Mary Webb Centre for the Arts evolves into pride of Highgate - Chatham Daily News - Canadanewsmedia
Connect with us


Mary Webb Centre for the Arts evolves into pride of Highgate – Chatham Daily News




HIGHGATE – A building that once faced demolition has become the pride and joy of this East Kent community, hosting such musical stars as Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies fame and crooner Murray McLauchlan.

It was 10 years ago that the former Highgate United Church became the Mary Webb Centre for the Arts, named in honour of a founder of the church.

This milestone was celebrated Saturday with a special event at what has become the cultural and entertainment hub of the community.

“It’s really unbelievable that we’ve accomplished, what we have with all these volunteers,” said Marg Eberle, a past-president of the Mary Webb Centre board who serves as the archivist for the facility.

She recalled the kernel of an idea for the centre began in 2009, when Louise Scott, who had been attending the church for 50 years at that time, was upset it was going to close.

Eberle said the Citizens of Orford and Highgate group called a public meeting, attracting 50 people who were all of the opinion the church – built in 1917-18 – should not be torn down.

It was decided the church, which has excellent acoustics and a round architectural design, would be an ideal venue for live performances.

Highgate-area resident Peter Garapick, who had been organizing small concerts in his home for about four or five years, was an obvious person to bring on board.

“I used my few contacts I had in the musical industry” to recruit some acts to perform,” said Garapick, who has since served as the centre’s musical director.

To test this idea, the congregation agreed to allow the citizens’ group to host a concert here “to see if it would work,” Eberle said.

which features an intimate 250-seat performance venue upstairs and an art gallery downstairs.

The Stratford-based Celtic band Rant Maggie Rant performed to an appreciative crowd of about 200 people.

“That’s when we realized we’ve got something,” Eberle said.

Garapick said performers love the setting – and not just for the great acoustics.

“We pay well,” he said. “I’m probably a really bad negotiator.”

Featuring an intimate 250-seat upstairs performance venue and a downstairs gallery, the centre’s atmosphere is something performers enjoy, Garapick said.

Since there is no backstage, the performers are just a few feet from the audience.

He noted Steven Page came back to perform a second time because he enjoyed the experience so much.

Volunteers remain the driving force behind the success of the Mary Webb Centre.

While the facility has a capacity of 300 people, they only sell 250 seats for performances to ensure spots for the volunteers, who do everything from maintaining and cleaning the facility to baking the “goodies” that are sold during intermission.

“It’s 100 per cent volunteer. There’s nobody that gets paid,” she said.

Current Mary Webb Centre board chair Sandra Kearney is in her fifth year as a volunteer.

A resident of the nearby hamlet of Turin, Kearney likes the fact she can be involved with a cultural project so close to home.

“I am a music lover … and I’ve always been involved in community events of some sort, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to give back to the community, to enjoy the music, to be part of something I felt was really important,” she said.

Kearney said there are people who don’t want to officially be on the board but want to be a part of the centre to help in their own way in the background.

She added they are also key members of the centre’s operation.

“It isn’t always money we want – it’s time,” she said.

Kearney believes the Mary Webb Centre has become something area residents are really proud of.

She hears comments from many people visiting the centre for the first time: “Wow. … We’ll be back and we’ll bring our friends.”

Eberle said the centre has also helped those involved make new friends, including some who have become neighbours.

“I’ve had (people) come in here and tell me, ‘The reason I moved to Highgate was because of the Mary Webb Centre,’” she said.

While the varied musical acts are a big draw, there is also a thriving community of artisans who regularly use the centre, which features regular art classes and the on-site art gallery.

Eberle said there are 58 local artists connected to the facility.

Kearney said there are also fashion shows and book sales that regularly take place at the centre, along with Sunday afternoon jam sessions.

The Mary Webb Centre has achieved much success, but it hasn’t been without challenges, particularly financial.

Thanks to a variety of grants from such sources as the Trillium Foundation, Howard Mutual and the federal government, along with good, old-fashioned fundraising, the centre boasts a $1-million addition that was needed to provide proper washroom facilities and a lift to provide accessibility to meet building code requirements.

Another $500,000 has gone into other upgrades, such as a new electrical service, new furnace and new sound system.

“We’ve raised a pile of money in the last 10 years,” said Eberle, adding the centre only owes about $80,000.

When it comes to the future, Garapick doesn’t see any reason why the centre won’t continue to thrive.

“The facility works, it’s functional and when the debt is paid off … it’s not that much to keep this going,” he said.

Kearney said community support remains strong, noting local businesses sponsor performances and the events are well attended.

She believes the reputation of the centre will continue to attract people.

