Its all about the journey…

It’s been just over a year now since the Yellowhead Rotary Arts Festival Society was granted funding to build a regional ‘Creative Campus’.   A year since I got the part time job of assisting that society in building arts capacity in my region of the Yellowhead.  I am amazed at the amount of intensive administration that is involved.  Keeping track of phone calls, and promotional materials, and photographs and time as required for reporting to the funders.  Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I am lucky if I can keep track of my phone let alone the calls!

That is not to say that I am ‘disorganized’ as much as just busy…chasing new things, putting out fires (usually ones I have started) and trying to educate myself along the way.  As I sit at the desk tonight surrounded by gas receipts, magazine clippings and business cards scattered amongst the jump drives, sticky notes and camera batteries  I wonder if I am truly accomplishing anything!  I mean – this blog for community updates is even 2 months out of date!

Well, I think its time I told you what this regional arts coordinator has been up to since the Cinderella Ballet – the last blog on this site.


The Glass Managerie followed quickly on the heels of the ballet.  Two fantastic presentations that the community flocked to at the end of this years Arts Jasper programs.

March also saw two of Jasper’s finest ‘string’ musicians – Lisa MacDonald and Monika Schaefer take on a Celtic Hour performance.  Before the month was out Anna Carnell and Friends had a month long exhibit at the museum, Anna and the other artists gave us a whole new appreciation for art and the use of rock in imagery and context.

The edit suite has been extremely busy finishing up on Grace Kohn’s production of the Children of Autumn, which is now available in DVD format.  (contact Grace for your copy!)

Then out of the blue we were asked to babysit a hostel while friends went out of town.  So from an edit suite surrounded by screens and technology to outdoor plumbing and no running water…a bit of a culture shock.  But what an amazing treat.  After a long day of ‘administrative stuff’ we were driving up the road to the hostel and the clouds were low enough to be meeting the land – tiredly I looked at David and said ‘Look at the air – its just hanging there’.  Falling asleep in extreme silence and all you can hear is your heartbeat took a couple of days to get used to.  I am still unsure if a heart is supposed to be that noisy!

While we left our urban abode for the rustic cabin in the woods we were graced with a visit from Tessa Nunn and Jeff Collins.   These artists are always a wealth of information about the bigger picture – being from the big city – and we were glad to share our art world with them.  Tessa is involved in arts programming at the UofA and will be sharing her expertise with us when the Jasper Community Habitat for the Arts is brought to life this summer.  Jeff’s experience with board governance and non profit etiquette have already been put to use.

The annual Yellowhead Rotary Arts Festival took place in April.

Over 1000 entries this year in music, voice, instrumental, writing, pottery, visual arts…venues and performances all over the region, some of Alberta’s top artists in their genre are brought in to adjudicate the works and after 10 years a team of 15 core volunteers bring the arts alive for two weeks!  Amazing. 

Jasper had two days of events in the schools for band and voice.  Our elementary school students even wrote their own prose this year!

The Campus has two intensive workshops in Jasper this summer/fall – FilmCamp for youth at the Palisades and Artists in the Pines for ArtsDays/Culture Days.  Posters, emails, postcards, press releases.  And when the Habitat comes on line these types of events will be monthly!  Traveling exhibitions, lunch programs, after school programs….   There’s that heartbeat again!  (or is it an art beat?)

Thank goodness for outings like the groundbreaking at the Activity Centre or my excursions to the outdoors would be even fewer.  New spaces, new ideas…like the artists call for new bike rack designs.

The details should be finalized soon and you can contact Barb Dyck at the Activity Centre to put in your design ideas.   A few more stats on Jasper’s cultural identity and the application to the Cultural Capital program will be complete…all fingers crossed that Jasper is a Cultural Capital for 2011 on time to celebrate the Thompson Bi-Centennial.

And then there was the horoscope in April:  There will be good news coming your way that involves your entire community or perhaps an organization you have recently become involved with.  Its an excellent time to begin long term projects. The horoscope was followed quickly by a letter from the province saying they approved of the Jasper Community Habitat for the Arts.  This lead to measuring the elevator to see if the piano would fit and finding a temporary home for the 12 computer systems that Computers for Schools have donated to the Habitat!

(I think at this point in the story I should mention that I am only one body in a team that works on some of these initiatives. )  (and it might be worth mentioning also that the artists I frame for have the patience of saints!)

The computers are headed into the communities of Jasper Hinton Edson and Grande Cache as part of the Creative Campus learning materials for the filmmaking courses that run regularly.

This in turn lead us to the Banff Centre to learn more about artists user agreements, studio space use, programming for public spaces, non profit corporate status, copyright…

As I stood on the Banff Centre grounds surrounded by inspiration I realized that there is a lot of supportive people in our lives, and while there are a lot of things our Habitat for the Arts won’t have right away – we have the same natural Rocky Mountain inspiration.  I didn’t know if I was jealous of what Banff had or thrilled to know that that amazing place is only 3 1/2 hours down the road!  A friend told me to always go with the positive so I am excited for what we found and can build relationships with.

By now you are probably wondering what the Jasper Community Habitat is.  Well…we are almost ready to tell you.  A few more crossed t’s and a few more dotted i’s and we can share it all!!

Another weekend in the Rockies

I knew that living in the Rockies gave me a strength that I couldn’t understand.  I just accept the wonder of this natural place and go about my work.  From morning sunrises over the mountains to the soapstone carving on my desk…rock is one constant in my life that – excuse the pun – grounds me.

So tonight’s exhibits at the Jasper Museum and the Jasper Artists Guild were a delightful way to end the week.  Both of these exhibits give the viewer a glimpse of the Rockies (or just rocks)…and offer a glimpse into the diversity of the place I call home.

Both of these exhibits are on for most of March.  The Artists Guild is located in the old Firehall near the Jasper Post Office and the Museum is located across the street from the pool.

Anna Carnell

Edith VanderKloot

Wanda Whaley

Ray Syrja

Alan Butler website is under construction…you can find Alan and Ray on the Jasper Artists Guild site

Jasper Artists Guild

Rockin’ at the Farmers Market

...if you can imagine it, she can build it!It’s harvest time.  Time to go to the Farmers Market and check out the fresh veggies, apples, honey…and, of course, what would a market be without its artisans.

Anna Carnell’s booth of mosaics and artworks made from natural and recyled elements showcase her amazing talent – bringing customer’s realizations to life or by using total freedom in her creations.  Like a stone teapot.  Her work has such unique possibilities that I was surprised when the lid didnt come off…it looked so real.

It’s no surprise that Anna’s work is so ‘elemental’.  I met her years ago when she lived in a National Park.  Nature and appreciation for the beauty in nature are evident in every aspect of her life.  She has since moved to the Calgary area – somewhere where she could live closer to her second passion – her horses.  When not in her studio you can find her and her partner riding or playing Polocrosse.  A cross between Polo and Lacrosse!  And when not tending horses, creating stone mosaics, working the Millarville or Calgary markets, or working with her many student projects…you can find her putting the final touches and details on her newest building project – her new home in the Foothills.

If you haven’t had the chance to check out the southern Alberta Farmers Market yet – no problem!  Anna is one of over 30 artisans coming north to the Jasper Christmas Fair on Nov 22nd.