Edward Bader has played a role in the lives of many artists – as well as non-artists – as a teacher in the Grande Prairie region for years.
This will be his last year teaching at Northwestern Polytechnic (NWP).
After 25 years, Bader is retiring and will display a series of his drawings in his exhibition Drawing Conclusions at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie opening April 27.
“I’ve decided to show a series of drawings from the last five years or so that is sort of emblematic of my practice,” he said.
The drawings will include figure, landscape, semi-abstract and visionary styles derived from Bader’s walks, hikes, readings, and travel experiences. It will also include Peace Country landscapes that are rarely, if ever, covered by local artists.
“My idea as an artist is that in the 21st century you don’t have to focus on one style, all these different styles and ways of thinking about your work.
“It’s like one day you want to play jazz, another day when you play classical, one day you want to do something like dance music, so it’s the same type of idea in visual arts.
“We have all these languages, and all of them allow us to say different things.”
Drawings offer viewers an intimate look at an artist’s work, explained Bader.
He noted some people might value painting or sculpture as a higher medium of art but for Bader, his appreciation comes from people who express themselves in their medium. For him, that includes comic book artists like Robert Crumb and Jack Kirby.
An essay by Elisabeth Belliveau, a former colleague and artist, writes, “(Bader’s) work is contemplative, restrained, and persistent.
“His commitment to seek and capture moments of beauty through drawing — reveals a sense of duty, a clear purpose, a life’s work.”
The prairies, where he grew up and has lived much of his life, are prominent in Bader’s art.
‘How to see’ is embedded in his lessons, said Bader, who taught drawing and art history.
“It’s not about learning how to become a great draftsman but learning how to see the world.”
Bader says he doesn’t believe teaching has shaped his art but instead, he looks to the words of contemporary Félix González-Torres, who said teaching was part of his creative practice.
“What I tell my students – whether you live in Berlin, New York, Paris or Grande Prairie – is you have to go to the studio and make the work.
“If you don’t make the work, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Bader has been disciplined, creating work in his studio regularly; in his personal life, that disciplined nature continues as the 67-year-old competes in bodybuilding competitions.
That discipline flows into his ink drawings, where there is no erasing and an artist needs to be “on top of their game.”
Drawing Conclusions will open alongside of Material Memories, a group show of senior-level NWP students in the Special Projects Courses on April 27. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m.
Bader will also have an artist talk at the AGGP on April 29 at 2 p.m.
Drawing Conclusions will be on display until September 17.
By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Apr 20, 2023