Jasper Culture Days 2014

Five years and going strong.  So many ways to bring community together through art.

Starting in early September a partnership with Arts Jasper (celebrating 42 years of bringing art to Jasper stages!) brought some amazing musicians to town.  Christine Hanson, Bruce MacGregor and Andrew Hillhouse filled the Legion for an evening of celtic music, tales and even had some folks up dancing.  Bruce, on the left, Christine in the middle are not strangers to Jasper.  And in the fall of 2015 Christine will return to present her composition commissioned by Arts Jasper to honour the life of Edith Cavell.

Bruce is always full of tales, with a Scottish accent!

A Taste of Scotland

With Culture Days only a few weeks in the future and the volunteer room filling with programs and Culture Days swag and white board calendars being edited on a regular basis…we saw the second lead up event come together out at Pine Bungalows.  Fitting place for a Film Festival fundraiser.  Pine Bungalows owner, Mike Wasuita, has been a supporter of Alberta Film and filmmaking for years.  As an IATSE member he has offered up the Bungalows as a base for all kinds of productions.

The Karvonen family are also no strangers to Jasper.  And what better place to show a documentary on Albert Karvonen made by his daughter Ava than in one of the wilderness locations that inspired his work.  Albert often visited Jasper National Park to film.

Alberta Karvonen

Screening the documentary on Albert produced by Ava Karvonen.

Screening the documentary on Albert produced by Ava Karvonen at Pine Bungalows.

Any evening at Pine Bungalows is a treat and this one did not disappoint.  In attendance for this Jasper Short Film Festival fundraiser was Peter Wunstorf to the left of the easel above.  Peter created a short called ‘Patiences’ that was selected for the Festival.

Alberta has no end to great talents and Jasper has connections for many.  It is unfortunate that Culture Days is only a weekend long…so we cheat.  It’s difficult to get artists to come to Jasper when the entire country is celebrating Culture Days!  For that reason we called on Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail to come do a writing workshop through the Library before Culture Days weekend!

Danielle grew up in a family with a passion for aviation – and she just released her newest book ‘Polar Winds’ on flying in the North.  She did a book signing at the Snowdome Coffee Bar and then a free workshop for a room full of inquisitive writers and wanna-be writers!

And then the countdown was on…less than 7 days to Culture Days…

Time for Marie Helene to bring life to some inanimate objects…the annual puppet making workshop is always a treat for all ages.

These creations were on display during the Community Fair on Culture Days weekend!

One of the key events to come from this weekend dedicated to art and culture…is the annual Raven’ About the Arts Awards.  An evening that has ranged from a black tie affair at The Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre to fabulous gatherings in the Jasper Artists Guild.  This year we had the opportunity to host the event at the Jasper Museum…surrounded by works from the Artists Guild in the Showcase Gallery.  The Guild did a Sketchers crawl on a fabulous fall afternoon and then the day evolved into the evenings awards.

Jasper is a wealth of heritage sites to sketch...and a sketchers crawl for Culture Days!

Jasper has a wealth of heritage sites to sketch…and a sketchers crawl for Culture Days!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awards were created by Urban Forest Pottery Studios - glass fused photography.

Awards were created by Urban Forest Pottery Studios – glass fused photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And thanks to Jasper's very own engravers...Lucia's Gifts...we have some very nice plaques for the awards too! Thankyou Vera Forabosco for doing these up for us!

And thanks to Jasper’s very own engravers…Lucia’s Gifts…we have some very nice plaques for the awards too! Thank you Vera Forabosco for doing these up for us!

An evening to honour those who inspire, create and share their art …

Watch how they express their work in their own words!

The Fitzhugh also did a very nice writeup of the evening… http://www.fitzhugh.ca/locals-celebrated-at-arts-awards/

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Close the doors on another Raven’ About the Arts Awards Friday night…and open the doors on Saturday morning for Jasper’s FIRST ‘madeforjasper’ Film Festival!!

Starting in April the call went out across as many channels as we could think of…other festivals, websites, friends…and over 35 submissions came into the Film Fest office.  From all over Canada, Quebec, Manitoba, BC…and even one from LA!  Documentaries, dramatic shorts, animation…from nature to comedy…over 14 hours of programs.  And the selection committee watched them all, sometimes twice.  We have a fantastic small town theatre, the Chaba Theatre, that was opened to us to use for one day…6 hours…a big screen!

