Canstar’s Fall Arts Guide 2013
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This article was published 28/05/2013 (3535 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When worlds collide
Three of Winnipeg’s local music companies feature some cool, creative combinations in their 2013-2014 seasons.
On Oct. 22 at the Westminster United Church, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra will juxtapose two classical music giants, Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Manitoba Chamber Orchestra music director and conductor Anne Manson aims to show how a young Beethoven was influenced by the older Austrian composer by pairing together Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1.
“I chose these two symphonies because Beethoven almost certainly heard Haydn 103 when he wrote his first symphony and I believe it had a very big impact on him,” Anne Manson says, noting that Beethoven moved to Vienna to study under Haydn.
“The other thing that’s really interesting about the program is its Beethoven’s first symphony. Of course he matured very fast as a composer. It’s a very young work and Haydn 103 is a very mature work, the second last symphony he wrote. We always think of Beethoven as big, heavy and ponderous but in fact the Haydn piece sounds much more mature, much heavier, weightier and Beethoven’s sounds quite light and young.”
Manitoba Opera kicks off its season on Nov. 23 with Don Pasquale, but has moved Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera from Rome to the Wild West.
“There are bar girls and a mariachi band and everybody’s dressed in cowboy stuff,” says Darlene Ronald, Manitoba Opera’s director of marketing. “We’re actually encouraging the audience to dress in cowboy gear as well, just have some fun with it.”
Manitoba Opera’s other show this season stands in stark contrast to the light-hearted opera. The company will present Giacomo Puccini’s tragic coming of age opera La bohème from April 5 to 11. A young artist falls in love with a shy seamstress, who takes ill and then, well…
“The Kleenex comes out of the purses,” Ronald says. “It’s a ‘Bring your Kleenex opera’ for sure. Also, Puccini writes music that tears hearts apart.”
There will also be some interesting musical mash-ups at Virtuosi, which bills itself as “Winnipeg’s International Recital and Chamber Music Concert Series.”
“We also include Manitoba musicians of the top ranks which gives them the advantage of appearing in an international context,” Harry Strub says, Virtuosi’s founder and artistic director.
Virtuosi’s second show of the season, dubbed A Legendary Debut, definitely fits in with that international artists meet Manitoba artists mandate.
“There’s a legendary group called the Fine Arts Quartet, a string quartet, that, after 50 to 60 years of touring around the world in various guises, is finally making their Winnipeg debut,” Strub says. “We’re pairing them with Michael Kim, a pianist and the dean og music at Brandon University. All five of them will come together for the Schumann Quintet.”
For Virtuosi, Manitoba Opera Groundswell and Manitoba Chamber Orchestra’s full season schedules, please visit:
– Jared Story
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The music never stops
Summer is known as festival season in Winnipeg, but just because the fun in the sun is almost over, it doesn’t mean the good times have to end.
Winnipeg Folk Festival artistic director Chris Frayer says year-long programming is one of the organization’s top priorities.
“We want to continue to bring that festival fun all year round, keep us in people’s consciousness throughout the year,” Frayer says. “Also from a civic perspective, it’s an effort to make the city a more fun place to live. I got into the business so I could stop driving to Minneapolis. I’d rather just bring shows to Winnipeg, because we should be able to support a good live music scene here.”
This fall and winter the Folk Fest is indeed bringing a lot of big-name talent to Winnipeg. Upcoming performances include English singer-songwriter Lucy Rose, Michael Franti & Spearhead Indigo Girls, Frank Turner and Emmylou Harris, to name a few.
Frayer says it’s important for the company to bring back artists that succeed at the festival.
“We really try not to do a lot of repeats at the festival, but we still want to stay engaged with the artists, especially artists we’re trying to develop. That’s a huge part of the concert series,” Frayer says.
Jazz Winnipeg aims to do the same, further developing the talent that comes through for the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival.
This fall’s programming features a couple of returning artists in Canadian hip hop artist Shad and pianist Michael Kaeshammer.
