George Tanner – Focus on Local Artists – Issue #139

February 2024

George Tanner

George Tanner

For this month, the Winnipeg River Arts Council features visual artist George Tanner. Originally from Winnipeg, he has lived with his wife Judy at their Falcon Lake cottage for almost nine years. Tanner already knew he loved “lake life.” Since 1961, after his uncle leased a lot on Block 14 and his father helped build a cottage there, he’s been visiting Falcon and surrounding areas regularly. Many of his paintings depict scenes from the forests and lakes surrounding his home.

When asked about his arts practices, Tanner said, “I work mainly in acrylics and watercolours. They’re both very different mediums so I find that it keeps things interesting to switch back and forth between them. Also, I’ve recently started writing short stories, something I’ve long imagined I might be able to do. So far, I’ve been satisfied with the results and intend to continue.”

During the past year, he’s been making quirky music videos, using songs he wrote and recorded on an IPad, and illustrated with his drawings and paintings. The first one he did was based on one of his paintings – “Nelda’s Giant Cinnamon Buns.” He said, “It was well received. I expect I’ll keep making these, if only for my own amusement. My hope is someone with actual musical ability will notice and maybe record one or two properly. That would be thrilling but I realize it’s a long shot.”

Tanner earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Manitoba, worked as a graphic designer, and has a certificate in computer graphics from Red River College (now known as RRC Polytech). Also, he’s taken workshops in watercolour, acrylic and airbrush painting. Despite his years of art-related education and work experiences, he stated, “I learned my art in many different ways but mostly by doing it.”

In the past, he has participated in a number of art shows and held a few solo shows. A long-time member of the Winnipeg Sketch Club, he regularly contributes to their annual exhibitions. Also, he has held memberships and exhibited his work in both the former Medea Gallery artist co-op in Winnipeg and Cre8ery Artists Group in the Exchange District.

When asked what sustains his impressive artistic output, he said, “Encouragement is always appreciated. It’s great to have people tell me they like the things I do but I’m pretty sure I would continue even if no one noticed.  And I am inspired by other people who have had some success artistically, especially people I know. That suggests to me I could do something similar and makes it seem slightly less impossible.”

Tanner has won several awards at Winnipeg Sketch Club’s annual shows and twice won awards at the Red River Ex Arts Extravaganza. He also participates in the annual Boreal Shores Art Tour, held during the third weekend in August, when artists in eastern Manitoba display work at their home studios. As well, many of his paintings are featured (and sold) at the Hi-Point Restaurant at West Hawk Lake, where his daughter is the owner-manager.

This year, he has several exhibitions planned. Although exact dates in March have not been determined, his work will be shown at Winnipeg Sketch Club’s annual Juried Exhibition, in Assiniboine Park’s Pavilion Gallery. From May 19 to June 20, his art will appear at Cre8ery`s Auxiliary Gallery Show. And, on August 17 and 18, he will again be part of the Boreal Shores Art Tour. Recent work can be viewed at his website – Prepare to be amazed.

George Tanner loves this quote: “When asked why he still bothered practicing, a 96 year old musician once said, ‘Because I think I’m making progress.’ I think that can apply to all forms of art.”

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