Artist grant to keep Wheeler legacy alive
An artists’ grant intended to help keep alive the memory and legacy of Arthur Oliver Wheeler, a renowned surveyor and co-founder of the Alpine Club of Canada, is now available.
The deadline for the first A.O. Wheeler Heritage House Foundation grant of $2,000 is Oct. 24. The winner will be announced Jan. 31, 2013.
According to Canmore painter Donna Jo Massie, the foundation created the grant to offset the 2011 demolition of the Wheeler House. Also known as Claremount House, Wheeler built the Craftsmen-style house as a summer home on six acres of lease-land in 1923 a short distance from the road that leads to the Upper Hot Springs on Sulphur Mountain.
After the lease expired, Parks Canada chose to demolish the home as it sat inside the Middle Springs wildlife corridor, which is a restricted area and not open to the public.
In an effort to save the house and retain it as a legacy to Wheeler and his contribution to the Alpine Club of Canada, Wheeler’s great-granddaughter Jenny Crompton formed the A.O. Wheeler Heritage House Foundation.
Demolishing the 90-year-old house, designated a Recognized Federal Heritage Building in 1994, was one of the 1995 conditions of approval for the Middle Springs II housing development. The house, considered by Parks as an impediment to wildlife movement and a public safety hazard, had to be removed from the corridor.
However, before the house was demolished, Parks Canada gave Massie permission in July 2010 to bring a group of Bow Valley artists to the home for an afternoon to create a body of artwork that would become the Tribute to Claremount exhibition and celebration.
The idea for the grant stemmed from that exhibition,
“Jenny wanted to keep the A.O. Wheeler heritage alive for the family and this is a good way to do it,” Massie said. “She was inspired by the fact the artists attempted to save the house and, while we didn’t save the house, this will help save the ongoing memory.”
“I think this grant will keep that significance in the forefront and remind people of the heritage.”
The grant, which is to be used for a specific time period towards a specific project, is open to all artists who have lived in the Bow Valley region from Field and Golden, B.C. through Lake Louise, Banff, Canmore and Morley for five years or more. The grant is also open to Jasper artists.
Artists can be working in any art form, including media, photography, visual arts, ceramics, glass or fabric on projects that “reflects the A.O. Wheeler legacy of understanding the mountain geology, history and culture specifically in the Canadian Rockies,” according to the grant application.
The grant is intended to cover projects by an individual artist; including research, development or material costs; costs related to public presentation or travel costs within the Canadian Rockies directly related to the project.
According to Massie, as written by Elizabeth Parker, when Wheeler and Parker founded the ACC, their stated objectives included the promotion of scientific study and exploration of Canadian alpine and glacial regions; the education of Canadians to an appreciation of their mountain heritage and the cultivation of art in relation to mountain scenery.
As part of those objectives, printed in the first issue of the Alpine Club of Canada, published in 1907, there is a reference to competitions in both photography and painting.
Massie said those objectives indicate Wheeler believed art was a fundamental aspect of the Rocky Mountains.
“It was apparent then and this grant was so in keeping with A.O. Wheeler and what he felt was important,” Massie said.
Janet Amy, who is helping the foundation with administrative support, said, “In a way, Jenny is continuing that link: that family gene of appreciation of art and nature. This really is a link.”
Artists interested in applying for the grant can receive the grant application by emailing Jenny Crompton at firstname.lastname@example.org, Donna Jo Massie at email@example.com or Janet Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org
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