).

Central Alberta artist David More. (Contributed image).

Just Posted

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw
Alberta eases some COVID-19 restrictions

Salons, barbershops and other personal and wellness services will be open by appointment only

File Photo
‘You took away some real joy.’ Sylvan Lake Winter Village turned off after vandalism

Sometime during the night of Jan, 12 the light display at the pier was vandalized and damaged

(Black Press file photo)
Sylvan Lake man charged with fraud totalling more than $100,000

Sylvan Lake RCMP have been investigating two companies owned by the same man since June 2019

Environment Canada issued a wind warning for parts of central Alberta on Jan. 13, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Wind warning issued for central Alberta

Environment Canada said strong northwesterly winds will develop in the morning and weaken in the evening

Lesser Slave Lake UCP MLA Pat Rehn. (Facebook)
Kenney kicks Pat Rehn out of UCP caucus after municipal complaints

Rehn had been criticized by municipal leaders in his constituency

(Via the Canadian Press)
Alberta monolith comes with message to save eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains

‘They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

blessing
Bentley Blessing Pantry continues to faithfully serve the community

‘We just wanted to make everyone aware that we are still here to serve you throughout this coming year.’

A Suncor logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 2, 2019. A worker is missing after a dozer broke through ice on an inactive Suncor tailings pond in northern Alberta.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Worker missing after dozer breaks through frozen tailings pond in northern Alberta

The worker was an employee of Christina River Construction

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID clarity: Feds say 42-day gap for 2-dose vaccines OK as provinces race to immunity

‘Realities on the ground’ means that provinces, territories will have difficult choices to make

(Pixabay photo)
Alberta surgeon who hung a noose in a hospital found guilty of unprofessional conduct

College of Physicians and Surgeons says sanctions will be determined at a later hearing

Most Read