Local artist dedicates exhibition to Kenderdine Campus

Alex Di Pietro
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Veronica Balon has taken many classes at the University of Saskatchewan’s Kenderdine Campus, which is why she was dejected to learn that the landmark in Emma Lake would be ceasing operations for at least three years. 

Emma Lake artist Veronica Balon stands next to a painting she created at the U of S Kenderdine Campus. She will be dedicating her fourth solo exhibition, “Skies and Trees and Water and Weeds,” running from Dec. 1 to Jan. 29, to the campus. 

“It’s the most magical place on earth,” she said. “I’ve taken seven or eight classes there, and sometimes twice a year, which some people think is really silly because I live across the lake from it.”

Balon spoke of the affinity students and residents of Emma Lake alike have gained for studying at the Kenderdine Campus.

“It really is a highlight, and when the registration package comes out at the end of January, beginning of February, everyone is just waiting, and we’re phoning and trying to register before the information comes,” she said. “A lot of us are regulars who come year after year after year.”

An announcement was made earlier this month that the U of S would be closing the campus due to financial issues. It reasoned that millions of dollars would be needed to cover renovation costs. 

Balon will be dedicating her next show, “Skies and Trees and Water and Weeds,” to the campus as a means to underline its importance. All of the artwork on display will be Kenderdine related.

The exhibition will run from Dec. 1 to Jan. 29 at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library’s Grace Campbell Gallery. Thirty-seven pieces will be on display, 12 of which are Giclée prints on canvas and on paper.

“When the university made its decision to close Kenderdine, my announcement cards for the show had already gone out,” Balon said, noting that she made a few alterations to the list of works that would be on display.

“I’m dedicating this show to my love for Kenderdine and to make people realize just how important that facility is and how much we need to keep it open,” Balon added.

Studying at the campus is an unparalleled experience, according to Balon.

“Of course, (students) will still be able to take classes at different sites, whether it’s in Saskatoon or the U of S art classes that are held here in Prince Albert or Melfort,” she said. “But what we’ll be missing out on is the experience of Kenderdine … We’re there to make art without interruptions from the outside world.”

Fairy Island, which can be seen from the shoreline of the campus, was donated to the university and holds a special place in Balon’s heart.

“Fairy Island is just a magical place. There are a couple of paintings here from Fairy Island,” she said. “The light is just magical on the third lake of Emma … It’s a place I will never ever want to forget. The moss is so sick and lush and you just want to walk barefoot.”

Balon has signed a petition against the closure and added a letter expressing her reasons for why she believes it’s an unfavourable decision.

“Closing Kenderdine Campus will be more than just locking the gate that hangs across the little dirt road at the entrance,” she writes. “It will close the door to a world-renowned, extraordinary, rustic art facility and a huge chapter in the art history of Saskatchewan.”

In the letter, Balon also inquires about guidelines regarding the potential to raise the funds needed to help cover estimated renovation costs.

“At this point, I understand the university hasn’t agreed to any fundraising,” she said. “They’ve decided to close the university facility for three years and regroup to see what’s needed.

“There are people at the Lakeland area, there are alumni, people across the world have come (to the campus). World-renowned artists have come and I think a lot of those people would be interested in helping one way or another.”


Organizations: John M. Cuelenaere Public Library

Geographic location: Emma Lake, Iceland, Saskatoon Prince Albert Saskatchewan Lakeland

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