EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally said that a third-party arts organization would get an annual operating grant of $800 million. It has been corrected to say it would get an annual operating grant of $800,000. We regret the error.
The City of Calgary is one step closer to handing off public art in the city.
On Wednesday, the city’s community and protective services committee heard an update on the work done to restructure how public art is commissioned in Calgary.
“What that restructuring is contemplating doing is pulling public art from within the bureaucracy and funding it on an ongoing basis,” committee chair and Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said.
On Nov. 19, 2019, city council decided to move the city’s public art program to “an independent arms-length organization that is housed within the infrastructure of an existing public organization with a sympathetic mandate.”
Calgary has a century-long history with public art, with pieces around the city worth $25 million. The new direction would move the administration of that art outside city hall to better serve the city and arts community.
“A third party arts organization within the city that can be more nimble, more embedded in the community and basically funded to become an arts generator.”
Delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the process is expected to start in 2021.
Public art installations like the Bowfort Towers and Travelling Light created controversy when they were unveiled to the public.
Carra said public art is supposed to start conversations by being controversial in nature, and the planned move will allow art to continue without it being a political pawn.
“I think what we’re trying to do here is to remove it from political interference so it can do what it needs to do as well as possible,” he said.
Carra said the new direction for public art isn’t to create a platform exclusively for local artists.
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“Our local artists actually compete and win public art commissions on an international stage,” he said. “And if we were to start imposing that kind of trade war against public art programs around the world, we would be destroying the ability of our local artists to make a living internationally.”
The organization would get an annual operating grant of $800,000, putting it roughly in the middle of operating costs for five cities across North America.
The new program operator would get a capital grant of $5.2 million for public art.
Requests for proposals to run the city’s public art program closes on Nov. 19, with a selection as early as December. The contract term is set for a transition period of three years, with the option to be extended to 10.
The Ward 9 councillor said the initial three-year term for the organization helps ensure success.
“If you’re going to start this and you want it to go well, there has to be some certainty that funding won’t be yanked or you’re not going to switch out,” Carra said.
“It’s not going to be successful unless there’s a commitment. I absolutely think that the three-year commitment that’s being contemplated is absolutely a minimum if you want an organization in town to staff up, change what they’re doing to accommodate this huge piece of work.”
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Calgary would join cities like Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto in having arms-length public art organizations.
She enjoys creating wreaths and bouquets by layering threads and designs
When Henry first started her embroidery hobby about three years ago, she was looking for something to do creatively with her hands. One night while her husband was out, she asked him to pick up some supplies.
“I bought a couple of patterns online. Soon, I was doing it constantly. And while I was really enjoying it, I wasn’t very good. I’d never stitched anything before,” said the 27-year-old.
“It takes patience and practice. You really need to be devoted to it to get better.”
Soon, she was reading through a book of stitches, detailing the different types and techniques.
It’s a slow art, she said; it’s not something a person can pick up and finish within an hour.
“The first pieces I started were floral bouquets. I basically would rough outline and then fill it in as I went. I’d work with different colours of threads and details.”
As she continued to hone her craft, people would tell her that her embroidery pieces were beautiful and that she should consider selling them.
“I was asked to recreate a bridal bouquet for a wedding commission. Monograms as well. You can customize each creation. It makes a good keepsake, even hanging decorations in a newborn’s room.”
But selling her work didn’t come immediately.
“I was nervous to put anything out. People said they were good, but I wasn’t sure they were good enough.”
Another Island maker asked her if she ever considered entering an Etsy pop-up or starting her own Etsy store. That interaction helped her gain more confidence to start a business, Hoop and Holler.
Of all of the embroidery she creates, Henry said likes the different wreathes she can make by designing flower patterns and bouquets.
“It’s all about layering. I love the texture in pieces I can create by using different thicknesses of thread. It’s always fun. Every piece depends on what works for you and what works for the piece.”
The practice of embroidering is relaxing, she said.
“Any craft where you can use your hands, focus on it, but then still have the opportunity to have the tv going or listen to music while you work… there’s nothing better than embroidering while you’re under a cozy blanket with a cup of tea by you and a movie on.”
She said she’d like to start working on more personalized pieces, a trend that she’s seeing among makers.
“I feel like embroidered flowers and greenery are always going to be popular. But I’ve seen lately people are using thread to paint a picture rather than use traditional stitches. People are getting portraits made or even pet portraiture. So, a piece of thread will have six individual strands, and then an artist will use those six strands to start the project. Adding a more authentic texture to what the picture is of.”