Having the films, the theatre and even banners on the street were all good…but what about an audience!?  Being the first ever short film fest in Jasper, on a beautiful sunny fall day…lets just say lots of fingers were crossed.  And it worked!  Thank you Jasper and all the filmmakers who came from away…thanks to the volunteers who kept the tight screening schedule tight.

Toddske, from Fort Mac...got away before the day ended...interestingly he was involved in the short Ninjavention.

Toddske, from Fort Mac…got away before the day ended…interestingly he was involved in the short Ninjavention.  Coincidence?

Peoples Choice was chosen by ballot during the day, second choice was Ancestors Calling…and third place was shared by Exquisite Taste and Through Ice and Time.  All of the award winning films and runners up for Peoples Choice will be collated into a BEST OF THE JASPER SHORT FILM FESTIVAL program to travel the region as a fundraiser!

And of course…what is a film festival without the chance to meet the filmmakers and have some fun…dance…

One of the more famous actors to grace Jasper soil...Marilyn made an appearance!

One of the more famous actors to grace Jasper soil…Marilyn made an appearance!

Chad Krayenhoff of Jasper’s blues fusion dance group brought some life to the floor…what better way to get a room of strangers mingling?

And who better to play blues for blues dancers than Jasper’s own Brian Lackey…who was this years award winner for music at the Raven’ About the Arts Awards!

 

 

 

 

 

Mingling at the Jasper Inn!

 

Who knew magic was so much fun!

Who knew magic was so much fun!

Sometimes things can get out of hand…but no filmmaker was harmed in the making of Culture Days!

Daniel Foreman of Groove Soldier Productions...just keeping things in order!

Daniel Foreman of Groove Soldier Productions…obviously making new friends!

Saturday also meant street performers!  This year we found a young man – Ryan Lackey – who we like to think brought the MAGIC to Culture Days!

If you ever need a little magic for your event...give this guy a call!!

If you ever need a little magic for your event…give this guy a call!!

And on the other side of the street!!  Stephen Nelson entertained at the SnowDome Coffee Bar.  (Stephen also takes a lot of the photos we use for Culture Days archives…a couple of years in a row now!)

Sunshine, coffee and music…gotta love Jasper in the fall.

We like to bring the season into the weekend if we can…and scarecrows just seem to be the thing to do for a workshop, to decorate and to entertain!

 

 

 

 

 

A workshop midday by Ann Hoffele was supposed to be for kids…but it soon became apparent that kids in Jasper have no age!   (Ann also offers weekly workshops in all kinds of crafts…ask us about them arts@iotad dot ca)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isara arrived in Jasper last week...on time to join the weekend!  She sang at the Raven' About the Arts Awards.  Thanks Isara!

Isara arrived in Jasper last week…on time to join the weekend! She sang at the Raven’ About the Arts Awards. Thanks Isara!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hula Hoops and Drums rounded out the workshop offerings (excuse the pun)!  Matricia Brown shared her love of song and drumming.  Shawna Woelke shared her passion for movement with whoever was brave enough to pick one up!  (Shawna is also this years award winner for dance for her amazing choreography on the hoop.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sundog Tours let us put up the Astrodome so Jasper could get excited about the Dark Sky Festival that is just weeks away!  A lot of Jasper residents didnt even know we had a DOME!  Jasper has a lot of well kept secrets 🙂  but now that over 40 people got to get inside this amazing attraction…the word will get around!  Thanks Sundog!

The Dome was nominated this year for a TIAC (Tourism Association of Canada) award.  It is the only dome (we know of) that has taken the songs and drumming of a Cree storyteller and put that audio track to the visuals of the night sky.  Good Luck Matricia Brown and Sundog Tours and Delphinus 18 Productions – lets bring TIAC notoriety back to Jasper again!  (Delphinus 18’s parent AV production office was a finalist for a TIAC Globe and Mail award in 2008)

And so we come to the end of the weekend…to the most anticipated event of the weekend…the one that started when a young potter told us about an annual fundraiser at her college.  Julie McMath inspired the BOWLS WITH SOUL weekend in 2010.  Simply set out handmade bowls, people choose the one that they like, fill it with soup and keep the bowl for a modest fee to support the arts.  It has been 4 years now…and while Julie and her bowls are temporarily not available (rumoured to be around for 2015!) the artist was chosen for 2014, the bowls were picked up at the Connie Pike Studio in High River Alberta…and soup was had!

In 2012 we took the idea one stop higher and have the public vote on their favourite soup of the night.  The soups are marked with ingredients only…so its fair.  2012 and 2013 saw Mountain Park Lodges’ Riley Black take the Golden Ladle award…two years in a row.  The challenge for 2014 was not only to make great soup…but to unseat Jasper’s two time winner Riley Black.

