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Benefactor donates two paintings to Athabasca Library and Archives

Prominent Canadian artist honoured by the endowment

ATHABASCA — An artist with works hanging in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, now also has two pieces in the Alice B. Donahue Library and Archives (ABDLA). 

Sylvain Voyer has split the last 30 years living in Edmonton and near Perryvale in the Tawatinaw Valley where he has painted many breathtaking landscapes and after years of accolades and national recognition a local benefactor, Charles Van Duren, has donated two pieces in memory of his wife Judith. 

“I think I passed you on Highway 2 as you were painting this one,” said ABDLA head librarian Cynthia Graefe to Voyer of an untitled, undated acrylic painting of a field of clover. 

An event was hosted at the library with Voyer in attendance Oct. 28 and he happily chatted about his various works which range from quite political to his amazing landscapes. 

“I just wanted to have a little occasion around the donation, to invite Sylvan to come out today maybe speak to the art a little bit,” said archivist Margaret Anderson. "Here at the public library and archives we're very dependent on people coming in with donations and the goodwill of the public.” 

The second painting is a 2009 acrylic on canvas titled "Borage in Bloom, St. Albert, Alberta" and his work is described as hyper realism, Anderson told the small crowd. 

"It kind of records in a sort of photographic way, the landscape in Alberta, but it's not a photograph because you can't see that through a camera but it's in the way that Sylvain sees it and then puts it on canvas,” said Anderson. 

Voyer is a plein air painter, preferring to be outdoors with his subject than working from memory or a photograph with his landscapes. 

“My skies are very special, have a special meaning to me because skies and clouds move and they change and so and I would try to capture them almost in the moment or within a half an hour and sometimes I would wait all day for an interesting sky to come up,” Voyer said. 

Where some artists will paint a foreboding sky, Voyer said he prefers openness. 

“It has to be light, airy, and feel open" he said. “A lot of painters have heavy, heavy skies which, to me, that's not what a sky represents.” 

The two works, along with a smaller painting of Voyer’s now hang in the main room of the library. 

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