Ninety years ago, three women had a dream of turning Lake Edith into an artist’s colony, much like you would see in Santa Fe.
At that time, they convinced the commissioner of Parks Canada to open up leaseholds, so artists could build cottages on the north end of the lake.
Despite overcoming that first hurdle, the women – Agnes Laut, Julia Follett and Clara Shepard – were unable to bring their idea to life.
And now, the cottages are weekend and summer getaways for people mostly from Edmonton and Calgary.
Strangely enough, though, many of today’s leaseholders are artists. So in 1996, about 75 years after Laut, Follett and Shepard attempted to create their colony of creative minds, a group of nine Lake Edith artists gathered together to hold an exhibit.
The original artists were: Wilf Walker, Jock MacDonald, Teresa Smith, Lynn Malin, Sally Baydala, Pat Foy, Carolyn Campbell, Paul Bennett and Anna Greer.
Since the first exhibit, every second year, there has been an art show held by an ever-expanding group of Lake Edith artists at the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum and Archives.
This year, the exhibit, which is open now through May 27, will include at least 15 artists.
“To participate, the requirement is that you be a family member of a cottage lease owner,” said Greer, whose paintings will be on display. Greer’s father Jock MacDonald, who is deceased, was the original leaseholder of her cabin on the lake.
She said she’s not sure why the area attracts creative people, but it does.
“The lake is very peaceful and you can just set yourself down and be creative.
“I started painting and now one of my daughters paints. That’s sort of typical of the people participating. Somebody in the family is an artist and we’ve encouraged the younger generation to get on board.”
In 2004, the group did an exhibit of works done by Lake Edith artists of the past and in the last few exhibits, the group has included a children’s wall, so as to encourage youth to get involved and keep the tradition going.
“We went back in history and now we’re trying to move forward with this young group, which is fun and exciting.”
This year’s artists include, but are not limited to, Greer, Paul Bennett, Andrew Matheson, Charlotte Edgar, Emma Greer, Teresa Smith, Sally Baydala, Clayton Smith, Jasper Baydala, Jen Smith, Frances Rawson, Wilf Walker, Lynn Malin, Sylvie Pinard, Richard Wilson, Abby Jeske, Lauren Jeske, Marc Rawson, and Elysse Rawson.
Greer, who has participated in all nine exhibits, said she never knows for sure how many artists will be included until she’s hanging the work. In this year’s exhibit, the pieces vary from paintings to quilts to photography and glass art.
“Each artist comes to the group with their own special talent which makes the exhibit very eclectic,” said Greer.
To see the Lake Edith artists’ exhibit, visit the museum between now and May 27.
There will also be a public reception May 20, with a cash bar and music by Bill Christensen. The event runs from 2 to 5 p.m. and everyone is invited.