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Artist Carl White to talk about Carousel at Mortar and Brick

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New local art gallery Mortar and Brick (# 20 316 7st South) is presenting a new exhibition  from Calgary based artist Carl White.Carousel culminates with an artist talk by Carl White, Aug. 18. Photo by Richard Amery

 The artist himself will be presenting an artist talk, Aug. 17 from 1-2 p.m. to talk about his  exhibition Carousel, which opened, July 31 and ends on Aug. 17 as well.
“He was born in Liverpool and spent a lot of time  in England and Europe. But he has been inspired by Renaissance and high art,” summarized Mortar and Brick arts and Events Coordinator Courteny  Green, noting White emigrated to Calgary to at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

 She noted he explores the idea of art being “precious,” or untouchable by ripping, tearing, altering and painting graffiti on the canvasses and even on the walls  around the works.
The exhibition features 13 pieces in several different mediums including acrylic, oil and ink.

There are also three sculptures.

More information is available at:
Website page:
Carl White’s Website:

—by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Local writers to release “Earthbound” at When Words Collide Festival in Calgary

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 Local writers Megan Fennell and Leslie Van Zwol are excited to have their story “Earthbound” included in a new anthology, “Earth: Giants, Golems and Gargoyles,” which is to be released at the When Words Collide festival, Aug. 9-11 in Calgary.Megan Fennell and Leslie VanZwol aka authors VF LeSann. Photo submitted
“Our story, 'Earthbound', will be appearing in the upcoming anthology "Earth: Giants, Golems, & Gargoyles", edited by the terrific Rhonda Parrish, who is also an Alberta-based author. (This follows the fire-themed anthology "Fire: Demons, Dragons & Djinns,” in which we also have a story.) Our tale revolves around a dragon-less dragon-rider in a grubby urban world who teams up with an iron dragon currently dwelling and sulking in an underground parkade for a good old-fashioned treasure heist. It's been lovingly referred to as 'Dragon Indiana Jones', which is completely accurate,” they write in an-e-mail.
 Leslie Van Zwol and Megan Fennell met as co-workers and have been writing together five years, under the pen name V.F. LeSann.

“We originally met as coworkers and bonded through a love of literature. We've been co-writing for about five years but have both been writing independently prior to that as well. The name 'V.F. LeSann' is a mash-up of both of our names, although we like to joke that it stands for Victor Frankenstein, and was probably the toughest thing we've jointly produced,” they continued, adding a co-write begins with a concept.
“Typically, one of us will come up with a concept that we verbally hash out before one of us starts writing. Then we'll throw it over to the other author, who'll edit and re-write the parts already on paper and continue the story from that point, and so on back and forth until the draft is finished. Editing takes place side by side in the same room and, perhaps surprisingly, hasn't resulted in bloodshed so far,” they add.

 In addition to releasing their new story this month, they will also be speaking at the Festival.

“We'll be on panel for the publisher of the ‘Earth’ anthology, Tyche books, called “Tyche Presents”, with other authors published by Tyche (a Calgary-based publishing house!). The anthology will also be launching at When Words Collide – last year the ‘Fire’ anthology sold out, so we’re hoping for a repeat! We are also doing a panel with our wonderful friend, Cat McDonald (another Alberta-authoress) about RPG’s. We try to get to as many writing conventions as we can, including Pure Spec in Edmonton and Creative Ink out in Burnaby, British Columbia,” they noted.

 They are fans of science fiction authors Neil Gaiman, Lara Elena Donnelly, Cat Valentine, Kelly Sue DeConnick, V.E. Schwab, Chuck Wendig, Victor LaValle, Tamora Pierce, Joe Hill, Sarah Rees Brennan. They have been published through Tyche Books, World Weaver Press and Edge Publishing, but have never self-published their works.
“No, we've never self-published, though props to those who've got the stomach for it,” they noted.

 Fennell is also an actor, drummer and artist, though she doesn’t do the cover art for the books.
“Luckily, being traditionally published, the publishing houses take care of cover art, formatting, binding, and all that good stuff that the self-pubbed crew has to figure out from scratch. (Again, props to them!) I'm a last-minute dasher who needs to be dragged kicking and screaming to the keyboard, and Leslie goes into a Sherlock-esque focus while in the zone, but somehow it works.”

