Recap: 2015 Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts

The 28th annual Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts took place last night at the Winspear Centre. This was the second event under Mayor Don Iveson and he seemed to be having just as much fun this year as last! He got in on the break-dancing to start the evening and also joined The Wet Secrets on stage to close out the show. This was also a big year for the Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton, which produces the show. PACE has both a new visual identity and for the first time, an Executive Director (Sheiny Satanove).

2015 Mayor's Celebration of the Arts
Hey Ladies in front of the Production World screen featuring art by Jason Carter

The evening was hosted by Leona Brausen, Cathleen Rootsaert, and Davina Stewart, the trio behind the comedy show Hey Ladies which “celebrates Edmonton artists, local businesses, and other home-grown phenomenon.” They’ve called the Roxy Theatre on 124 Street home for the past eight years, so it was fitting to have them as emcees given that this year’s event supported Theatre Network. You can find Hey Ladies at the ATB Financial Arts Barns this season. I thought they did a great job as hosts, bringing just the right amount of energy and humor to keep things humming along!

The Awards

The full list of nominees is available at the PACE website. Here are the winners:

Mayor’s Award for Innovative Support by a Business of the Arts
Happy Harbor Comics, nominated by Jeff Martin

Mayor’s Award for Sustained Support of the Arts
Audrey’s Books, nominated by LitFest and the Alberta Book Fair Society

John Poole Award for Promotion of the Arts
Alexis Marie Chute, nominated by Wes Lafortune

ATB Financial Ambassador of the Arts Award
Rapid Fire Theatre, nominated by the Rapid Fire Theatre Board of Directors

ATCO Gas Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement
The Honourable Tommy Banks

CN Award for Youth Artist
Kieran MacDonald, nominated by Victoria School of the Arts

DIALOG Award for Excellence in Artistic Direction
Amy Shostak, nominated by Christopher Samuel

Mile Zero Dance Progressive Artist Award
Paul Freeman, nominated by the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts

Northlands Award for an Emerging Artist
Ahmed Knowmadic, nominated by Muna Saleh

The 2015 Robert Kroetch City of Edmonton Book Prize
Rudy Wiebe for Come Back published by Penguin Random House Canada

Syncrude Award for Excellence in Arts Management
Karen Brown-Fournell, nominated by Christine DeWitt

TELUS Courage to Innovate Award
Amber Borotsik, nominated by Ben Sures

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

Tommy Banks is of course no stranger to Edmontonians and last night he was recognized for his “outstanding contribution to the arts in Edmonton.” He’s won several awards over his career (including a Juno and a Gemini), is a member of the Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame, is a recipient of the Alberta Order of Excellence, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. In addition to a short video about his accomplishments, we were treated to a couple of songs by the man himself.

2015 Mayor's Celebration of the Arts

One of the first things Mayor Iveson said on stage was how honored he was to be in the same building as Tommy Banks. It was fitting then that when Banks took the stage later in the evening to perform, he called out Mayor Iveson as hip and “probably the only mayor in the whole country” who would try to break-dance on stage!

The Entertainment

The evening’s entertainment lineup, sponsored by Qualico Communities, included:

And in the lobby, guests enjoyed art by Jennie Vegt and Jeff Collins, curated by The Works.

2015 Mayor's Celebration of the Arts

All of the performances were great but just like last year, I was particularly impressed by Mary Pinkoski. I thought the addition of Eva Foote and dancers Jeannie and Jodie Vandekerkhove nicely elevated her slam poetry. DJ CreeAsian brought a fun vibe to the evening and, combined with the incredible moves of Rhythm Speaks, opened the show with a lot of energy. I really enjoyed The Wet Secrets and Capital City Burlesque at the end of the night, even though it was probably a bit loud for some in the audience. Le Fuzz are no strangers to the Mayor’s Celebration and this year they provided the entertainment in the lobby after the show.

Other Thoughts

Was it just me or was there a very noticeable Make Something Edmonton undercurrent to the evening? Perhaps undercurrent is the wrong word as the term “maker” was used more than once throughout the event. It was in the speeches and it was in the art too, with Mary Pinkoski and Eva Foote’s performance and the snippet of Birdie on the Wrong Bus being the most overt. I’m not complaining – I love the newfound confidence that seems to be permeating Edmonton lately. Last night was just another example.