“Kaeshammer’s just one of those artists that’s a real crowd pleaser while also having some really integrity and skill as an artist,” says Jazz Winnipeg artistic director Paul Nolin.
As for Shad, some traditional jazz fans might be thrown off by hip hop in a jazz context, but actually it’s not that big of a leap.
“Jazz originated as urban music, obviously connected to black American culture and that’s where the roots of hip hop music also are,” Nolin says. “Musically speaking, a lot of the early rap and hip hop sampled heavily from jazz music and in my opinion helped open a new generation’s ears that otherwise might not have connected to jazz music.”
Over at the West End Cultural Centre, fan favourites such as Rose Cousins and The Sadies will return to the venue this fall, but there’s also big commitment to booking local artists. In fact, the WECC’s fall season features five local album releases, including emerging singer-songwriter Aimee Lane on Sept. 27.
“It’s interesting because I had never heard of her and I came in one day and on my desk was a handwritten letter from her and a rough demo asking me if I’d be interested in putting on her show,” says Jason Hooper, WECC artistic director.
“You get a lot of unsolicited stuff and mostly you’re like ‘Umm’, but I put this CD on – this rough demo done for the drummer to learn his parts – and it blew me away.
“How does somebody get this good and you haven’t heard of them? I think people are going to be knocked over when they hear Aimee’s EP. She has a career ahead of her for sure.”
For full schedules of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Jazz Winnipeg and West End Cultural Centre concert seasons, please visit.
– Jared Story
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Women set to shine onstage
If there’s a theme to the 2013-2014 theatre season, it’s “Winnipeg women.”
In addition to Sarasvàti Productions’ annual FemFest – which runs until Sept. 21 – local women playwrights are being produced by Manitoba Theatre Centre, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Winnipeg Jewish Theatre and Theatre Projects Manitoba.
Theatre Projects is presenting plays by not one but two Winnipeg women this season. The company things off on Oct. 3 with The Miser of Middlegate, Carolyn Gray’s adaptation of Molière’s 17th century French farce.
In late February, the company presents Sargent & Victor & Me by Debbie Patterson. It’s a script Patterson began in 2010 when was “theatre ambassador” during Winnipeg’s year as Cultural Capital of Canada.
Originally just Sargent & Victor, the play began as a “verbatim theatre” project, whereby Patterson collected the stories of the merchants and residents of the community and presented those eyewitness accounts theatrically.
“Despite her original intention to keep herself out of it, her artistic self has asserted itself,” says Ellen Peterson, Theatre Projects board member. “She couldn’t keep herself out of it anymore.
“The Sargent and Victor neighbourhood is in a state of what Deb calls ‘an unstoppable process of decline.’ Deb has multiple sclerosis, so her own body is undergoing a similar process. How can we make best our efforts in the face of forces we can’t control? It’s stunning what she’s done. It’s so personal on one hand, but sheds light on the situation in a larger neighbourhood as well.”
Not to be outdone, two of Winnipeg Jewish Theatre’s three plays are by Winnipeg women (the other is an adapation of Chekhov’s Ivanov by WJT artistic director Michael Nathanson).
Good Intentions by Ginny Collins opens on Oct. 9. It relates Collins’ experience working in Africa for the United Nations. It’s the story of a young Jewish doctor who gets the opportunity to run an African women’s hospital but, despite her best intentions, isn’t in touch with the realities on the ground.
“It’s an interesting moral examination of ‘What does it mean to do the right thing?’” Michael Nathanson, WJT artistic director, says. “It’s a bit of a criticism that people in Africa can have, that the West has all these ideas of how things should work but they really don’t know the situation.”
Shiksa – opening April 2 – is by Cairn Moore, winner of the 2012 Canadian Jewish Playwrighting Competition. It’s about the relationship between Emma, an artist, and Zakk, a Jewish lawyer and how his parents react to the fact that he’s dating a non-Jew.
“It’s a great rom-com,” Nathanson says.
Manitoba Theatre for Young People isn’t doing a show by a local woman Winnipeg women but Dying to be Thin – which runs Oct. 23 to Nov. 1 – is very relevant to young women, and men for that matter.
