Edmonton homeowners double as stewards of building's arts and crafts heritage - The Globe and Mail - Canadanewsmedia
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Edmonton homeowners double as stewards of building's arts and crafts heritage – The Globe and Mail

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Sarah Wilkinson and her husband David Locky spent a year restoring their Edmonton home.

JASON FRANSON

When, in 2004, David Locky first visited his future home – a bungalow in Edmonton’s Highlands neighbourhood – he was mesmerized by the brick on the fireplace. It was as coarse as old-growth tree bark and as iridescent as a mollusc shell. In the right light, you’d see shades of ochre, copper and burnished red.

At the time, Mr. Locky and his wife, Sarah Wilkinson, were graduate students and neither knew much about architecture. (Today, Mr. Locky is a biology professor at MacEwan University and Ms. Wilkinson works in restoration ecology at the University of Alberta.) When the seller explained that the fireplace was made of clinker brick – a rare material in Edmonton – they didn’t know what he meant. But the house had a rustic kind of charm and the $209,000 price was just within their budget. So they bought it. Then they set about researching the house and its design history.

The owners installed new hardware on the home’s casement windows.

JASON FRANSON

They learned, for instance, that clinkers are castaways. Because the kilns of the 19th century distributed heat unevenly, the bricks closest to the centre often liquefied and fused together. Deeming them unsalable, brickmakers threw them out. By the early 20th century, a salvage culture had emerged, with builders scouring dumps in search of clinker discards, which they separated with mallets. The pieces were dry, heavy and often misshapen. They were called clinkers because, when you banged them together, they’d clink.

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They were a favoured material of the arts and crafts movement, a design culture that originated in England and later flourished in North America. Mr. Locky’s home – which he calls the Rose House, in reference to the original owners, William and Lillian Rose – is a relatively pure exemplar of the vernacular arts and crafts style in Alberta. But purity is an inapt word. For arts and crafts designers, perfection was a dubious virtue. This was a humanistic movement. It sought beauty in the rough materials of daily life.

Mr. Locky and Ms. Wilkinson applied for (and received) heritage designation for the house.

JASON FRANSON

Early arts and crafts adherents – British critics and social reformers such as John Ruskin and William Morris – rebelled against the ornate style of their Victorian contemporaries. They argued that makers should look instead to artisanal medieval traditions, which favoured natural finishes, thick textures and organic forms. They scorned both elite affectations and an industrial culture that mechanized labour, reducing artisans to mere workers. It’s not that they hated ornamentation (arts and crafts isn’t minimalism) but they preferred to keep things simple, since even the most delicately wrought chair is still just a thing you sit on.

By the turn of the century, British arts and crafts culture had given rise to the American Craftsman tradition, which sprung up first in New England and then in states such as California and Oregon, where the movement’s democratic ideals melded with a local pioneer-homesteader aesthetic. You can see evidence of the Craftsman style in virtually every North American city, but it’s most obvious on the Prairies and in the Pacific Northwest. While the old anglophone neighbourhoods of Central Canada have a Victorian character (think: pointed arches and polychromatic bricks), the homes in Edmonton tend to be low and wide rather than tall and sharp, and they’re often clad in fieldstone, rustic siding or wooden shingles.

The entrance opens to the fireside living room.

JASON FRANSON

The Rose House is a traditional California bungalow – a squat, compact structure with a gabled roof and a porch that spans most of the front façade. This design is perhaps the most recognizable Craftsman typology. In the interwar years, builders adapted it to the Canadian climate by adding insulation, basements and storm windows.

A covered porch spans most of the home’s front façade.

JASON FRANSON

The house makes good use of its 1,400 square feet. There’s no antechamber; instead, you enter directly into a fireside living room. The downstairs has a hub-and-spoke formation, whereby each room – the kitchen, the den and the bedroom of the couple’s daughter, Rosemary – branches out from a central landing. “There’s seven doorways in that tiny space,” Mr. Locky says. Upstairs, there’s a gabled master bedroom, which is just tall enough that you can walk upright beneath the ridge.

Sarah Wilkinson and her daughter Rosemary chat in the loft of their Edmonton home.

JASON FRANSON

Remarkably, for a structure that was built in 1924, the place still has its original finishes. The floors are thin-strand maple, the trim is chunky, old-growth Douglas fir and the exterior cladding is a patchwork of overlapping cedar shingles, which bear the markings of the circular saw that cut them. In the seventies, the house had passed from the original owners – the Roses and then their relatives – into the hands of a slumlord, who engaged in a practice you might call preservation-through-neglect. It’s a terrible way to conserve a home, although it can be better than the alternative – at least when the alternative is ripping out the interiors and replacing them with laminate. “For 30 years, nothing was done,” Mr. Locky says. “The original surfaces were unpainted. The floors were covered with carpets, but they were otherwise in great condition.”

