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Cameo: From Fort Macleod with love

JOYCE SASSE – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
Fort Macleod was somewhat of an outpost in 1930 when Annora Brown was called home from her teaching position in Calgary to care for her stroke-stricken mother.
Those first years were extremely hard. Drought and economic depression added to her burden for an artist who knew nothing of care-giving and home-making. Annora gritted her teeth and followed her mother’s advice to make the best wherever one finds oneself.
Familiarity with the town and it’s people helped. The Browns had been strong contributing members of the community. Neighbours expressed their appreciation by offering advice, support and encouragement in their time of difficulties.
It was in this context that Annora was able to pursue her passion for painting, research and writing. Notably, she chose to stay on after her parents’ death.
In her autobiography she reflected on her small community being distant from art galleries, city audiences and art collectors. Stimulation for her artistic expression, therefore, came from people like herself. And, thankfully, she had colleagues from art school and Mount Royal College who helped nurture and enable her creative spirit.
Besides, as a woman well acquainted with the struggles needed to make a woman’s voice heard, she was prepared to work that much harder to establish herself in the world of Canadian art.
From the environs of her rural community she lived close to the subject matter she wished to paint — the landscape, the plant life and the native culture. She approached each with an open and inquisitive mind, tried a range of techniques to express herself, and was well enough acquainted with changes threatening the region to make commentary.
Social and political obstructions from urban and Eastern sources abounded for this single woman. But the quality of her work and the persistence with which she labored demanded attention and respect.
We invite the public to give honest appraisal of her work and her story 50 years later as we bring the depth of her work into focus through our Annora Brown Project.
Photographing of the 260 paintings in the Glenbow archives has now been completed. The digitizing is in process and on schedule. Expectations are that this work will all be available for public viewing by early September.
Financial contributions to in this regard are still being solicited. Send to Joyce Sasse, Annora Brown Project, P.O. Box 92, Pincher Creek, T0K 1W0.
(For Annora Brown’s life and work stories visit The Macleod Gazette at www.fortmacleodgazette.com and www.natureconservancy.ca/ab “Annora Brown.”)

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