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Dilapidated Saint John commercial building was once a state of the art dairy –



When Saint John businessman Adolph Stern announced plans to build a 12,000-bottle-a-day dairy plant on City Road in the early 1920s, it created controversy.

The milk and dairy products produced at Purity Ice Cream would be pasteurized, a process opposed by many of the industry’s leaders in the province, who believed it unnecessary and expensive. It was welcomed, however, by public health officials concerned about infant mortality from diseases in raw milk.

The city’s Daily Telegraph newspaper weighed in April 1923.

“The city of St John has a high infant mortality rate and it is felt that whatever might be personal feeling in the matter, a measure which it is hoped will mean the saving of about fifty lives each year should be welcomed.”

Stern’s red brick, partly three-storey, glass-walled factory opened the following month.

Building may be doomed

Nearly 100 years later the remaining section of the building sits vacant, declared dilapidated by city council and slated for demolition.

In more recent decades, 111-115 City Rd. was shared by a bakery and a tavern, but both businesses closed their doors over the past few years.

But records shared with CBC by the New Brunswick Archives show it was once a bright and impressive building.

The complete construction plans by Saint John architects, Mott, Myles and Chatwin are included in the archives collection.

John Cushnie hopes to save and refurbish the former dairy and ice cream factory. (Connell Smith, CBC)

A city man, John Cushnie, is hoping to save the century-old building in hopes of restoring the original factory look and developing it as an income property.

The archival drawings show siding and additions added in the decades after the building’s construction have completely covered over a structure that once had three storeys of floor to ceiling windows facing south onto City Road.

“It sort of looks like the same building if you know what to look for,” said archivist Mary-Ellen Badeau. “But if you’re not used to looking at the architectural drawings you wouldn’t just clue in.”

“This is way more than we could have hoped for,” said Cushnie, on learning of the drawings. “This is so exciting.”

Purity Ice Cream was based in Saint John, with a dairy farm in South Bay, now part of the city’s west side, and branch plants in Fredericton and Peticodiac.

Owner Stern began his life in Austria in 1894.


]In 1905 his family emigrated to America.

Stern joined the U.S.Army during the First World War, but by 1919, for reasons that aren’t clear, he, his parents and siblings had moved to New Brunswick and were operating the farm at South Bay.

More oriented to business than farming, Stern entered first the dairy and then the ice cream business.

A pasteurization leader

Badeau, who researched the Purity Ice Cream history for a 2016 article in Silhouettes, a newsletter for associates of the Archives, said Purity ice cream sales started at the farm itself before moving to a plant on Stanley Street in the city.

The City Road factory was designed around the pasteurization process.

At its rear was a railway siding. The company also had a fleet of trucks.

By 1929, the Purity Ice Cream company had been sold to Pacific Dairies and Stern, with bigger plans, was back in the U.S., trying to buy an operating dairy in New Jersey.

The attempted purchase failed, but he was struck by the long growing season available to farmers in the Vineland area of the state.

Additions over the past several decades have changed the appearance of the original factory. (Connell Smith, CBC)

Stern then managed to persuade much of his family at home to pull up stakes and move their farm to Vineland, N.J.

“It was seen as a climate that was more conducive to farming,” said Stern’s nephew, Marc Stern, who chairs the board of the Los Angeles Opera. “You could get two or three crops a year rather than, in Saint John, one or two.”

Around the same time, he made an abrupt career switch, jumping from business into law. 

Family members aren’t sure where he received his training but suspect it was in Canada.

Three of Adolph Stern’s sisters had married Canadians and stayed behind with their families in Saint John. 

Well-known Saint John families

Their grandchildren include members of the Weizel, Hoffman and Davis families.

Adolph Stern’s niece, Faith Stern said her uncle was the first member of the family to branch out from farming.

She describes him as a distinguished man with white hair who smoked a pipe.

“He was so different from so many of the rest of them because he was the lawyer,” she said. “The rest of them were all farmers of one sort or another.”

Marc Stern grew up working on the family’s Vineland farms.

His uncle’s law practice included work as city solicitor as well as solicitor for the Board of Education.

Businessman Adolph Stern created the Purity Ice Cream company of Saint John. He was at the forefront of the movement to bring pasteurization to New Brunswick. (Saint John Jewish Historical Museum)

But he maintained his home close to his family on one of the farms.

“He was always very nice to me, I liked him a lot,” he said.

“Sometimes, when I was working there and he came home from lunch, he would see me and he would invite me in to lunch. And that was like a real highlight as a young kid to have this prestigious uncle have you in to lunch.”

Adolph Stern had four daughters.

He died in Pinellas, Fla., in 1964.