The home still has its original finishes, nearly a century after its construction.

JASON FRANSON

In the nineties, the home was acquired by less parsimonious owners, who patched leaks, replaced water-damaged plaster with sheetrock and redid the electricals. When they put the house on the market, they sought a like-minded buyer. “They only let us have it once they’d made sure we weren’t going to knock it down,” Mr. Locky says. “The grilled us about it two or three times.”

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Upon taking up residency, Mr. Locky and Ms. Wilkinson applied for (and received) heritage designation for the house, a move that brings both perks and drawbacks. The bad news: It limits what you can do. The good news: It limits what future owners can do, too. “We can’t smash out the windows or put a big addition on it,” Mr. Locky says. “But neither can anyone else.” The house is eligible for municipal and provincial restoration grants. Last summer, the couple invested $44,000 (some of it their own, some of it the government’s) into the exteriors. They installed new hardware on the casement windows, reappointed bricks on the chimney and replaced the roof.

The home is built in the Arts and Crafts style – a movement dedicated to accessible, domestic pleasures.

JASON FRANSON

Mr. Locky has been filling the space with arts and crafts treasures. His acquisitions include a quarter-sawn oak table from a convent in Winnipeg; a fumed-oak armchair by Gustav Stickley, an early Craftsman proponent known for sturdy furnishings with exposed joinery; and a set of hand-hammered copper vases from the Roycroft Campus, a fabled and vaguely cultish alternative community from Western New York. (Imagine a medieval-style gild on the shores of Lake Erie.)

Bagpipe parts hang in the home’s office.

JASON FRANSON/The Globe and Mail

Mr. Locky approaches his work in the manner of a collector not an interior decorator. He has no interest in the design dogmas of the Instagram age – the voids, the colour blocks, or the obsessively curated surfaces. His shelves are cluttered with tchotchkes: copper ashtrays engraved with Celtic knotwork, a bookend that’s adorned with a bronze-dipped eucalyptus leaf. There’s little in the home that you’d describe as chic or contemporary.

Mr. Locky adorns his shelves with the approach of a collector, with little concern for Instagram-era design.

JASON FRANSON

One senses, though, that Craftsman design was never really chic or contemporary, not even in its heyday. Its proponents took inspiration from the past and they believed that the best items were the ones you actually use, not the ones you keep behind glass. It was a movement dedicated to accessible, domestic pleasures – the kind that don’t always require vast fortunes or sophisticated tastes.

This idea is so essential that virtually every generation rediscovers it. Today, lifestyle guru Marie Kondo tells her fans that the good life can be there’s too. “Discard anything that doesn’t spark joy,” she says. That dictum bears a striking resemblance to words William Morris, the grandfather of arts and crafts, wrote 140 years earlier: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

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Greta Thunberg will join Sustainabiliteens at #FridaysforFuture climate strike at Vancouver Art Gallery – Straight.com

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Expect throngs of young and old climate activists to converge on downtown Vancouver on Friday (October 25).

They’ll converge on the north side of the Vancouver Art Gallery to listen to a speech by their 16-year-old Swedish hero, Greta Thunberg, who will be making her first visit to the city.

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thunberg attracted a crowd of 10,000 to 12,000 when she spoke recently in Edmonton.

When she spoke at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City in September, Thunberg emphasized the importance of keeping the global average temperature rise since the start of the Industrial Revolution to below 1.5 C.

“The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50 percent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius] at the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control,” Thunberg told world leaders at the summit. “Fifty percent may be acceptable to you, but those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution, or the aspects of equity and climate justice.

“They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tonnes of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50 percent risk is simply not acceptable to us—we who have to live with the consequences,” she continued. “To have a 67 percent chance of staying below a 1.5-degrees global temperature rise—the best odds given by the IPCC—the world had 420 gigatonnes of CO2 left to emit back on January 1, 2018.

“Today, that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatonnes. How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just business as usual and some technical solutions? With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budgets will be entirely gone within less than eight-and-a-half years.”

Thunberg’s event in Vancouver will be hosted by the teen-climate group Sustainabiliteens Vancouver.

Last year, the north plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery was renamed šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square in honour of the region’s Indigenous heritage.

The name incorporates languages of all three Indigenous peoples in the region—the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish.

Video of Say it with us! šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square

This City of Vancouver video explains how to pronounce the name of  šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square.