“Basically, it’s a finely tuned, provocative, no-holds-barred monologue that pulls no punches in showing the audience what it’s like to live with bulimia,” says Derek Aasland, MTYP’s new executive producer.
“It was written by Linda A. Carson who went through this herself. This is our third time doing it and I’m pleased as punch to bring it back. It’s (bulimia and anorexia) something that both young women struggle with and as there’s been more social light shed on the issue, we’ve seen it can affect boys as well.”
For full season schedules and more information, please visit:
– Jared Story
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What comes after 100?
The Winnipeg Art Gallery pushed its centennial year as far as it could go, displaying 100 Masters: Only in Canada – the most successful exhibition in the WAG history – until Labour Day, two weeks past its initial closing date.
But Rembrandt, van Gogh, Monet and Picasso were eventually given the boot, as it’s time for the WAG to begin its next century – with time being the key element here.
The major highlight of the WAG’s 2013-2014 season is The Clock. Created by Swiss-American visual artist/composer Christian Marclay, it is a 24-hour montage of film, linked together by the aspect of time.
“Either you see the time in the picture frame, like a clock or a watch or some other sort of visual reference, or people talk of the time,” says Helen Delacretaz, the WAG’s chief curator.
“I saw it in Ottawa at the National Gallery of Canada (the show is part of the NGC at WAG series). I wasn’t sure when I read about it what exactly to expect, but after watching it for two hours I still didn’t want to leave.
“You’re watching what looks like a movie and you’re searching for this narrative and you keep thinking you’re going to find it and then another clip comes up. It’s such a mix. You could be seeing a Fred Astaire song and dance number next to a Clint Eastwood duel mixed to Back to the Future.
“It runs on this 24-hour perpetual clock and it mirrors the exact time of day it is, so if you’re sitting there at 2:20 p.m., the time on the screen reads 2:20 p.m.”
The Clock runs from Oct. 11 to Jan. 3, but the WAG’s season will already be in high gear with Storm and Spirit: The Eckhardt-Gramatté Collection of German Expressionist Art, which opens Sept. 20.
Storm and Spirit features some 200 works of art that belonged to Dr. Ferdinand Eckhardt, the WAG’s director from 1953 to 1974. The exhibition is made possible by the Eckhardt-Gramatté Foundation which recognizes the artistic achievements of Eckhardt’s wife Sophie and her first husband, German expressionist Walter Gramatté.
“The collection that came to us was really significant, with works by Emil Nolde and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and of course a lot of Gramatté works,” Delacretaz says.
The season continues with Don McCullin: A Retrospective, opening on Nov. 1. A British photojournalist, McCullin has shot some of the world’s most significant events, including the Vietnam War, the Northern Ireland conflict and the Cyprus dispute.
“He doesn’t take sides in his images at all,” Delacretaz says. “He doesn’t go for the incredibly graphic aspect either, as he doesn’t tend to that exploitive nature. Nonetheless, they are difficult images at times.”
Next up for the WAG is Looking Up. Opening on Dec. 20, the exhibition – curated by Paul Butler – sees a number of Winnipeg contemporary artists creating pieces inspired by the WAG’s vast collection of Inuit Art.
The New Year brings to the gallery Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art. Curated by Chicago’s Artworks for Change, Delacretaz says the organization endeavours to “empower various individuals, group and communities through art.”
“It’s not a graphic show. It’s not in-your-face imagery, it’s more subtle than that,” Delacretaz says. “It features very compelling artists including Mona Hatoum, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and even Yoko Ono, who did a video piece in the ‘60s and redid it in the early 2000s, (and they) will play opposite each other.”
For more information on the WAG and its season, visit:
– Jared Story
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Perpetual motion on the city’s dance stages
In Winnipeg dancer Jolene Bailie’s experience, it’s perpetual performance that makes perfect – and certainly more popular.
“I’m now connecting with an audience that otherwise wouldn’t attend a niche like modern dance,” says Bailie, artistic director of contemporary dance company Gear Shifting, who’s also performed with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers and as far afield as New York and Germany.