As the soup was warming I asked Clayton Anderson what the chances were of someone new taking the Golden Ladle from Riley.  Clayton thought it was likely as Riley had made a humble tomato soup.  Well…it was a very good tomato soup…with chorizo meatballs…and again – third year in a row the community chose Riley Black!

Arts Jasper always there to help keep order!

Arts Jasper always there to help keep order!

Decisions Decisions...what the heck...take one of each!

Decisions Decisions…what the heck…take one of each!

Aw...someone brought a bowl from a past year...Julie McMath will always be part of Bowls with Soul!

Aw…someone brought a bowl from a past year…Julie McMath will always be part of Bowls with Soul!

The man who makes Bowls with Soul a wonderfully smooth running event!  Clayton Anderson!

The man who makes Bowls with Soul a wonderfully smooth running event! Clayton Anderson! And thanks Kaitie Worobec too…couldnt have done it without you!

Soup, scarecrows, music, dance, films, hula hoops, drumming, writing workshop, book signing, Scottish music, an Astrodome, awards, new and old friends, puppets, street performers, Marilyn Monroe!  I think that’s it!

We will post MORE photos on our Flickr site, and of course follow us at the JASPER COMMUNITY HABITAT FOR THE ARTS and THE JASPER SHORT FILM FESTIVAL on facebook to see what’s going on next!  Arts Jasper and the Jasper Artists Guild, the Library and the Museum have facebook pages too!

 

If I forgot someone...apologies...we can always add as the memories flow in!

If I forgot someone…apologies…we can always add as the memories flow in!

 

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O manusha khelevan tut

The people make you dance.  (Romani/Gypsy – Said if a place is nice.)

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Wow.  The last post was all about the stuff we were going to do for Culture Days.  And here we are – two months later…ready to tell you the stories of a festival well lived!!

Our theme for 2013’s Culture Days was that of ‘homelessness’ or more romantically…that of being a gypsy!  (we eagerly await – still – the opening of Jasper’s new cultural spaces building) BUT the arts are never really homeless…instead we will think of them as subject to movement, colour, sound and entertainment, like a gypsy caravan!

Marie Helene took the lead again this year with a workshop in puppet making.  Some puppets went on to perform on the street during our day of Street Art…and even welcomed folks to the Raven’ About the Arts Awards night.

Every year, actually every time there are events for community to gather, we try to create interesting events that will entice all ages.  Well, this year we thought that, rather than having the Harvest Dance at the community hall and then go pickup our amazing seniors, why not host the Culture Days Harvest Dance at the seniors lodge and have them invite the community to join in!  And what would a Harvest ‘anything’ be without scarecrows.

Our second year of building scarecrows grew substantially…and the voting was done at the Dance for the scariest, the most recycled and of course…the Jasperiest!

Music was presented by the lovely Ms Monika Schaefer and two fabulous musicians from Tight Squeeze.  The evening opened with The Jasper Dance Program dancers…followed by great food, music, family, dancing…it was quite a party!  (actually we had a hard time shutting this evening down!  They could have danced all night!)

Scarecrows had three categories…Jasper the Bear (now one of our senior community!) awarded Ursula for the Jasperiest scarecrow.

Awards were from Jasper’s artistic community, this image by Judy Gieselman was met with great enthusiasm!

And of course – the Culture Days swag was a big hit!

The week of Culture Days was shared with the schools…they not only designed a few of their own scarecrows – they added to their rock garden and hosted an art exhibition.

cdayskids

Culture Days offers us an opportunity to celebrate all things art…to invite all ages to play, to create as many ways to engage with the public as possible.  So what would a weekend of art be without buskers!!!  Art in the streets…

And while downtown enjoying the sights and sounds of Jasper artists…there was also the opportunity to stop into the Chaba Theatre to take in two French Films, one for the kids and one the big kids!  Les Jour de Courneilles and Les Gamins…thanks to our new partnership with the Alberta Media Arts Alliance and cInaMAGINE Lethbridge!

As we move closer to moving into the new Jasper Cultural Building we are making new partnerships…the new building will hold the Library, the Jasper Artists Guild, L’ACFA’s French Library and the of course…the Habitat for the Arts.

With Saturday afternoon winding down we headed over to the Legion to setup for the annual Raven’ About the Arts Awards!

