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New casa exhibits put nature to paper

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Eight new exhibitions featuring beloved local artists exploring a variety of themes through ink on paper, open at casa tonight, Friday, Nov. 10.


 Usually  the opening receptions for new exhibits are on Saturday, but this one has been moved to today because of Remembrance Day.


Darcy Logan examines some of Corinne Thiessen’s exhibit “Post -Traumatic Playdate.” Photo By Richard Amery

“They’re usually on Saturdays, but because Remembrance Day is on a Saturday this year, out of respect for our veterans, the reception has been moved to Friday, ” said casa curator Darcy Logan.


 Half of the main gallery features Corinne  Thiessen’s exhibit “Post -Traumatic playdate.”


“Corinne has taken advertising imagery and printed it out and overpainted it to evoke a cult like  sensibility of corporations,” Logan described.

 The other half of the main gallery features Lethbridge born artist and Grande Prairie, Northwestern Polytechnic art history, drawing and digital media professor Ed Bader’s “ Drawing Conclusions.”

“They are high quality  cotton rag properties marked with images of nature. They come from a very recent residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts,” Logan said.


Outside the main gallery, local artist Leila Armstrong combines  her love of nature with  statistics with her exhibition  “ Backyard Wilderness II: Data Portraits in the  project space.


“ She’s combined urban wildlife with data and statistics,” Logan said.


New SAAG exhibits celebrate First Nations culture and the environment

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The Southern Alberta Art Gallery has some  interesting new exhibits  focussing on First Nations and the environment, opening on Saturday, Oct. 14.

 Gabi Dao, the SAAG artist in residence last year uses the image of bats to explore several  different issues including environmentalism, green energy, misinformation and the perceived role of bats on the Covid plague  in her new exhibit  “ What Breaks on the Horizon.”


Gabi Dao shows off her Lucifer Bat Marionette at the SAAG. Photo by Richard Amery

She began working on the exhibition, which includes three short films and  a set of stylized bat marionettes with SAAG curator Adam Whitford right before Covid happened in March 2020.


“There was this viral video, pardon the pun, that was circulating on far right websites of a woman eating bat soup, but  the video was released in 2016 and it wasn’t even in Wuhan. It was on an island ( in Palau, Micronesia), so it got me thinking about misinformation and what people perceive to be coded as evil, viral, devilish and deviant,” Dao explained, adding she also decided to research bats by talking to experts in Cypress Hills and Southern Alberta including out by Frank’s Slide.


 Her three movies include footage of bats, more experimental work using a fish-eye lens “bat cam” , conversations with experts about bats and at mining company Teck Resources Limited  about the environmental impact of actually building the wind turbines and a 15 minute film “ Lucifer Falls to Earth”  —  a fictional story about Satan as a bat, falling to Earth after hitting a wind turbine

“ Bats are very good for the earth because they eat insects that pesticides are used to eliminate. And a lot of bats die after flying into windmills,” she said.


The Upper Gallery features a new exhibition from artist and electronica musician Elisa Harkins celebrating and preserving First Nations music from Oklahoma,  B.C and Lethbridge.


 Five different songs from Osage, Cree, Seminole, Cherokee, Kiowa and Blackfoot traditions are featured including the sheet music, photos and a shawl inspired by the music.

“ There‘s sheet music, photos of the musicians and a video of them singing their songs. I’ve also created shawls inspired by each person,” said Harkins who is also a DJ on an all indigenous radio station.


Word On the Street 2023 celebrates all things words with music and much more

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Word on the Street  was the  usual celebration of all things related to the written word including music, Sept. 23 outside the Lethbridge Public Library.

Tara MacLean speaking at Word On the Street. Photo by Richard Amery

 I threaded my way through an assortment of tables offering opportunities to create art to get to the stage for local children's band  The band Formerly Known as Karen, Lewis and pam aka KLP

The casa clay demonstration was underway and the woodturners  guild were hard at work creating objects out of wood.

 Local children’s band The band Formerly Known as Karen, Lewis and pam aka KLP, were warming up an enthusiastic crowd of kids and adults alike as I arrived.

