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Fur the love of beasties: Edmonton's rich tradition of animals in public art – Londoner

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The late, great Joe Fafard’s Royal Sweet Diamond (2001) on jasper Avenue.

Fish Griwkowsky / Postmedia

Permanent monuments to animals within Edmonton follow a long, long trail, going back to our beginnings.

Animal worship and awe emerges from Palaeolithic times — some of our first depictions of anything were simplifications in paint and chipped stone of the mysterious creatures around us.

Today’s Edmonton is no exception in having our own complicated set of sculptural animal mythologies, carved and cast creatures in wood, stone and bronze — even ice now that it’s winter — all easy to fall in love with. From the Chinese lions at Lucky 97 to the tucked-away beaver in Amiskwaskahegan (Beaver Hills House Park) to the burro downstairs in City Centre Mall, they’re everywhere … once you start looking for them.

What follows is a personal-favourites checklist of animal statues. From granite bears to iron bison to bronze pronghorns — to a landlocked whale at the end of a mall — our ecosystem of animals immortalized in sculptural public art is indeed enviable.


Joe Fafard’s Western Dancer (2004) on Jasper Avenue.

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10. Joe Fafard’s Western Dancer and Royal Sweet Diamond (11214 and 11204 Jasper Ave.) — These two realistically painted heavy-lifters — a horse and a bull — are a reminder of the area’s agricultural roots, the late Fafard’s work appearing cross-country over the years including outside the National Gallery and on a series Canadian stamps. Let’s not forget paskwamostos (1999), his flat bison sculpture out behind Shaw Conference Centre — completing this unofficial triptych.


Olle Holmsten’s Natural History Frieze (1967) at Glenora Building, the former RAM.

Fish Griwkowsky /

Postmedia

9. Olle Holmsten’s Natural History Frieze (1967, Glenora Building, 12845 102 Ave.) — Basically a big sleepover of wonderful beasties on the east side of the former Royal Alberta Museum, this includes a mammoth, bear and bison. But it’s really the triceratops I’m crushing on here. Back in the ’60s Holmsten was paid $19,500 for this and a Human History frieze on the west side — but every cent of his prize money went to production, and was thus a true labour of love.


Robin Bell’s Open Sea (1985) in West Edmonton Mall.

Fish Griwkowsky /

Postmedia

8. Robin Bell’s Open Sea (1985, West Edmonton Mall, Phase I, 8882 170 St.) — This would’ve ranked higher in its original spot before a sexy underwear store displaced it, when the whale still lived near the Ice Palace, and more appropriately in a fountain. Still, kudos to WEM for releasing this beloved interactive sculpture before I had to start a #savethewhale media campaign.


John Weaver’s The Pronghorns (1970) — currently hidden away inside the Glenora Building.

Fish Griwkowsky /

Postmedia

7. John Weaver’s The Pronghorns at Glenora building (1970, 12845 102 Ave.) — Is something still public art if most people can’t actually get to it? The fate of the former Royal Alberta Museum is still unknown, but when asked, officials say so far the plan is to keep this incredible scene within the building (no promises). This one’s a local masterpiece — hope we can all access it again, as cattleman Ian Tyson puts it, someday soon. P.S., Weaver also made the Gretzky Statue.


Mary Anne Barkhouse’s Reign in (ÎNÎW) River Lot 118 Indigenous art park.

Fish Griwkowsky /

Postmedia

6. Mary Anne Barkhouse’s Reign (2018, (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11) — This whole sculpture park is an incredible addition to the city, but my favourite piece is Barkhouse’s depiction of a hare and fox resting almost back to back. It’s a message of peace atop a band of dinosaur bones — reminding us where we all end up despite our struggles. Brilliant.


Lionel A.J. Thomas’ The Migrants (1957) sits on the east side of City Hall.

Fish Griwkowsky /

Postmedia

5. Lionel A.J. Thomas’ The Migrants (1957, City Hall, 1 Sir Winston Churchill Sq.) — The outrage over this $16,000 modern sculpture of flying geese far exceeded panic attacks over Talus Dome. It was quickly dubbed Spaghetti Tree by haters, and even inspired a mocking novelty song. But now this gentle beauty sits with quiet dignity on the west side of City Hall, just a hop over from the Gretzky statue.


