Lynda Toews' exhibit "Barn Dance" has been attracting a lot of positive attention! The exhibit, on display in the Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre Hall Gallery until Dec 19th, showcases farm animal paintings, and spectators will be confronted with the straightforward gaze of fellow creatures who share the earth. Toews' says, "We are dependent on farm animals for countless things, and they depend on us for food and protection. This interdependence of life is a relationship like a DANCE..."

Below, Lynda Toews shares about the exhibit's opening reception:

"On November 13, 2013 approximately 60 people attended the new art exhibit opening reception of “Barn Dance” – paintings and stories celebrating farm animals by local artist Lynda Toews. Several people came from Winnipeg and even Winkler. 28 paintings of local farm animals are for sale in the hall gallery. They are based on photographs taken by Toews. She believes they are worthy of painting and celebrating because of all that they have provided throughout history from food and clothing to violin bows, artist brushes and even heart valves! There is a longer list at the exhibit. Organizers mentioned that this exhibit is quite unique because not only are there paintings to enjoy, there is also community participation. One of the paintings depicts a Holstein cow out in front with the rest of the herd running away. Toews provided the opportunity for viewers to suggest titles for this painting. Some suggestions so far include: “I Forgot My Purse”; “Who Farted?”; “Eck zee von Yantseed”.

Come in and suggest your title idea … just for fun!"

"There was also gospel bluegrass music at the reception provided by the artist and her husband Gary Brown (known to many as “LyndaRose & Gary”). Finally, there are stories! Toews collected several stories from Manitobans who grew up with farm animals, many from the past. She compiled these stories into a small booklet, given free of charge at the exhibit (there are copies remaining, and e-mail versions available if they run out). Four story contributors (Maria Toews, Bill Giesbrecht, Al Hamm and Len Penner) were in attendance at the reception and read their stories to a captive audience. Here is an excerpt: 'Maria Toews b. 1942 (Horndean MB 1940s-60s) We had four cows: Lily, Molly, Bossie, & Daisy. Ma didn’t let us kids milk because it was her only chance to get a break from the younger ones. I was the oldest so I used to milk Molly when I was about five. I used to sing to Molly too. Ma and pa were Sommerfelder at the time and I used to sing Loben Den Herren (Love the Lord). I used to sing to our tomcat, Peter too. I would sit on the chop pail and sing Sommerfelder chants to Peter. We had this rooster who used to chase me when I went to the outhouse. Then it would stand outside waiting for me. I used to be so scared! But one day I decided to get brave and I grabbed it by the legs, took it to the horse trough and baptized that rooster! After that he left me alone.'

"There are several other stories about dogs predicting thunderstorms, pig-killing bees, stone-boats and caboose rides, “chased by bull” adventures, and of intelligent horses who take care of their caregivers. The reception was filled with warm hearts, lots of fun, and of course a fine aesthetic experience. Children who attend Steinbach Arts Council programs seem particularly drawn to the animal paintings, and the images combined with the story booklet can provide many teaching moments. The exhibit runs until December 19, 2013 so come in, pick up a story booklet, do some Christmas shopping, and enjoy!"

Toews will continue her theme of farm animal paintings and stories at a large solo exhibit scheduled for May 2015 at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery in Winnipeg. If you have a short farm animal story to submit for publication, please e-mail it to: [email protected]

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About the Steinbach Arts Council

The Steinbach Arts Council, an umbrella organization for performing and visual arts groups, enriches the lives of our community through development of local artists and musicians and exposure to professional art forms. The Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre is a home for all these groups and their programs. It’s purpose is to create an environment where all arts disciplines can work together under one roof and share their resources and their talents with each other, and the entire Arts Community!

For more info, visit steinbachartscouncil.ca.

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