SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (Reuters) - Singer Joni Mitchell turned down the volume on her music and displayed her painting skills at the much-awaited opening of her art exhibit in her Canadian Prairie hometown on Friday.
"I wanted my parents to be able to attend a retrospective of my work," Mitchell told reporters at the opening of the exhibit, which is expected to attract some 5,000 people.
"They were always encouraging of my work," said Mitchell, who left her California home for Saskatoon, where her parents live, to hang the exhibit of 85 works at the city's largest gallery, the Mendel.
Titled 'Voices: Joni Mitchell', it features self-portraits, abstract drawings and snowy Prairie scenes that draw on the farming province where Mitchell spent her childhood years before gaining musical fame in the 1960s.
"I'm not nervous," she said as she chainsmoked in the central hall of the multi-media retrospective of photos, prints, water colors and oil paintings that also featured her poetry and lyrics, with music playing in the background.
Mitchell said this was the most complete exhibit of her art to date. Some of the works have appeared on the covers of her CDs and albums.
A Homecoming Show
The Mendel Gallery, a public institution perched on the banks of the South Saskatchewan river that intersects this city of 200,000, will show the paintings until Sept. 17.
Tourism officials have prepared for an large numbers of visitors, many of whom have followed the singer during a career that has spanned 30 years and recently culminated in the release of the CD, Both Sides Now.
A song of the same name, and other enduring hits like Big Yellow Taxi and The Circle Game, pushed Mitchell to fame that has withstood the passage of years. "In every case we attempted to show something that was significant and representative of the period," said curator Gilles Hebert.
Mitchell said other galleries had expressed interest in hosting the show after its close in Saskatoon.
Mitchell was born Roberta Joan Anderson in 1943 in Fort Macleod, Alberta, and moved to Saskatoon at age nine.
Although she has lived in California since the late 1960s she is still considered a national treasure in Canada.
Much of her art shows landscapes inspired by the vastness of the country in which she was born.
"It's a homecoming," she said, adding it was not unusual for an artist to return to her roots as a source of inspiration for her work.
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