Arts upstart Meow Wolf says jobs up after public investment - CityNews Vancouver - Canadanewsmedia
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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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Local man tries to keep 'Canada's original art' afloat (6 photos) – OrilliaMatters.Com

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John Harrison wants to bring back what he views as a nearly forgotten art.

For the past eight years, the Orillia native has spent eight months a year living in the bush near Algonquin Provincial Park as he hones his skills at making traditional birch-bark canoes.

“The whole project has been about releasing a craft that’s been out of favour,” he said, noting that craft involves building canoes on the ground with three simple hand tools, sustainable harvesting and following a traditional process.

“I show my canoes and people are in amazement, but they often don’t see the art and this is the original (Canadian) art,” the 53-year-old said.

“It’s a really good project for arts, culture and history because it all ties in with that…Canadiana.”

Harrison, who has a fine arts’ university degree and is also an accomplished musician, is just finishing building 17- and 18-foot racing canoes and would now like to build a racing canoe side-wing as his next project.

“That original Canadian idea still hangs out in every canoe that you see today,” he said, noting he sold a 12-foot trapper canoe that’s now on display at Rama’s Bare Butts Smoke shop.

Harrison, who lives in a large tipi on the shores of Kimball Lake when not in the city, takes about three weeks to build a canoe.

“It takes a certain consistency of environment to produce the right tree,” Harrison said, noting he first uses a ladder to climb to an appropriate level before harvesting the bark from mature trees.

“You want 15- to 16-inch diameter (trunks) since with a tree like that you’re getting a quarter-inch of bark. I’m strictly doing a sustainable thing. I’m a surgeon when I’m on that tree and can get three canoes out of one tree. I pay homage to the tree.”

Harrison’s passion project has also led to displays, talks and workshops at Culture Days, Orillia Public Library, Rotary Club of Washago along with Cape Croker and Rama powwows.

As well, he teaches students at Rama’s Mnjikaning Kendaaswin Elementary School how to build a one-foot canoe and also wrote lesson plans for a canoe program.

“The last day, we had a regatta down the Black River. They had so much of a connection to what they built.”

But Harrison comes by his love of building Canada’s traditional watercraft honesty. His father Ron Harrison was a machine-shop teacher at Park Street Collegiate Institute from 1962 to 1995 and started the school’s Outward Bound program in the late 1960s.

“I was always around it; the essence, respect and joy of being in nature,” Harrison said, noting his father also helped students learn to build canoes.

“My father has built 86 canoes in cedar strip or fibreglass. I’ve built six, so I have a long way to go.”

Harrison has also been busy writing a collection of essays for an upcoming book entitled The Last Algonquin, which is a guide on how to build a traditional Canadian canoe that also features insights into life, Indigenous history and one’s place in nature.

“What technology utilizes birch bark’s water repellent nature, sewn in a blanket with spruce roots, structured internally with split cedar ribs, and sealed with spruce gum housing?” one essay excerpt asks before pointing out the canoe was created by combining three existing First Nations’ technologies found in other traditional items like snowshoes and toboggans “for travelling over frozen water.”

Harrison said he loves living in his tipi and being one with nature.

“I get so much peace and quiet for weeks at a time up at my site,” he said.

“I’m taught by nature and you renew your senses of sight, smell and sound. I get a better balance then when I was just living in the city.”

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Nearly 80 incredible artists, one extraordinary Vancouver Island tree – Ladysmith Chronicle

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By Rick Stiebel

Robert Bateman’s art highlights his rare power to capture and release the essence and spirit of the natural world that surrounds us. 

OneTree 2019 is a partnership between the Bateman Foundation and Live Edge Design conceived in the spirit of sustainability and partnership that honours the life of a single, salvaged tree.

The exhibition features creations by more than 70 artists that have worked the wood from a 200-year-old Bigleaf maple from the Chemainus Valley into pieces that include art, jewelry, furniture and musical instruments. Art by Bateman — and for the first time in partnership with his son, John Bateman — is featured in 80 pieces by local artisans from Vancouver Island and California.