“Our slogan is: ‘If it’s at the Mary Webb, it’s going to be good.’”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Concordia Fibres Students Explore the Creative Potential of Textile Arts | Fringe Arts – The Link




“Try to Think What Materials You Are Interacting With Everyday”

  • There is a whole tradition of crafts like knitting, sewing, felting, crocheting, basket weaving and many more, that haven’t necessarily been acknowledged by contemporary art practice as a form of art.
    Photo Maya Lach-Aidelbaum

  • Maria Escalona has been practicing fibres art even before she knew what it was. At the mixer, she brought a wide array of her handmade crafts that use this same technique: earrings, wallets, and headbands.
    Photo Maya Lach-Aidelbaum

As artist Teddy Desmarais said, fibres are “limitless.”

The Concordia film animation and fibres and material practices student displayed some of their fibre artworks at the Fibres Student Mixer on Oct. 30.

Most people don’t think of fibres when they think of art—there is a whole tradition of crafts like knitting, sewing, felting, crocheting, basket weaving and many more, that haven’t necessarily been acknowledged by contemporary art practice as a form of art.

The exact definition of fibres remains vague. Fibres can be anything from wool to repurposed clothing to recycled paper.

Ultimately, a loose definition of fibres is for the better because the goal is to explore and discover the untapped potential of fibres in the artistic world.

Desmarais brought hand-painted shirts, and prints featuring a zombiesque fencer they hand-sewed standing in a graveyard.

Studio arts student Hannah Blair showcased her handmade teacups made of terracotta with majolica glaze and cobalt stain. Photo Maya Lach-Aidelbaum

Most noticeably, Desmarais was wearing a fluffy blue rabbit hat—part of their Halloween costume. It took them four hours to hand sew the hat and three days to complete the bodysuit.

This illustrates one of fibres defining characteristics: It’s incredibly time-consuming and meticulous.

“Fibres takes a lot of time and patience,” said Desmarais. “It takes a lot of time to knit something, for example. You can’t really guestimate how long it’s going to take you.”

But Desmarais has always loved fibre-work not despite but because of this. To them, handmade textile work brings out human warmth.

“It’s a very tender feeling when you know what you’re making, and how to make it, or how something is made,” said Desmarais.

Their favourite thing to do is to sew costumes for puppets.

“I like a lot of different things, but puppetry is an assimilation of so many different things,” said Desmarais. “There’s costume, humour, performance, set design. It kind of has everything and you really influence the environment and space that you’re in.”

“It’s a very tender feeling when you know what you’re making and how to make it or how something is made.” — Teddy Desmarais

Maria Escalona, who majors in fibres and material practices at Concordia also showcased her work at the Fibres Student Mixer. She was herself unaware that fibres were part of the artistic world before beginning her studies.

When she went to Concordia’s open house, she “realized [she had] been doing fibres artwork without knowing it.”

Before she had even started studying fibres, Escalona was making hand-woven headbands made out of reused textiles—a technique she learned from YouTube tutorials.

“I discovered the techniques to make these headbands a few years ago and when I saw it was related to the fibres program, I thought, ‘Perfect, I want to do this.’”

Escalona brought a wide array of her handmade crafts that use this same technique: earrings, wallets, and of course, the headbands. They are made out of newspaper, magazine pages (some of them from The Link), food packaging, and scraps of fabric.

Teddy Desmarais brought hand-painted shirts, and prints featuring a zombiesque fencer they hand-sewed standing in a graveyard.
Photo Maya Lach-Aidelbaum

She thinks most people don’t think of fibres when they think of art because they see textiles and fabrics as having a very commercial use.

“We are trying to change that and give [fibres] a more meaningful use,” said Escalona. “We think about where the textiles come from, who is involved in the process, what’s the history of the materials we use every day. We are thinking of the fabric, paper and materials we use daily with an artistic twist.”

One way Escalona is trying to rethink the way we use fibre materials is by using weaving to make sculptures.

“I’ve been trying to do more sculptural things with weaving so I incorporate them in metal structures to give them a more building architectural look,” said Escalona. “I incorporate weaving, which is a very lazy material, with sculpture, which is very sturdy.”

For Escalona, the hardest part about fibre artwork is “to get away from those very commercial materials, materials that are not fair trade nor eco-friendly.”

It’s a challenge because these materials are everywhere and they’re cheaper. Nevertheless, she tries her best to think of ways to be more fair to the planet and to the people who produce the materials.

Ultimately, Escalona thinks fibre artwork is about rethinking the way we see textile materials.

“Try to think what materials you are interacting with everyday,” said Escalona.

“Each one of them has a history. Cotton has a history. Polyester has another history. And they are all interesting. We can maybe think of other ways to use them, not only in fashion and not throwing them away when they’re no longer used for their original purpose.”

By commenting on this page you agree to the terms of our Comments Policy.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Opinion | Orillia's arts district prepares for holidays –




There are lots of activities this month in Orillia’s arts district.

The Holiday Art Hop is held in conjunction with the Christmas Market at St. James Anglican Church.

