Art Gallery of Grande Prairie

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Celebrating our Peace Region Matriarchs
The Euphemia McNaught and Evelyn McBryan Collection

Available: September 2010 – August 2011

Curated by Lynn LeCorre-Dallaire of The Art Gallery of Grande Prairie
This exhibition is curated from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and The Art Gallery of Grande Prairie permanent collection.

The Art Gallery of Grande Prairie recognizes Evy McBryan and Euphemia (Betty) McNaught for their artistic achievements and significant contributions to arts and culture in the Peace region. These matriarchs have been the driving force behind the development of visual arts in the Peace Region. Their legacy defines an art community rich with creativity, art mentorship, and community spirit through art clubs, organizations and art advocacy.

Evy McBryan and Euphemia McNaught both were awarded the Alberta Achievement Award in 1976 and 1977 respectively for their artistic contributions. They both advocated for art in the Peace Region. Evy McBryan served on the Provincial Board of Culture and the Visual Arts Board in the 1960s and became the Arts and Crafts coordinator for the City of Grande Prairie from 1964-1974. She was appointed to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts in 1973, where she organized the Peace Region Arts Council and established school exhibition programs. In 1978 she served on The Art Gallery of Grande Prairie board. Throughout her career she organized many art exhibits and art festivals in the Region.

Betty McNaught inspired everyone to be an artist through her teaching and mentorship. She taught art locally through the Grande Prairie Art Club and the Beaverlodge Art Club formed in the 1970s. She ran a school for the mentally challenged students in Grande Prairie as well as teaching art programs through the University of Alberta extension programs in rural Northern Alberta communities. In 1982, Euphemia McNaught was the first recipient of the Sir Fredrich Houltain Art Award for excellence in the arts. She was a prolific artist until she died in 2002.

Of all their achievements, they are most recognized for their Alaska Highway series. Over a period of a few years, they documented over 100 artworks on the building of the Alaska Highway. During World War II, both artists were granted permission from the government to record the progress of opening an access route to Alaska. The U.S. Army set up camps from Dawson Creek throughout the Northern B.C. wilderness. From 1942-1944, they made several trips to visually record the Peace Country before and after the highway altered the landscape. As naturalists and environmentalists, Evy McBryan and Betty McNaught were an inspiration to developing artists in the Peace Region.

Evy McBryan and Betty McNaught are considered true Peace Region artists, as they have both lived in the region most of their lives. They dedicated their time and talents to painting the region, both historically and geographically, in which they were both so fond of. As their leadership and passion continue to inspire Peace Region communities, The Art Gallery of Grande Prairie honors these matriarchs by providing an exhibition featuring a diverse collection of their works.