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Society says City of Kamloops price tag for new performing arts centre would not exceed $45 million – CFJC Today Kamloops

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Benefactors Ron and Rae Fawcett have already committed $3 million, as well as a building already on site.

“We look to secure these funds through fundraising and a contribution from the city. This is very typical of similar projects of this scope,” said Daley.

The proposed PAC would be City of Kamloops-owned.

Council sent the issue to staff for analysis of the business case. Staff will bring a recommendation back to council for its Nov. 5 meeting, conceivably giving the society enough time to meet a Nov. 12 federal grant application deadline.

“We know this project is right now,” said Daley. “We have momentum.”

Councillor Arjun Singh tried to temper the enthusiasm for quick advancement of the project, saying the city would need to carefully weigh how to frame another referendum question asking the public for permission to borrow up to $45 million.

In 2015, Kamloops residents voted 54 per cent against borrowing up to $49 million to help build a PAC with a $90 million price tag.

Daley told Singh he believes the society can sway opponents of the 2015 proposal who were worried about the timing of the expenditure.

“It wasn’t ‘No;’ their big thing was, ‘Not now.’ We’re saying, ‘We think the time right now is the time.’ We believe that there is a basis of support out there.”

Councillor Bill Sarai told Daley a new PAC fits in well with the city’s Tournament Capital identity.

“We’re starting to realize we are the Tournament Capital of Canada, but performing arts is part of recreation,” said Sarai. “There was talk years ago that Sandman Centre would stay empty, you couldn’t fill the seats. Now it’s almost too small on Blazer days. TCC was never going to be used. Now it’s overused.”

“I think back to my family members who were involved in sporting activities — they have the greatest sporting facilities in Western Canada,” said Daley. “I think to my family members who are involved in arts activities — we can give them the greatest venue in Western Canada.”

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Arts upstart Meow Wolf says jobs up after public investment – CityNews Vancouver

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SANTA FE, N.M. — Offbeat arts adventure and entertainment company Meow Wolf says it has surpassed hiring goals outlined in a $1.1 million economic development grant from New Mexico and the city of Santa Fe, amid plans for an aggressive business expansion into Denver, Las Vegas and other major U.S. cities.

Meow Wolf co-founder and board member Vince Kadlubek said the addition of 290 employees since 2018 puts the company ahead of employment requirements under the 2017 grant award for building renovations.

The agreement called for Meow Wolf to create 250 jobs at an average salary of $46,000 a year by the end of 2021, with the opportunity for a $100,000 bonus if 300 jobs are created.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department that monitors the grant agreement could not immediately verify employment figures and average salaries on Tuesday. Agency spokesman Bruce Krasnow said it appears that “Meow Wolf has exceeded its job creation goals for state economic assistance.”

More than 1.5 million visitors have visited Meow Wolf’s kaleidoscopic walk- and crawl-through exhibit space in Santa Fe since it opened in a converted bowling alley in early 2016.

The company’s labour practices have come under scrutiny after two former employees filed a lawsuit this year complaining of unpaid wages for overtime and discrimination based on gender. Meow Wolf denies the charges. Court records show the company is seeking to move proceedings to arbitration.

In May, Meow Wolf announced a company-wide $17 hourly minimum wage — or roughly $35,360 a year for fulltime work. Santa Fe’s current minimum wage is $11.80 an hour. Meow Wolf’s executive compensation rates are not public.

Kadlubek, who helped broker the infrastructure award from New Mexico’s closing fund, announced last week in a blog post that he will step down as the company’s CEO to focus on improving his own business skills and taking better care of his personal health.

Going forward, the CEO post is being shared by three Meow Wolf executives, including a former creative director for Disney and a former vice-president at Lucasfilm who worked on business spinoffs from the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” film franchises.

The 2017 award from New Mexico’s closing fund for emerging businesses was used by Meow Wolf to purchase and renovate an art and video production facility on the south side of Santa Fe, in a warehouse previously owned by construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar. The state committed $850,000, and the city of Santa Fe pledged $250,000.

“At this point, we are packed to the brim at that facility, having literally run out of parking spots and space to operate,” Kadlubek said in an email. “So we are, in addition, renting out another 15 locations around the city to accommodate our workforce. It’s amazing.”

New Mexico also previously awarded Meow Wolf $450,000 through a jobs training incentives program to create 33 jobs.

The taxpayer funding is dwarfed by the company’s $158 million securities offering in May — borrowed money from private investors that Meow Wolf is using to expand. Permanent exhibitions are planned for Las Vegas, Denver and Washington, D.C. — along with a hotel-related project in Phoenix.

Morgan Lee, The Associated Press

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