This was the second year for Catch the Keys Productions and they continue to take the event in new and interesting directions. Congrats to Megan and Beth on another excellent evening! The program had a good consistent pace even though more time was given this year to talk about the nominees (which I really appreciated). Elm Cafe was again brought in to cater snacks in the lobby (the fennel brown butter and garam masala popcorn was amazing) along with macarons from Duchess Bake Shop. I’m not sure the attendance was as strong as past years, and that’s too bad because it really was a great show!

For more photos from the evening, check out Diversity Magazine. You can read last year’s recap here.

See you at the 2016 Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts!

Recap: 2014 Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts

The 27th annual Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts took place last night at the Winspear Centre. It was the first for Don Iveson as mayor, and he seemed to enjoy the opportunity, telling the audience, “I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t one of the reasons I wanted to be mayor.” He made a point of shaking every winner and performer’s hand on stage, and happily snapped photos with and high-fived other nominees and guests in the lobby before and after the show. He even took out his phone while on stage and said, “it’s not an awards show without a selfie!”

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js This year’s event supported the Music Enrichment Program, which provides stringed music and orchestral lessons to children across the city. The non-profit organization first began in 1959, and today is administered by the Edmonton String Players Association. Here’s a sample of the work of some of their students:

Here’s an excerpt from Mayor Iveson’s message in the program:

“This yearly event brings together artists, businesses, media and many others to celebrate our city’s finest artistic talent. Supporting our arts scene is integral to making Edmonton a diverse, vibrant place to live, and I congratulate tonight’s nominees for contributing to our city’s dynamism and quality of life.”

The evening was hosted by Bridget Ryan and Mark Meer, a wonderful pair that kept things moving with humor and energy throughout. Behind them was an incredible stage built by Production World which featured original artwork by Jason Blower. The best part is that it was animated!

2014 Mayor's Celebration of the Arts

The full list of nominees is available at the PACE website. Here are the winners:

Mayor’s Award for Innovative Support by a Business of the Arts
Capital Power Corporation, nominated by Art Gallery of Alberta

Mayor’s Award for Sustained Support of the Arts
Steven LePoole, nominated by Alberta Baroque Music Society

John Poole Award for Promotion of the Arts
CJSR FM 88.5, nominated by Ramparts Entertainment

ATB Financial Ambassador of the Arts Award
Prairie Dog Film + Television, nominated by Jesse Szymanski

ATCO Gas Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement
Douglas D. Barry, nominated by Dr. Adiranna Davies CM

CN Award for Youth Artist
Rebecca Lappa, nominated by Martha Livingstone

DIALOG Award for Excellence in Artistic Direction
Ron E. Scott, nominated by Jesse Szymanski

Northlands Award for an Emerging Artist
Doug Organ, nominated by Chris Szott

The 2014 Robert Kroetch City of Edmonton Book Prize
Selected Poems, by Tim Bowling

Syncrude Award for Excellence in Arts Management
Dave Cunningham, nominated by Film and Visual Arts Society

TELUS Courage to Innovate Award
Darcia Parada, nominated by Jodine Chase

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

2014 Mayor's Celebration of the Arts

The lobby also featured the work of three visual artists:

The evening’s performances included:

The program run quicker than in previous years, taking just over an hour and forty-five minutes. It flew by with the amazing performances the audience was treated to! Jeff Stuart got things started with a great three-song set, which featured wonderful strings. We got a taste of the show Mercy of a Storm by Brian Dooley and Gianna Vacirca. Ariane Mahryke Lemire’s performance a little while later was Sharon’s favorite of the evening. I thought our Poet Laureate, Mary Pinkoski, stole the show with her incredible slam poetry. We took a break for some humor next, with a bit from The Irrelevant Show that joked about the Edmonton Oilers and their continued rebuild into the year 2029. Closing out the formal program was Mitchmatic, who provided the music for Kelsey Wolver’s impressive hoop dancing and Sugar Swing’s high-energy number.

2014 Mayor's Celebration of the Arts

After the formal program guests were encouraged to enjoy drinks and food in the lobby. Elm Cafe made some delicious tasting boards that very quickly disappeared! With the quicker program, it seemed like more people were willing to stick around.

2014 Mayor's Celebration of the Arts

Kudos to the Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton for another successful event, but I want to especially recognize Catch the Keys Productions. This was the first year that Megan and Beth Dart worked with the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts, and I thought they absolutely hit it out of the park! They produced the evening and are directly responsible for all of the wonderful things I wrote about above. Great work, and I can’t wait to see how you’re going to top this!

