Two more sculptures were donated to Oak Bay this week, bringing the total to four donations so far this year.
Council accepted the pieces which are both from the 2019 ArtsAlive public art exhibition. The pieces came with a suggested location, however, council amended the recommendation and reserved the right to have the public art advisory committee help decide where they should go.
It’s part of an influx of public art in Oak Bay and brings the total number of permanent outdoor pieces to 10. That’s up from hardly any prior to 2015, said Mayor Kevin Murdoch
“It’s a fantastic problem to have,” Murdoch said.
It adds up to 20 when including the 10 annual ArtsAlive pieces on exhibit, not including the biggest mural in the region, Parade of Play, on the back of the public works building.
“[Before ArtsAlive] there was not one piece, besides the piece hanging inside the recreation centre,” said Oak Bay arts laureate Barbara Adams. “The idea was to build a legacy of public art in Oak Bay for future generations to enjoy. We had no idea in starting this that the public would really like it, and it’s been very successful.”
The donations started with an anonymous patron who was inspired by the Stanley Park mermaid. They thought the tidal rock along Beach Drive between Haynes and Queens’ Park could have something similar but with an Oak Bay twist.
That was denied last year. Since then, though, there’s been an influx of sculptures donated. So many, council has asked for a plan.
“Do we need a policy for these donations is a question that has come up,” Murdoch said. “The responsible thing is to look at every piece whether we have a policy or not, they are individual pieces.”
As Coun. Hazel Braithwaite noted, while the sculptures are built for durability, council does retain the right to remove or move the sculptures as seen fit.
The newest two pieces are Jelly, by Nathan Smith, which was exhibited at Oak Bay Village at Hampshire Road, and Portal, by Heather Passmore, which was at Willows Beach. These are in addition to the recent donation of the 25,000-pound marble sculpture Soul of a Wolf (inspired by Takaya) to be installed at Cattle Point (pending final details). Earlier this year the Winds of Time, a 2019 ArtsAlive sculpture, was accepted as an anonymous donation to go into King George Terrace.
But it’s not just the donations that are popping up. In 2019, to the ‘M’akhotso sculpture (Mother of Peace), a 2018 ArtsAlive sculpture by Linda Lindsay, that was purchased to permanently honour the late Nils Jensen at Monterey Recreation after his 2019 death.
Plus, there are the first five people’s choice winners of the annual ArtsAlive exhibition which are purchased by the district. The latest is the 2019 winner Harmony Humpback, installed on the sidewalk of Beach Drive at the parking lot entrance to Willows Park.
“When we started this about eight years ago, we had 28 locations identified, in principal, as locations for permanent art,” Adams said. “But we needed public input. The public needs to own this. That’s been a big part of it.”
It’s only speculation, but as council deliberated on Monday night, there is a question as to how many pieces are appropriate for McNeill Bay or Willows Beach. It was suggested in the council report that Portal be installed on Willows again, this time further along the Esplanade closer to Cattle Point.
These final two months of 2020 are Adams’ last as Oak Bay’s first arts laureate. The district will put out a call for a new arts laureate soon. It’s a volunteer position that can sometimes feel like a job, a worthy passion project, Adams said.
One thing Adams’ would like to see ArtsAlive tackle that it hasn’t is the addition of some performance spaces.
“Creating some performance spaces was part of the vision from the beginning,” Adams said. “We have had to put it on the back burner to focus on other things.”
Adams envisioned a circular bench area near a sculpture that people could sit at while musicians performed. It’s a vision shared with the mayor.
“I would like to see [dedicated] public space for performing arts,” Murdoch said.
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Indigenous art set to soar on Gordie Howe International Bridge project – CBC.ca
Indigenous artists and a project co-ordinator who created massive artworks set to adorn the Canadian-side tower of the Gordie Howe International Bridge say they hope their work represents more than just artistic beauty.
Several enormous paintings created by three artists — Teresa Altiman and Daisy White of Walpole Island First Nation, and Naomi Peters of Caldwell First Nation — will rise into the air up to 220 metres as the tower on this side of the border is constructed. The bridge company approached Paul White of Walpole Island First Nation to coordinate the effort.
White said his hope is that when people see these works, they’ll ask themselves the tough questions that may lead to education and healing.
“And through those answers they gain an understanding of the artists as Native people, and Native people in general, and the messages Native people are trying to convey through their art,” said White.
“[It’s] A way of really increasing the understanding between all the peoples of Canada and the United States too, and it’s just there is no better way to display it or describe it.”