Earl Muldoe with Chester MacLean and Victor Mowat’s ‘Ksan Totem Pole (1983) at Glenora Building.

Fish Griwkowsky /

Postmedia

4. Earl Muldoe (Gitxsan Master Carver) with Chester MacLean and Victor Mowat’s ’Ksan Totem Pole (1983, Glenora Building, 12845 102 Ave.) — Carved and raised for Universiade ’83, this red cedar log totem pole features Owl, Bear, Salmon, Raven and Frog (relating to the Gitxsan creation story), and Strong Man. You might remember WUGIE, Universiade’s owl mascot, but I like Owl here a little better — even if it didn’t get its own disco theme song pressed on 45.


Craig LeBlanc’s Henri (2010) won an international art award.

Fish Griwkowsky /

Postmedia

3. Craig LeBlanc’s Henri at Terwillegar Rec Centre (2011, 15204 23 Ave.): While there are a number of lions around town, this sleeping cat suspended in a net hammock is local artist Craig LeBlanc’s masterpiece, a subtle reminder that for all our running and heavy lifting, resting is as important a part of exercise as pushing it to the limit.


Roy Leadbeater’s 1968 Rod of Asclepius at U of A Hospital is technically untitled.

Fish Griwkowsky /

Postmedia

2. Roy Leadbeater’s Untitled (1968, 112 Street entrance, University of Alberta Hospital, 8440 112 St.) — This heavy-metal party snake used to hang over at the Faculty of Medicine, its double helix, exploding Maple Leaf and hissing mouth making it look like a logo for an Marvel-movie evil corporation. Rediscovering this evocative Rod of Asclepius over at U of A Hospital was pure pleasure.


One half of Brandon Vickerd’s two-statue Wildlife (2015) at 10234 96 St.

Fish Griwkowsky /

Postmedia

1. Brandon Vickerd’s Wildlife (2015, 10234 96 St.) — Philosophically, there’s just so much going on with these two humanoid figures made up of animals, hanging around day and night in the Quarters. Cast in bronze, Vickerd used taxidermy animals as models for his final sculptures, and they really do comment on how urban environments are an ever-rotating system of displacement for all animals, including us.

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Petrolia Discovery offering tours and art show Saturday – Sarnia Observer

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Oil and art are set to mix Saturday at the Petrolia Discovery heritage site.

Liz Welsh, with the Petrolia Discovery Foundation, is shown at the oil heritage site in Petrolia. It is offering self-guided tours and an art show and sale this Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Paul Morden / The Observer

Oil and art are set to mix Saturday at the Petrolia Discovery heritage site.

The foundation that operates the working oil field and heritage site in Petrolia has been opening the gates for self-guided tours on several Saturdays during the summer and fall, and this Saturday’s event will include a show and sale by local artists and artisans.

The Artist Day and tours run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is by donation.

Foundation board member Liz Welsh said the event was organized for local artists who missed out on traditional shows and sales during this year’s pandemic restrictions.

“It’s an opportunity for arts and craft people who would normally be travelling around and spending their summer hitting up all of these shows and earning their income,” Welsh said.

The event will feature 15 vendors, socially distanced outdoors at the site for the walk-through show and sale.

Welsh said, “We’ve kept it very local” with nearly all of the vendors from Petrolia, and offering items ranging from jewelry to paintings, photography, as well as fabric and leather art.

“I think maybe one or two aren’t quite in Petrolia, but we filled up with Petrolia people first.”

Welsh said COVID-19 precautions will be in place during the show, and the self-guided tours of the heritage buildings and oil field. Volunteers will be at the site and visitors will be given plastic covered tour guidebooks that are sanitized between use.

“They get to support local art and local history at the same time,” she said.

Visitors are asked to use the site’s north entrance through Bridgeview Park.

The site’s plans for the event have been cleared with the town’s emergency management coordinator, Welsh said.

Visitors are being asked to use cash to make purchases from vendors, and to wear a face mask while browsing the art.

