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Canmore artist's first solo gallery show goes 3D

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Canmore artist Layla Messner cancelled plans for her first solo show at a local art gallery because she has a compromised immune system. But then she got creative and is now virtually checking her first exhibition off her bucket list.

CANMORE – When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Canmore artist Layla Messner was disappointed the public health crisis would cancel her first solo exhibition.

But then, as artists are known to do, she got creative and is launching a 3D online solo art show – Her Little Pocket of Happy – beginning Friday (Nov. 20). 

"I wanted to do my very first art show this year," Messner said recently in an interview with the Outlook. "I was proactive and signed up as a feature artist with the Canmore Art Guild, and then COVID happened and obviously my show was cancelled." 

While the CAG gallery in Elevation Place is expected to be reopening soon, Messner has a compromised immune system, so an in-person exhibition was out of the question. 

"I crossed that off my goals for the year, because clearly it wasn't going to happen," she said. "But then it hit me, maybe it could happen if I could open my mind."

Messner found an online platform that would provide her with a 3D virtual gallery to display her abstract expressionist paintings. She works in acrylic paint and has been focused on her painting for the past four years. 

"For the last two years, I have been working on a series – Her Little Pocket of Happy – which is based on a simple line drawing of the female form and then I use different colours to convey different moods or emotions," she said.

The series of paintings explores the connection between colour schemes and emotion through the lens of feminine joy. 

"My underlying philosophy of the art I make is manifestation – positive feelings and experiences people want to feel and art is a way to focus on them with beauty and colour," she said. 

Messner has an eye for colour and an intuitive sense of what emotions are evoked by different hues, as well as how different colours work with or contrast with others. 

"I decided to work with my strength and focus on colour when I was doing this series," she said. "The form was the same, all I had to work with was the colour and texture. But I wanted to make each one different.

"I tend to paint very intuitively and it comes from the feelings I am experiencing anyway, so it kind of arises organically."

For the duration of the art show, Nov. 20-27, the 3D online virtual gallery will be live and available for people to view. She will also be engaging with her audience through dedicated Facebook and Instagram pages. 

"People will be able to go on any device to the 3D gallery and it allows you to move around the gallery," she said, adding those who own a 3D virtual reality system will be able to use it as well to view the art show. 

Messner will have 20 paintings on display from this particular series – Her Little Pocket of Happy – and will share them through social media. 

Fans of young adult science fiction and fantasy novels might also recognize Messner's name, as she has authored several books in those genres as well. 

Go to Layla Messner Virtual Art Exhibition on Facebook for more information about the upcoming show and Messner's other works of art.