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Gravenhurst's newest therapist offers art, music and play for all ages – muskokaregion.com



“The great thing about play therapy is that I can work with (children) as young as three if there’s trauma,” she said. “Kids will play out what’s going on.”

She also has adult clients and will invite them to write, do art or play music, she said.

With adults, she often finds that they have carried traumas throughout their lives that stem from childhood adversities — which is why working with children is especially important.

“It gives me the tools to help them so they don’t have to carry that on into adulthood and maladapt and learn unhealthy coping mechanisms. They can have a way to process it,” said Wilgress.

“I figure I’ll be training my whole life, learning different therapy approaches because I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all for anyone,” she said.

Since moving to Muskoka, Wilgress has learned about the challenges youth face in navigating the mental health system and accessing the right resources.

“I feel like there’s a lot of gaps for kids and youth because they don’t know where to go,” she said. “(Some children) present well or mask well and those are the ones that I think we have to worry about because then they’re carrying that on into adulthood.”

And it can be difficult for families to find the funding to support their children’s needs.

“I find there’s these little pockets of money here and there but even for myself, as a therapist trying to figure that out and let people know, I feel like I don’t know all about them,” she said.

Wilgress offers a flat rate for her sessions on a sliding scale but said she doesn’t want people not to come to her if they’re struggling financially.

With more awareness being spread about mental health needs, Wilgress said she is hopeful that services will become more accessible.

And if clients don’t find she is the right fit for them, she will give them a referral for another local organization.

“They need that safe place where things aren’t going to go wrong and they can have that trust,” she said. “Therapy’s all about therapeutic relationships.”

Wilgress can be contacted by phone at 705-204-5436 or ruthwilgress@gmail.com.

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At the Vancouver Art Gallery, monsters and magic mesmerize in Shuvinai Ashoona: Mapping Worlds – Straight.com



At the Vancouver Art Gallery until May 24

Shuvinai Ashoona is that most magical of artists, one whose distinctive and often fantastical vision of the world—monstrous creatures with bulging eyes and curling tentacles, a human ear transforming into a swan, giant eggs from which alien forms emerge, green and blue planets spinning across the tundra—reaches out to an audience far beyond her small northern community. Beyond the usual curators and collectors of Inuit art, too.

Born and based in Kinngait (formerly known as Cape Dorset) on the southern tip of Baffin Island, Shuvinai is a graphic artist focused primarily on drawing, her usual media being coloured pencils, ink, and graphite. Her increasingly large and ambitious works have been shown across the country and around the world, from Basel, Switzerland, to Sydney, Australia.

Currently, she is being celebrated in Shuvinai Ashoona: Mapping Worlds, a major touring exhibition surveying the last two decades of her creative practice. Organized by Toronto’s Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and curated by Nancy Campbell, an independent scholar and the leading expert on Shuvinai’s art and life, the show has now landed at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

At a media preview there and later at a public lecture, Campbell remarked that this is the first time an Inuit artist has had a solo show at the VAG. At the same time, she stressed the importance of resituating Shuvinai’s work from the peripheral category of “Inuit” into the mainstream of international contemporary art.

In many ways, that repositioning is already occurring. Shuvinai is the subject of multiple articles, reviews, and catalogue essays, as well as a monograph by Campbell (available online and in print from the Canadian Art Library). Still, despite the exposure and acclaim, despite all that has been spoken and written about her, much of Shuvinai’s imagery remains mysterious.

It is intriguing and engaging, sometimes astounding and occasionally frightening, yes, but in many senses unknowable.

What to make, for instance, of Earth Transformations, a drawing that features a creature with a large blue-and-green globe for a head, arms and hands composed of strings of similar but smaller planets, a torso draped in octopuslike tentacles, and human legs with blue toenails? And how to read this creature’s companion, a parka-clad Inuit man holding up a picture of a scene in which a hunter with a rifle sits behind a blind that is also an artist’s canvas? (The titles are not really clues, as they’re assigned by others.) Shuvinai doesn’t like to talk about what her works might “mean”. She produces them without plan or precept, seeming to draw her images directly from her unconscious mind.

<span class="picturefill" data-picture data-alt="Shuvinai Ashoona's Untitled (Birthing Scene)“>
Shuvinai Ashoona’s Untitled (Birthing Scene)

Whatever her propensity for the surreal and the phantasmagorical, Shuvinai’s drawings also reveal a keen understanding of everyday life in the North, from the snowy roads and prefab houses of Kinngait to hunting and camping scenes on the tundra, the land scattered with pebbles, stones, and rocky outcroppings, the lake shores covered in animal bones. At the same time, her drawings are informed by Inuit tales of human-animal transformation, Christian stories and beliefs, and American popular culture as encountered on TV and DVDs. Shuvinai is a big fan of nature programs and horror movies—and also, as witnessed by her dramatic drawing, Sinking Titanic, James Cameron’s 1997 film, Titanic.

