2009 – Joan Stebbins

Joan Stebbins has made a truly remarkable contribution to the arts in Alberta. Over the past three decades, first as Curator and later as Director of the Southern Albert Art Gallery, she has established an enviable reputation for Lethbridge as a centre of contemporary art in Canada.

Joan turned a regional art gallery in small city into a nationally recognized institution – no easy task. With a sure eye and an unwavering commitment, Joan Stebbins has introduced the citizens of Lethbridge to cutting edge work from across Canada, Europe and the Pacific Rim over the years, overseeing the publication of over 200 artists’ catalogues and welcoming 25,000 annual visitors to the Gallery. In turn she has witnessed the flourishing of a strong arts community in her home town: it’s a fact that more than half the artists included in the 2005 Alberta Biennale of Contemporary Art hailed from Lethbridge.

The jury was unanimous in its praise of Joan Stebbins for taking a small prairie gallery and imagining the contribution it could make to understanding and appreciation of the finest in international contemporary art. “She really put Alberta on the map,” they said. “Her work has had wide-ranging impact.”

The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Award recognizes the significant contribution Joan Stebbins has made to the province.