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Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Recently, we’ve been chatting with The Works Art & Design Festival, and I wanted to update you with what they’ve planned for this year. If you haven’t come across the Festival before, it’s based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and over the past 25 years, every June they have been spreading art through the streets, office towers, malls, banks, restaurants, hotels, essentially making every location in the city part of the Festival. This guerrilla approach captivates a city and explores its inner dynamics. Begging the question, what can we learn from the place in which we live?

Bringing art into the public realm for 13 days, the Festival turns everyday people into artists, critics, and patrons. With 30+ exhibition sites, The Works brings Edmonton and its visitors a range of artistic experiences—from exhibits for viewing, to workshops for making and creating. Earth is the theme for 2010 and a definitive sign that summer has arrived is when The Works’ tents and Giant Gateways go up - transforming Sir Winston Churchill Square into an epicenter of public creativity and festival fun. How does The Works do this? An eclectic array of artisans, international food vendors, LIVE music and artist demonstrations, workshops and lectures that reflect the exciting changes and arising issues in art and design. It is truly a city-wide art extravaganza. Entering The Works’ 25th year of bringing visual arts spectacle to the streets, Festival organizers are getting ready to celebrate.

Since 2008, Festival Directors, Amber Rooke and Dawn Saunders Dahl, have been working up to the 25th anniversary with a core series of themed exhibitions. Staying current with concerns of the time, the overarching topic for three years has been Sustainability and Environmentalism. Sustainability isn’t only about recycling and being green, though this is one of The Festival’s values. Sustainability extends from ecological issues through to societal issues. Sustainable design, through to designing a sustainable future. In terms of the visual arts, each year’s theme has been an element that relates to both art and sustainability: Water in 2008, Heat in 2009, and Earth in 2010.

The Works Canadian Aboriginal Artist Program, with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, brings Aboriginal Artists, Curators and Collaborators to exhibit, demonstrate art making processes, and to discuss issues of Aboriginal Art in Canada. Featured inside The Works Big Tent for Festival 2010 will be artists Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Olivia Kachman, Leah Doiron and Maureen Enns exhibiting works that touch on sustainability and connections to the land, as well as the challenges that artists with Aboriginal heritage face whose work is ‘contemporary’ versus ‘traditional’. These important discussions will continue in upcoming festivals, as the program is slotted to continue through to 2011.

The upcoming Silver Anniversary promises to be as exciting and diverse. The Earth theme will see a holistic approach to the visual arts, considering art creation, spectacle, criticism, and activism. Featured on the main Festival site, Sir Winston Churchill Square, will be a wide and diverse array of artists at work. ‘Evolve’ by Tina Martel is a project that will involve paper casting 5 Smart cars, emphasizing the idea that although environmentally we remain “thin, fine and so easily broken”, we are taking steps to reduce, reuse and recycle. “Auto Park” by Laura St. Pierre is an outdoor performance installation creating a series of portable, partially enclosed growing spaces using the shells of six defunct cars as their main structure. Featured on The Works South Giant Gateway will be Michael Markowsky, an ambitious artist who aspires to be the first to paint on the moon by 2030, will be abstractly painting the earth and space LIVE for 13 days. American artist, Charles Wissinger was commissioned to design the North Gateway. Local artists and Works Festival interns will also be painting this design LIVE on site within the structure of The Works to Work internship program. Featured within The Works Downtown 30 + exhibits will include Kevin Friedrich’s exhibit “Beating Around the Bush” a slightly dark, yet humorous look at the human condition in response to over mechanization and fast obsolescence. As well, Chris Flodberg exhibit “Giardia and Other Recent Paintings” contains large salon style canvases focusing critical and creative lenses on the passiveness and vagaries of human perception.

There are also many opportunities to creatively participate in the Festival. These opportunities run from favourites, such as the Smaller Than a Breadbox Exhibit, in which artists show works smaller than 3x3x6 inches, and the Annual Chalk Art Contest, to special exhibits, such as that honouring the late Edmonton arts reporter, Gilbert Bouchard. For this, artists were invited to make a piece “For Gilbert” that will be exhibited on Sir Winston Churchill Square during the Festival. Perhaps designing and building is what you are interested in, so you can join the M.A.D.E. crowd, transforming scrap wood into furniture right there on-site. There are also opportunities to sign up for a free walking tour and let yourself rediscover the city with critic’s or art lover’s eyes. After your tour, be persuaded to be part of The Works Figure Drawing Workshops and settle into a picnic table to find a piece of charcoal and a drawing board. Or get the whole family involved and bravely tackle the glue and glitter of The Works Family Programs tent. There are no fees and no limits to creation.

With these projects, programs, exhibits, and installations, The Works Art & Design Festival is a forum unlike any other in North America for spectators and participants to experience the visual arts. Don’t miss out-June 25- July 7, 2010. For more information about participating in exhibits, projects, or as a vendor, or to volunteer, see www.theworks.ab.ca


(c) Ford Interior – Laura St. Pierre
(c) Casting tire – Tina Martel

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Works is the best festival in Edmonton! I love all the art, and its free!

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