At First Glance

At First Glance

This group exhibition from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts’ Permanent Collection features a selection of expressionist works which together raise the question, what do you see at first glance? As studies show, when a viewer looks at a piece of art for the first time, the eye is drawn to an initial focal point, but if one looks away and then back again at the piece, the eye is often drawn to a different point.

The paintings in this exhibition use minimal gestural brushstrokes, vibrant colours and line work to draw the viewer in for a momentary presence into the scene the artist has created. As a viewer, you generate a global impression, or a gist, of a painting with the first glance at it. Everyone’s eye may be drawn to a different focal point, and we may all see something the next viewer doesn’t see right away. That is what is so fascinating about art, we all interpret it differently. Some paintings in this exhibition may look like abstract landscapes at first glance, but when you spend more time studying the work, you may see an animal, a boat, a bus or a tree.

At First Glance features the works by sixteen Canadian artists, Bradley R.Struble, Tom Hamilton, Ron Gust, Art Whitehead, Mary Joyce, Pattie Trouth, Audrey Watson, Leslie Pinter, Susana Espinoza, Niina Chebry, Maureen Harvey, Robin Smith-Peck, Les Graff, Kristen Keegan, Mark Mullin, and Daniel May.

Curated by Jamie-Lee Cormier, Curator/Manager of Travelling Exhibitions Northwest


Featured image: TOM HAMILTON Harlequin One, n.d., Oil on paper, Collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts

Featured Artists

Bradley R. Struble

As Chief Executive Projector (CEP) at Struble Special Projects Bradley R. Struble works as a contractor to his clients on a variety of projects. Large Format Graphic Design, Interactive and Interpretive Exhibit Design and Lighting for Theatres and Exhibitions. He was a designer in the private sector – in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

His formal education is in Fine Arts ((University of Minnesota with a BFA)) , Industrial and Exhibition Design ((Associate of the Ontario College of Art and Design and with the University of Calgary EVDS Faculty.Bradley has exhibited art works for 45 years photography, drawing, sculpture and mixed media installations. Designed for dance, theatre, video and multi-media productions specializing in interactive experiences, projections/lighting and sets.

Tom Hamilton

Thomas Hamilton was born July 2nd, 1951 in Queens, New York.  He was adopted at the age of 6 months by a Canadian couple who were residing in New York. This gave Tom dual Canadian/ American citizenship. At the age of 10, he and his family moved to Alberta, Canada, where they settled in Tomahawk, a town west of Edmonton.

Tom graduated from high school in 1968, and later attended the Fine Arts program at the Alberta College of Art, in Calgary. He graduated from the program in 1974 and moved to Medicine Hat to take up work as a ranch foreman. It was during this time that Tom taught art for 2 years at Medicine Hat College.

Eventually, Tom began doing some long-haul trucking to help support his passion for creating art. It was during a trip to Chilliwack, B.C. that Tom met Sharon Price with whom he fell in love and married in October of 1989. With this union, came two wonderful stepchildren, Lisa and Jason.

Throughout his adult life, Tom maintained art studios wherever he lived, including Medicine Hat, Cochrane, and Calgary, Alberta. He was honoured to be selected as an ‘artist in residence’ through an affiliation with the Tate Gallery, in both London, England (1996) and Beijing, China (1997).

In 2010, Tom was diagnosed with brain cancer. Despite this terrible set-back, he continued to energetically create his art. Following surgery to try to arrest the cancer, he found that his colour palette had changed, and he began to use more oranges and yellows in his paintings. Tom was committed to his work right up to his untimely death, in February 2011, at the age of 60.

Patrons of Thomas Hamilton’s art include Esso Canada, Gulf Canada, and the Calgary Children’s Hospital.