As folks arrive they are greeted by an unexpected host!  Marie Helene and her puppet characters…

Alan Butler accepts the evenings program…one of two presentations he will be part of this evening.  Alan did receive an arts award for Fine Arts this year.  You can find Alan’s work at the Jasper Artists Guild!

The Raven’ About the Arts Awards is one of Jasper’s key Culture Days events!  Jeremy Derksen was our MC for the evening, Mayor Ireland recited some of his own poetry, the Library’s poet in residence Shirley Serviss graced the stage as well.

See end of story for the poem written just for the awards by Mayor Ireland!

This year’s awards were created by Enzien and Christian of Urban Pottery Designs.  They work in fused glass as well…and just happen to take lots of photographs of the ravens on Chip Lake…making for amazing awards.

Foods were presented by Elizabeth Prinz…a great evening of recognizing all the great art and artists in our community!

Patron of the Year award went to Wayne Kennedy for his amazing community connecting he does for all the orgs in town…making sure we all know what is going on.  He had an important message for us all…regardless of all this social media – we still need to get out and communicate to our neighbours one on one about what we are doing!  Well said!

Check out these artists, eloquently sharing their love of their art… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yf7LA5hnEE&feature=c4-overview&list=UUYc2gpkTFYDws_glNif07pA

Entertainment for the evening – besides our noted poets – was piano by Alys Thomas and guitar by Edwin Richards.

Night Two of Culture Days concluded…on to SOUP FOR THE SOUL!!

This event began 4 years ago when Julie McMath told us about an event from her days at college in Nova Scotia…the ceramics students would create bowls for an event…they would be filled with soup and you kept the bowl.  How absolutely perfect for Culture Days.  She had several students from Dish Pottery School help her create the 100+ bowls that we would need for the night.

In 2013 we changed it up a bit…as Julie has moved out of town – and until our own pottery school is in place – we now call the event SOUP for the Soul…we find misc bowls…you come for the soup which is provided by restaurants in town.  Soups are voted on…and the community awards the soup maker with the most votes the annual GOLDEN LADLE award.  This lovely mini chef is about 2 inches tall, created by Tracy Templeton for us.

soup

If you think soup is a ‘so so’ meal…you will have to come out next year!  Purple cauliflower, boar chorizo, all kinds of veggies and curries and cream and colours.  And yes, our servers were dressed in gypsy attire. The theme this year was ‘homelessness’ – as we await our new building we are ‘gypsies’!  The music on the stage was even gypsy themed as Cam Neufeld and friends treated us to excerpts from the ‘Road to Django’ show.

This event would never be as smooth and successful as it is if it were not for Clayton Anderson and his team at Mountain Park Lodges!

Success!  Another great year of music, food, friends and art.

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And the poem!  By Jasper’s very own Mayor Ireland!

Raven about the Arts

Raven about the Arts pg2

Raven about the Arts pg3

Yes. We can!

One thing we have learned about running a three week arts ‘festival’…there is no such thing as NO we can’t.  It’s yes time.  All things are possible…all things are subject to change – but there is no NO.

Let’s start with the annual Raven about the Arts Awards.

This year’s funding was a bit less than expected and at least four of our hard core volunteers (and when you have four hard core volunteers you really have eight volunteers!) were going on vacation, a couple had work related issues and some had even moved on to new horizons.  The remaining crew took over the gaps, filled them in or the event was simply changed to work with what we had.  The doors opened, the MC welcomed the full room of artists and art lovers and the night went off without a hitch.

The photos are up on our Flickr site… http://www.flickr.com/photos/albertaartspeak/sets/72157631795067324/

And there is a youtube video where the award winners tell you about their art in their own words.

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The awards night was followed by the third Artists in the Pines weekend with instructor Tessa Nunn.  Sunday afternoon music provided by the Artists Guild with guests The Fiddle River Band.

Visits with the Alberta Minister of Culture and Premier Redford…

Tours through the new cultural spaces…scarecrow building, puppet making, dragon drawing!!  (you really have to check out the photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/albertaartspeak/sets/72157631630950375/

Wrap that up in a Variety Show of Jasper talent, a community coming together for soup…a photo workshop in the most beautiful time of the year…

So while volunteers can fall victim to jobs…or vacations…Jasperites just seem to be able to bring it together through all kinds of circumstances!

Like the awesome theatre troupe that brought Jasper two nights of live theatre this month.  We heard some back stage jitters about minor nervous stage stumbles or bumbles but unless you had written the script – it was perfect!  Congrats Jasper Theatre Company!