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New art piece in Lacombe acknowledges roots of the land and reconciliation –



“It is a metal sculpture of two rough grouse, with two logs; the female is sitting on one log and the male is landing at the end of the other,” explains Maureen MacKenzie, community services executive assistant with The City of Lacombe. “It was created to represent the affinity between rough grouse, but also that people have for one another. It also represents the two communities and local First Nations.”

According to a release, grouse was an imported food source for settlers and Indigenous peoples when bison populations dwindled across the prairies. The piece also pays homage to settler and Indigenous communities living and working together across Canada’s west.

MacKenzie adds The City had a robust anti-racism program planned earlier this year, but once again COVID-19 caused its postponement. The program was meant for large groups and would’ve included the blanket exercise, a 60s Scoop exhibition, and other workshops.

“The last census in 2016 indicated we have over 800 residents of Lacombe who are Indigenous, which is almost 10 per cent of our population, so it’s really important we show we’re willing to walk the walk,” MacKenzie says. “We as a city want to embrace all of our cultures, and in this instance, with truth and reconciliation in mind, our plan is to host those workshops eventually, and that’s our way of saying we’re taking action on inclusion and racism.”

‘Miweyihtowin’ was created at a cost of $18,000.

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North Dakota Museum of Art reopens Tuesday with launch of 'Art in Isolation' exhibition – Grand Forks Herald



The exhibition consists of assemblages of images submitted by artists and others in 35 countries around the world, including Portugal and Russia, as well as area communities, said Matthew Anderson, the museum’s director of education.

Last spring, museum staff members issued an online invitation to people asking them to submit images of how they were expressing their creativity during quarantine.

“Thousands of images started arriving from around the world …. The images describe an outpouring of creative expression,” said Anderson, adding that the pandemic has caused unanticipated change. “Change also fuels creativity, and that is what the North Dakota Museum of Art brought to light.”

As part of the launch of the “Art in Isolation” exhibition, the museum is asking visitors to donate a nonperishable food item to give to those in need and place it in drop boxes in the entry. Anyone who is in need may pick up a food item after viewing the exhibition; all remaining items will be donated to local food banks.

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The exhibition runs through Oct. 7.

Other exhibitions include “Consequences,” with artwork by Lynne Allen, a descendant of the Hunkpapa band of the Lakota on Standing Rock. In the late 1990s, after reading the journals of her great-grandmother, Josephine Waggoner, Allen began making objects that reflect the culture in those writings. These objects were crafted from paper, cut and stitched to shape and lacquered with shellac or from recycled vellum printed with images copied from Waggoner’s journals.

The museum is presenting more than 20 major prints by Allen, an internationally known printmaker, Anderson said.

The “Celebration” exhibition features artwork from the museum’s permanent collection, including Julie Buffalohead’s “Stolen Sisters,” a 4-by-18-foot, mural-sized acquisition that anchors the show. It illustrates the use of acrylic paint, ink, graphite and collage, applied to Nepalese Lokta paper, which has been used in Nepal since the 12th century to write epic tales, print mantra for use in prayer wheels and religious texts chanted by Buddhist monks.

The museum, located on the UND campus, south of Twamley Hall, has been closed to the public since mid-March when the national public health emergency, due to the spread of COVID-19, was declared.

When the facility reopens, new hours will be from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays.

The museum will be following CDC guidelines and working with UND officials to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Anderson said. Visitors will be required to wear face masks and encouraged to practice social distancing.

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Cambodia is an inspiration for the healing power of art after a crisis – The Conversation CA



Even though history has seen different disasters and humanitarian crises, one fact remains: we try to understand what is happening by seeing how others coped, comparing our reaction to theirs. These comparisons allow us to shed light on the best practices for managing or emerging from a crisis.

We note with the COVID-19 pandemic that there is not one response to crises, but many responses that are adapted and implemented through trial and error.

At the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid our team was interested in a few examples where art and culture have been used to encourage development at the social, community, economic and civic level in various countries, including Haiti and Cambodia.

Cambodia is a special case. It was able to use art and culture to find a way to rebuild itself after the genocide that began in 1975 and ended with the fall of the Pol Pot regime in 1979. While the context is different, is there a way we can draw inspiration from the Cambodian example to recover from the current health crisis?

Art and culture in crisis

First of all, what do we mean by “crisis?” Are we simply referring to the health aspect?

Our government decision-makers have categorized the current period as a “war” against an invisible enemy. But a war leaves after-effects that are not only structural but social, societal and humanitarian as well. Also, as in armed conflicts, this “health war” has imposed a front line in hospitals and seniors’ residences.

In times of war, art and culture, which are important pillars of our societies, are hit hard and sometimes even strategically destroyed.

