Engineer by day, artist by night, Kevin Bolstad will launch his first solo exhibit this Saturday in a show called Under Northern Skies.
From 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Yellowknifers can visit the Explorer Hotel to see Bolstad’s display of landscapes.
Inspired by the likes of Ted Harrison, the Group of Seven, and Leonardo da Vinci – himself an example of the convergence between engineering and art – Bolstad sees the land as his muse and has over 40 years of Northern life to influence his art.
“It’s sort of a feeling of home, the freedom of being out and about,” Bolstad said of Northern scenes. “When I’m painting, I’m hopefully trying to capture not just the physical image of the landscape but some sense of feeling or memory.”
Though he has little in the way of formal training, Bolstad began painting in 1975 when he was gifted his first set of oil paints. He continues to work primarily in oils and acrylics, occasionally veering into watercolours.
To shape his style and hone his skills, Bolstad has sought out workshops, community art programs and seminars through the years. He has also collected a library of literature on the subject, which he said he reads and rereads “with pleasure.”
He expresses excitement for the upcoming exhibit, the first he’s had in a public space in nearly five years. The last time Bolstad displayed his art outside his home was with Shawna Lampi-Legaree in her Dancing Raven Studio studio in Yellowknife.
Bolstad had planned to exhibit his work with another Yellowknife artist in May “but then the world changed.” The show was deferred and the other artist made plans for the fall. Bolstad decided to “just pick a date” and find a space where the show would be possible during a pandemic.
Art lovers of all ages are invited to Under Northern Skies on Saturday, though a limited number of visitors will granted entry at a time to uphold public health requirements. Social distancing and contact tracing protocols will also be in place.
Though audiences are sometimes surprised to learn the painter is an engineer by trade, Bolstad said “tons of engineers have creative ways of expressing themselves.”
“Painting is something I’ve enjoyed all my life and is something I try to find more time for as I get closer to retirement.”
Art and science, he said, “can exist together as a way of seeing the world.”
Bolstad’s work will be available for purchase at the weekend show. Any remaining pieces will go up for sale on his website.