Something for everyone during StArtsFest

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There’s going to be art on the left and culture on the right every which way you turn your head this weekend. For four days starting tomorrow, St. Albert is celebrating Alberta Culture Days with its own version, appropriately named StArtsFest.

“It’s shaping up to be a pretty good year,” said Heather Dolman, festival co-chair. “We’re trying to showcase as many of the different genres of art and culture that we can with our local artists. There’s a lot of them.”

She isn’t just whistling Dixie either. While it would be impossible to give all of them their chance to shine, these next four days have a lot to offer. It all starts off on Dolman’s home turf at the St. Albert Public Library with metro Edmonton writer-in-residence Richard van Camp leading the charge.

Starting at 7 p.m. tomorrow, he will host an Indigenous Movie Night featuring the work of some of Canada’s best Indigenous filmmakers. It’s appropriate for teens and adults. It’s free of course, but organizers hope that people will pre-register on the library’s website to confirm their seats.

Things really kick off on Friday though. Leo Nickerson Elementary will once again be hosting its annual Celebration of the Arts, a daylong extravaganza co-ordinated by the festival’s other co-chair, Andrea Daly. On the school’s website, it’s described as a great opportunity for the kids to meet with working artists, musicians, actors, photographers, quilters, knitters, and others where they can make art, listen to music, explore and ask questions, and generally become exposed to a wide variety of fine arts. It sounds so cool that it might make you wish that you were in grade 6 again.

At the same time, the Art Gallery of St. Albert will celebrate the country with Dreaming of Canada: a mail art project. Artists including Pierre Bataillard, Mustafa Cevat Atalay, Jeff Chan, Gerry Dotto, Susan Greenbank, Stella Kaufman, Yuchang Li, Marc Nipp, and Dorian Ribas Marinho. They share their national hopes and impressions as a way of marking the sesquicentennial. People can check out www.dreamingofcanada.ca to see what they came up with, or stop in at the gallery’s bank vault to see them in person. It runs until Saturday.

Back at the library later that evening, the organizers behind the Amplify Youth Festival have a special event. A book of writing and visual art has been compiled and is ready for its big unveiling.

The anthology is called The Opposite of Adults and it features the literary and visual arts contributions of more than 40 young artists from St. Albert, Edmonton, Spruce Grove and Athabasca.

“I’m so excited for this,” exclaimed youth festival associate Kathleen Bell. “It turned out amazing. It’s like … a book. It’s not a magazine. It’s substantial.”

Among the contributors include such recognizable names as Julia Sorensen, Andrea Shipka and Celine Caruso but there are oodles of new creative types who have chosen this venue as a way of poking their heads above the crowd.

Some people are very familiar to the Amplify crowd but there are a lot of new names too.

“That was really exciting because it felt like we hit something new and that we were reaching out to a different set of artists. We’re always trying engage all kinds of artists. I think we did that with this book.”

The intriguing short stories, poetry, photographs and paintings are produced in an excellent edition that will be on sale during the sold out event. It’s all wrapped up with an excellent front cover photo by Felix Larouche, a lively long exposure at the intersection of Bellerose Drive and McKenney Avenue from just past dusk in the summertime. One might mistake St. Albert Trail for the Las Vegas strip from such an image.

The event will feature some readings by Sorensen, Shipka and Michael Jensen.

“It’s going to be a really fun night, a night where the artists will feel really proud of themselves.”

Bell acknowledged everyone’s courage for putting their work out there, which is often scary enough for an author of any age.

If that’s not your thing then you could head over to the Skybox Grill at Servus Place for a paint party hosted by Tyler Dianocky of Art After Dark. He’ll guide 100 participants in creating a geometric landscape on wood. It’s appropriate for artists aged 16 and up. All supplies are provided and tickets are free on a first-come, first-served basis through Eventbrite.

On Saturday, you can return to the library for Celebrate! a family drop-in program where people can design and build their own cardboard box car and then drive it into the movie theatre for some great family-friendly National Film Board films.

Just outside the library but not outside the building, members of the St. Albert Place Visual Arts Council will host Watch, Create & Play! in the studios and halls of St. Albert Place. It’s a series of exhibits and interactive demonstrations and crafts including painting, wheel pottery, calligraphy and book binding, corsage making, and hands-on quilting.

Less than a block away, painter Tammy Taylor will give a demonstration at the Visual Arts Studio Association in the Hemingway Centre at 25 Sir Winston Churchill Ave. In Lions Park, the first ever Multicultural Fest will take place. It will be a mini-St. Albert version of Heritage Days with international dance and music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

An open mic showcase will feature the spoken word literary awesomeness of local writers and performers. That’s at the Good Earth Coffeehouse from 2 to 4 p.m.

At the end of the day, the library once again plays host to a special event. This time, it’s Thomas Trofimuk who will be launching his new book, This is All a Lie. It explores the consequences of losing intimacy through different relationship settings.

“Not only is he a wonderful writer but he is genuinely happy to come out and meet people, talk about his work and chat with his audience and I know this will be a great event,” Dolman said.

He will be in conversation with former regional writer-in-residence Gail Sidonie Sobat. Books will be available for purchase and signing. It’s free to attend but pre-registration is required at www.sapl.ca, by calling 780-459-1682 or at Eventbrite.

As for Sunday, there’s morning Zumba at the St. Albert Place plaza at 10 a.m. with Calling the Northern Lights, van Camp’s magical journey through story.   That’s back at the library starting at 2 p.m.

More complete details on all of these events can be found at www.startsfest.ca.

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About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.