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Art Beat: Art show in the garden – Coast Reporter



The EDGES painters’ group is holding a one-day art sale in member Judy McLarty’s spacious Roberts Creek garden on Sunday, Aug. 2 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting. “Diverse styles. Original art by six local artists of the Edges group. Frank Coldicott, Judy McLarty, Diane Miles, Elaine Seepish, Alison Taylor, Odette Venuti.” Lots of room for safe distancing, McLarty assures us. 3227 Crystal Rd. 

Commotion on the Ocean 

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The music of Neil Diamond will be echoing around the south side of Gambier Island on Saturday, Aug. 1, as local singer Bobby Bruce takes his Nearly Neil tribute, by boat, to three different harbours in a fundraiser for the island’s community centre. Bruce will sing from the vessel in each location for Commotion on the Ocean, a safe-distance set of performances that will also be broadcast live on Facebook.

“The events are not open to the public in-person,” organizers say. “The point of this ‘Stay In Your Bay’ event is to create a COVID-safe event for Gambier Islanders.”

The one-night tour starts in West Bay at 5:30 p.m., followed by stops in Gambier Harbour and New Brighton. Local docks will be limited to 50 ticket-holders, but waterfront residents are encouraged to “rock the dock at a distance” and “party in your yard-y.”

Ticket information at the events link at

Also in live music this weekend, catch the violin duo of Bridget Graham and Mari Nielsen – alumni of the Bad to the Bow Youth Fiddle Group – at Gibsons Public Market on Saturday Aug. 1 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. (The Market has a number of open music dates through to the fall and invites performance inquiries. Contact 

The Grateful Dead tribute band GD/BC makes a special appearance Saturday, Aug. 1, for an outdoor gig at the Roberts Creek Legion. It’s a safe-distancing event, so only 50 tickets are being sold, and most of those were gone by press time. Try your luck at 

Slow Sundays at the Roberts Creek gazebo on Aug. 2 features the folk, blues, and country fusion of The Wildflowers at 1 p.m., followed by the trio Martini Madness at 2 p.m. 

Apasianado, featuring Lori Carmichael and Randy Rayment, plays the Pender Harbour Golf Course’s Clubhouse Restaurant deck on Sunday afternoon, 2 to 5 p.m., weather permitting. $5. 

Space is limited in Art Beat but please let us know about your events at

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Nova Scotia art therapist creates art to auction for Beirut explosion relief, calls on artists to join –



Gabriella Rizkallah watched in shock as the video of the explosion in Beirut played on her cell phone screen.

“I was like, oh my God, I have family there! What’s happening?”

On Tuesday, a warehouse exploded on Beirut’s port destroying the port and wrecking parts of the city. Over a hundred people have died and thousands injured. About 300,000 people have lost their homes and dozens are missing. Some people have spent the last few days in windowless and doorless homes with nothing to shield them from theft or the potentially toxic air. The blast has also left the country on the verge of a food crisis with the loss of its major grain silo.

Gemmayze, where trendy galleries, bars and restaurants meet traditional architecture and historical buildings, is now filled with glass and debris. Downtown Beirut, which was rebuilt in a multi-million reconstruction project after the civil war, is almost unrecognizable with its fast-fashion and high-end shops damaged. Houses in Karantina, Ashrafieh, Burj Hammoud and Mar Mikhael, the lively neighbourhoods closest to the port, were destroyed.

Rizkallah said the whole country has been affected because of how small Lebanon is.

“If people weren’t affected personally by the blast, they’re going to be affected by knowing someone who was there.”

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation. Reports from the two days following the explosion show Lebanese people looking after each other – cleaning, repairing, offering used clothes, and giving out food with little or no presence of the government. But their efforts are no where close enough to remedy the tragedy. Beirut’s mayor Jamal Itani told MTV news in Lebanon Thursday that Beirut has no emergency system in place to deal with the disaster.

‘You’re kind of a little numb’

Rizkallah’s family is mostly safe. Her cousin, Sobhi Fares, is an ER doctor at the St. George hospital, a fifteen-minute drive away from the port. The hospital was damaged and without electricity.

“A lot of his colleagues and friends are injured and it’s in shambles right now,” said Rizkallah.

Fares shared in a Facebook post how he worked with his colleagues to help victims of the explosion. They worked through the night in the hospital’s parking lot and ER driveway.

“I found myself between a mother holding her newborn begging me to save her husband and a father crying over his daughter with a critical head injury,” he wrote.

(Nightmares usually last for few seconds, but this one lasted eight straight hours) I used this tool to intubate many…

Posted by Sobhi Fares on Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Rizkallah has never been to Lebanon. For as long as she remembers, the country has been struggling with a disaster after the other.

“Just the fact that something tragic has happened there … You’re kind of a little numb.”

Before the blast, the country had been facing the worst economic crisis in decades. Lebanon’s debt levels have been one of the highest in the world for years. The country continues to struggle with providing people with basic needs, such as electricity and public transportation. The COVID-19 pandemic put great pressure on the country’s frail economy and medical system, exacerbating its downturn.

