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Looking under the tree

Local creative personalities make their seasonal wishes

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Saturday, Dec 21, 2013 06:00 am

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The Gazette asked some notable newsmakers in the arts community the following question: “If you could have any present for Christmas, what would you choose?”

These are their responses:

“If only I knew the answer. I am not a big Christmas person. I think we have gotten too wrapped up in the commercialism. I have always been a much better giver than receiver.

“I suppose I would want to take my family over to meet my family in South Africa. I wish that I could have done it when my granny was still alive; it would be great for my granddad to meet them, even if he might be a bit confused.

“Otherwise I am your boring smiles, love, warm bed and food for everyone kind of girl. Even when I was little; one year all I wanted was for my parents to sponsor a child in need.”

– Bronwen Johnston-Strembiski, author/blogger/businessperson

“It would be that, if I had unlimited funds to spend and a year to do nothing else, it would be to spend my time visiting the best galleries and art museums in the world. I have been to several in other countries already, but the enrichment of visiting them again and seeing new ones would be my greatest wish.

“When I visited Amsterdam last year and saw a retrospective of Van Gogh's work – then saw Rembrandt, Vermeer, and other Dutch and Flemish artists – this was unparalleled to anything I had seen in recent years. The many periods of art from the early 1200s which were comprised of mostly monastic and religious themes up to modern contemporary works, all of these provide me with an opportunity to share, if only briefly, insight into the working styles of these masters of the paintbrush.”

– Bev Bunker, visual artist

“I had some initial thoughts but they all seemed small and selfish. Thinking about important events happening around me brought me to a more substantial, yet simpler wish.

“In recent years, I have seen quite a number of friends or family members of friends suffer and pass away prematurely as a result of cancer. So, my wish is for even just a little more quality time for everyone to spend with their loved ones and on their most enthusiastic pursuits.”

– Rick Rogers, visual artist/gallery owner

“I would choose for every child to have the opportunity to attend school to the highest level of which she or he is capable, and one day we could achieve worldwide literacy. I believe our ability to read and write is one of our best human attributes.”

– Corinne Jeffery, author of the Understanding Ursula trilogy

“It's a hard question. The one thing I want the most I can't have, so instead of what I want this is what I want for the people I love and care about: faith to carry them through the good and the bad, good health to last a long lifetime, love, happiness, wisdom, success and prosperity. Add in a good daily belly laugh and that should pretty much cover it.”

– Memory Roth, visual artist

“That's easy. I'm afraid I'd have to ask for Vincent Van Gogh's last painting, Wheat Field With Crows.”

– Miles Constable, visual artist

“The best Christmas present that I could receive is being able to visit my family for Christmas. And indeed I am flying home from Lima, Peru for a week to do just that!”

Dave Ranson, philanthropist/world traveler

“To keep it simple, the main thing that I would love to see is people valuing themselves in a healthy way and in turn recognizing the value of everyone else on this planet. It would be a dream to witness everyone working together (as opposed to against one another) in tune with nature and its wisdom (as opposed to raping it), thereby bringing significant rejuvenation to the earth. A hippie answer, I know, but something's gotta give. It's a huge shift, but I believe it is possible.”

– Judy Hemmerling-Schafers, visual artist

“The first thing that crossed my mind was that I want my mom and my husband to be together with me. My mom is still in Russia, and I miss her very much. When I go visit her, my husband usually cannot come with me. So I really want to take my mom to Canada to live with us.

“Also, because of this recent tension over the Arctic, I want to turn the whole polar territory into an international park and scientific zone, like Antarctica. I do not want my husband to go to war with Russia ‘to protect Santa Claus’ as some people in the Canadian government say. You know, it is really serious for me.”

– Nataliya Bukhanova-Schultz, visual artist/author

“Non-material: a happy, healthy loving family. Material: finances that allowed me to travel and experience the world with my family for education and enjoyment.”

– Corey Hochachka, master photographer/caver/reptile lover

“Honestly just a lot of smiles and babbling from my three-month-old daughter, Elliot. And maybe for her to like the Christmas present I'm getting her (it's still a secret for now, but it's musical).”

– Brad Necyk, visual artist/arts instructor

“An iPad for late-night writing and watching Netflix in bed. And, I'd want to give that as a gift too (and load it with my favourite Canadian titles in iBooks).”

– Jessica Kluthe, author/communications instructor

“Life is busy and complicated and when asked a question like that I have to actually pause and reflect for a few days – in between practices, competition, get-togethers with friends, meals with family – on what I have in order to determine what I would like, and the answer is nothing.”

– Pearl Der, visual artist

“I’d have my parents back. They died in a house fire when I was 18, and if they came my kids could see them.”

– Darwin Krips, euphonium player/music teacher

“Travel. I’d love to go to the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu. I like to go to music festivals or Stratford or TIFF and be part of the action and see the sights.”

– Katie Elliott, St. Albert Theatre Troupe actor/director

“I think I would say health for my mother. She suffers from emphysema and there’s no cure. They’re able to treat it but there’s no turning back.”

– Capt. Patrice Arsenault, commanding officer and director of music for Royal Canadian Artillery Band

“If I could get anything I wanted, it would be a one-way ticket to anywhere in the world.”

– Arielle Ballance, St. Albert Children’s Theatre actor

“I’d want to perform for a charity benefit. I like Free the Children and anything in support of the SPCA and youth shelters.”

– Alex Zaichkowski, television star/singer

“The only thing that comes to mind is a custom made pair of tap shoes.”

– Paige Tirs, dancer

“Time – more time, infinite time. There is always so much to accomplish in life and there is never enough time to spend with my family, to work at the business and to help in the world.”

– Camille Beaudoin, film/television producer

“One thing I’ve always wanted since I was a kid was to win the lottery so I could pay off my parents’ debts. I would just like to pop in the kitchen and say ‘Hey, give me all your bills’ and here’s another million. They’ve always been so supportive of what I do.”

– Rachel Bowron, music director for St. Albert Children’s Theatre

“An automatic shaver and you can guess why.”

– Sean Bedard, Go 4 Broke improviser

“Well, for starters, I would like Canada to get a new prime minister. That's what I was thinking. Shiny, brand new and with moving parts (or, rather, capable of being moved)”

– Paul Zits, author/poet


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