The Group of Seven are the best known painters of Canadian landscapes, but two present-day artists are about to become known as the most thorough.
Carol Loeb and Allison Grapes have set themselves an ambitious project to celebrate Canada’s 150th: to paint a landscape every 150 kilometres across the entire country.
The project is called Trans-Canada x Two and uses the Trans-Canada Highway as a guideline for the hybrid road trip/art project. Loeb came up with the idea when she was sitting in her car listening to the radio and heard the question “What are you doing for Canada 150?”
“As a joke I said, ‘What are we doing? We’re sitting in the car in the rain!'” Loeb told the CBC. But she said that the question made her realize that she could come up with a sesquicentennial project that involved sitting in her car: “We could stop every 150 [kilometres] and do a painting.”
Loeb called up her friend and fellow artist, Allison Grapes, who was into the idea. “I went, ‘Well, want to do it with me?'” Loeb said. “And then all I heard is this squeal, ‘yes!’ And that was it. The idea was born.”
The two mapped out a route along the highway that went through all ten provinces, stopping every 150 kilometres, a total of 51 stops. At each stop, the two took notes and photos, which they later brought back with them to their respective studios, each creating a painting of the scene.
Loeb and Grapes live in different provinces, so making it all the way across Canada is a logistical project in itself. The trips has had to be broken up into different legs. As of October, the two have gone from St. John’s to Banff, with seven stops, in BC, remaining.
The goal is to complete all 51 paintings by Canada Day 2018, when there will be an exhibit. So far, Loeb says she has completed half of the landscapes.
And for Loeb, the project has given her not just artistic fodder, but a new appreciation for her country. “I’m impressed with not just how big [Canada] is, but how fortunate we are to live in this place. It’s pretty incredible.”