Last Thursday night, the eyes of many eagerly explored the life work of Fernie artist, Beulah Limber.
The Arts Station was overflowing with guests who had anticipated this opening for a long time. Several people introduced her work at the beginning of the show, and praised Limber for her talents, hard work and enthusiasm.
Many found it surprising that in her 60 years of painting, Limber has never presented a retrospective of her work.
Her earliest art dates back to the late 1960’s, and took on an abstract theme. Every 10 or 15 years following, Limber seemed to switch styles and move onto something else. Her painting progressed from abstract objects, to family scenes, nature and flowers. Limber then dabbled in soapstone sculptures, acrylic portraits, and music-themed paintings. With many more pieces of art stored away at home or on display around the world, Limber chose the pieces for her show that she believed best represented her different styles throughout the years.
Asked when she knew it was time to switch styles, Beulah said, “It just happened.”
Limber shared an example, back when she was undertaking a nude drawing workshop. Sitting beside her was a woman who was painting the model in watercolor. Limber thought it was so beautiful, and was inspired to learn this technique.
Age is not a limiting factor for the 83-year-old who continues to be inspired by the environment around her.
[Pointing down] “Just looking at her (flowery) pants, people doing things,” said Limber.
As well as her work in paint and sculpture, Limber also had a large quilt on display which took her two years to make. It is a family tree; a neighbourhood of relatives each with their own house and information inside.
Looking back at all her styles, Limber enjoyed her music-themed work the most.
“I’ll start with the canvas of wet paint, and I’ll just play on it,” she said. “I’m thinking, music. And if it turns out (to be) abstract, then I like that the best.”
Accomplished local artist, Angela Morgan, has said that Limber’s work contains emotion, and movement.
Along with each work of art, Limber included a short description about what inspired her to create it.
Despite her many years involved in the arts, Beulah believes she still has a lot to learn.
Growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan, Limber was artistically inspired by her surrounding environment. As a child she would rush through her studies, eager to return home to create. She would gather buckets of mud out of which she would make plates, cups and saucers and small houses.
The third youngest of 13 siblings, Limber was ambitious, and strived to be versatile in many things.
“I had to learn everything,” she said.
At the age of 13, Limber knitted a wool curling sweater for her brother, using Mary Maxim wool. At 18, she knit an entire boucle dress. She went on to design her own clothing.
Limber’s family had an organ on the farm. It was there that her love for music took seed. Now, Limber is proficient in the Appalachian dulcimer as well as the harp, banjo and guitar.
Limber spent much of her time in Montreal, and while she was there, she took up nude drawing. Here, she fell in love with human anatomy and started to incorporate this into her work.
She later learned pottery in Seattle, and soapstone carving back in Montreal. She then moved to Edmonton and became a teacher, where she taught for years. While teaching in Edmonton, she was also learning to paint watercolor in Calgary. Her most recent move was in 1979, when Limber came to Fernie. Here, she was instrumental in the establishment of the Arts Station, and council.
Since 1979, Limber has seen the art community change.
“I think there’s more artists,” she said. “People are looking at, maybe I can do that too, and look at how much fun they’re having. I always tell them, well come out and join the art club.”
Over the years, the now 83-year-old has taught numerous workshops, and inspired many.
“Beulah is an individual, who has lived her art life in her own way, giving us the gift and pleasure of viewing her creations,” said Mary Menduk during the gallery reception. “We love your art, and we love you to.”
Beulah’s work will be on display at the Arts Station until July 27, when Colleen Routley will host the station’s next art exhibit.