A Canadian Portrait Project: The People of Canada Gallery is now open!
The Official Gallery of the People of Canada, A Canadian Portrait Project. Hundreds of photos, dozens of stories, 20 final portraits. You are invited to join us at the inaugural exhibition of the People of Canada Portrait Project.
The paintings in this exhibition span six years. In 2014, I launched this parallel project inspired by the conversations I was having with Canadians across Canada, the project became known as ‘The People of Canada Portrait Project’, in which Canadians submit their best Canadian ‘selfies’ and I paint their portraits. In 2016, I connected with people on the ground in Yellowknife, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. Through these experiences I had even more discussion and it is the people I met, in person and on-line, who set me on a deeper journey questioning, who are the People of Canada? Whether born, immigrated to, or ex-patriot, I wanted to know, the People of Canada. Fast forward to 2017; the photos kept coming in and my journey across the Canadian landscape continued. I was contracted to show my core work ‘Canadianisms’ in solo exhibitions during Canada150. So what began as a project for Canada150, became a project that would develop on the side over a number of years.
During this time I received an email from singer, songwriter, and storyteller, Christa Couture, (Associate Producer for CBC Canada 2017) and the result is this lovely article, shining a light on the project. I also spoke with Andrea Bell at Whitehot Magazine, NYC who wrote, “By choosing their own photographs, Saturley’s subjects participate in their own self-representation. Yet they also cede control to the artist, who invents a landscape intended to amplify the relationship between the two subjects depicted.”
When I finish painting a portrait I find myself forever bonded to the subjects, through my expression on canvas and through their vulnerability in sharing their stories. It is the vulnerability that creates a great painting, and in this case it is required by all parties involved in the process of creating the portrait.
I spoke briefly with my local SHAW news station, on camera, about the portraits in July 2017, while my solo exhibitions of ‘Canadianisms’ were on view with public galleries in Edmonton and Calgary. Over the course of the project I have had the gracious support of numerous individuals and organizations, who took an interest in the project including; Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, AllHabs Hockey Magazine, @PeopleOfCanada , Penny Rogers Photography, Kiltpiper Marketing, Dennis-Kane.com, Visual Arts Alberta, Independent Sports News, Imagination150, CBC, SHAW TV, Gallery @501 Sherwood Park, Alberta, Okotoks Art Gallery, Vimy Foundation, Cop of Coffee and numerous others.
When I look back at where this project began, and how long it took me to get here, I am grateful. This project was created as a ‘passion project’. Something I would create on the side, while I have been working as a full-time visual artist. These portraits are also shifting as my painting style continues to evolve. I think all of these elements produce a more interesting body of work. I am eternally grateful for your support and your patience in the development of this body of work. Sincere thanks to the People of Canada.
The original goal for the project was 20-25 paintings, and I now have 20 portraits complete. With the closing of galleries across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and cancellation of art exhibitions, I began looking at new ways to bring this exhibition to YOU, in your home. Thanks to technology, I found a solution! And I am thrilled to present these paintings to you in this virtual exhibition.
The Gallery will be open from May 7, 2020, through May 20th. It is a virtual 3D experience, and it is open 24/7! So grab a coffee, a glass of sparkling, or a craft beer and take a tour. With each portrait you will find an information link, that takes you through to an interview or back story about most of these portraits. It is a massive undertaking as I interviewed all of the portrait subjects myself, created all the behind the scenes process videos of many of the portraits (including music to set the tone) and created a project website to share all the submitted photos and stories, all on my own. I did not receive a grant through the Canada Council, I did not hire a web designer or an assistant. I did have a pretty smart guy by my side, cheering me on and giving me feedback, but the hands that painted the paintings, produced it all, on her own bank account.
Enjoy the show! and drop me an email and let me know which portrait is your favourite.