You can read last year’s recap here. See you at the 2015 Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts!

I was thrilled to once again play a small role on the Steering Committee for the event. It’ll be interesting to see how the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts evolves now that Mayor Iveson will be around at the start of planning for 2015!

Recap: Intersect – a collision of artists and geeks!

Sharon and I walked down the street to Startup Edmonton for the first ever Intersect event on Friday evening. I had heard Ken talk about the concept in the past, so I had some idea of what to expect. Think DemoCamp, but with artists showcasing their work rather than software developers! Here’s how the event was officially described:

A collision of technical and creative minds, Intersect is a new event that puts geeks and artists on stage to show off projects that merge the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, and other creative fields. A fun way to support artists and creators in our community, Intersect will inspire constructive conversations and interactions around concepts, demos, samples and prototypes being created in Edmonton.

Intersect

We arrived shortly after the advertised start time of 7pm and found the third floor of the Mercer Warehouse buzzing. A couple dozen people were enjoying the DJ and the bar and we could see projects setup all around the room. Startup Edmonton teamed up with Megan & Beth Dart, the sister duo behind Catch the Keys Productions, to curate projects for the event. They ended up with five, in order of introduction:

  • Scott Smallwood

    Scott Smallwood is a sound artist, composer, and sound performer who creates works inspired by discovered textures and forms, through a practice of listening, field recording, and sonic improvisation. He also designs experimental electronic instruments and software, as well as sound installations and site-specific performance scenarios. Scott has been active as an educator for over 15 years, teaching composition, improvisation, and electroacoustic music at the University of Alberta.

  • Good Women Dance Society 

    Good Women Dance Society is a creation-based company that is committed to helping create a vibrant and sustainable contemporary dance community in Edmonton. The society’s artistic focus is on creating and producing innovative new works with integrity and conviction.

  • Owen Brierley, GURU Digital Arts Collective

    Owen is the Executive Director of Guru Digital Arts College. Over the past 14 years Owen has worked with, taught and worked for many of Edmonton’s top talent in digital media. From Project Director for a Serious Game in the oil and gas sector to Lego trivia interactives for the Telus World of Science, Owen has had the pleasure of exploring almost every form of interactive digital media production.

  • Technitone 

    Built by local interactive firm gskinner.com to showcase Google Chrome, Technitone is an interactive web audio experience that lets you join other creators to plot tones on a grid, construct melodies, and modify the output with a robust toolset of effects. Technitone packs a few neat extras, too, such as a solo mode for those who like more control, and a gallery where you can publish your masterpieces, whether made on your own or with a group.

  • ShowStages Collective 

    ShowStages is a video and design collective. We build narratives through projected media and interactive audio-visual experiences. We work in theatre and new media.

Though it felt like a mixer at first, we soon discovered there was a program for the event! Hosts Omar Mouallem and Julian Faid introduced each project, and then the artist behind it had a few minutes to talk about it. We went around the room from one project to the next, which was a nice change from the stay-seated approach of DemoCamp. After each project had been showcased, the event reverted back to the mixer-like atmosphere and attendees were free to seek out more information from the artists.

Intersect

I had already seen Technitone – Grant had demoed it a year ago at DemoCamp Edmonton 18 – but it was neat to see it again with big displays. The performance by GWDS was really impressive and utilized FaceTime (I think) to incorporate an interesting visual perspective. At one point the dancer, I believe it was Ainsley Hillyard, created a sort of infinity effect (like you might do with mirrors).

Intersect

Intersect

I thought Owen’s project, which if I understand correctly involved positioning video displays using software, was pretty neat. You could create some pretty cool installations with the approach! Scott’s work with sound was fascinating to learn about. I’m not sure if it is still active, but I can totally understand why Scott would be the guy behind Dorkbot Edmonton. Unfortunately Elijah had a few technical difficulties, but he still did a good job of demoing what ShowStages can do. I love that they use a Kinect plugged into a MacBook!

Intersect

I really enjoyed Intersect, and I do hope it becomes a regular series! I’m sure there are many more interesting collisions of art and technology taking place in our city. Kudos to Startup Edmonton and Catch the Keys on a successful first event!

Intersect

You can see the rest of my photos from the evening here.