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This article was published 13/3/2012 (2901 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Joyce Anderson downplays her artistic abilities. The 79-year-old East St. Paul woman says she's just a woman with a mission. Anderson wants to pay a lasting tribute to the Winnipeg Police Service. Her tools are canvas, oil paint and clay.
"This really started a couple of years ago when I wanted to do a painting of the horse patrol," the self-taught painter says.
"If they're going to go away, that's part of the police force that's positive. It's a part of our history."
She's right about that.
The horse-patrol program is scheduled to be axed this year due to budget cuts. The move will save the force $20,000 annually. Anderson considers that a pittance to pay for a working police unit with great PR benefits.
"I'm dismayed because this will take away some of the respect people have for the police."
So Anderson, the widow of a police constable who had almost 34 years of service, decided to paint thoroughbreds Titus and Amaro and their human co-workers.
She and a photographer met the horses and their riders at The Forks. It was a mob scene, she says.
"There were children everywhere. Everyone wanted to pet the horses and take their picture."
Anderson works from photos. Her canvases, which measure 60 centimetres by 75 centimetres, take her "a couple of months" to complete.
"I like to take my time because my heart goes into it."
She claims she's not really an artist, although her paintings have hung in local galleries. She taught oil painting at Tec Voc for 21 years and still has private students.
Her horse-patrol painting hangs in the police chief's office, but that's temporary. Anderson, who doesn't charge the force for her paintings, donated it to the Winnipeg Police Museum.
She estimates the painting would be worth $800 or $900, but "I just don't know any rich people."
The museum, in case you're not one of the 5,000 or so annual visitors, is part of the police academy. The St. James building holds a fascinating array of police memorabilia, including an 1886 swagger stick, old mug shots and a 1925 paddy wagon. Coils of ropes from hangings are a creepy touch.
There's no admission fee.
School tours are sometimes treated to a demonstration of the old-fashioned wrist restraints. Busloads of tourists, in town to gamble, often stop by.
Museum curator Jack Templeman, a retired police officer, says Anderson's paintings are a welcome addition to the collection.
"This is something we wouldn't otherwise have," says Templeman. "She donates everything — her time, her supplies, even the frames."
Two of Anderson's paintings are already on display. One shows the police helicopter, Air 1, and three members of the flight operations unit. Another depicts Const. Scott Taylor with a Belgian Malinois. They serve with the K-9 unit.
There is also a ceramic sculpture depicting a cop wearing an old buffalo coat. He's using a call box. The police officer's face is that of Anderson's late husband, Const. Bertil Anderson.
Anderson won't allow prints to be made of her work. Instead, she copies her own work in oil and donates those smaller paintings to the units depicted.
She also works on commission. Templeman just had his portrait done.
All this is really a way of paying tribute to her late husband, she says.
"If it weren't for him, I don't know if I'd be doing it." They were married for 44 years.
It doesn't really matter if Joyce Anderson is a great artist or not. She's using her talent and time to pay tribute to what is good about our police force.
It's hard to argue with that sort of devotion, or with her firm belief that doing away with the horse patrol is a false economy. At least we've got her painting to remember a part of the police force that was a real pleaser.
Updated on Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 11:16 AM CDT: Corrects name of museum curator Jack Templeman.