Bailie feels that keeping busy enables her and her peers in local contemporary dance – such as the Young Lungs Dance Exchange – to compete within the veritably overflowing Winnipeg arts season. Also not hurting is the increasing popularity of the RWB’s adventurous and modern Q Dance series – already sold out for 2013, necessitating addition of two more performances this November.
Bailie will be performing as part of Nuit Blanche in Gear Shifting’s New Creations alongside dancers Tiffany Thomas, Krista Nicholson and Jillian Groening on Sept. 28 at the WAG, offering site-specific installations of dance throughout the evening.
She will also be flexing her muscles for Girls! Girls! Girls! 9 – “Tools of the Trade”, an annual fundraiser for the Gas Station Arts Centre on Oct. 27, having performed the opening act for the cabaret show yearly since its 2005 inception.
Young Lungs, which marks a full decade on Winnipeg’s arts scene this year, will the Gas Station stage with their its Production Series on Sept. 13 and 14. Created by Johanna Riley with performer Eric Blais, and Tanja Woloshen with performers Ian Mozdzen and Delf Gravert, the show enables Young Lungs to support local independent dancers and to collaborate with artists of various disciplines.
For more info on Gear Shifting and Young Lungs, visit:
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MTC and PTE are set to challenge and entertain
While leaves fall the curtain will rise once again this season for Winnipeg’s premier theatre companies – and the selection for theatregoers is no less diverse than the kaleidoscope of foliage.
For Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre artistic director Steven Schipper, that’s fitting – after all, he sees his company’s pedigreed title as no excuse for complacency.
“We can only strive to be worthy of it,” he says as MTC, royally recognized in 2010,
heads into its 2013-2014 season. Hence Schipper’s search for more “substantial stories” – plays that entertain but “simultaneously make us feel smart.”
If there’s anything Schipper would single out as a highlight, it’s his theatre’s onstage celebration of its legacy, with Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson’s Hirsch dramatizing the life of MTC’s founding artistic director John Hirsch at the Tom Hendry Theatre Warehouse, opening the end of November.
After all, Schipper says: “It’s John’s eclectic vision that created the theatre we’ve all inherited.”
Across the Exchange and downtown from MTC at Prairie Theatre Exchange, artistic director Robert Metcalfe is no less chipper, excitedly noting the most inimitable production on tap: Chelsea Hotel, a cabaret based upon the music of Juno- and Grammy-award winning Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen, featuring such anthems as Suzanne and Hallelujah.
“Repeatedly, the selections this year are about assumptions we make,” Metcalfe says of PTE’s upcoming season.
Take Winnipeg actor and writer Trish Cooper’s Social Studies, concerning a family’s discovery that the young Sudanese refugee they’ve welcomed isn’t what he seems.
At the same time, other fare seems channeled straight from recent headlines. In the wake of this past July’s shooting death of 18 year-old Sammy Yatim, by a Toronto police officer now charged with second-degree murder, there comes The Valley by Joan MacLeod – about an altercation escalating to violence on a Vancouver SkyTrain.
And then there’s a show about weed.
“Comedy gold” is how Metcalfe describes Ken Cameron’s Harvest, concerning a retired couple whose tenant turns their rented farm house into a grow op
“When you’re tapping the zeitgeist, that’s when theatre is fulfilling its role.”
Similarly, MTC’s Mainstage production of Good People in March is what Schipper calls a “thinking person’s play” about class, poverty and the illusory nature of social mobility. MTC itself explores contemporary Canadiana in March with Kim’s Convenience by Ins Choi, examining our modern, urban, multicultural society through first-generation Korean-Canadian eyes.
If something lighter is what one pines for, MTC’s holiday pick is an alternative version of The Christmas Story that Schipper assures “won’t be the New York musical version you might think you’ve seen.” Likewise, Winnipeg filmmaker Deco Dawson has once again been engaged to provide the kind of multimedia magic that made his 2011 collaboration with MTC on Brief Encounter so unforgettable.
