Friesens Supports Local Artists in the Community January 27, 2023
Friesens has been a proud supporter of the local art community for several years now. Since the 70’s and 80’s, Friesens has purchased original artwork from local talent in the form of paintings, sculptures, textiles, or creative natural elements; recognizing it not just for its aesthetically pleasing qualities within the offices, but the fact that art is always viewed as an investment, and a valuable commodity in any culture or part of the world.
Over the years, Friesens has accumulated over 100 original pieces of art including some from our very own employee-owners such as Vern Zacharias (press operator) and Steve Penner (former Corporate Graphic Designer). These employees have not only used their artistic abilities within the company but have used art as a way of expressing themselves in their private lives.
In 2006, Friesens became more involved with the art community by introducing a local gallery. It started as a conversation with the Town of Altona to decide on a project that would enhance the community as well as mark Friesens 100-year anniversary in 2007. The conversation soon had an objective: an art gallery to showcase the abundance of local talent in Altona and surrounding area. Soon the idea found a home in the form of the historic Schwartz house. The plan was to convert it into an indoor gallery with expansive outdoor grounds featuring large format bronzes and sculptures. Gallery in the Park had its’ unforgettable grand opening in July of 2008 with overwhelming community support and that support remains constant.
In its early days, Gallery in the Park retained Odia Reimer as its first curator and in a previous interview, she related her experience: “Little did I know that moving to Altona and working at Friesen Yearbooks, I would have a wonderful opportunity to help start and curate the gallery. The gallery has been a growing experience for me, from finding sculptures, calls for submissions, culling and hanging art …. the largest part of the journey has been finding the artists to exhibit in the gallery …. each year we reach out to prominent artists we have connections with, or artists we would like to see in our gallery.”
With the Gallery maturing, expanding, and deepening its roots in Altona a whole new generation of artists will continue to enjoy displaying their work in this inviting environment.
In addition to the Gallery, Altona and the Pembina Valley area host a number of artistic residents who showcase their talent in private homes and studios. Each year there is a self-guided studio tour which enables visitors to meet some of the region’s best artists right in their own creative spaces. Gallery in the Park is part of this event and supports it in every way. It’s amazing to see how the community comes alive during these occasions as they help shine a spotlight on a few special people we call artists.