The artworks have now been installed, and the rise will be slow as construction on the tower begins. Once construction is over, the artworks will be repurposed in some way, say bridge company officials.
For her part, Peters painted a picture of a hoop dancer that is five metres by seven metres.
“I dedicated over a week to it, and I was working day to night,” she told CBC’s Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre.
“I’ve done a lot of larger canvas work. When I was young, my dad used to paint walls, and he taught me how to do it properly, so I had a little bit of a handle on it, but it really was a new experience, especially seeing those large panels. Holding them up, like you needed two people to even move them around.”
As with each of the artworks and the intricate details they include, Peters’ hoop dancer has great meaning behind it.
“I knew I wanted to do something that represented a lot of different tribes … Originally I was going to do something from my Pottawatomie heritage, like the grass dance or something, but I realized that would be a bit non-inclusive for other tribes,” she said.
“So the hoop dance is something that a lot of tribes can participate in and people who are even non-Indigenous are allowed to participate in without any kind of decorum … I just wanted to show you something that everyone could enjoy.”
LISTEN | Hear more from Peters about how she created her work and what it means to her:
Afternoon Drive7:04Indigenous artists featured on Gordie Howe International Bridge project
The painting process took place at an arena near Walpole Island First Nation, and White’s construction team helped the three female artists with the big undertaking.
Workers traced sketches as outlines and even helped with some of the painting, which Altiman, who is 72-years-old, said she greatly appreciated.
Altiman’s painting of a bear and three cubs — white, red, black and yellow — are sacred colours to the Ojibway people, she said.
“For me, I was hoping that our art that we had on the bridge would be a teaching tool, that we are teaching people a little bit about who we are as a First Nation people, as Indigenous people,” she said.
“And so the four colours are telling you something. They’re telling you that these are all the colours of the people of the world.”
Altiman also emphasizes how important it was that her fellow contributors are young women.
“I think it is really phenomenal that this is happening for them as young artists, and certainly for myself as an older artist. I mean, I am honoured that this is happening and that my work is going to be shown in such a prominent location.”
Art is good medicine in these trying times – ThePeterboroughExaminer.com
The pandemic has placed unique stresses on our community, with economic anxiety — combined with worry for the well-being of loved ones — affecting our collective mental health. That’s why it’s important to remember that Peterborough has always had the arts to bring us together. For years, artists, art therapists, and community organizations in Peterborough have worked with the shared understanding that the arts can have a beneficial effect on our mental health.
“Over the last 10 years I’ve been part of a number of art projects that engage with community members,” says John Marris, a community artist and consultant based in Peterborough. “Particularly those who face marginalization through poverty, disability and mental illness.”
Over the years — and to this day — a number of local artists in Peterborough have been involved in projects at The Mount Community Centre, the Youth Emergency Shelter (YES), Peterborough Regional Health Centre, and the Abbey Retreat Centre cancer care facility — to name only a few.
“There are many local artists involved in these projects,” says Brian Nichols, a Peterborough-based artist and psychotherapist who uses art therapy in his practice. “We don’t teach artmaking — we explore possibilities with folks who attend. It’s usually not possible to discern who is the ‘teacher’ and who is the ‘student.’ We’re all in it together, and that’s the fun of it.”
Prior to COVID-19, the open studios program at The Mount Community Centre had between 20 and 30 participants each week. Now, the program is limited to eight people who must register to attend, and must be residents at The Mount.
“Brian and I have just completed a six-week program of weekly art making sessions at The Mount for Mount residents,” says Marris. “Historically, before COVID-19, Brian was facilitating a roster of artists working in sessions that were open to the whole community to drop in and make art. This had been going on for two years.”
The pandemic has made these kinds of practices more challenging. Fortunately, there are innovative ways to work around the restrictions.
“I’ve just been involved in a pilot project where folks were sent a package of fabric and fibres, needles and thread and invited to ‘Take a Thread and Follow it,’” says Nichols. “The pilot was created for people living with health challenges.”
Nichols says he often leaves out the word “art,” as it can intimidate or exclude some people. Instead, he thinks of the practice as simply “making stuff.” The idea is to make the process as open as possible.
“Not everyone can be a Picasso,” says Marris, “but everyone has the capacity to express themselves, and needs to.”
Whether one considers oneself a serious artist or not, these kinds of programs, and the active involvement of both artists and non-artists, have been proven to have real societal benefit.