In contrast to Hirsch, the Warehouse card also offers more “on the wild side” in the form of its October season opener Venus in Fur, originally a 19th-century S&M novella also recently adapted to film by Oscar-winning director Roman Polanksi. Then there’s more local glory to be reflected in February with The Secret Annex, the new play by Winnipeg’s Alix Sobler which poses a striking hypothetical: What if Anne Frank had survived?
Looking merely for good, strong writing?
“It’s also a strong season for that,” Metcalfe promises.
PTE’s season opener The Best Brothers, for instance, is by the Governor General’s Award-winning Canadian theatre stalwart Daniel MacIvor.
For more information, visit:
– Kenton Smith
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Revisiting Margaret Atwood as a ballet
According to Royal Winnipeg Ballet artistic director Andre Lewis, it’s a bonus that his latest commissioned, world-premiere production is based on a Canadian literary icon’s modern classic.
“It’s a story worth telling,” Lewis says of The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the novel by Governor General’s Award and Booker Prize-winning writer Margaret Atwood, which debuts Oct. 16 at the Centennial Concert Hall to kickstart the RWB’s 74th season.
Atwood herself will be present for a pre-show chat on opening night.
Having previously been adapted into both an opera and a feature film, this new incarnation went forward after its New York-based choreographer Lila York convinced an “enthusiastic” Atwood that it would it be both a faithful adaptation and an entirely fresh one.
“Ballet is storytelling through movement and dance,” says York, a former dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, who first had the idea of adapting the novel. She’s now spent a near-decade realizing her vision of Atwood’s dystopian tale of women in bondage, bringing it to physical life onstage.
“One shouldn’t even have to read the novel or even the program. In fact, going in cold may be a great way to experience it.”
If any company in the world has the audacity to pull it off, it’s the RWB, founded in 1939 and which Lewis proudly asserts is world-renowned “for our willingness to taken on new creative projects and push the envelope.” Though one of North America’s oldest ballet companies, it may be also be one of the world’s most innovative.
York says The Handmaid’s Tale may be more relevant now, with a major assault on abortion rights by the U.S. congress over the last several years.
Indeed, Winnipeg’s own neighbour south of the border, North Dakota, has recently introduced some of the most restrictive laws in America.
That said, York insists she hasn’t created a “political” ballet. “I’m more concerned with these characters,” she says.
“You can’t just do Giselle and Swan Lake,” Lewis says. That’s why the RWB season also includes the fifth installation of Canadian choreographer Paul Quanz’s popular and “adventurous” Q Dance – already sold out for its Nov. 13-16 run at the Gas Station Arts Centre.
Making its Winnipeg premiere is Quanz’s 2011 Rodin/Claudel, concerning the torrid romance between famed French sculptors Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel, performed by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal.
Fans of the classics need not worry, though: the need to “balance” the season and reflect the versatility of ballet means Lewis has happily maintained some venerable standards, including the annual tradition of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in December and Romeo + Juliet in February.
Nonetheless: “An artistic society doesn’t try to just replicate what was done in the past,” Lewis continues. “You want to give a full panoply of experience.
“And that’s exactly what makes ballet so exciting.”
For more info visit:
– Kenton Smith
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Dancing into the future
Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers will head into its 50th year on a high note.
The company will cap off its 2013-2014 season – its 49th in total – with Canadian dance icon Peggy Baker.
Born in Edmonton in 1952, Baker is considered one of the country’s greatest contemporary dancers, choreographers and teachers. She’s the recipient of many awards, including the Order of Canada and the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.
From April 24-27, Baker will premiere her latest work, schema, which she will create on WCD dancers. She will also perform a solo work and her company, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, will present her own Split Screen Stereophonic.
Also, Baker will perform The Disappearance of Right and Left at WCD’s annual Dinner and Dance at Peasant Cookery on April 13. She performed it at the first Dinner and Dance eight years ago.
“I’ve asked her to do it again,” Brent Lott, WCD’s artistic director, says. “It’s an absolutely beautiful work and seeing in that kind of setting where you’re so close to her, it’s such an intimate beautiful experience.”
