Art Gallery of Alberta

Alberta Mistresses of the Modern: 1935-1975
March 10-June 3, 2012


image credits [click to view]


Helen Stadelbauer, Breaking the Atom, 1946, Watercolour on paper
Glenbow Museum Collection, Calgary

Margaret Shelton, Rosebud Creek at Rosedale, 1949, Oil on masonite,
Collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Edmonton, Photo © Alberta Foundation for the Arts 



Annora Brown
Sibyl Budde Laubental
Thelma Manarey
Janet Mitchell
Marion Nicoll
Laura Evans Reid
Margaret Shelton
Helen Stadelbauer
Ella May Walker
Dorothy Henzell Willis

Focusing on the work of ten women artists, all born by the end of 1918, the exhibition Alberta Mistresses of the Modern: 1935-1975 shines new light on the establishment of modernism in the province. Working largely in Edmonton and Calgary, the work of these artists reveals the important role that women played in the development of modernism, particularly early forms of abstraction, in Alberta.

Of the ten-member “Calgary Group,” whose 53 oil paintings were featured in an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1948, four of the artists were women, including: Marion Nicoll, Janet Mitchell and Dorothy Willis. Of that group, only Marion Nicoll is still well recognized today for her commitment to modernism. The exhibition Alberta Mistresses of the Modern demonstrates, however, that there were many more women artists in this pioneering generation who contributed to Alberta’s cultural roots and the formation of a vibrant visual arts community in the province, and who were decidedly modern.

While they were largely painters (oil, watercolour & later acrylic) and/or printmakers (linocuts, woodcuts, etching, silkscreen & clay prints), the exhibition also includes some sculpture, ceramics and mosaics. Guest-curated for the AGA by Mary-Beth Laviolette Alberta Mistresses of the Modern features over 80 works on loan from more than 15 different private and public collections, including: the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Glenbow Museum, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, the Nickle Arts Museum and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

Alberta Mistresses of the Modern is guest-curated by Mary-Beth Laviolette and presented with the support of ATB Financial as part of the ATB Alberta Masters exhibitions series.


Do you know an Alberta woman whose unique, inspiring story should be shared? Nominate her today for the Mistresses of the Modern: Celebrating Alberta Women through Stories competition.