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College displaying self-taught artist’s Canada 150 exhibit
BRUCE PARKER
Brooks Bulletin

A self-taught artist and long-time Brooks resident has an exhibit of 48 pieces on display at the Brooks Campus of the Medicine Hat College.
The work of Bob Franz is a commemoration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. His display covers the official symbols and landscapes of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories. It is based on his travels across the country from sea to sea.
With an interest in creating something for Canada’s 150th birthday, it was just a matter of coming up with something he wanted to do.
Once a plan was established in December, he used his holiday photos to create landscapes typical of each province. He started in January and completed his final drawing two weeks ago.
This is his second exhibit at the college. He talked to college staff to arrange the exhibit and it was suggested it be tied in with six art lesson classes for the continuing education program.
Franz said people coming to the college to view his work will see what they will be getting into if they choose to take the classes he will teach.
A lot of the two-hour sessions for students will be sitting down and drawing.
With this exhibit, the public will have a chance to win a free first lesson if they correctly identify the province, bird or flower and landscape of each province.
His interest in art began as a child but it was not until five years after his retirement in 2005 as deputy superintendent from Grasslands Public Schools that he turned to graphite art as one of several hobbies.
His first priority after retirement was to relax and do the things he wanted to do. He stayed away from joining any clubs or organizations.
Franz credits Mara Nesbitt for his start. She approached him in 2005 about getting involved with Centennial celebrations for Brooks in 2010. The plan was to put together a historical art exhibit.
He said Nesbitt knew of his interest in historical buildings and encouraged him to submit his first samples of art for the 2010 planned display in the old Scotia Bank building.
With no formal training, he did a lot of reading of art books and magazines and then relied on trial and error during many hours of practice.
“I like to have a challenge. I don’t do any particular type of art data. Landscapes I find quite easy to do. I could do landscapes all the time but I like the challenge to do different things,” he said.
His first foray into art was drawing a vase to show its depth.
“It must have taken me two or three weeks to draw that one simple little drawing and I still have it at home.”
Next up was drawing pieces for the historical 2010 show. His pieces of work included the Bassano coaling station located near the train tracks and the Brooks train station.
Other pieces of work include an old milk bottle in a winter setting and a threshing scene with hay being thrown onto an old wagon.
Since his start, he has created 271 pieces of work.
“I spend two to three hours every afternoon if I can.”
Franz said if you don’t have a schedule it is so easy to put it off until the next day.
“I really found I need to keep that schedule and I do.”
People have encouraged him over the years to try different mediums including use of oils but Franz says he likes the challenge of pencil to show detail and depth.
He said pencil also gives more of an older look.
Franz is a founding member of the local Sage Brush Arts Society and is currently secretary and immediate past president.
The Society was formed in January, 2011 with founding members being Mara Nesbitt, Linda Wilson and Richard Wood.
There are currently 17 members in the society that covers all of the visual arts.
The goal was to promote and bring artists together.
His first solo exhibit was at the Brooks Public Library in 2012. He had a dual presentation, “My Crowsnest Past: Impressions by Two Distinguished Gentlemen” with local artist Richard Wood in 2014.
Over the years he has won several awards including the prestigious Jean Stevenson Award at the 2017 Alberta Wide ACAC Show in Sherwood Park for his piece “Boy.”
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