In addition to her creativity in choreography, Lott says Baker simply possesses a body that was built for dance.
“No movement that she does isn’t thought out and delivered exactly as she intended too,” Lott says. “She’s just perfection when it comes to movement. Her body can do amazing beautiful things and she’s got these limbs that go on forever.”
Of course, there’s lots of contemporary dance to be had before Baker. WCD kicks off its season on Nov. 1 with Prairie Dance Circuit, which will feature Regina dance artists Johanna Bundon and Bee Pallomina, as well as Robin Poitras performing a piece by Quebec choreographer Paul-André Fortier. The Manitoba portion of the evening is a new work by Lott, inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese.
Verge – which runs Feb. 28 to Mar. 2 – will showcase the next generation of Winnipeg contemporary dance, a piece created by Lott on recent graduates and senior students of the professional program at the School of Contemporary Dancers.
From March 26 to April 5, WCD will premiere a must-see show by Lott and Winnipeg theatre artist Debbie Patterson. WCD dancer Johanna Riley will join Patterson onstage to perform a piece exploring Patterson’s struggle with multiple sclerosis.
“That piece reflects an email I got from Debbie where she was asking me for a support letter for grant applications she was putting in for some professional development,” Lott says. “She wanted to go to Vancouver for two weeks and take a movement workshop. She wanted to find out how she can move and use her body with the changes that have happened to her body because of MS.
“I’m really excited about it. I’ve worked with Debbie in the past but I’ve not worked with her collaboratively to create something. She’s just lovely.”
All WCD performances take place at the Rachel Browne Theatre.
For more info, visit:
– Jared Story
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WSO looks ahead to Carnegie Hall
On May 8, 2014, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra will perform at classical music’s Mecca – Carnegie Hall in New York City.
WSO music director Mickelthwate says going to Carnegie Hall is like “playing in the Stanley Cup” for an orchestra – especially as the WSO was selected to perform as part of the six-day orchestral showcase Spring for Music.
Even sweeter is that a public online voting process put the WSO at the top of the list for final consideration by Spring for Music’s judging panel.
Being part of such high-profile marquee programming enables the 60-plus year-old WSO to present “more adventurous selections,” says Mickelthwate.
The German-born conductor is now in his seventh season with the company but Winnipeg can still surprise him. The unexpectedly large turnout for a program of Austrian conductor Gustav Mahler last spring led to Mickelthwate programming more Mahler in 2014.
The WSO’s Masterworks program opens on Sept. 20 with what’s being billed as “the Everest of piano concertos:” Sergei Rachmaninoff ‘s Rach 3, featuring Canadian pianist Andre Laplante and the University of Manitoba Women’s Chorus. Paired with this selection is what could be considered the music of the spheres – English composer Gustav Holst’s famously cosmic The Planets.
Then there’s another of the WSO’s seasonal pillars: the Tchaikovsky Festival from
Oct. 25 – Nov. 2, which overlaps with Masterworks but also includes performances by the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir and Winnipeg Chamber Music Society, as well as a screening of the Ken Russell-directed film on Tchaikovsky, The Music Lovers, at Cinematheque.
The annual New Music Festival is always a pillar of the WSO season – and this year it appropriately features the music of the iconoclastic, genre-bending American composer Frank Zappa, as well as that of Estonian classical and sacred music composer Arvo Part.
The orchestra’s Pops program is yet another pillar, with this season boasting something of a complement to The Planets – a show called the Sci-Fi Spectacular from Sept. 27-29, led by accomplished American pops conductor Jack Everly.
And before we forget: beaming into town will be the aforementioned to provide dramatic narration to scores from the best in TV and cinematic sci-fi will be George Takei, of Star Trek fame.
November will feature the dynamic Le Ombre, which combines acrobatics, contemporary dance, theatrics and live vocals with traditional shadow art, by using their silhouettes projected onto a large screen. It doesn’t amount to your grandparents’ symphony orchestra, for certain.
But of course, “Winnipeg is a really unique city and audience,” Mickelthwate says.