The challenges in Rizkallah’s life as a Lebanese Canadian are different, so she feels it’s difficult to speak about the situation in Lebanon.

But she said it’s still important to raise awareness.

“I feel like we have a duty, especially as a generation who grew up in Canada, to speak on the experiences our family members have had.”

When people in Halifax know that the crisis affected their neighbours, friends, and colleagues, they would be able to better understand the magnitude of the damage.

Art in the face of calamity

For the Lebanese diaspora in Canada, Rizkallah, who is an art therapist, said they need to know that everyone deals with such tragic events differently. Her biggest advice was for people not to bottle things up.

“Talk about what you’re feeling and maybe articulate it in some form of art,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be painting or drawing, it can be music or writing … because keeping it in is harder.”

Rizkallah has heard stories about Lebanon from her father who fled the country in the 1970s after the start of the Lebanese civil war. She saw photos of her brother’s and cousin’s visits to the beautiful country in recent years.

The stories and photos are inspiring her to raise funds for Beirut.

“I know everything is so ugly right now, but there’s beauty still in that country and with the people in that country,” she said.

She went to buy a canvas Thursday and is working on creating an art piece for an auction where 100 per cent of proceeds will be donated to Lebanon. She hasn’t determined the specific organization, yet.

Rizkallah said she’s bringing Beirut’s beauty alive by recreating a scene in vibrant colours from the many iconic places in the city.

She is calling on artists in Nova Scotia to donate art pieces for the auction. The pieces can be remakes or originals.

Rizkallah didn’t want to specify a theme for the auction.

“However you want to contribute, thank you,” she said. “I don’t want to limit people, plus everybody interprets things differently.”

Artists who would like to participate can contact Rizkallah on her Instagram @nsarttherapy or email She will also post progress shots of her painting on her Instagram stories. 

Nebal Snan is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government. 


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How the arts might help us grapple with climate change –



When Omar El Akkad wrote his 2017 dystopian novel American War, about a second U.S. civil war after land loss due to climate change, he considered it a “deliberately grotesque” view of a possible future on a degraded planet.

But just three years later, the Egyptian-Canadian author says his climate fiction — or “cli-fi,” as the genre is sometimes called — doesn’t seem so fictional anymore.

“The world that I’m describing is not as far away from the real world as it was when I started writing this book,” he said in an interview with Laura Lynch, host of CBC Radio’s What on Earth.

While it’s hard to know what effect any one work has on the audience, creators — from authors to filmmakers to visual artists — are making a case for their role in tackling climate change: to engage people’s emotions and imagination in ways that straight data just won’t.

“Film … has the capacity to move people in a number of ways simultaneously … intellectually,  emotionally, viscerally, all at the same time,” said filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal in an interview with Lynch.

“Using that medium to open up that consciousness, to move people in that way is our goal. Whether it works or not is another matter.”

  • Listen to What on Earth on CBC Radio 1 every Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. in Newfoundland

Art has ‘a fundamental role’

There’s a lot we don’t know about what kind of communication truly engages people to take action on climate change, and it’s unlikely to be one-size-fits-all.

But one approach that researchers have repeatedly shown doesn’t work is the so-called deficit model or the idea that people will change their behaviour related to some problem — say, the effects of smoking — if only they had more information about it.

A still from the multi-sensory installation Breathe, created by Diego Galafassi, who says art can engage imaginations and help people confront the complex challenges of climate change. (Phi Centre)

Values, beliefs and emotional context are all key, said Diego Galafassi, a Stockholm-based visual artist and sustainability scientist who has studied the use of art in moving people to adopt more environmentally sustainable practices.  

“A lot of our actions and behaviours derive from this imaginary dimension of our existence,” he said. “This is where the arts play a really fundamental role.”

Last year, Galafassi did a residency in Montreal where he worked on a “mixed-reality experience” called Breathe. Combining performance and augmented reality, this immersive project set out to convey how human breath is connected to the broader living world, as a way of showing how dependent we are on the environment. 

The challenges associated with climate change “are of such a magnitude that we cannot approach them only as technical problems, as something we could fix only by changing some policies,” said Galafassi. 

He said art can be a powerful way to convey the complexity of the problem and “close the gap between what we know and what we actually do about climate change.”

‘It’s very hard’

There is not much data about the ability of art to change people’s behaviour, but those who have looked into it say that art — no matter how profound — has its limits when it comes to persuasion on this topic.

While art can be a catalyst for change, it’s not guaranteed, said Laura Sommer, a Norway-based researcher who has studied how art can change attitudes about climate change. 

“It’s very hard … generally for artists to create something that connects with people and is really changing something. It’s not that every artwork can do it.”

In 2015, Sommer was part of a research team that tried to pinpoint what kind of art would spur people to change their behaviour.