The rebirth of art in Cambodia

Cambodia has a long and rich history dating back to before the Middle Ages. It was during the golden age of the Khmer Empire (between the ninth and 13th centuries) that arts and culture became integrated into society through religion, rites and customs.

However, for recent generations, this rich Cambodian culture with its oral tradition was greatly affected by the genocide under the tyrannical Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979. At this time, arts and culture almost completely disappeared, as did nearly 20 per cent of the population (between 1.7 million to 3 million people), exterminated by Pol Pot’s dictatorship. The dictatorship fell from power in 1979. Instability and conflict remained for some 20 years.

In 1998, after Pol Pot’s last uprising in 1997, Arn Chorn-Pond founded the Cambodian Master Performer Program, which became Cambodian Living Arts, in order to restore art to its former glory. Born in Cambodia into a family of genocide survivors, he studied in the United States and worked as a social worker there for a few years before returning to Cambodia.

Today, Cambodian Living Arts brings together several hundred artists and employees working at different levels including arts education and heritage protection as well as the development of tomorrow’s leaders, markets and strong networks.

This non-profit organization uses art and culture to fulfil its mission of healing trauma, safeguarding traditions, restoring meaning to the community and training young people to contribute to the development of the country. It now has an expanded ecosystem of partners in other parts of the world.

As Phloeun Prim, the non-profit’s current executive director, explains, the destruction of cultural symbols and artifacts, such as religious and cultural sites, monuments and works of art, is an integral part of the consequences of conflict. The oppressor, be it another country or a dictator, will seek to uproot the oppressed group from its identity, culture and societal vision.

A brutal stop with the pandemic

Although it hasn’t destroyed infrastructure, the global pandemic has hit the cultural sector hard with the closure of theatres and cinemas, bans on mass gatherings and the cancelling of festivals. The performing arts, visual arts and access to heritage often appear to have been last to be considered in reopenings while workers dependent on the gig economy have lost many opportunities.

Read more:
Support for artists is key to returning to vibrant cultural life post-coronavirus

In compensation, the federal and provincial governments have offered some assistance to the sector to survive and to develop.

However, as we can see with the debate around opening performance venues, economic measures are not enough for everyone and do not guarantee that the public will be there. The abrupt and prolonged halt in cultural activities, as well as the prospect of a second wave of COVID-19 contamination, suggest that there will be repercussions for a long time to come. A strategy of cultural regeneration supported by our governments and strong institutions, such as the Cambodian Living Arts in Cambodia, should be considered.

This regeneration work was essential for Cambodia’s recovery. Added to this was the need to transmit culture in order to rebuild bridges between generations, between individuals and between institutions. To share one’s art orally does not only mean passing on know-how. It also means passing on people skills.

Master Ling Srey teaching Kantaoming, traditional Cambodian music used at funerals, in Siem Reap province, Cambodia.
(Matthew Wakem), Author provided

By teaching his art, the master transmits his identity to the other. And the student has the duty to appropriate this knowledge in order to take it further and create his own interpretation of the symbols. This is what creates more resilient societies.

Today, Cambodian Living Arts continues to invest in current and future cultural leaders. They are the ones who will have to rebuild in the new post-crisis environment, where interactions, communities and identities will no longer be the same.

Reaching out to the public

At home in Québec, for example, we see local initiatives. TD Bank and Vidéotron have partnered to present musical performances on outdoor stages, in a “drive-in movie” format, where spectators can enjoy the event in their vehicles.

Others choose to travel to people. This is the case of the Théâtre de la Ville, in Longueuil near Montréal, which offers a travelling program of three shows. In this way, art met the public, a bit like street theatre, at the beginning of the confinement. Similarly, Le Festif, in Charlevoix, offers immersive listening sessions outdoors.

Teaching and propagating culture is about coming together and finding each other. Moreover, as noted by the UNESCO International Bureau of Education, every human being is capable, through art, of re-establishing their link with society.

Finding a new normal

Our approach to art, culture and artist-citizen interactions will change in the new post-COVID reality. We will have to relearn, trust each other and then let ourselves forge new ways while respecting the rules.

A study by Habo studio shows that the return to “normalcy” in the consumption of the arts is not coming soon. It will take at least until 2021 (and perhaps 2022, according to some decision-makers in the field) before attendance levels return to pre-COVID levels, at least for the Montréal region.

As Québec’s rules for indoor and outdoor gatherings now vary regionally, the cultural sector continues to explore virtual or outdoor alternatives, and stay attuned to health regulations. Like us, it will be seeking to define its new normal.

Phloeun Prim, Executive Director of Cambodian Living Arts, co-authored this story.

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