Chock-a-block art party weekend coming up

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The last weekend of September always means three things: art, art, and more art. In line with the ninth annual Alberta Culture Days, this city produces its own festival previously called StArtsFest. It almost seems like St. Albert Culture Days has enough going on for the whole province to enjoy.

“I think this year there’s even more going on than in years past. We’ve got a great team that works together. We come from a variety of different backgrounds: there’s teachers, business people, there are people from the library and the City of St. Albert and the art gallery,” began Andrea Daly, co-chair of the St. Albert Cultivates the Arts Society.

“That’s great because we have all kinds of connections and different interests and different strengths. Working together, we’ve been able to pull off a pretty cool program for this year. I have the pamphlet in front of me and I’m looking at it, going, ‘Wow, there is a lot going on this time.’”

Co-chair Heather Dolman agrees that people will probably be blown away at the size of this year’s fest.

“This was the first year we put out a call to as many different arts and culture businesses. They would run their own events in their own establishments and we got a fairly decent response,” she said, referring to newcomers Dominelli Music and Power House Dance, among others.

As always, there will be a wide range of events for people to do and get closer to their artistic sides, many of which do involve pre-registrations. Members of the different guilds represented by the St. Albert Place Visual Arts Council will offer demonstrations and activities. Dominelli will offer free music lessons and studio recording time while Power House has free dance. Local visual artists and instructors Tyler Dianocky, Denise Lefebvre and Heather Langdale will each offer separate free ‘paint night’ type events around the city, too.

The Measuring St. Albert art installation will be a way of drawing the community together, literally speaking. Plywood boards have been circulating around the city, allowing anyone to stand up against them and have their heights measured with their names next to them. Check that out at St. Albert Place where many other activities and events will happen.

Young writers will take over the Good Earth Coffeehouse for some live readings. There are art exhibits and displays, performances, and the city’s newest public art unveiling at the St. Anne Street roundabout. After the unveiling, people can take part in the largest game of Duck-Duck-Goose that has ever taken place in the city.

That’s just scratching the surface. If none of that sounds awesome to you then just keep looking. You’ll be sure to find something else that’s more up your alley. There are more than 20 things to see and do and they’re all free.

Check out the full listing of literary, film and media, music and dance, and visual arts programs, as well as all of the community, cultural and family events to take part in from Sept. 28 to 30 by visiting www.stalbertculture.ca.

For an early taste of things, visit the St. Albert Farmers’ Market today. The organizers will have a promotional tent set up where they will offer more information and people can enter draws for prizes including a ukulele.

Here’s a quick look at some of the offerings:

Leo Nick kicks it off big time

As a teacher at Leo Nickerson, Daly has made Culture Days a big part of the Sturgeon Heights neighbourhood school’s culture for a decade.

“That’s my baby,” she said.

That’s a big baby indeed. Every year on this Friday, the school gets taken over with music, dance, paint and hundreds of smiling faces. Keeping with the spirit of the city’s massive Culture Days activities, she has an equally massive day planned for the school. She already has more than 80 artists lined up to perform, participate or lead activities, and that number is growing.

“We’re still 10 days away. They’re still rolling in.”

The kids will enjoy the Indigo Circus troupe of circus and fire performers starting the day off, followed by hours of workshops with painters, along with music and theatre performances with Luc Tellier, Rooney and Punyi, ukulele virtuoso Gary Glewinski, the Pluck and Holler boys, and others. It’s a massive effort, which she is able to pull off with help from other teachers and staff plus an army of volunteers from the St. Albert Seniors Association and Paul Kane High School.

Writing for healing

When Alexis Marie Chute experienced personal tragedy, she went to art for help. She became a painter, photographer and filmmaker, and she took up writing, too.

“It opened up a new way for me to heal and rediscover who I was after that hard time,” she said.

“That’s really what I’m hoping people who attend this workshop will get: a breath of fresh air where they can look at their life through different lenses, even through the lens of fiction and come out feeling, like the title says, empowered to live their best life and not necessarily carry around the burdens that we can easily push to the side when life is busy.”

She already has two books published with a third due on shelves next year. Her writing workshop called Writing to Heal and Empower will help people learn how to approach their creative writing with mindfulness and freedom. She will use poetry as a tool to help writers find “our healing and empowering vocabulary.” It’s different for everybody but being meditative regardless of your artistic practice is a great way to build resiliency.

“I find that creativity in general is just an amazing tool to break through, no matter what it is that people are facing. It’s less about the exact modality of creativity that people choose and more about how they approach it.”

The event actually takes place a day earlier than Culture Days. It happens on Thursday, Sept. 27, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the St. Albert Public Library. People should reserve their spots online at www.sapl.ca or by calling 780-459-1682.

Open Mike Showcase at Good Earth Coffeehouse

Writer/musician Julia Sorensen loves open mike events where writers become readers in full view of a liberally caffeinated public. She’s no stranger to being in the spotlight herself. Now, the coach of the PK Slam poetry club is going to play host to youths or adults who want to read literally anything off of a page, as long as it’s original. That means there could be poetry, flash fiction, playwriting, excerpts from a memoir, short story, novella or beyond.

Hey Julia, does this article count?

“It’s a literary open mike so basically anything word-oriented,” she said. “We’re not doing any music simply because that’s what people expect and poetry isn’t necessarily popular in St. Albert. I want to open it up to poetry, but it’s not limited to that.”

So far, she has members of the local Saint City Writers writing circle already lined up to read along with Edmonton’s Nisha Patel, a published author of two poetry chapbooks with one full-length book of poetry in the works. The full-time writer, spoken word performer and artist has been to the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word three years in a row where her team, Breath in Poetry, took third in 2017, the same year that she also landed fourth place in the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam.

“She’s always a pleasure to see and I’m excited to bring her in.”

The Open Mike event takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29. The Good Earth Coffeehouse is located at 130 Bellerose Dr.

– with files from Jasmine Roy

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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.