The tree at the root of their creations is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the world, with a history that spans two centuries. It rose on the land of the Halalt First Nation, nourished by water from the Chemainus River.

The tree towered by the home of Charles Edward Barkley, a captain in the British Navy. It stood guard in 1909 when Barkley, 80 years old at the time, ran back into his house as it was engulfed in flame to try and rescue the diary of his grandmother, Frances Hornby Trevor, the first woman to circumnavigate the earth. Although sadly, Barkley and the diary were never seen again, the Bigleaf maple endured for another century, until it began to rot from top to bottom.

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The three pillars of OneTree Project are to celebrate the life of a tree, to showcase the extraordinary talents of artists in B.C. and beyond, and to demonstrate the vast potential of the wood from a single salvaged tree, explained John Lore, president of Live Edge Design in a media release. OneTree 2019 includes the most artists ever involved in a OneTree project and involves the biggest and oldest tree ever used, he noted.

“The tree stood for two tumultuous centuries and had a most extraordinary life from a human perspective,” Lore wrote. “We are anxious to tell its story and let it live on through the many pieces created for this exhibit.”

Peter Ord, executive director of the Bateman Foundation, said “We are thrilled to be hosting the third edition of OneTree at the Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature. It’s a beautiful and inspiring exhibit that speaks to our commitment to creativity, sustainability and the role the arts play in engaging the public with the beauty of nature.”

OneTree 2019 will be at the Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature in Victoria’s Inner Harbour from Nov. 16 to Feb. 29,2020. The official public launch takes place Saturday, Nov. 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with admission by donation.

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Everything in the exhibition is available for purchase, and the Gallery of Nature gift shop will be stocked with pieces by artists participating in OneTree 2019. Commissions from sales support the operation of the gallery and the Bateman Foundation’s educational programs.

The Bateman Foundation is a national charity and one of the only non-profits in Canada primarily using artwork to promote a connection to nature. the Gallery of nature is a core initiative that hosts the largest collections of Bateman’s work. Visit batemanfoundation.org. for more information on Bateman and the foundation.

Live Edge Design creates custom furniture from locally salvaged trees. The drying, design, production and finishing is done in their workshop in Duncan. For a look at their work, check out liveedgedesign.com.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

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Stephanie Comilang wins 2019 Sobey Art Award in Edmonton

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A 39-year-old artist, representing the Ontario region, has been awarded Canada’s most prestigious contemporary art prize.

Stephanie Comilang has taking the Sobey Art Award handed out Friday night at the Art Gallery of Alberta in downtown Edmonton.

Billed as the pre-eminent prize for Canadian artists 40 and under, the honour comes with bragging rights and a $100,000 cash prize.

Comilang’s video works follow Paraiso, a Tagalog-speaking “drone” who documents Filipino diasporic experiences.

The other four shortlisted finalists, Nicolas Grenier, Kablusiak, Anne Low and D’Arcy Wilson each receive $25,000.

All five artists are being showcased in a feature exhibition on until January 5, 2020 at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Take a tour of the 2019 Sobey Art Award and Exhibition on now at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. 1:19

The range of work on display speaks to the diversity of contemporary art being created in Canada right now, according to Lindsey Sharman, curator at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

“We have paintings, there’s a few video projects, there’s carving out of soapstone, textiles, sculptures, so there’s really a wide range of things,” she said.

Art by Anne Low, representing the west coast and Yukon in the Sobey Art Award and Exhibition. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Catherine Crowston, the executive director of the gallery, is “thrilled” to showcase “the biggest art prize in Canadian” in Edmonton.

“It’s an award that celebrates artists from all regions, and it really is an opportunity for us to share with Alberta audiences the great diverse, contemporary art that artists are making,” said Crowston.

The Sobey Art Award has been handed out since 2001 and is managed by the National Gallery of Canada.

You can see more from the Art Gallery of Alberta on Our Edmonton Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at noon and Monday at 11 a.m. on CBC TV or live on the GEM app.

Work by D’arcy Wilson representing the Atlantic region in the Sobey Art Award and Exhibition on at the Art Gallery of Alberta. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

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