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Interactive starry, starry night in downtown parking lot among unique events that make up annual three-day celebration of local arts

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LED orbs will light up a parking lot in downtown Winnipeg during Culture Days.

ROBERT CRAM PHOTO Enlarge Image

LED orbs will light up a parking lot in downtown Winnipeg during Culture Days.

The stars will be out Saturday night, but you'll have to look down to see them.

As part of Nuit Blanche and Culture Days, 5,000 LED orbs will be scattered around the surface of a Graham Avenue parking lot like some distant solar system to be explored by visitors from dusk to dawn. Glow in the Park(ing Lot), a large light installation created by Heretical Objects Arts Collective, allows a unique perspective of the cosmos. Surrounding street lights on Hargrave and Carlton streets will be turned off to increase the effect of the glowing lights.

"It really does look like the night sky full of stars," says Tom Janzen, development manager for CentreVenture Development Corp. "It's like you're looking down at the sky. It's a real neat effect. It's almost haunting."

Glow in the Park(ing Lot), which plays off of previous Glow in the Park events in Toronto and Montreal, is interactive, allowing those wandering through the parking lot to pick up the orbs and shift them around into new constellations. The stars will shine from 7 p.m. Sept. 28 to 6 a.m. Sept. 29.

"Nuit Blanche is picking up momentum and we thought it would be a great opportunity to do something there," says Janzen. "This lot is to become a major new development site and public plaza. We thought people should get used to thinking of it as a gathering place."

The fourth edition of Culture Days, the annual three-day celebration of the arts, begins Friday, Sept. 27. This year across the province there are 320 free, hands-on, family-friendly activities that invite the public to experience and participate in the behind-the-scenes world of artists, creators and historians in their communities. That's up from 280 last year and reflects a 47 per cent increase in registered activities in Canada since Culture Days was launched in 2010. Attendance province-wide in 2012 was estimated at 30,000, with 25,000 of the total turnout occurring inside the Perimeter Highway.

"It's a lot more of the same," says project manager Kevin Walters. "If there is one over-arching theme, it's continued growth."

This year you can learn to Chinese line-dance. You can tour Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Prairie Theatre Exchange or the Centennial Concert Hall. Check out the warming huts that dotted the river skating trail last winter. Take in the How to Wind a Turban demonstration or learn about burlesque from Miss La Muse. There are movie screenings, a late-night skateboard party, a one-night art exhibit, walking tours as well as a bike crawl and massive dance party.

"When people ask me what to go see, I tell them go see something you haven't seen before," says Walters. "Do something you haven't done. Experience something new."

The Gurevich Fine Art gallery is trying something different as its contribution to Culture Days. Last year it offered singing lessons from a local vocalist and drew about 20 people. This year, owner Howard Gurevich was looking to do something other than displaying art and came up with the idea of a demonstration by quick-working local artist Robert Sim, who is known for his landscapes and nudes. Since a view of the latter was unavailable from the Albert Street gallery, painting a nude became the only option.

BARE: A Nude Live Painting runs for two days, beginning Sept. 28 at noon when gallery visitors can watch Sim do his preparatory sketches of his female model; he will complete a painting by 6 p.m. Sept. 29.

"It shows how an artist works," says Gurevich. "It's not something that the public gets to observe very often. We did think of the consequences but I don't expect any problems."

Included in the weekend is the fourth annual Nuit Blanche, an arts extravaganza that runs from sunset to sunrise Sunday, Sept. 29. It has expanded to 60 events, twice as many as last year. The largest draw of the entire weekend is the all-night party at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Last year 5,000 people crowded the facility over a 10-hour period to kick off the WAG's centennial celebrations.

This year the gallery is opening Storm and Spirit: The Eckhardt-Gramatt© Collection of German Expressionist Art at 6:45 p.m. Sept. 28. Night owls can gather from 2 to 4 a.m. to check out artist Dean Baldwin's reconstruction of the Greek Parthenon made out of salvaged materials. Jolene Baillie will debut a new dance work, while artist Kelly Mark will present a spoken-word performance. DJ Mama Cutsworth will rock the gallery from midnight to 2 p.m.

For more information about all the events log onto: mb.culturedays.ca and nuitblanchewinnipeg.ca.

kevin.prokosh@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 26, 2013 C9

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