Their stories can be found on Amazon and Goodreads under V.F. LeSann or their actual names, Megan Fennell and Leslie Van Zwol.
“The room to play in the world of sci-fi is limitless, so why would we restrain ourselves to just writing about the here and now? The world is more interesting to us with more bends and cracks in the rigid reality we actually live in. I would describe our style as 'speculative fiction', though we've ranged as far as android-narrated, deep-space sci-fi ("Nautilus: 20,000 Light Years Above the Sea") to dystopian Western ("Riders in the Sky"). Our only rule is not to do the same thing twice in a row,” they enthused.


Casa celebrates women in the arts with new exhibitions

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Casa celebrates local female artists in their latest exhibitions, which opened June 22 and runs until Aug. 24.And Still She Persists is one of several new exhibitionas at Casa. Photo by Richard Amery
The first half of the main gallery features  “ And She Still Persists,” featuring works by  Lynne  Hunter-Johnston and Barbara West.
“They have looked at the myth of Lilith as a way to explore issues affecting women including wage inequality reproductive rights and history with the justice system,” said curator Darcy Logan, noting  the pieces include fibre based sculpture and installation components.
“They are both important parts of the art community. Lynne unfortunately passed away in the weeks leading up to the exhibition,” Logan said.
 The other half of the main gallery is bedspreads eat me up  and it really isn’t anything  to concern yourself with by Graze Wirzba.
“ They are inspired by bedspreads. Grace is a recent graduate of the University of Lethbridge,” he said.
“ she likes to  bring installation elements that examine the sense of comfort that reflects on childhood memories,” Logan said.
The Concourse Gallery features Elaine Henderson’’s ’“Landscape Impressions.”
“They are a suite of 18 paintings that are just stunning. Also upstairs  we have a group exhibition Child’s Rara Avis. (A Cluster of Rare Birds) It is a group of  nine artists who were inspired by the same poem, written by Lorraine Lee, that she wrote when she was a teenager. it shows how  diverse and subjective artwork can be,”he said.
 Meghan MacWhirter’s “Weight” is in the passage Gallery of Casa.
“There are exhibitions that are not to be missed. They are all a celebration of women working in the arts,” Logan summarized.
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Rick Gillis explores early twentieth century Crowsnest Pass in new novel

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 Local author Rick Gillis revisits the Crowsnest Pass in his second novel  “Buckskin Girl and Blackheart.”Rick Gillis is proud of his latest novel  Buckskin Girl and Blackheart. Photo by Richard Amery
 But unlike his first book, “ The Boy Who Couldn’t Die”which was directly inspired by his childhood growing up in the Pass, this book comes directly from his imagination.
 Gillis returned to Crowsnest Pass artist’s retreat the Gushul House Blairmore last March to get his idea about a woman, Danielle, who inherits the memoirs of an elderly woman’s adventures beginning with growing up in the Crowsnest Pass at the beginning of the twentieth century.

“It’s completely different than the last book,” Gillis said, describing it  as ““Buckskin Girl and Blackheart follows the extraordinary life of Rebecca Sarah Deering ( Buckskin Girl) from her birth in  a simple, rough cabin in the north valley woods north of the Pass from her birth in 1907. Her terrible birth left her father an embittered widower and Sarah a confused and lonely child.”
 Gillis noted the story, told  through Danielle’s reading of the memoir, takes the reader through Buckskin Girl’s life as Danielle learns about the woman who turns out to be her long lost mother.
  She meets a massive black wolf (Blackheart) and forms a mystical bond with him throughout the story. He provides a mystical guiding influence  throughout her life.
“It plays with the preconceived idea that people have of wolves and darkness are bad,” Gillis explained, adding writing the book itself was fairly quick, but a lot more work went into editing it and researching the era, so the background was as accurate as possible.

“It was all in my imagination, so I just let loose and wrote it all down in about four months,” Gillis said.
“I did a lot of research into things like whether they actually had school buses in  the early twentieth century. I also researched the language,  some of the language might not fit into that era, but Sarah was writing her memoir in the ’80s so it fits then,” he said, adding even though   the story is fictional, ensuring his historical details were accurate was essential to not distract from the story.
 “ I Have to write when I’m inspired  to write. I’m not just going to sit in front of a desk and write like professional writers who have  to release books every couple of years or so. If something comes to me, I’ll write it down,” he said.

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