Southeast Open Judged Exhibit draws record entries


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The works of Southeast artists are on display at the Steinbach Arts Council as part of the Southeast Open Judged Exhibit.

Opening March 3 with two ceremonies for juvenile and adult artists, the event launched the month long exhibit that has attracted strong numbers.

Tonya Godee, exhibit coordinator, said they were ecstatic to see 76 adult entries and a total of 133 entries this year, compared to 50 total entries in 2022.

“It was really exciting to see all the applicants come in,” she said. “It definitely surpassed everything I thought it would.”

The exhibit runs until March 31 and includes photography, pencil drawings, watercolor and acrylic paintings, sculpture, potter, textiles and more.

Members of the public are also encouraged to view the artwork and vote on this year’s adult and juvenile People’s Choice Award winner, who will be announced at the end of March.

Gayle Gruben is one the artists who was recognized with a first place ribbon for her piece, a parka she created called “Thoughts of my Mother”.

Originally from Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, the Steinbach resident said she created the piece in memory of her mother who has been missing since 1967.

Creating parkas called amauti in Inuit is something she is familiar with. She travelled Canada’s Arctic as part of a Manitoba Inuit Association project to create parkas with input from the families of missing and murdered indigenous women, in this case Inuit families.

The piece honouring her mother is a traditional womens’ packing parka. A small child would sit in the back and be close to their mother, allowing access for nursing and to keep the baby warm.

“That’s something my mom would have done with me as a child,” she said. “I was three-years-old when she went missing.”

Kevin Friesen won a first place ribbon in photography for his piece titled “The Herd”. It features a herd of horses racing toward the photographer.

Friesen said he enjoys photographing horses as he deals with post-encephalitis. Encephalitis is inflammation of the active tissues of the brain caused by an infection or autoimmune response that can have long lasting effects including mental health challenges such as anxiety.

Friesen said both photography and horses are calming for him, and he credits the owners of Sandy Ridge Stables for allowing him to practice his craft.

The winning photo was something of a miracle for Friesen. He said the horses were sleeping at the far end of the field when they suddenly got up and began running toward him. Not prepared for an action shot, he was surprised at the result.

“I don’t know how it ended up being in focus, but it was,” he said.

The juvenile category also featured many intriguing pieces.

Mara Dumont from Ste Anne created a piece from modelling beeswax called “Birds”.

She said the process took about a day.

“I just started making little birds with this and then my mom suggested to put it in the Steinbach Arts Council,” she said.

Others were also inspired by family members.

Paige Trudeau won first place with her photo called “Macarons” and she credited her grandma for suggesting she enter it.

Entry to the hall gallery is free but donations are accepted. The artwork will also be available to view online through a virtual gallery at

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