When the province announced it was limiting public indoor gatherings, the performing arts took a hit. Symphonies, art galleries, theatres — all had to re-imagine how they were going to reach their audience. Keeping the arts afloat is a challenge, even in good years. But across northeastern Ontario, troupes are showing some resilience and imagination.
The Sudbury Theatre Centre is one of those groups changing with the times.
Artistic director John McHenry says they’re hanging on by the skin of their teeth, cancelling the entire 2020-21 season.
So they’ve turned to radio to keep the audience engaged.
McHenry and his team have just embarked on what he hopes will be a live weekly podcast. And he hopes it will help satisfy the theatre audience.
“It’s that live experience … I know it’s a cliche, but there’s nothing like a group of like-minded people coming into a theatre. And when those house lights go down to dark and the show begins and you’re just all there in that moment … and the show was different last night and it will be different tomorrow night,” he said.
“What you are seeing is just for you because who knows what’s going to happen because it’s live, right? And when you do a podcast or a radio show or even a TV show, you hope somebody is on the other end listening or viewing it on the TV.”
Over at the Art Gallery of Sudbury, exhibits are open, but it’s changed how people interact with the artwork. Big opening celebrations or group tours are gone. Instead, there are small, private tours for groups of six, as well as virtual visits of the art on display.
Curator Demetra Chistakos says it’s been a big adjustment.
“You miss that sense of people coming together in groups … meeting other people that you might not know and sharing an experience that’s larger than yourself,” she said.
Where the art gallery lives, at the Bell mansion, only seven people can fit into Gallery One.
“We have about a thousand square feet in each floor. And so, this experience of distance, I think, is people have adapted to it and they’ve done their best. You can do some coming together virtually. But they’re missing the human touch and that you can’t replace. It’s a period of distance.”
She said they’re doing their best to comply and accommodate and keep people safe.
“But it’s not the same as being able to freely assemble and to really share enthusiasm and questions and that in-person experience of art.”
In Timmins, their Symphony is planning to go live — but broadcast on Facebook.
“In terms of rehearsal, we’re having to adhere very strictly to everything that our local health unit, the province and the country, laid out,” said conductor Joshua Wood.
“We went out and we bought a bunch of protective equipment … we have masks, wipes, everything like that. Because of the strict guidelines that the government put out for wind and brass instruments, we ordered 15 or 20 custom-made plastic shields that fit over the stands. So they act as a barrier between the wind players and the rest of the ensemble in the audience. And we’ve had to obviously shrink the number of people on stage because they have to be double spaced, two meters apart.”
The live audience may not be present, Wood says that’s not stopping them from sharing the gift of music.
“We’re still we’re trucking along right now. We’ve got a few rehearsals and the orchestra has adapted really, really well.”
Morning North6:20How arts groups are coping during the pandemic
Process of bringing more public art to downtown Charlottetown begins again – The Journal Pioneer
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —
At a glance
Following are some of the ideas submitted to Charlottetown’s arts advisory board on the types of public art people would like to see:
• Large murals on plain side of buildings
• Water fountains
• Bench art
• Painting the Irving tanks
• Urban lounge furniture for city’s parks
• Suspended overhead lighting
• Artistically designed lighting systems
• Locally-made Christmas decorations
• Roundabout art
Did you know?
• Anyone with an idea for public art or landowners willing to have a mural painted on the side of their building should email MacLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Efforts to add some splashes of public art around downtown Charlottetown are moving forward.
The city’s arts advisory board met on Tuesday and voted to move to the next stage, which is to seek out landowners who might be willing to have a mural painted on the side of the building.
The board hosted an open house at The Guild on March 5 to give the public a peek at the many ideas which were submitted as part the Imagine Charlottetown initiative. However, everything came to a screeching halt shortly after that when public health restrictions were put in place, all but putting the public art process on hold.
However, the Imagine Charlottetown initiative is back on the rails again.
“We’re not moving as fast as we would like to, but we are putting our ducks in a row to start the process of creating ore public art in downtown Charlottetown,’’ Barb MacLeod, chairwoman of the arts advisory board, told The Guardian following Tuesday’s meeting.
The board has decided to start the process by trying to find locations for murals because it was the top suggestion when the board put out a call for ideas. A key part of that process is finding ideal locations and willing landowners.
They’re hoping to find at least a handful of landowners in the downtown area who think a touch of colour would look nice on the side of their building.
MacLeod is quick to point out that they have no intention of putting a mural on the side of any sort of historic building.
“We’re trying to take the areas that are not attractive and make them more attractive. As beautiful as Charlottetown is, there are a few bits and pieces that aren’t too shiny. Maybe some landowners will read this article in the paper and think their building would be perfect and want to be put on the list. All we’re doing is creating a list.’’
Willing landowners will be asked to sign what the board is calling a pre-approval agreement, which is not binding.
“It just says, ‘right now, we’re pretty interested in having you consider our building for a mural’. That’s step one.’’
Once the board comes up with a handful of locations it will submit the list to the planning department. The challenges are this point will be dealing with city bylaws.
Once it gets approval from planning, it will then submit the dimensions of the buildings before requesting ideas from local artists. However, the artists who submit ideas won’t be the ones painting the actual murals.
“The painting of the mural is done by a mural team. And, all of that would have to be costed out, according to the size of the mural.’’
MacLeod estimates each mural would cost between $100 and $500, all depending on the size and detail.
MacLeod acknowledges it’s not the best time to be asking the city for money.