The site offers “lots of room to distance,” Welsh said.

“And, the weather looks like it’s going to be fabulous.”

Saturday will also feature live music by the Lambton Brass Quintet from about 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Welsh said the group is make up of members of the Lambton Concert Band.

She said anyone with questions about the event can call the Discovery at 519-882-0897, or contact the foundation through its Facebook page.

The tours at the Discovery have been “really well-received,” including a previous Saturday that featured a local car club. Welsh said.

“We had lots of people, that day,” she said.

The Discovery will also expected to be open for self-guided tours on the Saturday of the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.

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Travel news: Local cultural events, live music and art classes – The Globe and Mail

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Lekwungen traditional dancers in Saanich, B.C., in 2019.

Kevin Light/Handout

An expanded Culture Days 2020 launches Sept. 25 across Canada with the theme Unexpected Intersections, offering free livestream and in-person arts and culture experiences. Concerts, art classes, dance performances and self-guided tours are some of the options available until Oct. 25. Highlights include Nuit Blanche in Winnipeg, Behind the Wall: Making of a collective mural by the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre and the Yukon Arts Centre’s Waterfront Parade in Whitehorse.

Get a dose of live music at Vancouver’s Gastown Unplugged, a pop-up music series happening until the end of October. Wander the cobblestones or listen from a patio to local musicians at four locations including the Maple Tree Square Pop-Up Plaza.

At Vancouver’s Gastown Unplugged, listen from a patio to local musicians at four locations.

Gastown Unplugged/Handout

Supplement back to school with BIPOC history and stories: digital Doors Open Ontario has videos, virtual tours and photos from Canadian Black History sites such as Amherstburg Freedom Museum, Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society, Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historical Site and John Freeman Walls Underground Railroad Museum while Hot Docs at Home (hotdocs.ca) has launched For Viola, a documentary series focused on BIPOC stories and filmmakers, streaming for free.

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Kimpton Hotels has introduced Chief Virtual Learning Officers (CVLO), helping families on vacation with remote learning. Reserve access to an on-property CVLO and get set up with complimentary desks, snacks and school supplies. Now available at Toronto’s Kimpton Saint George (kimptonsaintgeorge.com), the hotel currently offers a 15-per-cent discount on reservations made three days in advance for IHG members who book directly.

Writerfest in Kingston, Ont., in 2019.

Garrett Elliott/Handout

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2nd annual Newmarket Juried Art Show goes online – NewmarketToday.ca

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The organizers of the Newmarket Juried Art Show (NJAS) took to heart the well-known credo that “the show must go on.”

With the closure of Serpa Galleries in Newmarket’s Old Town Hall due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, this year’s art show is being held online beginning Oct. 7.

“We believe the arts are integral to strong, resilient communities and that such resilience is increasingly important in the face of a changing climate and other global challenges,” said NJAS co-directors David Kempton and Peggy Stevens in a news release. “We hope to showcase Newmarket as an arts hub – both to the province and to itself. Newmarket has a thriving collection of artists.”

Paintings, photography, sculptures, mixed media and ceramics are among the mediums that will be on display by artists from across southern Ontario.

An online gala will be held Oct. 15, starting at 7 p.m. There will be cash awards announced at the gala for the different categories of artwork, as well as a Juror’s Choice award.

“Following on the great success of the First Annual Newmarket Juried Art Show in October 2019, we were very much looking forward to NJAS 2020. Then COVID-19 happened,” the organizers said. “After much discussion, we decided to go for it, and have created an online version for this year.”

The online version of the show included lowering the entry fee, making alternate arrangements for artists hit hard by the pandemic, and doing the jurying by Zoom.

In total, 112 pieces of work were entered by 40 artists from across Ontario, from Windsor to Reaboro, and Penetanguishene to Fonthill.

Of those, 31 pieces of artwork submitted by 28 artists — 10 of whom are from Newmarket and Aurora — were selected for the show. 

Judging was based on digital images submitted by the artists, and the images were “anonymized”, organizers said.

All award money and other support was donated by local citizens and small businesses.

The Town of Newmarket partnered with them to help make the show a reality, they added.

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