“There’s a ton of data now on some almost miraculous healing effects of immersion in various forms of art,” says Gord Langill, director of programs and services for the Canadian Mental Health Association, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge. “Many mainstream community mental health programs in our communities now offer expressive arts groups and activities.”
There is great diversity in how arts and mental health can interact. There is Expressive Arts Therapy, the form of therapy Nichols employs, which is a proven tool for all sorts of healing, whether physical, mental, neurological or spiritual. There are galleries like Artspace, an artist-run centre in Peterborough, which has a history of supporting mental health recovery work. And then there are multidisciplinary arts organizations like Workman Arts — one of Langill’s favourites — which promotes a greater understanding of mental health and addiction.
“I have collaborated with Workman Arts on projects in my field of Early Psychosis Intervention, hosting visual and performance art exhibits at our conferences,” he says. “All of the work is produced by people living with mental health issues. For these shows, we brought visual art pieces and the young artists who created them from all over Ontario to our conferences in Toronto. They are always so moving for audiences, so empowering for artists.”
Many of these approaches have one thing in common: they bridge the individual creative experience with a sense of community. This can help to address mental health issues that are connected to social isolation.
“There is a lot to be said for thinking of art as a collective experience,” says Annie Jaeger, a Peterborough-based visual artist. “Sit in a theatre, or listen to music, or read the same book — it is not entirely a solitary enjoyment. I think that’s kind of profound.”
That said, it would be wrong to assume that all artists are necessarily engaged in self-therapy. Though there is plenty of evidence to support the mental health benefits of art — for individuals, as well as for the community at large — the practice of making art is multifold.
“I resist the ‘art as therapy’ characterization,” says Jaeger. “Certainly, it is therapeutic — but so is fresh air. We need it.”
What is clear is that artmaking, and the appreciation of that making, can help to create community, which is good for the mental health of us all. It can empower and enrich, providing, in Brian Nichols’ words — “another way to think about and imagine the world.”
And that world can be an interesting an inspiring place, perhaps a little brighter than the one we inhabit in the day-to-day. As the celebrated Peterborough poet PJ Thomas says in the poem “Crimson Flowers,” from the recently released collection, Undertow: “ … the weather always changes, / and we will someday have / clear sailing again.”
This series of articles about the arts, culture and heritage sector in Peterborough is presented by the Electric City Culture Council (EC3).
EC3 is a not-for-profit service organization supporting the arts, culture and heritage sector in Peterborough and the surrounding region.
EC3 provides strategic leadership, research, resources and connections that build and strengthen the sector.
EC3, along with the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough, is currently raising funds for the Peterborough Arts Alive Fund, to provide Strategic Recovery and Resilience Grants for local arts organizations affected by COVID-19. You can donate at https://cfgp.ca/project/arts-alive-fund/.
Three to See Saturday: Churchill lights, SNAP art sale and the awesome VISSIA – Edmonton Journal
Holiday Light Up: The Downtown Business Association is teaming up with multiple partners to add a little warm glow to the core, and being outside we can all easily keep our distance. Six installations will be rolled out at different downtown locations over the next week, lit in stages though Jan. 8 in the evenings. The first two are Transformation: Promise and Wisdom by Sharon Rose Kootenay and Jason Symington — with an assist form The Works Art & Design Festival — and Winter Wonder by Vicky Mitall, and can now be viewed at Sir Winston Churchill Square. New installations around the inner grid will be updated on the DBA website — edmontontondowntown.com/holidaylightup.
Details: Every night at — so far — Churchill Square, no charge
SNAP Annual Members Show & Sale: From personal experience I can tell you this is one of the easiest and most appreciated ways of getting your “happy season” shopping out of the way, the gift of magnificent, meticulously-crafted art — now just a click away thanks to the hated 2020 plague. That said, if you book ahead at snapartists.com, you can still wander through the space. “When people make an appointment they have the entire gallery to themselves for 30 minutes,” explains SNAP exec April Dean. “The whole show is up and framed in the gallery and it looks beautiful. There’s 85 framed prints up, ready to deck your halls, if you will.” If you can’t make it Saturday, don’t worry, show’s up though Dec. 19, at which point the hardworking staff will take a break and be back in the new year, just another thing about 2021 that’s going to be awesome.
Details: noon on at SNAP Gallery (10572 115 St.) or online at snapartists.com
VISSIA: If all that sounds a little too “near any other human” for you, it’s about time you spent some virtual time with local singer Alex Vissia, who’ll be having some musical quality time with her fans and having a party to celebrate the release of her new single, About Moving On. This all happens on facebook.com/vissiamusic, you can do it!
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