Diversity reigns at St. Albert Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts


It’s the time to glam up for the red-carpet craziness of the eighth annual St. Albert Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Awards.

In a partnership presentation with Night of Artists, the awards ceremony takes place at the Enjoy Centre on Thursday, March 3.

This year the judging committee has selected two Lifetime Achievement Award recipients – German born potter Elke Blodgett and British born visual artist Alan Nuttall.

In addition, 35 nominees are registered in six categories with no clear winners in sight. With the exception of the Lifetime Achievement Award winners who are a shoe-in, it’s anyone’s game.

A high-energy art slam launches the evening at 6:30 p.m. with visual artists Igor Postash, Oksana Zhelisko and Louis Lavoie under the gun to produce a fully realized painting in 45 minutes.

Throughout the competitive demo, folk singer Matthew Potter and poi performer Todd Oaken will mix and mingle as roving artists.

Thou Art Here Theatre, a merry band of Shakespearean poets dressed in Elizabethan garb, will host the evening and introduce the award winners.

Once the award presentations start, the Victoria School Mixed Choir, spoken word artist Julia Sorensen, singer-songwriter Paul Woida and contemporary ballet dancer Lauren O’Kell will perform.

“It gives a little taste of everything, but it will have a different flavour from what happened in past years. Hopefully there’s that surprise and delight. That’s what art does,” said Troy Funk, cultural services senior marketing co-ordinator.

Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

• Elke Blodgett – As a visual artist, Blodgett has built a national reputation over 40 years creating raku pottery that is part of the Banff Centre permanent collection, the Canada Council Art Bank and Edmonton’s Consulate-General of Japan. Her works were in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and she has won dozens of awards including a gold at Three Plains Ceramic Exhibition.

• Alan Nuttall – The talented painter has an in-depth knowledge of the printing industry. Nuttall’s brightly coloured, detail oriented works are inspired by St. Albert’s varying vistas. He received national prominence after his scene of Alberta’s Legislative Building represented the province in a permanent collection in Ottawa.

Youth Artist

• Eliza Cameron – An experimental visual artist, Cameron explores with eye-catching colours on varied surfaces from glass and canvas to rough wood.

• Hailey Benedict – The junior high singer-songwriter has emerged as one of Alberta’s top young vocalists equally at home in musical theatre or country. In 2014, the then 12-year-old Benedict won the Association of Country Music in Alberta fan choice award and her patriotic ballad My Sweet Alberta Home has captured the hearts of thousands.

• Janae Elisabeth Olsen – The St. Albert multi-disciplinary dancer is well versed in ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern and tap. A tap specialist, she found her groove at high-level intensives, workshops and festivals, and now teaches at Sugar Swing.

• Jarrett Krissa – A St. Albert Children’s Theatre alumnus and graduate of the Grant MacEwan College musical theatre program, Jarrett now works in the professional theatre world as a triple threat performer.

• Julia Nicholson – Raised in St. Albert, the Grade 12 Paul Kane High student is one of the city’s leading country-pop vocalists. A regular at major festivals such as Big Valley, she’s also won Global Star Search and is one of the top 10 finalists for My United Way Voice competition.

• Risa Larmand – A dancer-choreographer and teacher at DanceCo, Larmand has studied at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet School in New York and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, also in New York.

Emerging Artist

• Alexandra Dawkins – A third year University of Alberta student majoring in drama, Dawkins has performed in many groups including Citadel Theatre’s young actors company. She also acted in several Fringe shows including Pinniped and Other Poems, and Enid and the Death Wish.

• Allyson MacIvor – A recent graduate of the University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Music program, MacIvor is part of numerous orchestral groups. She is currently an on-call percussionist with the Edmonton Symphony, and plays with touring folk rock group Nature Of.

• Caitlin Wood – A soprano with soaring vocals, Wood is establishing herself as a rising star. Her recent credits include Johanna in Vancouver Opera’s Sweeney Todd and Despina at the Banff Centre’s adaptation of A Little Too Crazy.

• Calling All Captains – A five-piece pop punk band, Calling All Captains is making their voice heard. This summer they notched a lot of miles touring Canada and playing in Portland’s Warped Tour.

• Jenna Werhun – This gal is a pioneer in the Canadian tap dance scene and graduated from the University of Alberta music program. She’s opened for international heavyweights Snoop Dogg, Mya Harrison, Chris Dave and Drumhedz, and is part of Edmonton Tap Collective, a trio of local hoofers.

• Jessy Mossop – A lifelong St. Albert resident, the country-pop singer-songwriter has won more competitions than she can remember. Her big sweep was at North American Country Music Association International in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where she scooped up five first-place trophies.

