Artists in Algonquin Provincial Park to respond to the G8 summit (2010)

In the middle of Algonquin Provincial Park, Canadian artists are responding to the upcoming G8 summit by displaying works based on one of the summit's central issues: environmental change.  From logging in Algonquin Park to the melting Polar icecaps, these artists are exploring a number of different themes related to environmental change as it effects not only natural habitats, but people themselves.  Their works are being displayed at the Algonquin Art Centre, located in Algonquin Park—a gallery with ties to the Group of Seven, whose Algonquin paintings established the provincial park as a hotbed for artists of all sorts.  "Every year, we have a new theme for our artists," explains Doug Irwin, owner and operator of the Centre. "This year, the artists themselves expressed interest in a show about environmental change as a response to the G8 summit being held right outside Algonquin Park."  These artists, which include internationally acclaimed painters such as Carl Brenders and Claudio D'Angelo, offer their own interpretations on the changing world, which are meant to educate and inspire some of the park's million annual visitors.  Phil Chadwick, an artist and established meteorologist, is raising awareness of climate change by repainting Tom Thomson's "West Wind" after the effects of a warmer climate: the blue lake of Thomson's original is replaced with marshlands and cattails; Thomson's green hills are now tinged with a "mountain pine beetle orange".  Chadwick's piece, titled "Dry Wind" instead of "West Wind", is but one of many innovate perspectives on environmental change; others include glass sculptures of melting ice caps, abstract depictions of logged forests, and paintings of displaced or endangered species from all over the world.  Artist Kelly Dodge, having just returned from an Artist's for Conservation sponsored flag expedition to the Galapagos Islands, conveys the human effects on its ecosystem by painting a life size Galapagos tortoise, forced to eat an introduced species of Bermuda grass instead of the island's native grasses. Her pastel not only conveys the unnatural conditions of the tortoises' ecosystem, but captures the gigantic and beautiful aspects of these endangered creatures, which invokes both pity and awe in the onlooker.  "Art can be a vital vehicle for facilitating global respect and stewardship of our natural heritage," says Dodge, "and this show will do this for many as they stare into the eyes and meet the creatures whose future is determined by the behaviours of humans."  Visitors to the exhibition will hear the artists' message loud and clear: that as the world changes, so do perspectives, so do people, and so too do artists and their works.  The show, called "Change: An Artist's Perspective" is on display from June 1st to October 16th at the Algonquin Art Centre, a scenic 40 minute drive east of the G8 summit site in Huntsville.