Galleries along Peter Street South will be open on Nov. 22 (11-7 p.m.), Nov. 23 (11-4 p.m.) and Nov. 24 (11-4 p.m.) all along Peter Street South.

Joining this pre-Christmas activity, Peter Street Fine Arts, 23 Peter St. S. holds its annual 6×6 show. Artists may pick up Masonite tiles to paint or decorate from PSFA (cost is two for $15) and return their creations by Dec. 1.

Related Content

Guest artists for November are the Bayshore Artists from Barrie.

There are changes on Peter Street. Patti Agapi (Mad with Rapture Studio) joins Sylvia Tesori at Three Crows Speak (9 Peter St. S.) and Tammy Henry joins Hibernation Arts (7 Peter St. S.). Studio 204 upstairs at 5 Peter St. S will close.

Catch Patti’s opening reception during the Art Hop on Nov. 23 from 1-3 p.m. She is also holding two Make & Take events in November: Mini Blocks — Nov. 13 (6-7:30 p.m., fee is $20) and Fibre Art Nest Bowl, Nov. 10 (1-3 p.m., fee is $25). Materials included. Contact:

Zephyr Art has a busy month. There is a new show at the CDC Boardroom (22 Peter St. S.), A new show at Manticore Books, a new show at Stuffed (11 Peter St. S.), the annual Walls of Smalls exhibit at Tiffin’s (22B Peter St. S. in the laneway), and a new show at The Chamber of Commerce (Highway 12 and West). The Peter Street shows will be available during the Art Hop, as well as regular gallery hours.

Hibernation Arts’ Art for Earth show about sustainability runs through November; Nov. 12 (7-8:30 p.m.) presents Mehreen Shahid with Instagram for Artists ($50); and Nov. 14 (7-9 p.m.); a gallery concert with Michael Martyn ($20).

Shadowbox has new works by Nancy Jones, Will McGarvey, and Kate Grigg.

Patricia Beecham is a local watercolour artist who is involved in several art associations.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Trump Is MAGA-fying the National Medal of Arts – The Atlantic




A president can abuse power by pressuring a foreign government to help his campaign. A president also can exploit power by making the cultural world a political prop. This is a story about the latter.

Until Donald Trump entered office, not much drama surrounded the prestigious National Medal of Arts. President Ronald Reagan signed legislation creating the award in 1984, and every president since has given it out, honoring the work of painters, writers, actors, architects, dancers, and musicians.

Under Trump, the awards stopped: He passed up chances to hand out the medals in 2017 and 2018—the longest drought in the past 35 years. But now, I’m told, he’s poised to announce his first slate of winners later this month. It not only includes names that seem, in part, to be tailored to the president’s personal preferences—namely, the actor and MAGA enthusiast Jon Voight and all five U.S. military bands. But in choosing the winners, Trump appears to have ignored input from the committee that typically recommends artistic luminaries as candidates for the award.

Until this point, Trump has shown little enthusiasm for the arts world. For three years running, he’s proposed budgets attempting to zero out federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. The administration has argued that the NEA’s activities—including promoting the arts through financial grants—are not “core Federal responsibilities.” The NEA works with a body called the National Council on the Arts to offer recommendations for the national award. (The council’s rank and file are holdovers from the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations; Trump has nominated four people for seats, but the Senate has yet to confirm them.) Look at the NEA’s webpage devoted to the medal, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Obama never left office.

When members of the National Council on the Arts met late last month, however, they got a surprise: They learned that Trump had made his picks, and the winners would be formally announced in a matter of weeks. In choosing the recipients, though, Trump had bypassed recommendations the council had previously put forward, several council members told me. The members said that was a break from past practice and that presidents normally give the council’s recommendations more credence. When they looked at the names, some members objected to what they saw as partisan political considerations or a lack of diversity.

The council members, who spoke with me on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that in addition to Voight and the bands, Trump chose the bluegrass singer Alison Krauss and Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the president and chief executive officer of WETA, a public broadcasting station in the Washington, D.C., area. A president is allowed by law to give out 12 medals each year; Trump apparently stopped at these few. Efforts to reach Voight, Krauss, and Rockefeller were unsuccessful. The White House declined to comment.

An NEA representative told me in an email that Trump had indeed made his picks, but the names are “embargoed.” Asked whether Trump followed the council’s recommendations, the representative cited the federal law that established the National Medal of Arts, which states that the president shall award it “on the basis of recommendations” from the council to those he deems worthy based on their “outstanding contributions” to the arts. In the email, the representative said that “the process set forth [in the statute] was followed,” and that the winners all met the selection criteria under the law.

Yet “there was alarm, and some surprise” at the meeting last month, one council member told me. “This was the first time that we had heard that there was going to be a medal award, and the decisions did not match our recommendations. That in itself was a new experience. We all immediately recognized that not only were recommendations not followed, but the kind of diversity we had striven for in the past in the various [artistic] disciplines had not been followed.”

