en plein air 2
December 5 – 23, 2015
Dr. Foster James Penny Building | Downtown Lethbridge

Regular Hours: M – F, 9 am – 4 pm
University of Lethbridge Dr. Foster James Penny Building, Downtown Lethbridge
324, 5 St South
Lethbridge, AB

Community artists engage with the Coutts Centre property
Co-sponsored by the U of L Art Gallery, the U of L Faculty of Fine Arts and the U of L Alumni Association.


En Plein Air 2015 brought together more than 80 artists over the spring and summer at the University of Lethbridge’s Coutts Centre for Western Heritage just outside of Nanton, Alberta. They came from all over southern Alberta – the Crowsnest Pass, Lethbridge, Claresholm, Nanton, Okotoks, High River, Calgary, Canmore, Didsbury and Banff.

Most of the artists attended one of the 3 dates on which the U of L Art Gallery hosted the, “En Plein Air days”, May 24, June 21 or August 16. Many attended the Coutts Centre Arts Festival hosted by the Faculty of Fine Arts on July 26 – a day of live music, art making, garden touring and Shakespeare-in-the-Garden. Some of the artists also attended the Coutts Centre on their own time, assisted by the gracious Centre management and grounds crew who welcomed artists as and when they showed up.

The 98 works submitted for the, En Plein Air 2, exhibition in the Dr. Foster James Penny Building represent the work of 35 participating artists, depicting the many moods, weather systems and lighting conditions of the Coutts Centre over the course of an Alberta spring and summer, from blossom to harvest. The array of colours and media in this exhibition are as diverse as the lovely gardens and grounds at the Coutts family homestead.


Launched in June 2011 thanks to a generous gift from the late Dr. Jim Coutts (LLD ’12), the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage preserves and celebrates the diverse heritage that is central to the spirit of the west, honouring both its namesake and the land he so admired.

Just east of Nanton, AB, the Coutts Centre is comprised of a quarter section of land on the more than 100-year-old property that once belonged to Dr. Coutts’s grandfather. The quarter section of land includes the original homestead, extensive gardens and restored outbuildings.

This unique property enables the University of Lethbridge to enhance the student experience in ways relevant to the goals and values described within the framework of a liberal education. Treating the Coutts Centre as a living classroom, students, faculty and visitors will make use of the natural setting to study the history, artwork, ecosystems and geography associated with the area.

The Coutts Centre presents extensive opportunities for students, faculty and the southern Alberta community to learn in a remarkable location.


“A piece of you will always stay wherever it is that you came from, and you also carry a piece of that landscape with you,” Dr. Jim Coutts (LLD ’12).

Sadly, Dr. Coutts passed away on December 31, 2013. Over recent years, however, he generously donated his homestead property and a significant portion of his art collection to the University of Lethbridge.

Dr. Jim Coutts (LLD ’12) was a lawyer, businessman and former advisor to two Prime Ministers, who made significant contributions to Canada through his public service, conservation efforts and philanthropy, including the development and funding of Lester B. Pearson United World College.

At the University of Lethbridge, Dr. Coutts supported the art collection by donating more than 460 works to the U of L Art Gallery and in 2011 gifted his family homestead property near Nanton, Alta, which is now the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage.