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'I've been hooked ever since': The complicated art of change ringing –



Michael Connidis leads the way up a narrow chamber to a place many get to hear, but not see.

“This is the belfry in the church tower,” he says, with his arms stretched out pointing to eight massive bells that are hung mouth up, ready to be pulled by ropes that hang below.

The bells are over 100 years old and were mounted at the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral at Dunsmuir and Richards streets for the centuries-old art of change ringing. 

“I just love it,” said Connidis, who is with the Vancouver Society of Change Ringers. 

The bells date back to 1905. The ones made in France have detailed embellishing compared to the ones cast in England. Some have a City of Vancouver engraving on them. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The practice dates back to 17th century England, where there are still thousands of churches with change-ringing bells. Here in Canada, there are seven, including three in B.C. 

Several times a week a small but devoted group of bell ringers gather in the ringing chamber to practise. They will also be ringing the bells this Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve. 

Alan Ellis has been change ringing for over 60 years. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Most of them aren’t churchgoers, but are attracted to the complicated process of sounding the bells.

As The North American Guild of Change Ringers puts it on their website, “Change ringing is a team sport, a highly co-ordinated musical performance, an antique art, and a demanding exercise that involves a group of people ringing rhythmically a set of tuned bells through a series of changing sequences that are determined by mathematical principles and executed according to learned patterns.” 

Connidis came to the art form by chance. He was walking past the church one day when he heard the bells and looked up to find people pulling on the ropes in the tower. 

“I’ve been hooked ever since…. I can’t describe how it just grabbed me,” he said.

You can catch the bells ring at the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral on Dunsmuir and Richards streets in downtown Vancouver on the following days and times:

Christmas Eve – Tuesday, Dec. 24 from 10:25 p.m. until 11 p.m. 

New Year’s Eve – Tuesday, Dec. 31 from 11:25 to midnight.

Johanna Vandenberg, 24, was intrigued to learn more after reading a mystery novel set in a bell tower. After that it took three months of practice until she was able to ring a bell on her own. 

“I like the challenge. I like learning new stuff all the time and trying to be better at these kind of things and I just love the sound of bells,” she said.

While the bells are heavy — the heaviest weighs the same as a Volkswagen Beetle — ringing them is not a physically taxing job if you do it properly. 

The ringers stand in a circle with red wool mats in front of them. The mats are there to protect the ropes, otherwise the ropes would suffer damage and need to be replaced sooner than their current eight-year cycle. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Though the bells are heavy, anyone can swing them with the right technique. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

“I’ve rung with someone in [their] 90s, I’ve rung with people who are in wheelchairs, I’ve rung with people who are blind. So you can do it. It’s not a matter of strength but matter of finesse,” said Connidis.

Change-ringing is more math than music. 

Bell ringers memorize from what is called a book of methods, which shows in what sequence the bells are rung. There are thousands of possibilities. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Ringers have to memorize the sequence of how the bells are rung from what’s called the book of methods. And there are thousands of possibilities or permutations. 

“They weave back and forth. You learn the method by learning the pattern itself and then you have to learn where you start on that pattern on each individual bell,” said Connidis, pointing to the equivalent of a music sheet.

Johanna Vandenberg, 24, was intrigued to learn more about change ringing after reading a mystery novel. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

It requires teamwork and unwavering concentration, which is why there are three golden rules when you’re in the ringing chamber.

“The first is when we are ringing please don’t talk,” said Connidis.

Change ringing requires plenty of concentration. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The second is when you’re sitting down keep both feet on the ground.

“These ropes are potentially hazardous, they can catch you on your feet or ankles and flip you upside down pretty quickly, and it has happened,” he said. 

The third rule is to not touch any of the ropes, unless you’re invited to do so.

But the folks at the Vancouver Change Ringers Society are very welcoming and are always looking for volunteers to keep the tradition alive.

The bells will be ringing on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral at the corner of Dunsmuir and Richards streets. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

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Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign – Yukon News



Yukon wilderness, pets, sports, video games, friends and family.

Those are a few of the things that local children are grateful for, expressed through an art campaign by Paolo Gallina, Liberal MLA for Porter Creek Centre.

“The situation that we’re all in, responding to the pandemic, and having to stay safe, I know that changes in our lives have had an impact on all of us,” Gallina said.

“I’m a father of young children, and I see how they’ve been impacted, and I know that children in the territory have been impacted.”

Gallina told the News he has focused on gratitude with his own family as a way of managing the stress of the pandemic.

