A stunning pair of exhibits opened this week at the Humboldt and District Gallery. Showing in tandem throughout the next few weeks are the exhibits “Raven Speaks” and “Prairie Structured.”

Raven Speaks is a dual effort by painter Rolf Krahn and writer David Macknak. At the opening reception, Krahn talked about his deep and abiding fascination with ravens as intelligent creatures and the focus of attention in many cultures. 

“For many years, I’ve studied ravens and admired them,” Krahn explained. “I believe them to be the smartest bird in Canada. Ravens are either loved or hated; I don’t think there’s anything in between.”

That admiration and attention led to an exquisite series of paintings capturing ravens in different modes and focuses of attention. The artist draws upon many hues in the work to illustrate the iridescent quality of their plumage. Ravens and crows aren’t solely black, Krahn points out, but a variety of distinct colours depending on the way the light catches them. 

To interpret the images, Krahn called upon the word artistry of David Macknak. Without giving any information about the background or scene of the paintings, Krahn called on Macknak to deliver his own interpretation and write a piece to accompany each of the paintings. The writings often take on the persona of the bird and deliver wisdom, meditations, a re-interpretation of natural surroundings, or a wry comic observation.

The works comprising Prairie Structured are as varied as the individual artists comprising the Four Monkeys collective. The group from the northeast of the province was on hand to talk about their paintings. Member Olivia Maney spoke on behalf of the group. 

“The artists showing today all come from a variety of interests, backgrounds and practices,” Maney explained. “This in no way limits us, but it gives us an opportunity to expand our own connections and experience, which is a big part of the idea behind the show today.”

Other artists in the group include Annchen Bodenstab, Ui Hyang Kim, and Joanne Fagnou Bolen. Enjoy this sneak peak of the exhibition, on now until February 24 at the Humboldt and District Museum and Gallery.