They studied reactions to 37 artworks in a climate art festival that ran alongside COP21, the international climate conference that eventually led to the Paris Accord, in which countries agreed on steps that would limit global warming this century to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

The team then had nearly 900 spectators respond to a questionnaire on their perception of the works, which was summarized in a study co-authored by Sommer and published in 2019. 

Reactions to what Sommer called “activist art” clustered into different themes: “the comforting utopia,” “the challenging dystopia,” “the mediocre mythology” and “awesome solutions.”  

Breaking the Surface by Michael Pinsky was one of the art installations on display at the COP21 conference in Paris in 2015. Objects that had been discarded into the water were raised to the surface, with an eerie soundtrack created by playing the metal refuse as instruments. (Michael Pinsky)

What the researchers found was that only three of the 37 works — the ones grouped under “awesome solutions” — were rated as effective in motivating behaviour change.

This included an installation that looked like a wall full of flowers, “but when you got closer, you could see it was plastic lids that were upcycled and turned into something beautiful,” said Sommer. 

Another was an installation on the Seine River depicting a blue whale, where people could walk into its belly and read about biodiversity loss. 

“It was, on the one hand, showing something exciting and amazing about nature but also showing the human effect on nature [and] showing what could be done,” said Sommer.

The solution problem 

But that leads to a fundamental question: Is art’s role to provide answers? 

One of the most prominent works about climate change in recent years is Anthropocene, a collaboration between photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. 

The film and photo exhibition vividly captures how we have exploited sites around the world — from the Great Barrier Reef off Australia to potash mines in Russia — to fuel our consumer-oriented lifestyles.

The work is epic and visually stunning, but Baichwal said “there was criticism that [Anthropocene] wasn’t strident enough about what people should do.”

WATCH | Anthropocene explores humans’ impact on the planet:

Three artists have made it their mission to put humanity’s impact on the environment on display. CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault spoke to the artists to discuss Anthropocene, the documentary and multimedia exhibit. 9:04

Baichwal acknowledged that with any environmental art, “there’s a danger … that people won’t take away what you want them to take away.” 

In the case of Anthropocene, “all we want is an opening up of consciousness about the fact that these places of extraction and waste that exist all over the world are directly related to our everyday lives.”

Galafassi said that art is not really meant to provide all the answers, which is why it cannot be a panacea for the problem of communicating the severity of climate change.

Art is “a space where we can ask these very difficult questions and explore things in a more open-ended way and not be committed to solutions,” he said. 

“The artistic process has its own way to get to questions and perhaps new questions, deeper questions. It’s really a way to grapple with the complexity of these issues that we have.”

El Akkad says climate change and related issues are so encompassing, art dealing with them will cease to be a genre.

“If you are in a creative endeavour, if you are in the business of trying to describe the messiness of human life, you are not going to be able to ignore that aspect of it,” he said. 

“This is going to impact everything.”

With files from Lisa Johnson

Listen to What on Earth on CBC Radio 1 every Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. in Newfoundland.

You can also subscribe to What on Earth on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also listen anytime on CBC Listen.

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Arts Society King encourages artists to submit work to original art challenge –



The people behind Arts Society King wanted to get people engaged with art despite a worldwide pandemic.

That’s where the original art challenge came to fruition.

“When the coronavirus came along and everything started getting shut down, I sort of said to the board of directors, ‘We should do some sort of art challenge,’” said Michele McNally, vice president of Arts Society King.

McNally was inspired by the rainbows children had made and put in their windows as a way to lift spirits during the pandemic.

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“I thought, ‘The kids are doing all this artwork, why doesn’t Arts Society King put out there that we’re going to have an original art challenge?’ And it doesn’t just have to be paintings. It can be poetry, it can be TikTok videos, writing short stories, whatever you like,” she said.

The response from the artist community in King has been amazing, McNally said.

A special Facebook page was made for the challenge where the art is posted.

The challenge has garnered about 40 submissions through Facebook or Instagram by tagging Arts_Society_King.

McNally said she was hoping more youth and children would participate in the challenge, but that hasn’t been the case.

There isn’t a prize to be won because McNally didn’t want to make it a contest with an end date.

“I decided not to make it like a contest with a prize at the end with a deadline and hopefully it would just perpetuate itself,” McNally said. 

Established artist Bill Lunshof decided to participate in the challenge as a way to express his passion for painting.

“I just thought it would be fun to post and see what happens,” Lunshof said.

Lunshof is a longtime member of Arts Society King who has been painting on and off for about 10 years and has been doing it full time for the last four years.

Lunshof uses oil paints as his medium. He paints in a style he calls “looser.”

“I’m trying to paint in more of a plein air style where somebody paints outside and paints quickly. I’m trying to loosen up my style a little bit and get away from all the detail,” he said.

Lunshof paints every day and his style has progressed naturally.

“I think (painting) is just my passion. It’s how I express myself,” he said.

Arts Society King is a volunteer-run not-for-profit that promotes, celebrates and advocates for art in King Township.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Reporter Laura Broadley noticed social media posts from artists in King and wanted to find out what it was all about.

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