He extended that focus to all children in a Gratitude Campaign last month. He called on Yukon children aged 12 and under to submit a “fun, colourful drawing of something they are thankful for.”

He received more than 50 submissions from children highlighting the good things in their lives.

“What stood out for me was the connection to what makes Yukon unique — our access to the outdoors, connection to the land, and connection to being out on the land with your family and friends, and the animals that we live with and share our home with,” he said.

Gallina received classroom submissions from Jack Hulland and Holy Family elementary schools, as well as several pieces from individual families.

Five winning pieces of artwork were recently selected. The winners will receive an art pack, a donation of $30 to the charity of their choice and 25 blank cards featuring their designs.

Gallina plans to display the winning artwork on bus bench advertisements, social media posts and greeting cards to Porter Creek constituents.

The cards to constituents will include a list of supports for people during the pandemic, including sources for business, mental health and vaccine information.

The five winning pieces include a playground scene by Stella Maris Burns, 10, expressing gratitude for playing with friends and spending time with them at school. Benjamin Carre, 7, expressed gratitude for nature in a sunset mountainscape. Luke said he is grateful for wildlife with a mountainscape framed by sunshine and a river. Mikhail submitted a colourful tree with a family holding hands under a rainbow. Faith submitted a drawing of a child underneath two hearts, saying she is “thankful for everyone.”

Gallina said he hopes the gratitude campaign was helpful to kids during a challenging time.

“I think it helps reinforce with people what is important to them, what they are thankful for, and to find some ways to be happy, content, to feel good as we all are in a changing world,” he said.

After the art campaign, Gallina travelled to Jack Hulland Elementary School to speak with a Grade 1 class about traversing a pandemic world.

“We had a conversation about how things are different and what that means, what it means to be safe,” he said.

The children discussed safe spacing and mask-wearing. Inspired by the conversation, many children chose to wear their masks at their desks, Gallina said.

“It was pretty cool to see children feel comfortable with safety measures that are new to them, to a degree. I think it was nice for them to feel comfortable,” he said.

“I think it was nice for them to have someone come in and show them that, hey, things have changed, but things are okay. We talked about what some of the children had written about — wilderness and family and friends.”

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at


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Ten-year-old Stella Maris Burns showcases her gratitude for friends and spending time with them on the playground.
Ten-year-old Stella Maris Burns showcases her gratitude for friends and spending time with them on the playground. (Submitted)

Ten-year-old Stella Maris Burns showcases her gratitude for friends and spending time with them on the playground.
Ten-year-old Stella Maris Burns showcases her gratitude for friends and spending time with them on the playground. (Submitted)

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Saskatoon-area painter, sculptor selected to make official Disney artwork — from Moana to Mulan –



A Saskatchewan artist is joining the elite ranks of those who bring the magic of Disney to life.

Denyse Klette is the first Canadian to be signed by Collectors Editions as an officially published creator of Disney Fine Art.

“It’s magical,” Klette said. “My mom and dad had Sunday nights as a special evening where … they’d make us hamburgers and french fries and we’d watch The Wonderful World of Disney. So I absolutely grew up on this.”

Collectors Editions is not a Disney corporation, but it’s the only independent company in the world with rights to produce and publish Disney Fine Art.

“They have a small group of artists from around the world that they’ve selected, and we get to design and create Disney art,” Klette said. “The originals are sold in different Disney galleries and also they have reproductions done.”

Klette is a painter and sculptor based on an acreage just outside of Saskatoon. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

The painter and sculptor, who lives on an acreage just outside of Saskatoon, has a style that combines her mediums. Klette paints an image, then sculpts around the edges to give it a 3D aspect.

Klette said she is allowed to base pieces on almost any of Disney’s animated works. She first produces a full-colour concept drawing on her iPad, then uploads it to the Collectors Editions team. The team sends it to the Walt Disney Company, which then reviews it and makes any corrections on proportions or colours. Disney then sends it back to Collectors Editions, which gives her the go-ahead.

Klette paints an image, then sculpts around the edges to give it a 3D aspect. She is allowed to base pieces on almost any of Disney’s animated works. After producing a full-colour concept drawing on her iPad, she sends it off to the Collectors Editions team for approval. (© Disney)

So far Klette has created artwork inspired by the movies Beauty and the Beast, Moana, Tangled, Frozen, The Lion King, Lilo & Stitch and Mulan, as well as the characters Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Klette’s work is mainly on display at the Disney art gallery, located at the Epcot Centre in Florida, but she’s allowed to sell in Canada through her website. Her originals or reproductions can also be found at galleries authorized by Collectors Editions.

