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Thousands of dollars in Indigenous art missing after Bella Coola break-in – Williams Lake Tribune

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The owner of Bella Coola Wild Craft and Gallery is hoping the public will keep an eye out for thousands of dollars in Indigenous art that went missing following a break-in to her business.

Kathleen Booth learned the arts and craft store, and gallery was a victim of crime Monday morning after a worker of the Cumbrian Inn who does a daily check of the shared space noticed the back door open and heard some noise.

She said he initially thought it might have been a bear although he had quickly realized that scenario made little sense when he had ended up chasing several potential suspects who had tried to make a get away from the building on foot.

“It’s very tied into what we seem to think that is an escalation of drugs that are coming into our valley, notably meth,” Booth said, noting there were a couple of break-ins within the community prior including the boats at the wharf.

“We see behaviours of people changing.”

With the suspects having made their way through the rear door of the hotel and breaching a variety of corridors by breaking through doors, Booth estimates at least $14,000 in art by a variety of artists including a hand painted jacket of a grizzly by herself is missing.

There is also approximately $2,000 in damage.

Despite being left devastated by the event and the COVID-19 pandemic adding to the woes, Booth said things can be repaired and fixed.

“Because the drive of the business is people over profit, it will continue.”

Booth started the fairly small arts and craft store at her home-based studio in 2012 as a means of providing residents affordable quality art supplies

It was just recently she held a soft-opening for the new location of the arts and craft store, as well as to celebrate the revamp of the art gallery she had taken over management of.

“We have a lot of artists in the valley, and there’s a challenge in small communities like this with drugs and alcohol and the nothing-to-do factor,” she said. “That’s a big part of what I do through the art store is basically to make a lot of supplies accessible and at an affordable price so that we can provide an option for people to spend Friday night in a different way.”

Since opening, Booth said within the last month she has heard from many young women who tell her they are making the choice to bead over drink.

She recalled how she came from a poor background in Quebec that was challenged even more when she chose to attend the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver and would dumpster dive to salvage supplies she could use for her art due to unaffordable rent.

“For me it’s always been about empowering people no matter what step of life I’ve been through,” she said. “My mother taught me to share my gifts, share my knowledge and always try to build people up in that journey.”

Knowing that some are unable to complete the thought process leading up to their actions, Booth added she will not let the acts of one or a few individuals represent the whole of the community she has grown to love since calling it home nine years ago.

“There’s many other people that are struggling with addictions that have great respect and in honor of those people we continue, and I’ll continue, to keep those people in the foreground,” she said. “It’s too easy to let one person destroy everything for everybody.”

Anyone with further information is asked to contact RCMP or Crime Stoppers.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

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'Stealable Art' exhibit in Tokyo invites theft – CTV News

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TOKYO —
The Tokyo art exhibit opened to enthusiastic visitors, but many of those circulating weren’t just there to soak in some culture — they were casing the joint for a midnight raid.

Hours after the gallery closed for the night, a crowd had gathered ready to pounce on the artworks. The police station was nearby, but officers only intervened for crowd control, because all the pieces at the Stealable Art Exhibition were up for grabs.

The event was intended as “an experiment”, to alter the relationship between artists and visitors, organiser Tota Hasegawa told AFP.

It was originally conceived as a low-key event that might attract some covert thievery, but word spread so fast on social media that a crowd of nearly 200 people packed the streets near the gallery hoping for a chance to grab a prize.

Would-be robbers were told they could raid the gallery from midnight, but the crowd was so big that the theft started half an hour earlier, and the exhibition that had been billed as running for up to 10 days was emptied of art in less than 10 minutes.

Yusuke Hasada, 26, was a rare winner, gripping a crumpled 10,000 yen ($93) banknote in a frame, which was part of the “My Money” installation by Gabin Ito. 

He arrived an hour before midnight only to see a crowd had already formed.

Since there was no apparent queue, he manoeuvered himself into a spot right in front of the gallery.

“The moment the staff said they should open early due to the big crowd, people rushed in from behind me. I was in the front, and I almost fell over,” he told AFP.

“It was scary.” 

AUCTION RESALES

Hasada said he plans to hang the work, among those on display supplied by 10 contemporary artists, in his home.

But not everyone stealing the items appeared to have the same idea, with several artworks appearing on online auction sites within hours with price tags as high as 100,000 yen. 

Even after the exhibit was emptied out, would-be thieves continued arriving, forcing a nearby police station to dispatch officers for crowd control.

“You are blocking traffic!” officers shouted.

Yuka Yamauchi, a 35-year-old systems engineer, showed up 15 minutes before midnight but was too late.

“I entered with my husband and it was just packed with so many people… We saw larger artworks taken out by those who came earlier,” she said.

“I haven’t seen so many people in a long time as we have been refraining from going out due to the coronavirus.”

But Yamauchi didn’t leave completely empty-handed.

“I’ve got a clip… It must have been one of those used for the cloth installation. I found it dropped, so I picked it up as a souvenir,” she said with a laugh.

‘WELL-MANNERED’ THIEVES

Yamauchi recognised the clip because she was at a preview of the artwork six hours earlier to “case” the venue.

She said she would happily come back for a similar “participatory” art event, where some of the artists showcased work that was purpose-made for those hoping to make off with it.