Get a hoop
Pick a material (not too thick) and thread.
Secure fabric in the embroidery hoop.
Using a pen or other writing utensil, sketch a pattern on the fabric lightly; this will act as a guide for the pattern.
Depending on the design, there could be several stitches used to fill in the design (running stitch, whip stitch, fishbone stitch, woven wheel, etc.)
Once finished, Henry adds another fabric to the hoops acting as a backing.
When Henry is finishing a project, she prefers to finalize the creation in a wooden hoop.
“They’re really simple and pretty and compliment the projects compared to the bright-coloured, plastic ones. But when I’m in the process of making something, I prefer the plastic ones, because they can hold the fabric really snug, and that’s what you want.”
The hoop must be snug and tight against the fabric to make sure the material doesn’t crease, which can make the process harder and impact the designs, she said.
“I prefer to use cotton or linen because it isn’t super thick. When the fabric is thick, it will be harder to stitch. I typically use quilters cotton and D.M.C. embroidery thread.
“As for needles, get some that are big enough so you can thread the needle, but one that’s not too big that it will leave visible holes in the fabric. I also keep a pair of small, sheer scissors.”
For someone who wants to start an embroidery project but doesn’t have the materials, there are many local Canadian artists that can supply them with the materials, pdfs, and kits.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of kits become available to people wanting to give it a try. I think it (and other hobbies like this) are being sold a lot more and becoming more popular because people are looking for a way to relax.
“And it’s an awesome craft because it’s portable. You can do it where ever you want.”
She said those looking to try a new hobby, including embroidery, shouldn’t be a perfectionist.
“If I could go back and tell myself anything, it would be just that, not to be such a perfectionist. Just have fun and be creative. Don’t be so concerned about the end result. Make it about the process and get enjoyment out of it. Use it as a way to relax or learn.”
Local dignitaries gathered on Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of Art Works, the city’s newest Art Centre.
Joining owner Chris Bennett for the official ribbon cutting was Belleville Chamber of Commerce CEO Jill Raycroft, Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, Belleville Councillor Garnet Thompson on behalf of the City of Belleville and Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis.
Bennett, a familiar name in the local art scene is the creator behind many of the amazing murals seen around the city. Bennett has been a self-employed muralist, dancer, performing and multi-faceted artist and performing artist in the Belleville area for more than 25 years.
Bennett’s dream has always been to provide arts opportunities for youth and adults, helping them grow and discover their passions through inspiration, education and the freedom to express themselves.
Art Works is his dream come true.
“Art Works reflects how well I am personally doing as an artist; to be able to give back and provide a space for all aspiring and established artists to grow from and to be the influence to our community that I did not have growing up in the Quinte area by creating a studio like no other,” said Bennett.
Check out Art Works on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Arts—Entertainment/Art-Works-203932277210806/). Art Works is located at 257 North Front St. in Belleville.
A local organization in Mozambique is using the power of images to fight discrimination. Azemap, a volunteer-run organization that supports people with albinism, has begun painting five murals at schools across the central Mozambican province of Tete, in collaboration with Human Rights Watch. The murals depict two girls, one with albinism. Below the murals, it reads: “People with albinism are the same as you!”
In the past two years, I’ve encountered many people with albinism in Mozambique who are struggling —not because of their physical condition, but because their communities ostracize and discriminate against them, and authorities do little to combat this stigma or support their needs.
“People would come and throw rocks at me and I had to hide,” said Rosa, 34, describing her childhood. Her father abandoned the family because she had albinism. “People would say, ‘You’re not a person, you’re a witch.’ They would call me an ‘animal’ and say my color is not the color of a human being.”
Rosa is one of dozens of people with albinism whom we interviewed in Tete province. Albinism is a rare condition caused by a lack of melanin or pigmentation in the skin, hair, and eyes. Almost all of those we spoke to suffer widespread stigma, discrimination and rejection at school, in the community, and sometimes from their own families. They face significant obstacles to a quality education because of bullying by their peers and sometimes teachers, and little accommodation in the classroom for their low vision.
For this to change, the government of Mozambique needs to dismantle the systemic barriers that people with albinism face. It also needs to transform societal attitudes to foster acceptance and inclusion of people with albinism within their communities.
Josina, a 9-year-old student with albinism in Tete province who is depicted in the murals, has a hopeful story. Instead of being considered an outcast, she is integrated in her family, school, and community. If these images can touch a few hearts and minds, they may also help provide hopeful futures for Rosa and many others with albinism and begin to end the struggles they endure.
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