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Winning design for $130M Art Gallery of Nova Scotia pays homage to Mi'kmaq – CBC.ca

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A symbol of Mi’kmaw culture will be front and centre when the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia opens on Halifax’s waterfront in the coming years.

The winning design for the new $130-million gallery includes a peaked hat shape at the entrance of the building, reminiscent of the headdress worn by Mi’kmaw women.

Halifax architect Omar Gandhi said the team wanted to design a building that tells a story about where it is from.

“I think we did a really good job of taking that symbol, which really is unique to Mi’kmaw culture,” he said.

“We chose to celebrate that. I think what will strike people and I hope they take away, is that something like this could happen here, and it was in part done by people from here, and it was to honour people that have always been here.”

The design team, led by KPMB Architects, was one of three groups that submitted competing proposals for the new gallery. The winning proposal was the unanimous choice of an international jury.

The art gallery is expected to be completed in 2025. (Art Gallery of Nova Scotia/Twitter)

Mi’kmaw elder Lorraine Whitman was part of the design team, which also included Jordan Bennett Studio, Public Work and Transsolar.

“It is such a diverse province,” said Whitman, who serves as president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

“To know we are the first people and to be included in this project is so inspirational, and I truly feel humbled to be part of it.”

An engineering firm specializing in storm water management was consulted as part of the design of the 142,000-square-foot building, which factored in storm surge and sea level rise due to climate change.

A harbour view of the planned new art gallery. (KPMB Architects)

The gallery will be slightly above ground level on Lower Water Street, with no subterranean spaces for displays.

“It’s not going to be a bathtub down the road,” said Gandhi.

Public consultations leading to a final design will begin in the new year.

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia expects to break ground on the 1.6-hectare site in the fall of 2021, with the building completed in the spring of 2025.

The project is being funded with $70 million from the province, $30 million from the federal government and $30 million from an Art Gallery of Nova Scotia fundraising campaign.

Sobeys donating $10M

That got a big head start thanks to two Sobey family foundations — the Donald R. Sobey Foundation and the Sobey Foundation — which will donate $10 million toward the new gallery.

Speaking on behalf of the foundations, Rob Sobey said the family was happy to continue its contributions to the visual arts. It has long sponsored an annual artists award.

“The very fact that there is a great opportunity to do something as profound and exciting globally here in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada really struck a chord with us,” he said.

Sobey acknowledged speculation in recent years that the family may donate its remarkable collection of paintings to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, but then gently dampened hopes.

“We actually took that off the table and we went down this route of monetary funding for the art gallery instead,” he said.

“Now, you know, the future is unwritten. I don’t want to put a pin in it, you know, maybe down the road.”

‘A symbol of a city’

For the design team, winning a commission like this presents a rare opportunity to transform a cityscape with a singular piece of architecture.

The most powerful example is architect Frank Gehry’s gleaming and curvaceous Guggenheim Museum in the Spanish seaside city of Bilbao.

“I think it absolutely has as much, if not more, prospect of doing that,” said Gandhi of the Halifax project. 

“I think it’s much more deep and meaningful than just an extremely elaborate, beautiful building like Bilbao. This is a symbol of a city and a symbol of people.”

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Art is good medicine in these trying times – ThePeterboroughExaminer.com

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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.”

Tim Wilson is a freelance journalist working in Canada and Mexico. In his native Canada, for his nonfiction writing he has received a CBC Canadian Literary Award (first) and a National Magazine Award (gold). Writing as TE Wilson, he is also the author of the Detective Sánchez series of crime novels.

EC3

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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/.

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Three to See Saturday: Churchill lights, SNAP art sale and the awesome VISSIA – Edmonton Journal

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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.

Holiday Light Up has begun on Churchill Square, adding new outdoor features over the next couple weeks. Photo by supplied

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.

No Feeling is Final by Laurel Westlund is on sale at SNAP. Photo by supplied
Veiled Immersion: Suspension by Liz Ingram is on sale at SNAP. Photo by supplied

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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Charlottetown's arts advisory board to compile report on public art for city council – The Guardian

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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Charlottetown city council will be receiving a report about adding public art to the downtown by the end of January.

The city’s arts advisory board met on Tuesday to begin the process of summarizing its Imagine Charlottetown initiative.

“We’re going to write a summary of our campaign and each (arts advisory) board member is going to write a page on their expertise,” said Barb MacLeod, chairwoman of the board. “We’re going to present that to city council.”

The board hosted an open house in March just before public health restrictions were introduced around the COVID-19. The goal was to give residents a sneak peek at ideas that were submitted as part of the initiative as a first step in the process.

However, everything quickly came to a halt, all but putting the process on hold. Things got moving again in late October. Board members begin soliciting expressions of interest from building owners who might be keen to have a mural placed on the side of their structure.

As with anything, money is an issue and there are bylaws to navigate around. The board wants to make sure council is as educated as possible before moving any further.

“Hopefully, if we’ve done a good job (on the report) we will start to have them consider public art as a priority for the city; something that needs attention,” said MacLeod.

The report will include various funding channels money for public art can be accessed through.

MacLeod points to the success of public art in Halifax as what is possible. The Halifax Regional Municipality facilitates the creation and acquisition of quality public art and ensures that professional artists are involved in its creation. The Halifax region has more than 250 pieces of public art projects and installations.

“We have had such incredibly fun conversations and our visions for the city are so wonderful. We’re really hoping to be able to encapsulate what we talk about in our meetings into this summary.”

MacLeod said the ultimate goal is to have public art projects and installations reflect the people of Charlottetown.

“It’s not just about putting a mural on the side of a building,” she said. “It’s about lifting up a community in so many different ways.”

Dave Stewart is the municipal reporter for The Guardian.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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