Bob Pitzel’s Art of the Vanishing Prairie

B. Pitzel, Redline (2009)

Our fresh snow cover here this morning sent me looking for some wintery inspiration, which I happily found in the wistful watercolors of Saskatchewan artist Bob Pitzel.  Pitzel’s art captures the stark and vanishing rural landscapes of western Canada, typified by imposing grain elevators, graying farmhouses and sheds that dot wide expanses of  prairie, and weathered fences erected more as barriers against the elements than to fence in or out people or creatures.

While Pitzel’s subject matter ranges beyond winter settings, it struck me while surveying his masterful work that many of his scenes are rendered with the coldest of seasons as a central element.  In the biography on his site, I love the ethos of humility, practicality and community that he expresses when noting that given the remoteness of rural life “we had to help ourselves out of the corners our inexperience got us into.”  More broadly, the following observation by Pitzel suggests some further inspiration for the muted emotional feel and sense of isolation conveyed in much of his winter-themed art:  “As the human race, we fool ourselves that we’re in control. But look at global warming, and history. At the end of the day, we’re only spectators.”

More about Pitzel and his wonderful watercolors can be found on his artist site here.

B. Pitzel, Trackside (2014)

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B. Pitzel, Deep Snow and Treeline Study (2010)

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B. Pitzel, Fresh Snow (2012)

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B. Pitzel, Pioneer Grain, Lake Lenore (2007)

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B. Pitzel, Maybe We’ll Start Her Up in Spring (2007)

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B. Pitzel, No Glass Left (2005)

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B. Pitzel, Six in a Row (2014)

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B. Pitzel, Fuel Storage (2005)

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B. Pitzel, Regular or Premium (2016)

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Broke-Down Farm Equipment

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Abandoned barns, decrepit factories and broken down equipment fascinate me.  I ponder the stories behind these once highly functional things that now rest in a decaying state. As testament to the utility of the wheel, the circular form is often present in such man-made landscapes.  There’s also the mystery, mundane though it may be, about why particular discarded objects come to be abandoned in a given place and usually piled together randomly with other well-worn debris.  The unkempt farm field, the ramshackle shed off to the side of a property or the makeshift junkyard along an overgrown  path all withhold such stories.

These photos of old farm equipment are from just such a place alongside a back-country road I happened upon early one morning near Granville Ferry, N.S.

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Related Posts:

— Andrea Kastner and Rejected Things

— Scenic Northville Farm Heritage Center, Annapolis Valley, N.S.

— Old Farm Tractor Along Charlevoix / St. Lawrence Shore

For the Love of Old Barns

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Rustic Barn with Red Doors, Windows and Roof, Ile d’Orleans, Quebec

“I’m so glad you’re here . . . 

It helps me realize how beautiful my world is.”

                                                              ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Vintage Quebec: Ox Carts, Dog Carts and Sleighs

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A Dog Cart in Quebec (late 1940s/early 1950s)

Much of Quebec has long had a rural character.  As shown in these vintage postcards, the province’s resourceful people would routinely enlist their animals — even dogs! — in the daily chores.

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Ox Cart in Rural Quebec (late 1940s/early 1950s)

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Sleigh in Winter in Montreal (postmarked Apr. 3, 1911) — Note on card reads in part: “Dear Father,  This is what they are doing way up here in April.   It thaws very little even yet.  .  .  .  With love, H.K.I.”

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Another Ox Cart in Rural Quebec (late 1940s/early 1950s)

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

* When Motels Were Newer and Grander

* Early 1900s Town Markets

* Moonlit Views of Yesteryear Canada

* Pastoral Splendor on the Ile de Orleans

 

Thanksgiving and a Taste of Fall at the Local Market

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Fall bursts forth with dappled reds, glowing oranges, bright yellows and other striking shades to complement the muted greens lingering from Summer.  These pics from a visit to a local farm stand near Upper Burlington, Nova Scotia nicely capture the Fall spirit and provide a nice lead into Canada’s upcoming Thanksgiving weekend and this Monday’s holiday.

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