Deer at Gwen’s door

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, June 25, 2020

Social distancing and a love for overlooked beauty inspired Cochrane artist Gwen Hughes to honour deer visitors by painting them on her garage door for others’ pleasure.
Photos by Warren Harbeck

Did I just write “Deer at Gwen’s door”? I really should have said, “Deer on Gwen’s door” – garage door, that is! Here’s the story behind Cochrane artist Gwen Hughes’ contribution to the beauty of life as a garage door painter.

Gwen is well known in western Canada and the United States for her fondness of animal themes in her private and public paintings, murals, sculptures and ceramics ( Add to this her delight in making sense out of a topsy-turvy world (my column for July 16, 2015), and you’ll see why I’m so attracted to her latest garage door art venture in the midst of our current pandemic lifestyle.

So, why did she choose deer for her garage doors this spring?

“I chose deer as subject matter,” she says, “because, when I returned home from the US earlier this year, the first thing I saw were a herd of deer in my yard as if welcoming me home.

“Reflecting on my life since early childhood, I realize art has been a driving force and passion. Along my path I always noticed the beauty around me that others seemed to miss. I have recorded it in whatever art form I was interested in at the time. This was my first garage door painting.

“I now am interested in recording the beauty that others find in their world. I would like to make the path people wander through in their neighborhood a wonderland of the beautiful pictures they would like to see on their walls or garage doors to enjoy with their neighbours and children.”

She used acrylic for these deer, she tells me, but she could also use outdoor house paint.

Well, I certainly enjoyed viewing her garage doors when I drove by her place in a west-end cul-de-sac the other day – unique, engaging, and just what I needed for a morale boost that morning.

If you, too, are interested in boosting your morale by having a drive-by look at Gwen’s garage door art, her address is 24 West Kerfoot Place. And if you’d like Gwen’s thoughts on representing your own visual memories on your garage doors, you can contact her at

Yes, as Gwen says, she’d like to make the path people wander through in their neighborhood a wonderland of beautiful memories. Who knows, just as some Cochrane cul-de-sac neighbours do at Christmas time by teaming up on their festive light displays, perhaps so, too, some cul-de-sac neighbours may team up on their drive-by garage door art displays for the enjoyment of all of us.

Best wishes, Gwen!


© 2020 Warren Harbeck

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