More pictures on Flickr @  http://www.flickr.com/photos/albertaartspeak/sets/72157631795054762/

And in case you are wondering…throughout the photos you can catch our painted skulls and South American theme…well…its 2012.  Yes, it is a year of change.  Jasper’s arts community is getting a brand new building for 2013.  In early 2011 the Municipality of Jasper invited both the Habitat for the Arts and the Jasper Artists Guild to be part of the new Library/Cultural Building presently under construction.   Definitely a time of change!  Culture Days and Arts with Altitude 2013 will be bigger and better with the new dedicated artspaces!

SO

THANKS JASPER.
On to the Yellowhead Arts Festival Spring 2013!!  Another two weeks of art that YOU can be part of.  Ask us how!

jasper@yraf.com

Peeling back the hide

January’s mark new beginnings, new years full of promise and dreams.  For Habitat, just over a year old, we are now looking at our old age – in a sense.  We created a space for exploring the arts, a place to show art, create art – regardless of age or skill.  The community jumped on board with regular workshops, film nights, demonstrations and events.

Music in the Street!

And as the Habitat prepares to take down the walls of accessible creative space – the walls for Habitat II are going up.  You see, in 2011 we were invited to be part of the new Library that the Town of Jasper is building.  They have opened up the northwest end of the new structure to be a home for Jasper’s Arts and Cultural industries.

So, as we get into the groove of booking events and opening doors for the varying community orgs to create programming in Hab I for 2012 – our attention and energies are twisted towards making sure that, when Hab II opens its doors in 2013, it reflects all the gusto and intensity of seasoned arts and cultural workers!  We will transfer the excitement of our original opening, such a short time ago, and pour it into the new foundations.

Habitat and Jasper Artists Guild on the far left

And if that isn’t scary enough, we have taken a deeper dive into the world of advocacy and lobbying for this great industry by making sure our funders and future funders are confident in what we bring to the community of Jasper.  To do that, we have to ‘peel back the hide’ on the carcass of Hab I and ‘pick some bones’ to make sure we are getting every possible scrap of information on what we have done and where we can go with what we know.  What are our strengths?  What are our weaknesses?  (feel free to tell us!)

BUT first and foremost, before we go to the big house…before we go to the bright and shiny ‘in the public eye’ cultural spaces being built just for what we BELIEVE we are…lets define the what and the why.

What will it be?  If we learned anything from the past 14 months it’s that not everything we felt the community needed was needed.  At least not in the form that we presented it in.

Our efforts to include all ages – check.  From wee ones to seniors – they came to be engaged or to share their skills.

Our efforts to tie the arts into as many community and extended community (tourism) events as possible – check. From the annual Jasper in January Festival to the Dark Sky Festival to Heritage Day…we built related workshops or displays and even full on festivals to complement what was there (or missing).

Our efforts to co-ordinate the different organizations in the community through art – check.  Arts Days and the annual Arts with Altitude Festival not only got every possible org from the Folk N Blues Society to Arts Jasper to the Film Club doing what they do best – they did it all over town.

ArtsDays 2011

So that takes care of the WHAT.  Now the WHY.

An initial glance at any ‘arts centre’ initiative and you can deduce that it was about the ‘centering’.  It was about creating a ‘hub’ where information on art, arts groups, arts events, arts education…could be found.  Our passing grade on this – check.  Evidence is in the offshoots of success that can be seen in artists, that are now teaching and sharing their art, that found their audiences and students through Habitat’s ‘people place process’ mandate.  Further evidence is in continued support and lobbying efforts made by IOTAD to keep groups alive, and prospering.  This support reaches far and wide…from reviving ToastMasters (fingers crossed for their continued success…we need great speakers!) to offering volunteer support to Arts Jasper to offering space for community to meet.  Continual searching for funds to enhance and financially support others – instructors, artists and even actors – round out the relevancy of Hab’s ‘centre’.  A lengthy pursuit of ideology and philosophy on the detrimental effects of ‘silos’ in community we wont go into – Jasper’s past ‘silos’ are slowly merging and creating a strong diversified cultural industry.

This industry – in Alberta – is responsible for 3500 jobs and a 1:12 return on investment – turning $13 million dollars (in Alberta Foundation for the Arts grants alone) into $153 million for the Alberta economy.  This impact is felt throughout the province from tourism, accommodations, transportation to agriculture and education.  We find the potential to grow this industry in Jasper very exciting, we find the Town of Jasper’s insightful move to create dedicated ‘cultural spaces’ in the new Library very advantageous.

