Mountain landscapes and culture on display at Audain Art Museum 

Artistry Revealed: Peter Whyte, Catharine Robb Whyte and Their Contemporaries opens on Saturday, May 18

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Snowy Scene Mounts Temple and Hungabee, Ptarmigan Valley by Peter Whyte is one of the paintings currently on display at the Audain Art Museum.
  • Photo submitted
  • Snowy Scene Mounts Temple and Hungabee, Ptarmigan Valley by Peter Whyte is one of the paintings currently on display at the Audain Art Museum.

The Audain Art Museum is offering a bit of winter in the summertime.

Its new exhibit, Artistry Revealed: Peter Whyte, Catharine Robb Whyte and Their Contemporaries, is set to open on May 18 with over 100 works—primarily mountain landscapes—many of which feature snowy scenes.

"It will offer both summer and winter scenes of the Rockies in and around Banff ... predominantly by Peter and Catharine Whyte from the '20s through the '50s," says Curtis Collins, director and chief curator at the museum. "However, there are some nice additions to it."

That includes the work of artists who influenced the couple's career, including some members of the Group of Seven like A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, and J.E.H. MacDonald.

"It also highlights the role the Rockies in general have played in the expansion of the Canadian frontier, particularly within a tourism context," Collins says. "Banff is one of the first major areas in the West to have that artists-in-residence scene, which would grow into the Banff Centre for the Arts."

Peter and Catharine Whyte first met at the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts where they were pursing fine art painting. Both American, they moved to Banff in 1930 where they dedicated their efforts to capturing the landscape.

In the 1950s, they founded the Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation, which later opened the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, located in Banff.

The exhibit—which is touring from the Whyte Museum—also includes mountain culture history. "There's quite a bit of didactic and interactive materials—iPads and things distributed throughout the show," Collins says. "You'll get a larger sense of those old-school wooden skis and all that really heavy woollen wear that early mountaineers would be clothed in. There's some nice historical archival material about mountain culture that's very interesting."

With the additional cultural context, Collins adds he hopes that some visitors might be moved to visit the Whistler Museum after seeing the exhibit. "I'm hoping it will encourage people to view this show and take a walk down to the Whistler Museum. They have lots of old-school photographs and materials too ... These were the people who were pioneers of ski culture. That, I hope, would resonate with locals," he says.

In addition to the interactive element and the landscape paintings, the exhibit will also include portraits and figure studies.

"It's a really nice range of, not only renderings of landscape in summer and winter, but figure studies and portraiture," Collins says. "There's a lot to offer for this exhibit for traditional 20th century art."

The show opens on Saturday, May 18, with a 1 p.m. guided tour. It runs until Aug. 26.

For more, visit audainartmuseum.com.

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