Okotoks hosts cultural carnival

Alberta Culture Days: Weekend activities celebrate vibrant arts community

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012 09:28 am

Okotoks Arts Society members Shirley Paradis (left) and Alice Clarke (second from right) and Okotoks Art Gallery's Christine Walker (second from left) and Andrea Spiers (right) prepare for this weekend's Alberta Culture Days in Okotoks.
Okotoks Arts Society members Shirley Paradis (left) and Alice Clarke (second from right) and Okotoks Art Gallery's Christine Walker (second from left) and Andrea Spiers (right) prepare for this weekend's Alberta Culture Days in Okotoks.
Tammy Rollie/OWW

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Okotoks is not missing out on an opportunity to celebrate its vibrant arts and culture community.

The community is among dozens in the province scheduled to host a weekend of celebration during Alberta Culture Days from Sept. 28 to Sept. 30.

Okotoks, which received a provincial grant for its festivities, is hosting a variety of free events exposing residents and visitors to the unique arts and culture offered in the community.

“That’s the whole point of Alberta Culture Days is supporting Alberta and local artists,” said Andrea Spiers of Okotoks art gallery visitor services specialist. “We are supporting our local artists in many different ways.”

Okotoks is hosting an abundance of activities in its three-day celebration involving various aspects of arts and culture.

Among them is Okotoks Live! Open Mic Night featuring the performances of local artists at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre starting at 7 p.m. on Friday.

“We are trying to get some of the musicians who played at the BuskerFest from First Saturdays,” said Spiers. “There is a lot of hidden talent in this community.”

Spiers said the singing talent featured on Friday night consists of a mix of youth and adults in various genres from country to folk.

Okotoks’ Big Rock Artists are hosting events of their own throughout the weekend at the St. Peter’s Anglican Church.

On Friday, they are hosting an exhibition of their work as well as that of 13 other southern Alberta artists from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., an artists’ reception will be held at 6 p.m. and live entertainment by Turner Valley’s Stan Winistok.

“These artists are from all over southern Alberta – Calgary, Okotoks, High River, Turner Valley, Pincher Creek,” said Big Rock Artists organizer Marg Smith.

On Saturday, the show continues with an art sale from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with some artists painting on site and musicians jamming throughout the day, said Smith.

“The people who are coming are getting musical entertainment as well as the opportunity to shop for local art,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for the artists to get a chance to showcase their work, to make some sales, to enjoy other artists’ company, to exchange ideas and information, to get to know each other a little better.”

Smith said the sale is a fundraiser for the Foothills Country Hospice, with 30 per cent of the proceeds going toward the hospice and 100 per cent of the sales of work by Canadian artist Roger Arndt and Cyclemania Artworks in Okotoks going to the cause.

“Our sale brings in a lot of people because it’s quality art, but also it’s in support of the hospice,” she said. “Last year we raised close to $6,000 for them.”

Residents who haven’t had the opportunity to check out “Ice Flow and Sound Retreats,” an exhibition of Canmore artist Jan Kabatoff, are encouraged to stop by the Okotoks Art Gallery at The Station Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It is a very interesting display,” said Spiers. “The people who are coming in are enjoying it immensely.”

Spiers said many people find Kabatoff’s display unique from other artists who have displayed their work in the gallery.

“It’s not just things on the wall, it’s things hanging from the ceiling like these beautiful fabrics hanging in the middle of the gallery,” she said.

With few venues to showcase their own creations, art students from Foothills Composite High School and Holy Trinity Academy are displaying their favourite creations in an art show and sale on the Okotoks Art Gallery lawn on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

“There is amazing student artwork out there that is only shown in the schools,” she said. “There is one guy who does sculptures and they are amazing. There is paintings and pencil drawings that are amazing. This is something that you are going to want to come out and buy.”

Spiers said she has had students request to display artwork in the gallery in the past and is glad for the opportunity to oblige.

“When we came up with the weekend we asked them what they thought of it,” she said. “They said they would love to do that.”

On Saturday afternoon, Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump storyteller Treffery Deerfoot will share the Blackfoot legend about the Big Rock at the Okotoks Museum and Archives at 1 p.m.

“Part of this whole Alberta Culture Days is we have to have a little bit of everything for that whole weekend – youth, aboriginal,” said Spiers. “The story of the Big Rock is a Blackfoot story. I’ve read the story but to actually have a member of the aboriginal community telling it will just be phenomenal. I can’t wait to hear him.”

Following Deerfoot’s storytelling, Okotoks Historical Society’s Karen Peters will host a heritage walking tour throughout downtown.

Throughout the day on Saturday, 15 youth will take part in a teen improvisation workshop led by Dirty Laundry Improv where they will learn to perform on stage and will perform for the community from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre.

Although Okotoks has been known to embrace the arts, Spiers said there haven’t been many opportunities for youth to participate in drama outside of school.

“I have a lot of people who phone here and want to know about drama camps or drama programs for youth,” she said. “I have a lot of parents who say there is not really anything that happens in Okotoks in drama for youth. We’ve been getting a lot of response (to the workshop).”

Also on Saturday, about a dozen artists will be stationed at various locations throughout Okotoks for the Quick Draw Challenge where they will paint their interpretations of Okotoks from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their work will be displayed in the Rotary Performing Arts Centre community room on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Also taking place at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre during the same time on Sunday is a classical piano concert by Calgary pianist Matthew Blackburn.

Alberta Minister of Culture Heather Klimchuk, who will be traveling from community to community throughout the weekend, will be in attendance during intermission to speak.

The provincial initiative began in 2008 as Alberta Arts Day, a one-day event to recognize the value of Alberta arts and cultural communities. It has since expanded into a three-day celebration.

Last year 1,046 events were held in 93 communities alone.


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