• Konzy Mindana – This former St. Albert resident uses music not only to entertain, but to promote awareness of those in need. In 2015, she founded her first charity event in support of WIN.

• Maddy Knight – A St. Albert Children’s Theatre alumna, Knight has gone on to a flourishing stage career as an actor, singer and dancer with various companies across the capital region.

• Sarah Ormandy – Still in school, Ormandy is currently working to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting. She has also honed her acting, singing and improvisational skills during several seasons at the Edmonton Fringe Festival.

• Shay Esposito – A two-time Edmonton Music Award nominee, Esposito is an indie-pop singer-songwriter. She released her first album two years ago and through her music continues to fight for more awareness of mental illness.

• Thursdays – A young local five-piece ska band from Paul Kane High, Thursdays is a group that instinctively connects with audiences. Its performance at the 2015 Amplify Festival rocked the audience with its tight form and high energy.

• Zach Polis – A writer, composer and filmmaker who likes to reflect, Polis finds inspiration walking along nature trails.

Established Artist Award

• Carol Johnson – She is a prominent visual artist who immerses herself in subject matters of still life, nature scenes, animal studies and humanity. Her work is realistic with a few experiments into the abstract such as Hubble, Cloud, Water and Movement series.

• Craig Schram – One of the founders of The Provincial Archive, an award-winning indie-pop trio, Schram grew up in St. Albert and has led the band through the release of four CDs and numerous tours across Canada and Europe.

• Randy B. Williams – Randy has enjoyed an eclectic career as a producer, engineer, recording artist, musician, academic, human rights advocate, artist, publisher and educator.

Excellence in Arts Teaching

• Andrea Daly – She is a teacher at Leo Nickerson Elementary and co-ordinates the school’s arts days. She is also a guest co-ordinator for Cantilon Choir’s Music and Masterpiece auction, and is a member of the St. Albert Cultivates the Arts committee.

• Brendan Kuzma – A core dancer with the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, Kuzma uses his expertise to teach in Edmonton and the outlying areas of Thorhild and Glendon.

• Curtis Bamford – A professional military musician with the Royal Canadian Artillery Band, Bamford volunteers as a music instructor with the St. Albert Air Cadets.

• Curtis Labelle – The Canadian pianist is director of the theatre arts department for Visionary College, has freelanced as an artistic/musical director for productions across North America, and dabbles in new works through his personal production company.

• Darryl Price – A Newfoundland transplant, Price moved to St. Albert to work at Paul Kane High School. As a music director, he was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award for the province. He is currently a bassoonist for the University of Alberta Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the University Symphony Orchestra.

• Jacqueline Pooke – A choreographer and dance instructor, Pooke has been part of St. Albert Children’s Theatre since 1997 and is an instructor at MacEwan’s University theatre program. She also performed on the BBC, toured the Far East, performed with the ESO and Rythmatix.

• Karen May Healey – She is a passionate educator at Bellerose High who encourages her students to find their voice through spoken word poetry.

• Rachel Bowron – The triple threat performer has been music director for St. Albert Children’s Theatre since 2008 and has worked on 15 productions. Bowron is also one of Edmonton’s strongest comediennes and has appeared in numerous productions including Teatro La Quindicina’s Saint Albert, a love letter to our community.

• Taya Alexander – “Miss Taya” as she is known to hundreds of St. Albert students, has taught early childhood music through private and group voice lessons.

Leadership Award

• Geoff Manderscheid – Working through the St. Albert Public Library, Manderscheid is a co-ordinator, facilitator and emcee of numerous poetry slams and readings including the annual Teen Poetry Slam.

• Miles Constable – Coming to the art world late in life, Constable has taken it on with vengeance. He is actively involved with St. Albert Painters Guild and the Visual Arts Studio Association. He recently joined The Goop of Seven and gets to glop gooey paint onto canvas.

• Nancy Watt – In addition to being a much sought after piano instructor and pianist, Watt was one of the founding directors of the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Awards and is the driving force behind the highly successful and prestigious St. Albert Chamber Music Recital Series.

Arts Group Award

• St. Albert Chamber Music Recital Series – Now in its sixth edition, the series hosts five classical music concerts each season. It brings together local musician-composers of national and international stature.

• St. Albert Place Visual Arts Council – A liaison group of visual artists, SAPVAC participates in community events, hosts the annual Country Craft Fair and operates W.A.R.E.S. gift shop.


St. Albert Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Awards
Thursday, March 3 at 6:30 p.m.
Enjoy Centre
101 Riel Dr.
Tickets: $25 Call 780-459-1542 or at ticketmaster.ca


About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.