This book provides, for the first time, a comprehensive coverage of the development of art in Alberta from 1905 to 1970. Written for the province's 2005 Centennial, this book documents 165 of Alberta's first and second generation of visual artists and their notable individuality. It is a compelling narrative beginning with two lonely modernists, Maxwell Bates and W. L. Stevenson practising Expressionism in isolated Alberta in contrast with the art of British-trained artists/teachers A. C. Leighton and H. G Glyde. It then documents the extraordinary support of the Carnegie Corporation during Alberta's Depression; painting of the Alaska Highway by Peace River artists Euphemia McNaught and Evy McBryan during WWII; post-war modernism featuring Expressionism, abstraction, sense of place, art of fantasy, art of social commentary, metaphor and non-objectivity; Alberta's crafts and the democratization of the arts; and public art. Townshend carefully presents the full flowering of Alberta's authentic grassroots culture. This book tells us what Alberta's art was rather than what it wasn't.
This book was nominated for the Melva J. Dwyer award (2006), and was on the Edmonton Journal's Bestsellers List.
Les Graff described this book as "championing two essential ingredients [Alberta's fierce independence and individuality of the foundation for Alberta's visual arts] while exploring in depth and detail the tremendously broad base of that foundation… Townshend's book will serve as a major reference for years to come and be pivotal regarding all future writings regarding the visual arts of Alberta."