“It’s so much fun. I get to walk into my studio and paint Mickey Mouse,” Klette said. “I still do like my non-Disney, but to do Disney art, it’s such a magical and close-to-the-heart experience.”

Klette’s work can be found in hotels, resorts, private collections, home decor products, bags, puzzles and more. She also signed a book deal in 2016 for a whimsical series of adult colouring books distributed worldwide. (© Disney)

Klette said she has an extensive library of Disney books that she collected over the course of almost 40 years.

“It really is a dream come true,” she said.

Noka Aldoroty, the director of Disney Fine Art at Collectors Editions, said in a statement that Walt Disney’s ability to inspire others to create was his greatest talent.

“It amazes me that even to this day, his legacy is still inspiring artists to invent new ways of reimagining and interpreting Disney stories through their own creative lens,” Aldoroty said.

“We saw in Denyse a truly unique point of view artistically, and we could not be more excited to share her talents with Disney fans and art collectors around the world.”

One of Klette’s pieces is a Moana-inspired painting with a custom-sculpted frame. (© Disney)

Klette’s work can be found in hotels, resorts, private collections, home decor products, bags, puzzles and more. She also signed a book deal in 2016 with Macmillan Publishers for a whimsical series of adult colouring books distributed worldwide.

She is currently working on pieces inspired by Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmations and Ursula from The Little Mermaid

The Morning Edition – Sask5:15Sask. woman first Canadian to be chosen as fine artist for Disney’s Collectors Editions

From The Lion King to Moana, Disney animation has inspired decades of memorable characters. Now, a Saskatoon artist is joining the elite ranks of those who bring the magic of Disney to life. Denyse Klette is the first Canadian to be signed by Collectors Editions, as an officially published artist of Disney Fine Art. Denyse joins host Stefani Langenegger to talk about her unique artistic style and being signed to Disney. 5:15

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Crypto art is gaining traction and one of its biggest stars is an artist from Thunder Bay – The Globe and Mail



Artist Michah Dowbak was born and raised in Thunder Bay.

Mad Dog Jones

Last year at this time, Michah Dowbak had never heard of crypto art. Last week, his latest drop grossed more than US$4.3-million – the bulk of that in the space of five minutes. This has cemented the Thunder Bay-born and raised artist – who goes by the name Mad Dog Jones – as a crypto-art sensation, with the most successful primary drop to date on the Nifty Gateway platform.

“How do you describe making $4-million in five minutes?” Dowbak said a few days afterward. “My hands were numb, for one. I couldn’t feel my fingertips. My whole body was shaking.”

Crypto art is digital art with an attached unique identifier, in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT), on the blockchain. NFTs can’t be replicated and only the holder of the NFT can own that piece of crypto art.

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The work is offered in “drops” – online sales that generally happen in two ways. Buyers can purchase an open edition (think of it as a numbered print, in traditional art terms). Each edition is sold at a set price, but purchasers have only five minutes to buy. The other part of a drop is the auction of a 1/1 edition, a single unique work. Bids for those are taken for 23 hours.

Broadwalk by Dowbak, also known as Mad Dog Jones.

Mad Dog Jones

The sales are held on platforms such as SuperRare and Nifty Gateway, which is the site Dowbak uses. Nifty Gateway, which launched its platform last March, is owned by Gemini – the company founded and controlled by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twins perhaps best known for their Facebook history.

The crypto-art market has grown steadily, building to a buzz now audible in the mainstream, in large part because of the artist known as Beeple (real name Mike Winkelmann). Beeple’s opus is currently for sale at Christie’s – the first time the storied auction house is selling a purely digital work. Bids are being taken over two weeks.

Separately, on Wednesday, a work of Beeple’s sold on the secondary market through Nifty Gateway for US$6.6-million.

Beeple made US$660,000 from that. Unlike traditional sales of art, artists in the digital space earn a percentage of secondary sales; 10 per cent is standard. This is a major departure from the fine art world, where an artist is paid only for the original sale.

The platform also takes a cut – on both primary sales and secondary sales.

Buyers often come from the crypto space, says Tommy Kimmelman, head of artist relations at Nifty Gateway. “It’s largely technical-minded people who inherently understand how this stuff works. But we are starting to expand into other demographics.” He says the platform did about US$8.5-million in sales in January and, in a staggering jump, more than US$50-million in February.

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Owners might display the art through their online profile – their website, social-media accounts, etc. It can also be cast to a screen, such as a TV or a tablet to show in a physical setting.