The intent behind the president’s selections is unclear. But Voight, at least, is an effusive Trump loyalist who endorsed the president in 2016. In May, he tweeted a video message in which he said: “Let us stand with our president. Let us stand up for this truth: that President Trump is the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.” Trump noticed the adulation. “Thank you so much, @JonVoight!” he tweeted in July.

Honoring the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard bands would seem an innocuous gesture. But it fits a pattern of Trump trying to wrap himself in patriotic symbols and pageantry. At a conservative conference earlier this year, he literally hugged the American flag. On July 4, he staged an unusual spectacle on the National Mall, where he delivered a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial and showcased military tanks and planes.

The problem with Trump’s picks isn’t that the recipients aren’t deserving, some of the council members said. Voight is an accomplished actor who won an Academy Award for his performance in the 1978 film Coming Home and now stars in the Showtime drama series Ray Donovan. Military bands perform concerts at home and abroad and act as goodwill ambassadors of sorts. Krauss, a Grammy Award winner many times over, “is one of my favorites,” the council member told me. “She has a great voice and she’s hardworking, with a significant body of work.” Rockefeller has had a decades-long career in media and was recently named one of the most powerful women in Washington. She is also the chair of the board of trustees of the National Gallery of Art in D.C. and serves on the board of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

What troubles some council members—apart from Trump’s unilateral decision making—is that the president has failed to honor people from a broad array of artistic backgrounds. “The traditional disciplines, such as dance, theater, or literature, weren’t represented in whatever capacity,” a second council member told me. “And it clearly seems to be a political agenda by the president.” A third faulted Trump for failing to identify a person of color deserving of an individual award. The message is that “there’s no person of color in the artistic ecosphere worthy of recognition by our nation,” this council member said. “We would rather not make an award than award someone of color. That’s deeply troubling and disturbing, especially given the current climate, when there are groups of people in this country who feel under duress.”

Past presidents, in many cases, handed out the maximum number of awards or close to it, honoring people in multiple fields. Bush gave medals to the jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, the science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury, and the theatrical set designer Ming Cho Lee, among dozens of others. Obama’s medal recipients included Tony Kushner, whose play about the AIDS epidemic, Angels in America, won a Pulitzer Prize; Bob Dylan, the singer-songwriter; and Rita Moreno, the first Latina actor to win an Academy Award.

One of the winners selected by Obama was the acclaimed novelist and short-story writer Tobias Wolff. When I first emailed Wolff to talk with him about Trump’s picks, he replied, “What true artist would accept [the medal] from these hands?” When we spoke by phone later, he questioned whether Trump truly values the fields he’s purportedly trying to celebrate. “It’s kind of ridiculous for this particular president to be handing out awards for the arts,” Wolff said, “especially when he himself is so sublimely uninterested in them.”

Trump could smooth things over, if he were inclined to try. He could dust off the recommendations from the council and give out another medal or two or three. It would seem an easy, cost-free gesture if a celebration of the arts was foremost on his mind, a way to honor people toiling in creative fields that get little national recognition. But that doesn’t seem to be what’s driving him.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to

Peter Nicholas is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers the White House.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading

Science3 mins ago

Planet dances with sun | Local News – The Chronicle Journal

Science44 mins ago

Mercury passes across sun’s face in rare 5-hour transit – Global News

Science51 mins ago

Video: SpaceX successfully launched 60 Starlink satellites into orbit as part of Elon Musk's high-speed internet plan – Business Insider

Science2 hours ago

The Nile Could Be a Window Into the Underworld – Gizmodo

Science3 hours ago

Mercury transit 2019 – how to watch as planet passes in front of Sun in rare space event tonight – The Sun

Science4 hours ago

Mercury Transit 2019: Here's how and where to watch Mercury travel across face of the Sun – Firstpost

Investment5 hours ago

Ace Forex Signals

Science5 hours ago

Mercury transit 2019 LIVE stream as planet passes in front of Sun in rare space event – The Sun

Science7 hours ago

Mercury in Transit 2019: Watch rare phenomenon of Mercury’s transit LIVE –

Arts7 hours ago

Concordia Fibres Students Explore the Creative Potential of Textile Arts | Fringe Arts – The Link

Science8 hours ago

Mini Mercury skips across sun's vast glare in rare transit – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

Arts8 hours ago

Opinion | Orillia's arts district prepares for holidays –

Investment11 hours ago

Guaranteed to Raise Your ISEE Test & SSAT Test Score | Test Prep – Online Tutor

Arts11 hours ago

Trump Is MAGA-fying the National Medal of Arts – The Atlantic

Science14 hours ago

Mini Mercury skips across sun's vast glare in rare transit – CTV News