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L.A. Beat

Galt Museum celebrates the wind with Weather Vanes and Whirligigs

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Maybe it's just a Lethbridge thing. But people have been interested in the wind for eons, so the Galt Museum is pleased to present a new traveling exhibit called Wind Work, Wind Play: Weather Vanes and Whirligigs, which officially opens on June 2 and runs until Sept. 2.One of the main pieces in Whirligigs and Weather Vanes at the Galt Museum, June 2-Aug. 31. Photo by Richard Amery

 The 30 piece travelling exhibition comes to Lethbridge courtesy of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau Quebec .
“ We actually don’t have anything like these in our collection,” said Galt Museum curator Wendy Aitkens.

“ It is an exhibit which is about the most common topic of weather conversation in Lethbridge — the wind — if it is blowing, how fast it is blowing and what direction it is blowing.”

The exhibit features a variety of innovative weather vanes and whirligigs created out of a variety of wood, copper, various metals and found objects like oil cans and juice jugs. They date back to the 1700s, though most of them are from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which reflect what people were thinking about at the time.

 There is a kinetic sculpture of a man milking a cow, a plethora of pigs, roosters, beavers and assorted animals.
“ It’s folk art, so there were created by people about things which related to their lives,” she continued.

 There are also more whimsical works including a fiddler, several people chopping wood, a guy kicking another guy’s butt and the centrepiece — a large Voyageur canoe created by staff at the Gatineau Museum. If you press a button, you can watch the voyageurs row, though you have to use your imagination to see how the wind would make the other items

“ They are very historic pieces, especially the canoe because the fur trade was such a big part of Canada’s history,” Aitkens enthused choosing it as her favourite piece.

 Alex Pavlenko and his piece Chicken and Egg. Photo by Richard AmeryIt’s interesting because they reflect parts of peoples’ lives,” she said.
The exhibit is supplemented by works by Lethbridge artist Alex Pavlenko and Claresholm artist  Doug Costall as well as a one work lent to the Galt Museum by the Prairie Engine Tractor Society in Picture Butte.

Pavlenko, who has several of his own wind powered works around the city including outside the SAAG was impressed with the exhibit, and was happy to be asked to contribute a piece — a whimsical weathervane featuring a chicken sitting on an egg.

“I’ve been making these for a couple of years,” he said adding it is a challenge to make theme strong enough to withstand the wind. He said  creating sculptures with the wind in mind came about naturally.
He was impressed with the exhibit.

“It’s a great exhibit. They are so colourful from different ages. They are very much Canadiana. They reflect people’s lives,” he said.
 “They are quite characteristic of people’s lives,” he continued.
 He was also  impressed with the materials people used.

“They are made of stuff people had lying  around their farms that they didn’t want throw out so they used them to make these,” he observed.
The exhibit will culminate with a competition for best whirligig, Aug. 31, for which anybody can submit their own whirligigs and wind vanes for the  Whirligig and Weathervanes Family Festival. The deadline is Aug. 15.
 There are a few guidelines.  Entries must be able to be placed outside and withstand the weather; you or your group must build it from scratch instead of from a kit; you must be there to win and entries must be in good taste as it is a family event.
Judging takes place 10 a.m,-noon with prizes to be awarded at 3 p.m.

 Community events coordinator Leslie Hall said the museum is always looking for activities surrounding their exhibits, so they are holding a competition for this exhbit.

“Anybody can enter. We hope everybody will feel like they can enter so there will be three different prizes — a people‘s choice award and two judged prizes (of $500 each) for  best in show and best history,” she said adding the details are available online on the Galt Museum’s website
 The deadline for entries is Aug. 15.

 The exhibit officially opens, Sunday June 2 at 2 p.m. The community day will feature guest speaker, Tom McFall, the executive Director of the Alberta Craft Council. He will be sharing stories and talking about his history with weather vanes.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

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