Musical Ride series

Joan Larson’s work to be shown in Parksville in mid-June

Joan Larson during an exhibition in Coombs in March 2011.

Joan Larson during an exhibition in Coombs in March 2011.

Artist Joan Larson’s RCMP Musical Ride paintings will be on display at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre in mid-June.

The 21 painting series documents the world famous horse show in intricate detail and will be shown in celebration of culture and heritage just before Canada day, explained PCCC executive director Margaret Spruit.

She said they haven’t done an art exhibit like that before, but when Larson approached them, she and Carrie Powell-Davidson felt it was perfect timing and set about organizing it.

Larson, a life-long horse lover, has become one of the top horse-themed artists in the world, with shows in China, England, the U.S. and across Canada and work in galleries worldwide. She has been showcased at the Spruce Meadows Masters Equi-Fair in Calgary for over 20 years and been in juried shows at the American Academy of Equine Artists in Lexington, Kentucky.

For the project she spent a lot of time with the riders and horses at their breeding and training facilities near Ottawa and said that while viewers may be tricked at first glance, the art isn’t supposed to be photo-realism.

She said the pastel paintings are about the relationships between everyone involved — riders, animals and audience — in an attempt to capture an intimate sense of the ride.

She said 25 to 40 per cent of the work was the creation of the basic outline, with a lot of work going into the accuracy of how the human eye sees, or experiences the scene, which is different than the way a camera captures the image.

“People are always wanting to touch the horses,” Larson’s husband and publicist Paul Smith previously said. “That’s the real nature of the series, it’s about the incredible relationships between the riders and horses and audience.”

While there have been paintings of the ride, Smith said to their knowledge “there has never been a cohesive body of work celebrating this national symbol. I believe the destiny of this project is to become known as a statement of heritage for Canadians.”

The show runs daily June 18 to 24 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with an opening reception from 4 to 6 p.m. on June 18. Check or call 250-752-0395 for more on the ride and Larson’s work and studio.