Naoki “SAND” Yamamoto’s work “Midnight Vandalist” was composed of a stack of peelable pages with printed illustrations.

Another work was a large cloth printed with lines to be cut along with scissors.

But would-be thieves were responsible for organising their own getaway vehicles. A notice was posted at the entrance: “We do not assist art thieves with packing or transporting artworks, so you are responsible for everything.”

Organiser Hasegawa told AFP he later met with police — perhaps not used to such large-scale larceny in Japan, with its ultra-low crime rate — to clear up any misunderstandings about the event and the crowd it attracted.

He said the budding thieves had proved to be “well-mannered.”

They might have been there to stage robberies, but when “someone lost a bag with a wallet in it, it was passed onto a staffer and safely returned to the owner.”

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Métis artists launch summer public art series – paNOW

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On Friday afternoon, a small crowd gathered to watch the pair create a large chalk mural in front of the Mann Art Gallery.

“It’s a way for us to have a conversation about the Métis culture,” Dorion told paNOW. “Between ourselves, but also with the community.”

In the coming weeks, the duo plans to unveil a new installation every Friday. Over the course of the summer, the public can expect to see a herd of buffalo on the riverbank, a live Giving Tree at Kinsmen Park, and a willow labyrinth near the Field House.

Dorion explained they carefully considered the pandemic in their planning. That meant making considerations for safety, but also simply recognizing the public’s particular need for uplifting messages and accessible art at this moment.

“We wanted to share something very positive and public and outdoors,” said Dorion. “So people could be out in the fresh air, in the sunshine and the elements, and be able to easily social distance.”

The Intergenerational Métis Artist Mentorship Program builds off Dorion’s previous work with the Mann Art Gallery where she’s facilitated various community workshops. Castle is the gallery’s Art Educator.

Dorion sees the program as an important opportunity to transfer knowledge to a fellow Métis artist and art educator.

Castle is similarly enthusiastic about the project.

“I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and experience,” she said. I’m just really excited to get out there and make some art.”

The interactive element will be an important part of all five installations, and Castle said they hope to further continue the conversation online through the Mann Art Gallery’s social media channels.

“We still really wanted to connect with the community,” she said. “But because of COVID, we can’t physically do the art with groups of people. So, at least this is a way we can engage.”

The Intergenerational Métis Artist Mentorship Project is funded by the Aboriginal Arts and Culture Leadership grant from Saskculture and the Community Initiatives Fund.

alison.sandstrom@jpbg.ca

On Twitter: @alisandstrom

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'Gerryfest' to celebrate Gerry Atwell's music and art, but also his advocacy against systemic racism – CBC.ca

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A festival celebrating the life of the late Gerry Atwell is taking place in Winnipeg next month — but the night will be about more than just music and art.

Atwell, a Juno Award-winning musician known for playing the keyboard for the Winnipeg band Eagle and Hawk, died after suffering a heart attack in late November 2019.

Family and friends knew they would celebrate his life with a music festival this summer. But with people in North America demanding change once again, a key part of the daylong festival will be focused toward the fight against systemic racism — a cause Atwell long advocated for.

“We’re all missing his humanity when it comes to these types of issues,” said Judy Williams, Atwell’s sister.

“He always had a different message for the different audiences he might have been speaking with,” she said, and were he alive now, he would say “something profound, but something that would be inclusive, whether he was going to encourage someone to take some action, or think of other people.”

Atwell also would see the positive opportunities that will come through the conversations being had, added Louise May, executive director of the St. Norbert Arts Centre, where she worked with Atwell for about 25 years.

“Even though it’s coming from such negativity and such a negative event, there is so much hope through it, and so much burgeoning awareness, and ability to talk about it and ability for people to confront themselves with it,” said May.

On Black History Month, musician Joe Curtis celebrates the memory of Gerry Atwell and his mother Frances, who was one of the first black pharmacists in Manitoba. 2:25

“It’s a very, very hopeful time and I know Gerry would be pushing us to see that hope and to really manifest it.”

Gerryfest will take place on Aug. 14 — Atwell’s birthday — at the St. Norbert Arts Centre. Both Williams and May said they felt his presence during the process of organizing the event.

“Even the term ‘Gerryfest’ was Gerry’s idea,” said May. “It was something that we talked about many times, kind of in a joking way. But I knew he always wanted to really do it, which was to have a day when all of his bands played back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

“To which I always said, ‘Gerry, what, you’re going to play for seven, eight hours in one row?'” she said. “That was going to be the very best day that he could imagine for himself.”

Although Atwell won’t be there in person, his presence will be there through former bandmates and other lives he touched, May said.

The planning of Gerryfest started before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Manitoba. So the original plan of a weekend festival has been whittled down to an afternoon and evening of music and art dedicated to Atwell.

If he were still alive today, Atwell’s sister says he would be joining the fight against systemic racism, using words that are profound but also inclusive. (Submitted by Carla Williams)

“I really think we can just keep his work alive and keep building on it year after year with this,” said May, adding that this will be the first of an annual festival.

The festival will also raise funds for the Gerry Atwell Memorial Mentorship Fund, an endowment fund that will have musicians and artists mentoring young people, just like Atwell once did, said Williams.

An invitation is needed to attend the event at the St. Norbert Arts Centre, but people can tune in through livestreams online, said May.

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