“But, we’re still going to ask and try and get one mural done a year for the next three years,’’ she said.
Dave Stewart is the municipal reporter for The Guardian.
Winnipeg Art Gallery exhibition puts spotlight on Inuit clothing and jewelry – CBC.ca
Art fans will have a chance to preview some of the work that will be featured at the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit art centre at a new exhibition on Inuit clothing and jewelry design.
“The amount of detail that goes into making some of the parkas and then even the smaller, finer jewelry pieces, it really is spectacular to see,” said Jocelyn Piirainen, curator of the Inuk Style exhibition.
The exhibition opened Oct. 10 and runs until May 2. The Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit art centre, which unveiled its name — Qaumajuq — on Wednesday, is expected to open in 2021.
Inuk Style features work from Inuit clothing designers and jewelry makers from all across the Canadian Arctic. The items from the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s permanent collection as well as the Government of Nunavut’s Fine Arts Collection, which is on long-term loan at the gallery.
Piirainen is Inuk, from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, and is the assistant curator of Inuit Art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
“I felt that these pieces are really quite contemporary and some of these works, I feel like they haven’t been given… enough spotlight,” said Piirainen.
Many of the pieces are considered wearable pieces of art and include hand-carved necklaces and jewelry, and a number of amautis — winter parkas worn and designed by Inuit women — some of which include intricate beading detail.
Piirainen said today’s Inuit designers are often paying homage to the past by fusing old techniques with modern contemporary design, creating something new.
“I’ve been noticing that with Inuit artists and some Indigenous artists, that they have mostly been influenced by a lot of the elders and the traditional kind of styles and designs, and then making it their own,” said Piirainen.
“There’s a lot of contemporary jewelry artists and contemporary seamstresses that are taking from what they know and what they’ve grown up with, in terms of design work.”
‘You know right away that it’s Inuit’
Martha Kyak is an artist and clothing designer from Pond Inlet, Nunavut, who also teaches Inuktitut and Inuit history at Nunavut Sivuniksavut college in Ottawa.
When she moved to Ottawa nearly 10 years ago, she needed to supplement her income. She started making parkas, advertised them on social media and then turned it into a business called InukChiq, a riff on the term inukshuk.
Kyak doesn’t have a piece in the Inuk Style exhibition, but has contributed an amauti which will be on display at the Qaumajuq art centre when it opens in the new year.
When it comes to Inuit style in general, she said the designs are inspired by the northern climate.
“Since Inuit live in a cold place, there’s a lot of warm clothing,” said Kyak.
“There’s parkas and the amauti is one of the unique designs — where you carry a baby in the back, and the tail. It’s so unique and [different from] other cultures. You know right away that it’s Inuit when you see this garment.”
Kyak said contemporary Inuit clothing style is not much different than the past and that she was taught how to make clothing by her late grandmother, Letia Panipakoocho.
“If you look at old photos, you can tell how creative and innovative the Inuit were,” said Kyak.
“When I was growing up, that’s all I saw. They are the ones that inspired me, especially my grandmother who was blind. She was still able to sew and watching her sewing, that inspired me not to stop, even when there’s obstacles.”
One of the items that is on display at the Inuk Style exhibition is a parka that was part of a collaboration between Inuit seamstresses and the Canada Goose outerwear company in 2018.
Kyak said she hopes partnerships between Inuit artists and companies like Canada Goose will continue and hopes that the designs become mainstream.
“For my design in the future, I think it should be more global. Other retailers… should be buying Inuit designs or Indigenous designs,” said Kyak.
The Inuk Style exhibition will be on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery until May 2021.
Winnipeg Art Gallery renames its Inuit Art Centre as Qaumajuq – The Globe and Mail
The Inuit Art Centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is now Qaumajuq.
The WAG announced Wednesday that a circle of language keepers have given an Inuktitut name to the centre. Qaumajuq (pronounced HOW-ma-yourq) means “It is bright, it is lit,” a reference to the light that flows into the new building through its glass front.
The centre, which was set to open next month, is now expected to launch in February, 2021. It will house the largest public collection of Inuit art in the world, holdings that include more than 7,000 pieces on long-term loan from the government of Nunavut.
The art includes contemporary prints, drawings and sculptures, and rare historic pieces, most of which will be on public display for the first time. The centre, which will launch with free admission for all Indigenous visitors, will feature a glass vault, a system of open storage letting people see a larger number of works.
The renaming of Qaumajuq, which the WAG says is the first of its kind at a major art institution in Canada, is an initiative that responds to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, both of which include articles stressing the importance of Indigenous languages.
The language keepers representing both Inuit communities and Indigenous peoples in the Treaty 1 territory where the WAG stands have also given the original gallery building an Anishinaabemowin name: Biindigin Biwaasaeyaah, meaning “Come on in, the dawn of light is here.” The gallery will continue to be known as the Winnipeg Art Gallery, but the Biindigin Biwaasaeyaah name is intended to signify the presence of Indigenous languages at the institution.
The names were arrived at by virtual consultations lead by Dr. Julie Nagam and Dr. Heather Igloliorte, co-chairs of the WAG Indigenous advisory circle, and joined by a group of fluent Indigenous language keepers and elders. The group included both the Inuit, and First Nations and Metis from the Winnipeg area. The languages represented are Inuktitut (Inuit), Inuvialuktun (Inuit), Anishinaabemowin (Anishinaabe/Ojibway), Nêhiyawêwin (Ininiwak/Cree), Dakota (Dakota), and Michif (Metis), and the names can be heard at wag.ca.
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