Moccasin goalie coming to Canada House 0
By Matthew Timmins
Born with crippled feet, Bill Brownridge was never the star player his brothers were, but he still watched in fascination, playing from time to time, wearing moccasins instead of skates while he played goaltender.
It's these memories that have inspired him to paint the old prairie hockey game scenes that he is so fondly known for. His latest exhibition is A Day in the Life of the Moccasin Goalie.
Brownridge's show at Canada House starts next weekend. Seventeen of his large acrylic paintings will be on display and for sale when the show opens on November 1.
He has been commissioned by the Calgary Olympic Development Association to depict the sports of the Olympic Winter Games, asked to design new uniforms for the Calgary Flames in 1993 and featured in an exhibition during the NHL All-Star game in 2001, but Brownridge's art remains traditional to the old-fashioned pond hockey scene.
He brings out the joy of children at play in his painting. He has a fascination with light and its shadows, moods and colours that brings out the rural scenes.
"I love the more lonely scenes, of farm kids that have to withstand the rigors of the weather. Maybe out on a slough by the farm, by the barn or something," he said.
He also rarely paints any children wearing jerseys or equipment. "My interest is in the real grassroots stuff, where the interest is in hockey and not the equipment," he added. "I like the toque, or a hood, and you get to see the face."
Many of his paintings are based on his memory or watching kids play as he grew up. His children's books are titled The Moccasin Goalie and The Final Game which are based on a time when he once played without skates.
"I was born with crippled feet, and couldn't wear skates, but I used to play," Brownridge said. His team barely had enough players for a team, but when they made the playoffs, "we put the guy that played goal up forward. That would give us another offensive guy. We asked the league for special permission to let me play goal without skates, and they did (allow it). And we won the final game 3-2."
Brownridge said he sees hockey as much more than just a game, but a wonderful learning tool for young men and women. He says it's a place where kids can encounter bullying, cheating and embarrassment and it brings out qualities such as courage, discipline, patience and determination.
The paintings on display at Canada House next weekend show a variety of both action and lonely scene, from the one-on-one battles to a goalie making a save to a dog chasing a puck. Even his vision of all young hockey players' dreams in Dreaming of Stars as two young players look up at the stars at night and see two hockey players depicted in the sky. An impressive collection of an aerial view of eight different scenes titled The Rink Rats, all placed together as eight 24 by 2 inch panels, will be on display and for sale, as well as the classic Canadian scene of an outdoor game in full action as fans cheer on their hometown kids on a sunny winter day.
Join Bill on Saturday from 1-3 p.m. at Canada House and see for yourself how he takes the energy and passion of young Canadian hockey players and brings it to a canvas.