One of the most extraordinary works on view is Untitled (Birthing Scene) in which a blue-haired woman, whose hands and feet are changing into fins, feathers, and claws, gives birth to not only a wee baby but also a cluster of tiny blue planets. Lying on the ground beside her is another baby, this one with an older boy’s head, who is also giving birth. The midwife seated behind the woman is a large yellow seabird with a polar-bear foot, and hovering in the lower right corner of the picture frame are three more little planets, superimposed on each other. In many ways, this is a work of extraordinary realism—the rocky stretch of tundra in which the scene is set, the sheet of plywood on which Inuit women typically give birth, the excrement that comes out of as the woman pushes down—but it is also a scene of otherworldly transformation.

There are a number of drawings, such as Composition (Creature Invasion), of hideous monsters attacking hapless humans. Equally, there are images, such as Untitled (People, Animals, and the World Holding Hands), that suggest living in harmony with each other and with the creatures and entities of the natural and supernatural realms in which we dwell.

In her talk, Campbell stressed Shuvinai’s essentially positive outlook and the many works she has created that speak of tolerance and understanding. Of all the mysterious images and symbols Shuvinai enfolds in her work, this is the meaning, the message, that we should take home with us.

<span class="picturefill" data-picture data-alt="Shuvinai Ashoona's Composition (People, Animals, and the World Holding Hands)“>
Shuvinai Ashoona’s Composition (People, Animals, and the World Holding Hands)

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Work on southern Alberta art gallery deferred by Lethbridge council – CTV News



City council has taken the first of several proposed money saving measures, by shelving a scheduled $2.7 million renovation to the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in downtown Lethbridge.

“We are ready to move forward with the CIP request when the city is,” said SAAG executive director Kristy Trinier.

Council had originally approved the renovations in 2017, as part of the current Capital Improvement Program budget cycle. But councillors voted Monday to discontinue capital funding for the project as the result of austerity measures by the Alberta government.

Trinier says the SAAG board was anticipating government belt tightening and had already taken steps to scale back the project.

“Tough decisions are made, and eventually in Alberta the important things do get done because Albertans value culture. We see that, and so long as it happens, even if it enters another budget cycle, we accept that.”

Council will also be deciding on the future of several other major projects in the coming weeks and months.

Councillors have delayed a vote and discussion on funding for a new multi-purpose building at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden until its March 9th meeting.

Garden executive director Michelle Day says the board is looking ahead optimistically to work with the city on the project. She says the facility is needed to support programming and grow events like the popular Winter Lights Festival.

“We’ve maximized our space, and we are very reliant on weather conditions for being a revenue generating operation.”

Day says there were nights during the festival when 300 to 400 people were visiting the gardens each hour. She says the current visitor centre and small gift shop isn’t meeting the need.

“So this new building would give us the opportunity and community support for Henderson Lake users, our tourists, our visitors and guests, to have an indoor space they can go to.”

Council also delayed debate until March 9th, on capital funding for pathway connections and extensions in Lethbridge.

A decision on the fate of capital funding for a new performing arts centre has been deferred until June, giving city administration time to meet with project consultants, to see what impact a delay would have.

The funding was to pay for a business case study, site review and selection, and project design.

Mayor Chris Spearman says funding from the provincial government is getting tighter and council has to make some difficult choices between tax increases and delaying projects.

“It’s difficult to fully fund one project at the expense of others. We need to have a full and fair debate where all projects are given an equal opportunity.”

Suzanne Lint, executive director of the Allied Arts Council says the groups know council is facing challenging and difficult financial times.

“It’s certainly a huge disappointment for the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, who had an approved project and budget.”

At the same time, Lint says she can understand why councillors want to pause to hear what’s coming down in the provincial budget, and what the implications might be for the city.

“These are also important projects for our community, to community members who’ve put a lot of heart and soul and passion into them. So I think the decision has been taken to delay, to give the community a bit more time to consider, and talk to councillors, and then some hard decisions will have to be made.”

Arts groups say they hope the projects will go ahead in time, adding they’re prepared to continue advocating for the funding to be included during the next Capital Improvement Plan budget cycle, which begins in 2022.

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Art Battle returns to Campbell River – Campbell River Mirror



Twelve of the Campbell River area’s best artists will compete across three fast-paced rounds for audience votes when Art Battle returns to Campbell River on Saturday, Feb. 29.

Held at Campbell River Toyota (2785 N. Island Highway), the audience will circle the competitors in each round, and choose their favorite. After the final round, only one champion will remain!

These competitors are a mix of veteran professional artists and emerging talents who want to share their process and talent with a new audience. Featured Battlers include Alyssa Penner , who uses her painterly approach to express “the fantastical beauty of local island nature and wildlife,” as well as Dave Stevens, whose signature blend of representational imagery and abstract elements is inspired by his goal of “evoking memories, associations, or connections.” Art Battleinvites culture enthusiasts, painters, art collectors, art party lovers, and the entire Campbell River community to join us for this free experience and vote for the next Art Battle Champion.

Art Battle has been sharing live painting competitions and incredible artistic performances with audiences since 2001. Today, across the country and around the globe, we celebrate live talent by turning a blank canvas into a work of art.

Campbell River is one of more than 100 cities on six continents and tens of thousands of competitors from Brooklyn to Bangladesh, São Paulo to San Francisco, and many more.

Anyone interested in applying to be a special voting delegate should emailhello@artbattle.com

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