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Fill your heart with art during ArtsDays

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The Allied Arts Council kicks off the sixteenth annual Arts Days celebration with Word On The Street, Saturday, Sept. 21.
 ArtsDays  continues with a variety of  events happening the following week.

Megan Wittig is one of the performers at the ArtsDays SOAR cabarets. By Richard Amery
“We’re sponsoring a tent this year,” said Allied Arts Council communications manager Kelaine Devine, adding it won’t be the music tent, which begins at 11:30 a.m. with Calgary blues rock band the Eric Braun Band followed by local country musician Tyra Whitson, more blues with the Steve Keenan Band at 1:35, local folk/ blues band In Cahoots, Willy Big Bull and winding up with Fred Penner at 4 p.m.

“We’re sponsoring the cartoon and comic stage with Eric Dyck and Carson Morton,” Devine continued.
 Word On The Street features a variety of authors writing teen fiction, non-fiction like cook books,  science fiction, Canadian authors and much more.

 “But the next day, I’m really looking forward to  Mimosas, Muffins and and  Movies in Casa. We’ll be showing the Double Take: The Art of Elizabeth King. You’ll really enjoy it if you like stop motion animation,” Devine continued. It begins at 10 a.m.. There will be coffee , food and mimosas for $5. Admission is by donation.

The ArtWalk quilt show begins at City Hall on Monday, which also features Dawn Leite’s walking theatre tour of downtown Lethbridge.
“It’s hard to believe there used to be 30 theatres in Lethbridge,” Devine said.
 there are plenty of exhibitions opening throughout the week at the Trianon, Mortar and Brick and the SAAG. The seven new exhibits at casa continue for ArtsDays as well. You can see them all during th Gallery Stroll, Sept. 29.

There are a couple of changes this year.
“ We’ve moved  the SOAR Emerging Artist Cabarets from May to September because we found most of the students  had left in May,” Devine  observed, noting they will be at Casa on Sept. 25 and 26 featuring  works by Ashley Thomson, Austin Culler, David Gabert, Garrett Mallory Scott, Integra Contemporary and Electro Acoustics (ICE). There will also be performances by Megan Wittig, Marigold, Michael Bartz, Sydney Murdoch and Zach Pollis. There will be a different lineup both nights. The cabarets run from 7-9 p.m.


From Shakespeare to family: Casa opens a variety of new exhibits

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Casa opens a whopping seven new exhibits this weekend.
Casa has undergone a few changes for exhibits.
 Adrianna “ the Hobbyist” Richardson is the first artist to utilize the new PROJEctspace space.
“ One of the large cabinets on the main floor is open to emerging artists to do site specific exhibitions,” said Casa Curator Darcy Logan, noting that means the space itself is now a part of the exhibits rather than just  a place to display exhibits.

Darcy Logan contemplates Sins&insecrities at casa. Photo by Richard Amery
“So the artist can respond to the commitment of space,” he said, adding it is similar in spirit  to  the cabinet of Queeriosties at the former Bowman art gallery.
“ But she has created an exhibit about the excess of consumerism and disposable culture. She’s used found objects and artfully recontextualized them.”
 There are two big exhibits in the main gallery which are related to issues of feminism and family.
“Karen Campbells’s “My Lilac Shadow,” features colourful coloured pencil drawings inspired by personal struggles, the popular and well respected local artist has faced in her life. It is her first exhibit  at casa.

“It is a real meditative and contemplative response to family illness and subsequent convalescent care,” Logan summarized.
“It reflects all the time spent in reflection while in a hospital,” he said, adding the exhibit is quite colourful in spite of the morbid theme.
“Often you need colour and light when you’re in a hospital,” he said.

The other main gallery exhibit, “sins&insecurities,”  features self portraits of photographer and artist Karla Mather-Cocks as well as an interactive and performance component.
“It explores the idea of negotiating the diverse facets of life. Specifically the guilt of of trying to balance being a free spirit and artist while at the same time as being a mother.
“ There will also be a an opportunity for gallery visitors to anonymously  write down their sins and insecurities,” he said adding  at the end of the exhibit, she will burn them as an allegory of sins and insecurities keeping people from celebrating their lives.


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.

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