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The strange created worlds of red deer artist jason frizzell

While Jason Frizzell was growing up in Red Deer he would sometimes watch his grandfather paint cowboy scenes in his home art studio.

Frizzell admitted his mom’s dad, Harry Spelman, became a unwitting inspiration, helping pave the way for Frizzell’s own art career. “As I got older, going to school for visual arts wasn’t an unusual thing for me to think of, or for my parents to hear,” explained the now 49-year-old.

From a teenage cartoonist, Frizzell evolved into a printmaker and sculptor at Red Deer College. It was the three-dimensional work that particularly appealed, said Frizzell, who recalls being taken with the large sculptures of Ed and Nancy Kienholz, who created “gritty” life-size tableaus.

He continued his studies at the University of Calgary, and eventually got a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Victoria in 1998. A year later, Frizzell was hired as an RDC art instructor. He later moved into administration and is now Dean of the School of Creative Arts.

But despite his time-consuming day job and the years he spent raising a family with his wife, he has remained a working artist who creates fantastical worlds, often fraught with psychological meaning.

While he started out doing “giant” sculptures, Frizzell soon figured out he’d better downsize or develop a serious storage problem.

He started tinkering with various modelling kits — from dinosaurs to military vehicles and buildings. Frizzell regularly pulls pieces from these and readapts them for his own imaginative purposes. By “kit bashing,” and fabricating other pieces, he makes atmospheric miniature tableaus with multiple meanings (and cryptic titles such as ‘Every place is just like everywhere else.’)

“In some ways, my work has become a little stranger,” he admitted, with a chuckle.

Sci-fi elements are creeping in. Along with Mad Max influences, there are now prehistoric creatures and spacemen. “I really enjoy this strange sense of the futuristic and historic stuff happening at the same time,” said Frizzell.

The artist, who exhibits at the Herringer-Kiss Gallery in Calgary, also enjoys being a member of the Red Deer Arts Council. He said the group ”does a really good job of connecting artists of different types,” providing links to resources, and advocating for arts in the city.


I am the Arts

I’m really proud to be a long-time citizen of Red Deer; my two grown kids are fourth generation Red Deerians.

I believe that being an artist is a legitimate pursuit and doesn’t have to be a hobby.

I feel that art and sport and industry can co-exist and make communities like Red Deer more interesting places to live.

Red Deer has lots to offer and discover… go find it!


Jason Frizzell