Ron Gust

 Bio Unavailable


 Art Whitehead

 Bio Unavailable


 Mary Joyce

 Mary Joyce is an award-winning printmaker, drawer, and painter, and has been producing and exhibiting in Canada and Europe since 1986. She explores the culture of resistance and social change in her work, along with ideas of speed and the passing of time. Her work also probes notions of memory, labour, and women’s work.
From 2000-2012, Joyce’s paintings explored how the body, mind, and heart are simultaneously imprinted with sensory evidence of the rapid passage through time and space. She made drawings while in motion on the back of a motorcycle, which resulted in a cinematic approach to her paintings. Her attention veered to motion in cities and crowds, and of political mobilization and citizen engagement. Her work invites ongoing celebration of the courage and resilience of activists.
Mary Joyce earned a BFA in Printmaking from the University of Alberta, and a BA in Literature and Art History from McMaster University. She exhibits in solo and group shows regularly, and won first prize from France’s Salon International Art Résilience in 2018.
Joyce’s work is in private collections throughout Canada, Europe, and the USA, and in the collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Flint Print Studio Archives at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Ad Axiom Art Gallery of Burlington, and at Husky Oil in Newfoundland. Joyce lives and works in Edmonton.


 Pattie Trouth

 Bio Unavailable


Audrey Watson

 Audrey was special from the beginning of life. She was gifted – a child with profound creativity, imagination and talent for music, theatre and most of all drawing and painting. These gifts would continue to manifest and enrich others throughout her life.
As a young girl she studied art and later became a nurse practicing in Preston, England. A shy but strikingly pretty nurse soon caught the eye of a young handsome Irish doctor. Audrey and Maurice were married in 1957 and after a short term in Montreal settled back in Edmonton.
She soon created an enriched life for herself and her family. She embraced the art scene, made many friends and soon after studied, practiced and shared teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. Audrey mostly loved warm days spent at the lake: a very special place that provided endless inspiration for her painting.


Leslie Pinter

 Bio Unavailable


Susana Espinoza

Born in Valparaiso, Chile, Susana Espinoza is a graphic designer, oil painter, and sculptor best known for her geometric encaustic paintings. After earning her B.A. in Graphic Design from the Catholic University of Valparaiso, Espinoza came to Canada in 1976 to settle in Calgary. While her work is explosively colourful, it contrasts the temperatures of hues, and dark with bright. She constructs many of her works by layering pigments inside fluid suspensions—gleaming, semi-translucent superimpositions she calls “floating colour.” Upon many of these works she attaches colourful, button-like domes that resemble blobs of paint, or leafy, grassy projections whose organic shapes soften the industrial gloss of the works.

Describing her project, she says, “I am taking advantage of new technological developments in pigments, [media], and supports. Working with one hue at a time, in a minimalistic composition, I am trying to understand what makes a color beautiful—how do we magnify its presence, how does it affect us, and how can it be portrayed as an independent entity?” Yet some of Espinoza’s work stands apart from her floating colours; her tactile textural series focuses on contrasting transparency and opaqueness.

Espinoza has enjoyed many solo exhibitions, particularly in Edmonton’s Peter Robertson Gallery and Calgary’s Fosbrooke Gallery. The Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Calgary Olympic Park, GWL Realty Advisors of Calgary, and many private owners around the world have collected her work.


Niina Chebry

Canadian artist Niina Chebry plumbs the abstract in nature. From tree to iceberg, her work wrestles with notions of beauty, impermanence and peril. The power and tranquility of water as both liquid and ice is revealed through layers of Inky ebony tones and aqua hues.

She studied fine art at the University of Alberta and traveled, living periods of time in Europe, Japan and India before settling in Vancouver. As a founding member of Parker Art Salon, Niina is part of a vibrant arts community at Parker Street Studios.

Her paintings are included in public and private collections in Canada, United States, Europe and Japan, notably at the Ueno Royal Museum of Art and the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. Niina’s work is represented by Vancouver Art Gallery Art Rental Gallery and Gallery 8.


 Maureen Harvey

Maureen Harvey is a prolific painter who works in both small and monumental scale, on murals and stage design, and employs a range of media including watercolours and oils.
Harvey’s strength lies in a fine and delicate touch which results in wonderfully rhythmic lines, matched only by her quirky approach to colour and pattern. She plays with ideas and perceptions of space, and entices the viewer into her compositions by creating a sense of magic or illusion in her work. This illusion exists in painted figures seemingly on solid ground, but actually suspended in space; or figures sitting comfortably, but without a chair – feet dangling or bodies crouching.
Harvey is detailed in her process, and creates dozens of sketches prior to each colour study, with some sketches very loosely drawn, and others more detailed and finished. This process allows her to focus on the visual issues she likes to explore, including composition, space, and colour.
Harvey received her BFA from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1961. Her work is in collections throughout Alberta including the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the City of St. Albert, the Grande Prairie Hospital, and the Alberta Oil Sands Equity. She has exhibited at Harcourt House in Edmonton, as well as the Bowman Arts Centre, Fringe Gallery, and in the Works Festival in Edmonton.


Robin Smith-Peck

Robin Smith Peck has spent most of her career in northern Canada. She grew up in Goose Bay, Labrador; received her BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and later her MVA from University of Alberta. She has taught printmaking in the remote communities of Holman, Cape Dorset and Iqaluit; as well as University of Alberta and Keyano College. Her work has been exhibited internationally and across Canada and is found in many collections such as Canada Council, Statoil, Silpakorn University, Thailand, and the Canadian Embassy, New York


Les Graff

 After preliminary studies at the Banff School of Fine Arts, Les Graff attended the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (now Alberta College of Art + Design) and graduated in 1959 at age 23. He completed postgraduate studies at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan in 1960. He had his first solo exhibit at the Edmonton Art Gallery (now Art Gallery of Alberta), two years later. However, it took 29 years before he was able to fulfill his dream of painting fulltime. During that time, Graff made a major contribution to the visual arts in Alberta, beginning as Director of Arts and Crafts for the Province of Alberta in 1967 and retiring in 1991 as Director of Visual Arts for Alberta Culture. He built numerous programs to support the province’s artists and arts organizations.

Graff’s work begins with simple, plein air line drawings of the landscape which serve as the departure point for larger charcoal drawings and small studies done in the studio. These form the basis for his large abstract oil on canvas works. He has had numerous solo exhibitions at galleries including: Canadian Art Galleries Ltd., Calgary, AB (1978), the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, SK (1984) the Edmonton Art Gallery (now the Art Gallery of Alberta), Edmonton, AB (1962 and 1994), and at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB (2008). His work is included in the collections of the Glenbow Museum, the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, and in numerous corporate and private collections.


Kristen Keegan

Kristen Keegan is an artist from Edmonton, Canada currently  based in Bergen, Norway where she is undertaking an MA at the Academy of Fine Arts. She received a BFA (honours) from the University of Alberta in 2010 and has since traveled to attend residencies in New York City, The Banff Centre, as well as in Iceland and Norway. Her work was most recently exhibited in Melbourne, Australia c3 Art Space, in Edmonton at The Drawing room, the 2015 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art, Exposure Photography Festival, and at Latitude 53 Gallery. She has received support for her projects through the Edmonton Arts Council, The Alberta Foundation for the Arts, The Canada Council for the Arts, and the BKH Norwegian stipend fund.


Mark Mullin

Born in Edmonton, Canada, Mark Mullin has taught at various academic institutions in Canada. He has exhibited across North America and Europe. His work investigates how abstract painting can perform as a type of playful narrative of contradiction and subversion. It is a dialogue whose visual vocabulary is comprised of borrowed bits and parts – a convergence of “ insistent debris” where the decorative and minimal negotiate with the brash and grotesque. What results are paintings that resonate like improvised abstract theatre.


 Daniel May

Dan May is a very collectible, sort after, modern narrative painter, a master of visual storytelling, his work is steeped in emotion and mystery. May weaves a rich texture of the surreal and mysterious into his highly original flowing style.

His detail-intensive works have become widely recognized for their dreamlike ability to transcend the natural states of space and time. Dan currently lives and works in northern Michigan with his wife, Kendal and their sons, Max and Dylan.

His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the world.



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