A common question, as people try to wrap their heads around this, is: Couldn’t somebody just screengrab the art and display it without actually owning it?

“Well, sure,” Dowbak says. “Somebody could also take a picture of the Mona Lisa. But they don’t own the Mona Lisa.”

Dowbak, 35, grew up around art; his father, Damon, is a glass artist and the family business involves stained glass windows. Michah and his brother Josh were sometimes used as models. “There’s a Last Supper window where I’m one of the disciples and my brother is Jesus,” says Dowbak during a phone interview, while out walking his dog Diablo in the rural community of Kaministiquia, outside of Thunder Bay, where he lives.

You can detect a stylistic influence from those early stained glass windows on Dowbak’s crypto art: the bright colours, the line work. The subject matter, however, is another thing. His work, as described by Nifty Gateway, is “a cyberpunk rendition of metropolitan lifestyle rooted in nature.” A black cat lounges in a laundromat as laundry spins in one of the machines and breaking news scrolls by on the television above. Or a taxi is stuck in a storm, its doors flung open as its hazard lights flash, along with lightning in a purple sky.

Music was his first career. A classically trained violinist, high-school turntablist and keyboardist, Dowbak played with Coleman Hell, who had a breakout hit 2 Heads, in 2015. Dowbak was also making art for bands – such as posters and album covers.

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He started his Mad Dog Jones Instagram page in 2017. The account gained traction and Dowbak’s design career took off. He did work for Diesel, the Snowpiercer TV series, the Conor McGregor Reebok campaign, Maroon 5′s Super Bowl halftime show. With the art career momentum, Dowbak stepped away from music.

He heard about crypto art last summer and was immediately intrigued. He did his first drop on Nifty Gateway in November: 100 pieces that he sold for one dollar each.

He did more drops and charged more. There was some income from secondary sales, too. One piece that originally sold for US$3,500 was purchased by a secondary collector for US$18,000. It was steady and encouraging.

Dowbak’s manager Jonathan Simkin, who runs 604 Records.


In a deal he put together by his manager Jonathan Simkin – who runs 604 Records, Coleman Hell’s label – Dowbak collaborated with musician Deadmau5 for his next drop. (Digital art can also have a soundtrack.)

That drop grossed more than US$404,000. “Just total flabbergasted pandemonium of the mind,” is how Dowbak felt. “It was really a turning point.”

Still, it wasn’t clear how much of that success was due to the involvement of star musician Deadmau5.

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Another drop was planned for February 18. They called it Crash + Burn.

“There were a lot of eyes on this drop, in that world, to really get a sense of where the value is,” notes Simkin. “Did we gross [that amount] with Deadmau5 because of his name, because of Michah’s fan base, or a little of both?”

Why would I care I’m just a cat? by Mad Dog Jones priced at US$2,500.

Mad Dog Jones

There were two open collections: Why would I care I’m just a cat? priced at US$2,500 each and Déjà Vu, priced at US$5,000 each. The first sold 909 works; the second, 328. The 1/1 auction for Boardwalk sold for US$388,888. The total was more than US$4.3-million. Of that, US$3.9-million was raised in those first five minutes.

“You have to understand how insane it is,” says Simkin, who was watching from Vancouver. “I’m sitting there on Thursday when the timer starts: and I’m refreshing my screen … in disbelief, watching Michah becoming a multimillionaire in five minutes.”

Another part of Crash + Burn involved those pieces Dowbak sold for one dollar each, way back in November when he was a crypto-art rookie. He released seven new 1/1 artworks. But they couldn’t be purchased with money. The only way to get those pieces was to collect five of those US$1 works from his first drop and trade them for one of the new ones. Once the old works are sent to Dowbak, he destroys them (“burn” is the crypto term).

Déjà Vu by Mad Dog Jones.

Mad Dog Jones

That pushed up the secondary-market price of those works that originally sold for US$1 – benefiting Dowbak, sure, as the strategy drove up his prices, but mostly rewarding the people who had invested in him.

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“Holy crud,” he said at one point as we spoke late Wednesday night. One of those original US$1 pieces had just sold for more than US$47,000 and another for US$49,000, as a buyer attempted to collect five to trade them in for one of Crash + Burn’s new pieces.

Dowbak plans to pay off his parents’ mortgage, contribute to care for his nephew, who has autism; and give to charity. And continue to make art.

“What’s crazy, too – I don’t want to sound cocky, but the year is not done. There’s still more that we can do here,” he says. “And that’s what’s breaking my brain about this.”

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