FORT ST. JOHN ? There?s this old Alaska Highway joke doing the rounds every now and then: ?In the Peace, there are only two seasons: Winter and Construction.?
Perceived reality for the average highway traveler perhaps, but the truth is, there¹s beauty to be seen in the Peace Country year-round if you take the time to look for it. For the past 30 years, Dawson Creek photographer Don Pettit has done just that, with a camera by his side as his loyal travel companion.
Pettit?s eye for beauty formed the nucleus for Pettit?s best-selling book, The Peace: an Exploration in Photographs, and it has also shaped his new exhibition Four Glorious Seasons, a show that starts Friday Feb. 20, 2004 at Peace Gallery North, located in the North Peace Cultural Centre in Fort St. John.
The show?s opening is from 7 to 9 p.m. at the gallery, complete with live music, refreshments, and a slide show of Pettit?s celebrated Peace Region photographs.
?I plan time for outdoor explorations at any time of the year,? says Pettit about his new exhibition, his first art show since his book came out in 2001. ?I actually keep a log book of the seasons ? When do the tiger swallowtails first fly in the aspen forest; when is the first frost, the beginning and end of fall colour, the first permanent snowfall??
Every season in the Peace is spectacular in its own way, Pettit says. It certainly shows in his photographs, which take the viewer from the intricate detail of an emerging spring flower via the breathtaking vista of the Peace River Valley in summer and golden tapestries of autumn aspen leaves, to the sparkling hoarfrost on a sun-drenched midwinter morning.
?What I hope is that Four Glorious Seasons will instill awe in Peace Country visitors and pride in the people that call this magnificent region their home,? Pettit says. ?I also hope that my pictures will inspire people to take good care of this land so it will continue to be as beautiful for future generations as it is for us now.?
Four Glorious Seasons can be seen at Peace Gallery North until March 9, 2004.
About the artist and his work:
Born in Ontario, Donald A. Pettit?s travels brought him to the Peace River region in the early ?70s, where he has since worked as a commercial photographer, traveling and exploring the region extensively, sometimes by float plane and helicopter, often backpacking into areas few have seen.
He lives near Dawson Creek in a solar-powered home of his own design and construction. His lifestyle and images both express his active concern for the natural environment. For this commitment, he was awarded the B.C. Minister¹s Environmental Award in 1999.
In 2001, Pettit self-published a coffee table photo book, The Peace: an Exploration in Photographs. The book quickly became a regional bestseller and has sold 6,000 copies to date. Pettit¹s business, Peace photoGraphics, was named Dawson Creek 2001 Business of the Year and has since diversified into publishing, graphic design, writing and marketing. Pettit has developed a ?Peace¹ product line which includes the book, an annual calendar, a video and a soundtrack CD, which are available in galleries, and book and gift stores around the Peace River region. A DVD showcasing Pettit’s Peace images will be released this year.
Pettit?s work as a writer and photographer is widely published, and his art images are exhibited in both solo and group shows. His photographs are found in private collections across Canada.
About the Peace River region:
The Peace is an immense watershed stretching 1,900 kilometres across the northern reaches of two Canadian provinces ? Alberta and British Columbia. Extending from the Omineca Mountains in the west to Lake Athabasca in the east, from Wood Buffalo National Park in the north to Mt. Robson in the south, the Peace River watershed drains 30 million hectares, an area almost the size of California.
Only recently settled, the Peace remains sparsely populated and rich in wildlife, an environment for those drawn to independence, room to move, and most of all, wilderness.