Their canvas may be utilitarian, but for local First Nation artists, the art pieces wrapping four utility boxes in downtown Sidney are part and parcel of a broader resurgence in Coast Salish art and culture.
“Our art system was in grave danger for a long time,” said Charles Elliot of Tsartlip First Nation last week, while standing next to the BC Hydro box at 2464 Beacon Ave. wrapped up in his piece titled “Seals.”
“I noticed that we didn’t have our system out there to see. I actually had to go into the museums [and] private collections to look [for it],” he said.
Elliot, a master carver whose work has appeared across the world, said he chose his subject, because seals are common in the area, very playful and friendly. “An orca would be a little bit too aggressive, but seals are just friendly,” he said. He also hopes that the public will learn more Coast Salish art.
“There are quite a number of First Nations art disciplines and each discipline belongs to a certain area, and this is the Coast Salish style,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that I had good display of Coast Salish art. It was easy to do that with the seals.”
The piece “Otters & Blue Heron” by Doug LaFortune of the Tsawout First Nation stands just down the street from Elliot’s piece at 2488 Beacon Ave. “The otter is a very important piece of our culture,” said LaFortune, when asked about his choice of subject.
“It’s very spiritual. Plus I was down at the bandstand [in Beacon Park] and I saw an otter running around the lawn. I have seen him quite often, so I really like the playfulness. [Otters] are real tricky characters and I enjoy watching them all the time.”
Otters, he added, would often appear on traditional house posts. “They brought messages of good tidings and things like that,” he said.
LaFortune hopes that his art will give residents a good feeling, but also inspire them to learn more the culture of local First Nations.
“Our culture is a lot deeper than people think it is,” he said. “It’s an old, old culture. I just want the public to get a touch of it, a little taste of it.”
Two other artists — James Jimmy of Tseycum First Nation and Doug Horne of Tsawout First Nation — have also contributed respective pieces to this tableau, the “Sqto (Raven)” art on the hydro box at the corner of Fourth Street and Beacon Avenue and the “Hummingbird” near 2297 Beacon Ave, as part of Sidney’s utility box beautification program.
It started in 2006 and has since wrapped 40 utility boxes in art from established and emerging artists from across the Saanich Peninsula.
Coun. Barbara Fallot said last week the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of art in thanking the artists.
“I’m so pleased that we are able to have more public art work,” she said.
Primary funding for the project comes from the municipality, along with participation and sponsorship from local businesses and a BC Hydro grant program. Van Isle Marina has sponsored Doug Horne’s “Hummingbird” piece this year.
Earlier this year, Sidney held a ceremony in council chambers to unveil a Coast Salish spindle whorl carving by Chazz Elliot, the son of Charles Elliot, in recognition of the W̱SÁNEĆpeople, their customs and traditions.
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Kids can make art to brighten Red Deer seniors’ lodges – Red Deer Advocate
The Red Deer Public Library is calling on young artists to help brighten seniors’ lodges.
The library is calling for “mini-artists” to drop off their paper creations — whether it’s flowers, drawings, letters or cards — into bins outside two participating Red Deer seniors’ lodges this week.
They are Timberstone Mews (42 Timberstone Way) and Harmony Care (200 Inglewood Dr.).
Staff from the lodges will “proudly display the creations,” bringing joy to residents and staff.
They are also planning to make some social media posts featuring art that is on display at the lodges.
A virtual Art in the Garden festival is happening on the North Shore this weekend – North Shore News
The North Shore’s annual Art in the Garden event is gearing up to go digital this weekend.
The event has been re-imagined as a livestreamed art and music demonstration this Saturday and Sunday evening, while encouraging community members to share pictures of their own green spaces online.
Last month, North Van Arts made the decision to suspend the 21st annual Art in the Garden festival due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of practising physical distancing during an event which melds visual arts with some of the North Shore’s most extraordinary gardens.
The decision was made to offer an online version of Art in the Garden in order to keep the spirt of the long-running festival intact, according to Nancy Cottingham Powell, executive director of North Van Arts.
“Art in the Garden is the longest running North Shore garden tour and we didn’t want to just cancel this event that inspires gardeners, artists and nature lovers,” stated Powell, in a press release.
As part of its new online event, for the month of May the arts and culture organization reached out to visual artists and musicians who had participated in past festivals and asked them to create short videos outlining their work, inspiration and methodology.
The six artist videos were released weekly on North Van Arts’ social media channels and website.
This weekend, local painters Nicola Morgan and Pierre Leichner are set to take over the organization’s Instagram account as they livestream the creation of original artwork over live music performed by North Shore musicians Ava Maria Safai and Paul Silveria.
Viewers can tune in on May 30 and 31 at 7 p.m. each night.
North Van Arts is also encouraging people on the North Shore to comment and share pictures of their gardens and green spaces this weekend, as well as their own nature-inspired art, by using the hashtag #ArtintheGarden.
“These extraordinary times have forced us to look at how we connect with our community. Art in the Garden Online is an opportunity for us to support our members and local artists in a unique way,” stated Powell.
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