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Book Review
Mike Grandmaison, September 19, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Thank you, to Mike Grandmaison and True Blue Spirit magazine, for the gorgeous coffee table book I recently won in the on-line subscriber draw of Prairie and Beyond. I also want to thank the publisher, Turnstone Press, for their contribution of the book. In addition to my gratitude, I am sending the following review so that your readers and his fans can know more about the book, because I was so impressed by it. The photos truly blur the distinction between photography and art, and the book touched me emotionally in surprising and delightful ways.

Far more than just a coffee table book, Prairie and Beyond is a chronicle of the best that Canada's prairie provinces haves to offer in terms of amazing photographic subjects and overall printing quality. With brilliant color, and a lovely quality feel to the pages, this book was so well done that its printer, Friesens, received a 2012 PIA Merit Award. This particularly outstanding volume of Grandmaison’s work, one of many in his series of books that feature Canadian landscapes, would make a perfect gift, especially for the nature or photography lovers of one's life.

By the title, I expected the book to be completely filled with photos of the stark, harmonious beauty of the western prairies. Although that alone would have pleased me completely, there was a lot more variety to behold. Actually, it was hard to choose a starting point from among the six main sections, which contained juicy shots of Canadian Grasslands, Drylands, Forests, Wetlands, Mountains and Subarctic landscapes. I must admit that each of the categories have special places in my heart, where each one conjures fond memories of trips taken or fuels my imagination of trips yet to come. While getting sucked into the scenes within Prairies and Beyond, I had to frequently call my husband over so he too could enjoy the views with me.

Thankfully, I can now feel I have traveled extensively and seen the best-of-the-best views in Canada because of Grandmaison’s keen eye for the right place, time and subject. I learned a few new things as well, from the text that accompanies the images, a text written by ecologist and forestry expert, Jan Volney. While the book could possibly stand alone with Grandmaison’s “Introduction” and his photos only, Volney’s text perfectly compliments the sections in the book, providing excellent background about how the regions differ in climate, geology, ecology, botany and biology. A seasoned teacher, Volney fully satisfies readers’ questions about how the beauty of the regions and their natural inhabitants came to be as stunning as they are in the photos.

As a treat, in the back of the book, Grandmaison provides a catalogue of specific details about each capture. I really loved this peek into his personal process and what his own eyes saw as remarkable in each shot. His choices show combined visions of the sublime, the surreal and even the humorous scenes that are plentiful in each part of the countryside.

“As an artist, my focus is to capture the beauty of this great country and share it with others to remind us all of the importance that a healthy environment brings to the richness in our lives.” – Mike Grandmaison, Introduction

I cannot choose just a single photo as my absolute favorite. However, the ones I found most breathtaking were the full paged or two-page spreads. Beyond that, I can share a few of those that impressed me greatly. “Polar bear waiting patiently” (page 212) brings an endangered species to life, makes us smile and gets us to remember and care about its welfare. Among the landscapes, I was so touched by “Double rainbow over forest” (page 101) because I am so fond of rainbows and the one he captured in this shot is so vivid! The ferocious Badlands and Hoodoos, that were as fascinating as they were desolate, the icebergs floating amidst candy-coloured waterways, the northern lights shining unearthly green rays, the lush forests painted with artistry by the changing seasons: These are just a few of my many favorite photographic scenes.

Thanks again, Mike!

Sara Harrison, M.A. Freelance writer, teacher, artist Mike Grandmaison’s Prairie and Beyond, is published by Turnstone Press, 2012. Retail price: $40.00

Images from the book can be viewed at Pixels 2.1 Gallery at the Canadian Gallery in Winnipeg, Manitoba until September 28th.

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