Every year since 2005, the City of Peterborough has generously set aside $20,000 for our own little festival of the arts where everyone is invited and anything goes. It’s held in autumn when droves of university and college students are getting settled into their rooms; the weather is gorgeous and there’s a buzz of excitement and new beginnings in the air.
The genius that is Artsweek is that it funds presenters rather than individual artists so that a range of local arts are represented as part of the spectrum of performance, music and visual arts projects. Organized primarily by volunteers, Artsweek brings together the arts community and in part the business community to create a week of novel experiences that the whole city can enjoy for free.
Artsweek is our Luminato. It brings the community together and it brings the city to life. We enjoy professional art projects performed or showcased in venues scattered liberally across the city and media crossovers that are fun, exciting and often educational or interactive. It’s not unusual to find a friend’s photographs in an art exhibit, to see your relatives performing in an avant-garde theatre event, or see a film made by a local real estate agent.
Last year the Burgess Shale brought us 2 great nights of music and multimedia with its Tom Thompson Project; Liz Fennell, Carolyn Code and yours truly presented 10 local artists in the popular Gallery in the Truck, a mobile gallery on the streets; HouseFire Film Collective introduced us to some local filmmakers with an evening of short films, including the James Bond meets The Day the Earth Stood Still web series, Grimwell.
In past years Hartley Stephenson’s plastic bag quilt entitled Blanket for Mother Earth was part of Elizabeth Fennell’s Artswalk which had exhibits of work by local artists in private residences throughout the city; speculative fiction writer Ursula Pflug read from her work at Art in the Park and Lester Alfonso presented an outdoor video mapping event, Sound + Vision.
There is little documentation of past Artsweek events available online or in any format, for that matter. Fortunately this year, videographer Paul Caleb has captured a few highlights here »
Deb Reynolds – One Thousand Wishes: Creating a Shared Vision of Community
Everyone loved getting their hands dirty making prints on paper and fabric that became a prayer flag of community love.
Atelier Ludmila – Wunderbar
A sunny day, giant puppets, a wizard, dozens of kids and their families running down the hill in Victoria Park with streamers and a great blue heron to overcome evil with the help of mosquitoes, raccoons and rats, with music by The Lonely Parade and a ukulele orchestra – magical.
Esther Vincent – Peterborough Store Front Photo Project
Riffing off an early photographic tradition of shopkeeper’s portraits, Esther Vincent curated a soulful show of local photographers’ shots of business owners in front of their establishments. I particularly liked the ones of the owner of The Spill in a bunny suit and Brad Brackenridge’s shot of the owners of my favourite pizza palace, The Night Kitchen.
Tiny birchbark canoes, trees made of pinecones, plasticine figures playing street hockey, a map of the city with the river and bike paths, and my favourite, a model of Millenium Park’s Esker by Maryann Barkhouse and Michael Belmore – this stop motion workshop was a popular event.
Jeff Macklin – Neighbourhoods. A Peterborough Anthology of Creative Words and Visual Art
Jeff Macklin, well-known for his work in letterpress, compiled a limited edition, hand bound book of writings and visual art exploring Peterborough’s many neighbourhoods in the tradition of The Peterborough Review. People were spilling onto the street for the reading event at Circus, featuring Jon Hedderwick reading Is Dirtbike Guy Part of My Neighbourhood? by Kate Story and music by Evangeline Gentle.
Along with some workshops in projection and video mapping, Artsweek culminated with a walkabout of several downtown music venues with music and projection art performances, and a Bring Your Own Beamer party at Artspace. Electric City Live has a review of the event here »