Day 27 CCR: Surprises–Pleasant and Otherwise

Today, Steve scheduled more work on his bike, this time a primary drive belt that needed to be replaced. But we started the day in Lloydminster, AB, and the part and the dealership that would install it was in Red Deer, about 220 miles away. To ensure the service department had enough time to get the repairs done today, we needed to arrive as early as possible, which meant a quick breakfast and kickstands up at 6:15 a.m. Four hours later, with no stops for photos along the way, we pulled into Gasoline Alley Harley-Davidson in Red Deer and the techs started working on his bike. Steve waited; I had a museum to visit.

I had planned to go to Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery even without an early start, because the ride would only be about four or five hours and I would have time in the afternoon to check out the MAG, as it’s referred to locally. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I anticipated seeing a simple local museum display in a refurbished “historic” building along with some art work by local painters. I was pleasantly surprised when I pulled up to the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery and discovered a relatively new building. That boded well for professional exhibits on the inside. But I still wasn’t prepared for what I found.

The MAG is housed in a modern building owned and maintained by the City of Red Deer (pop. 100,000) in Rotary Recreation Park, which besides the museum contains a recreation center, skating rink, picnic facilities, playground, water feature for children and more. But the Museum and Art Gallery inside the building are operated and funded independently and governed by a Board of Directors. As soon as I entered the museum I knew this was not a standard local history museum.

Thoughtful exhibits traced the history of Red Deer, from its aboriginal beginnings, through European settlement and economic development based primarily on agriculture. Exhibits covered political developments (and disagreements), immigrants and the value they bring to a community, and a look at the infamous Residential Schools, one of which was located near Red Deer and whose horrid record of cultural genocide was on display for everyone to see. The museum also houses a research center and one of the best clothing and fabric collections in Alberta. I didn’t get a chance to talk with the director or the exhibits curator, but I wish I could have told them how impressed I was with the museum and their efforts to honestly educate museum visitors.

This exhibit of a completely restored plow not only displayed a tool used by early farmers, it also talked about the inventiveness of the people who settled there (the plow was designed by a Red Deer district farmer especially for the sod found in that area) and the role of early industry, since the plow was manufactured there and sold throughout western Alberta.
This exhibit not only showcased artistic talents of First Nations people, it also explored aboriginal resistance to European encroachment and destruction of aboriginal culture, all in a small space that was effectively used.
The complete exhibit “Tracing Tides: A Topographical Investigation” by Lyndal Osborne, artist, sculptor and Emeritus Professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

After spending several hours in the historical museum and knowing I could have spent several more, I entered the next gallery and was surprised again, this time by the quality of art in the two current exhibits. The first, “Tracing Tides: A Topographical Investigation” featured sculptures by a long-time and widely shown Canadian artist, Lyndal Osborne. A series of wooden boxes contained sculptures designed to bring to mind underwater life near beaches in Newfoundland and her native Australia. Osborne used items she found at low tide to create sculptures showing changes in nature and the human impact on the environment. In the photographs below I focus on two examples of her work.

Note the third box from the bottom. The following photos will show it in greater detail.
In a closer view, the first wooden box at the bottom of the photo resembles underwater sea grass.
The “sea grass” sculpture was made entirely of discarded shotgun shells which littered Newfoundland beach.
This sculpture brings to mind colorful coral.
The color was made possible by various colored wires found at the beach, along with sticks also found at a beach.

Unfortunately a two-dimensional view of the exhibit doesn’t do it justice. But the exhibit effectively used both natural and industrial objects to take a unique look at environmental changes and degradation.

The second art exhibit featured a now-local artist, Dawn Detarando, born and schooled in Massachusetts and at the University of Wisconsin, who focused on the bees that pollinate plants on the land where she and her husband live outside Red Deer. What she noticed long before she started her sculpture project (which included about 30 items) was that bees were stressed by pesticides and herbicides widely used on lawns and on crops and by wild weather swings. Working with clay, wire and paint, she showed how science and climate change are affecting the ability of all species of bees to do what they do best: pollinate flowers and other plants.

One of three in a series.
This “jug” was completely had crafted but represents containers of pesticide and herbicides harmful to bees.

Today’s post is different from most of what I post, but (1) it shows what I did today that I thought was important and (2) it shows the value of not underestimating local cultural centers that reflect a community’s values and that can teach volumes with only a few of hours of careful observation.

One final story from today. At the end of three hours in MAG I was so enthralled with the exhibits I didn’t know it was raining until one of the staff pointed it out. Raining!?!? It was fallin’ a frog strangler flood and my travel luggage strapped to my bike was uncovered. I dashed into the downpour, covered my bags but not before they were soaked, and returned to the MAG soaking wet. In 20 minutes the storm had passed, the sun came out, I rode to my hotel and dried everything. No harm done. But the rain gods once again showed me who was in charge.

Speaking of rain. More is forecast for tomorrow. All day. Everywhere I had planned to ride. Oh, and temperatures are going to be in the mid-40s. Tomorrow was supposed to be the best ride of the CCR with a cruise along the Icefields Parkway in awe of the towering, snow covered Canadian Rocky Mountains. I think I’ll take an alternate route that won’t take me as high or be as cold but will still get me just as wet. I can’t seem to get a break with the weather.


3 responses to “Day 27 CCR: Surprises–Pleasant and Otherwise”

  1. nuke53 says :

    Museum sounded like another great find! Too bad about the rain again so being 100+ down here and very dry the 40’s don’t sound bad right now! Ice Fields Parkway is a great ride so hopefully the rain will hold off some for you and Steve. Ride safe.

  2. john west says :

    The museum pics are great. Interesting process using industrial leftovers to show the impact of people over time. Sorry to hear about the gully washer. You won’t need to wash clothes. Hope Steve’s belt change went well. Good luck with the weather.
    Ride Safe

  3. sharonjoygerard says :

    Love the museum. Very cool. Safe travels to you and Steve!

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