They were playing a spirited set of originals and children’s favourites.


The band Formerly Known as Karen, Lewis and Pam At Word On the Street. Photo by Richard Amery

I arrived in the middle of their grocery store  improv song lead by Ash Thomson, as Jillian Bracken and Gabe Olsen held down the harmonies and music,  with Olsen playing keyboards and guitar. Steve Martin and Brad Brouwer held down the rhythm  on bass and drums respectively.


 They played a Raffi song about  beluga whales and broke out puppets for another song, before playing an original song about burgers.

They played their usual fun set. How could it not be otherwise with Ash Thomson pulling out her slide whistle.

 Bailey Kate and a trimmed down  Starpainter had a busy Word on the Street. They Backed Bailey Kate to open the afternoon, but I missed that set.

 I caught a trimmed down Starpainter as Joel Stretch,  lead guitarist Joel Gray and  Bailey Kate ran though several songs from their latest CD Rattlesnake Dream.


 They also had a separate busking stage. Karen Romanchuk  was among the local performers  playing there.

Sign Language interpretation for Tara MacLean’s set at Word On the Street. Photo by Richard Amery

I stopped by  German -Canadian Author Phillip’s Schott’s tent where he was reading  the latest  in his series of vet/ detective Dr. Bannerman’s latest adventure “ Six Ostriches.”


He read a few excerpts from the book and fielded questions about being a vet and being a German Canadian whose family moved to Winnipeg  after the Second World War.


 I timed my visit to Word on the Street to see Juno award winning songwriter Tara MacLean, who was also part of pop supergroup Shaye With Kim Stockwood and Dahmnait Doyle about 20 years ago. 


She didn't have the audience she deserved, but those who were there were enraptured. MacLean’s new memoir “ Song Of the Sparrow,” became an almost instant best seller since  she released it on March. She read from it and played d a few songs, but was  being drowned out by  DanAlie, whose voices were carrying across the parking lot. She apologized  for asking to be  turned up, saying “ I don’t want to compete with anybody.

 She read from the memoir and  talked about turning 50 and about meeting a guy in Britain while on tour recently. She played a new song about that as well as  “ Song of the Sparrow.”

She, like many of the presenting authors, had a  sign language interpreter  for the readings and in MacLean’s case her songs. That worked in conjunction with another volunteer typing a transcript of the discussion.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor


Arts Days celebrates eclectic Lethbridge arts scene

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If you like the arts , then the next couple of weeks are for you to celebrate all kinds of arts  during the last part of September— the Month of the Artist.


 Arts Days 2023 opens with the AAC Arts Days Cabaret at casa, Friday, Sept. 22 from 7-9 p.m. with local musicians the Decadent Phase and Peace For Bombs.


Kelaine Devine, Eric Dyck and  Luka de Haan with be  creating art inspired by the performances.

The Decadent Phase play the AAC Arts Days Cabaret, Sept. 23. Photo by Richard Amery


It is also the  launch of Trap/Door Artist Run Collective’s new exhibit  “Carrying Baggage”  featuring works by Seema Karchoo, Heather Kehoe, Harley Morman, Kalina Nedelcheva, Arianna Richardson, Noble Seggie.


 And artists  Solange Roy and Kylie FineDay will be answering questions about their art in the casa square kiosks.


“Art is not a passive thing, we are all part of  the art scene. Arts Days is about engaging in the ares in a new way,” said Kelaine Devine, Allied Arts council communications coordinator.


One of the cornerstone events of ArtsDays is Word on the Street which happens on Saturday , Sept. 23 outside the Lethbridge Public Library featuring food trucks, workshops and live music and plenty of authirs and playwrights  exploring fiction, non fiction,  teen and youth literature and much more. 


 There is no art walk again this year, instead 19 artists will begin creating  murals on the windows of downtown businesses beginning today ( Sept. 21) as part of the Downtown Lens: Window Mural Gallery running Sept. 21-24.


“ That will allow you to ask the artists questions about their work and watch them  creating,” Devine said.

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