Chris Cran with his painting, “Red Man/Black Cartoon.” (Contributed)

Chris Cran with his painting, “Red Man/Black Cartoon.” (Contributed)

Column: Shuswap reimagined by its own Group of Seven

Shuswap Passion by Jim Cooperman

True pioneers of the Canadian art scene, the Group of Seven were extraordinary landscape painters who collaborated together from 1920 to 1931.

Three more artists joined in later years and two other artists, B.C.’s very own Emily Carr and Tom Thompson who inspired the group to focus on Canada’s unique natural landscape but died young, were closely associated to the group.

There are also seven contemporary Shuswap artists who have achieved significant recognition, although they do not all collaborate as the original group did.

Now a widely acclaimed Calgary-based artist, Chris Cran was raised on a small farm on the outskirts of Salmon Arm, where he was encouraged to take up painting by another highly respected Shuswap artist, Herald Nix. Defying most labels, Cran’s work was described by the New York Times as “tampering with people’s perceptions.” In 2016, the National Gallery of Canada hosted an exhibit of his works entitled “Chris Cran, Sincerely Yours,” and the gallery has more than 20 of his paintings in its collection.

Born in Victoria in 1934, Ann Kipling is a well-recognized artist who lived for many years in Falkland and has had numerous shows in the Lower Mainland. Many of her drawings that can also include watercolour washes or gauche, are produced en plein air and combine elements of realism and abstraction, with some resembling Chinese landscape art.

When one of Shuswap’s best-known artists, Steve Mennie, went to the Ontario College of Art in Toronto he found that he had already been exposed to many of the key principles thanks to his high school art teacher, Miss Hoadley. For much of his career, Mennie focused on realism, with subjects that ranged from local landscapes to figurative to street signs and furniture, many with a touch of humour added. He is also an accomplished serigraph print maker and for the last two decades he has added non-figurative paintings to his repertoire, with many of his works hanging in local landmarks including the Salmon Arm city hall.

READ MORE: Shuswap artists come into focus for upcoming exhibit

READ MORE: Women’s co-op opens new art gallery

READ MORE: Column: Big ideas for a Shuswap cultural centre

The Salmon Arm Art Centre’s artist-in-residence, Lisa Figueroa, works full-time as an artist and her vivid, colourful, stylized paintings that include landscapes, florals, nudes, wildlife and abstracts have been shown in galleries throughout the province. She explains how visual art begins with developing an ability to see the magic in the world and then capturing that moment on canvas so that magic becomes apparent and pleasurable to the viewer.

In addition to her work as an architectural designer, Linda Franklin is an outstanding artist who grew up in the shadow of Mt. Ida in a family of landscape painters. Her paintings explore many aspects of life in the Shuswap using bold colours and imaginative designs.

After studying painting and filmmaking at the University of Lethbridge, Tracey Kutschker and her sculptor husband Eric moved to the Shuswap in 1995. In addition to her work as the director/curator of the Salmon Arm Art Centre, she has become well known for her colourful, whimsical paintings of homes, cabins and viewscapes.

Just as the Group of Seven often collaborated on shows and shared a working space at their Toronto Studio built by Lawren Harris, thanks to his Massey-Harris farm machinery fortune, Figueroa, Franklin and Kutschker often work and show together as Lazuline. The three artists have become well known throughout the province for their triptychs depicting the exceptionally stunning landscapes of British Columbia.

The multi-talented Herald Nix, aka John Wood, is both an acclaimed rockabilly musician and a visual artist whose oil paintings can be found in B.C. and Alberta galleries, as well as in Los Angeles. His 2016 Headbones Gallery in Vernon show entitled “the Long View,” featured a series of paintings of one view of Shuswap Lake as it changed throughout the year, shifting in weather, light and mood.

There are many more exceptional Shuswap artists, some of whom will be featured in the next column.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Shuswap Lake

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


Lisa Figueroa working on the painting, “Edith Cavell is dying.” (Bonnie Jackson photo)

Lisa Figueroa working on the painting, “Edith Cavell is dying.” (Bonnie Jackson photo)

Lazuline Art Gallery partner Linda Franklin looks over some of the work by local artists on display in the new gallery at 101 Hudson St. (File photo)

Lazuline Art Gallery partner Linda Franklin looks over some of the work by local artists on display in the new gallery at 101 Hudson St. (File photo)

Just Posted

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two seperate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

The District of Sicamous is trying to take over management of the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre . (File Photo)
District of Sicamous seeks management contract for hockey arena

The arena has been managed by a non-profit society since it was built in the early 1980s.

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Chase RCMP arrest intoxicated man running into highway traffic

The man was wanted on several warrents in Alberta; was held overnight but released

Butter and sourdough bread is shown at a house in Vernon, B.C. on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. A Quebec dairy farmers’ group is calling on milk producers to stop feeding palm oil or its derivatives to livestock as controversy churns over how these supplements affect the consistency of butter. (THE CANADIAN PRESS - Jesse Johnston)
Poll: Care to spread your feelings on butter?

Reports of hard butter have rattled the Canadian dairy industry

Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band had words of praise for the consultation between her people and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on an ongoing highway project. (Black Press file photo)
Collaboration on Shuswap highway project receives national award

Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson says expansion will open new economic opportunities for the band

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Kamloops Fire Rescue battled a landfill fire which belched toxic smoke into the air on Feb. 27. (City of Kamloops Photo)
Fire at Kamloops landfill sends thick black smoke into the air

Firefighters made slow progress on the fire throughout the morning.

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

(HelloKelowna - Twitter)
West Kelowna billboard bearing anti-vaccine messaging deemed misleading

Ad Standards investigated the billboard, noting a lack of evidence to support the messaging

Baldy Mountain Resort is temporarily closed following the death of a resort family member. Pictured above is a sunrise at the resort, Feb. 19, 2021. (Baldy Mountain Resort/Facebook)
Baldy Mountain ski hill closed following death of resort family member

Authorities currently investigating, resort set to reopen Sunday, Feb. 27

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Most Read