For more info on the WSO season, visit:
The WSO and CAA Travel are pleased to invite Manitoba music lovers to be part of the historical WSO performance at the world-renowned Carnegie Hall. Travel packages include 3, 5 or 7-day stay . Contact Jill Hickey at 204-262-6178 or email@example.com
– Kenton Smith
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Local galleries continue to evolve
On top of showcasing a dynamic contemporary visual arts scene that’s been celebrated in no less than Paris through 2011 traveling exhibition My Winnipeg, there’s an added bonus to Winnipeg’s wealth of indie galleries that should cheer any true Winnipegger – they’re all free.
Take the artist-run Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art in the Exchange District: “
We’re trying to push Aboriginal art and make it accessible,” says gallery director Daina Warren. Hopefully what the casual or even experienced visitor will find within will perpetually surprise; after all, Warren says, contemporary Aboriginal art is no longer just about bright colours and traditional dress and motifs, but has rather taken “an amazing, diverse turn.”
Of course, sometimes it’s all about a turn on tradition – as with Lita Fontaine’s show Saηksaηnića, the first of the fall season’s shows in Urban Shaman’s Main Gallery. Inspired since girlhood by the traditional cloth and hide dresses of Plains women, Fontaine combines mixed media, photography, fabric, buttons and found materials with traditional patterns and designs, evoking the very Prairie landscape itself through cultural symbols of the Plains people.
By contrast, contemporary aboriginal art can grapple with as broad a theme as universal teenage angst, as in the case of Ottawa artist Ariel Smith’s Little girl/ugly girl/not bad/just evil girl, which will be showing parallel to Fontaine in Urban Shaman’s Marvin Francis Media Gallery and which features surrealism, expressionism and classic horror film elements “to explore the often-terrifying reality of growing up female,” Smith says.
Both shows run Sept. 13 – Oct. 19 and feature an artist’s talk and reception at the gallery Sept. 27.
Neighbour to Urban Shaman is Ace Art inc., also focused on emerging artists. Running until Oct. 18 is artist Dong Kyoon Nam’s Vacant Circumstances: this and something else, which features unexpectedly inspired works of art made from electrical appliances and their features: extension cords, plugs, switches, fixtures, and sockets, etc. Most of us may not be able to imagine a potential sculpture from electric fans and lots of extension cord – but Nam most inspiredly can.
Further downtown at its striking location at the corner of Portage Ave. and Memorial Blvd. is the Plug-In Institute of Contemporary Art, which from Sept. 28 – Nov. 10 features Souvenir involontaire by Melanie Rocan, whose dream-like, nostalgia-evoking work – which according to the Plug-In website provides the viewer “opportunity to visit her dreamscapes and…leave the burden of conscious thought at the door” – has also shown at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) in Toronto.
While it may be primarily the University of Winnipeg’s campus gallery, Gallery 1C03 nonetheless stresses its open-door policy to the entire general public, including the Oct. 3 opening reception for Boys Club, running Sept. 27 – Oct. 26. Organized as part of UWinnipeg ArtsFest 2013 – Cultural Treasures, this group exhibition from the U of W’s collection explores representations of masculinity, featuring paintings, drawings, prints and photographs by renowned Canadian artists (and sometimes Winnipeggers) such as David Barbour, Ivan Eyre, Yousuf Karsh and Sheila Spence.
Taking over the gallery from Nov. 7–Dec. 7 is RE: BUILD THEM, featuring new paintings, sculptural maquettes and video by Winnipeg artist Ian August – formerly part of the Two-Six collective, known for covert public “art bombings” across town, and more recently having completed a Master of Fine Arts degree at York University.
The gallery scene also holds excitement events for cineastes in the coming months:
Looping back to Urban Shaman, a spectrum of works from 10 years of Winnipeg and Saulteaux filmmaker Darryl Nepinak will comprise The Darryl Nepinak Show from Nov.1–Dec. 7, including such comical yet sharp-edged shorts as I for NDN and Lone Ranger.
For more information on Gallery 1C03, Plug-In ICA and Urban Shaman, visit:
– Kenton Smith