Saskatchewan is geographically diffuse. While half of the province resides in urban centres, the other half are spread across small communities and reserves on Treaty 4, Treaty 6 and Treaty 10 territories. Given the sparse and scattered provincial population, long road trips are a fact of life for many Saskatchewan residents. This Prairie sprawl, along with the “boom and bust” rhythm of its resource-based economies, has shaped people’s way of life and ways of thinking about working with the land. The services offered by libraries, museums and cultural centres, often situated in the downtown cores of Saskatchewan’s many communities serve as critically important spaces for cultural exchange and participation. These places, typically free, build community by bringing people together for conversation, while also providing a site for refuge that presents opportunities to consider different perspectives and world views.
Roadside Attractions, organized by Dunlop Art Gallery and partners across the province, presented a network of contemporary art commissions across Saskatchewan during the summer of 2018. Each participating artist considered the unique histories, geographies, and populations of their exhibition locations — factors that have shaped dozens of Saskatchewan spaces into meaningful places.
While emphasizing the importance of historic downtowns and public institutions in place-making, Roadside Attractions also encouraged a sense of discovery among viewers. Original artworks positioned along a 20+ hour scenic Prairie road trip created a network of unique experiences with art — encounters that ranged from public sculptures and site-specific installations to sound art pieces that accompanied viewers on their Saskatchewan journey.