Ok, this is getting very long…and we still have pictures to post!  One final reason for todays post…to educate those that wonder what Habitat is doing, what we stand for, why…

Almost every conversation we have – be it with teachers or students or seniors or parents or politicians…leads to economics.  Well, while we are not artists in the pure sense – we dont paint, we dont dance [where you can see us], we dont sing –  we sure do dream.  And we believe.  We believe that the arts can be a poignant economic driver if we learn from those that have succeeded, if we listen to those that are trying to tell us something, if we watch the signs and enthusiastically grasp and build on opportunities like a new facility.

People Place Process, IOTAD mantra – put them in whatever order you want.  We believe they are the keys to success.   Not unlike the 3T’s of Creative Class fame.  Talent, technology and tolerance.

Talent: The driving force behind any effective economic strategy is talented people. We live in a more
mobile age than ever before. People, especially top creative talent, move around a lot. A community’s
ability to attract and retain top talent is the defining issue of the creative age.
Technology: Technology and innovation are critical components of a community or organization’s ability
to drive economic growth. To be successful, communities and organizations must have the process for
transferring research, ideas and innovation into marketable and sustainable products. Educational institutions are paramount to this, and provide a key hub institution of the creative age.
Tolerance: Economic prosperity relies on cultural, entrepreneurial, civic, scientific and artistic creativity.
Creative workers with these talents need communities, organizations and peers that are open to new
ideas and different people. Places receptive to immigration, alternative lifestyles, and new views on
social status and power structures will benefit significantly in the creative age. Define it as proactive inclusion.

Jasper might be a bit behind on the PROCESS or the TECHNOLOGY to make the arts a viable economic pillar today.  And Habitat II or IOTAD’s dream of a ‘Banff Centre’ atmosphere in Jasper might be a bit reaching…but that’s what we do.  That’s why we are here.  Imagine a world without art.

ARTSDAYS 2011

September 30th

Join us for an after dinner black tie affair at the Sawridge – cocktails at 5:30.

October 1

Start the day right with fresh pancakes at 9:30 at the Robson Fair that is now moved from the beautiful little park to the MAIN HALL of Jaspers Activity Centre.

Noon to 4 – check out the artisans, music, food and the labyrinth at the ArtsDay festival…indoors at the Activity Centre.

SUNDAY OCTOBER 2

Another day of great stuff…

Kidstuff – not just for kids!

I climbed the stairs at Habitat last Tuesday with some trepidation…lurking somewhere in the building were supposedly a troupe of children and adults in full Mardi Gras mode.  The evening had been designed to start after school and was open to all ‘wanna be‘ thespians, musicians and Fat Tuesday enthusiasts.   From the balloons on the entrance to the glitter on the stairs it was obvious the parade had just left the building!

And as the valiant ladies of Mardi Gras Jasper vacuumed and cleaned after the crowds had gone home I setup KIDSTUFF.  Kidstuff is a traveling exhibition of – well – kid stuff.  Vintage kid toys, etch-a-sketch, view master, spinning tops…  Woody Woodpecker, Charlie Brown, Grover and Cookie Monster emerged from their boxes to be remembered by adults more than children.  Putting out the Dr. Suess pieces I couldn’t help thinking of the Mardi Gras parade with its flags and minstrels – not unlike Suess’s flooflooblers and blumblookers.

The last thing to go up on display were the ‘Please do not touch the toys‘ signs, for which I got the immediate ‘What?  Why do you have a display of toys that no one can touch?’

Habitat is becoming known as a place for interactive art, a place where the public can be engaged in or experience art.  It has become home to several weekly sessions for children to paint and dance and be theatrical…but it is also home to exhibitions that engage the viewer.  For a true community presence Habitat is also home to visual displays that offer individual reflection on culture.  Most often these exhibits are artifacts or artworks presented from a collection for the simplistic interaction of just viewing.

Culture has been described as everything around us that defines us, what makes us human, products of human work and thought.  There is little chance that anyone can say that their childhood was void of cultural definition.  I know we were not allowed much of the candy that came with the PEZ dispensers but I sure remember the View Master and the Slinky.  And even though the sign said – ‘don’t touch’ – the etch-a-sketch got a few moments off the shelf with two young friends while no one was watching us!

That’s the great thing about the Arts too – the forgiving flexibility of discipline, the unexpected increase in appreciation for something when the rules are harmlessly bent even just a little.  The Elementary School kids came over for a walk through the Aaron Paquette exhibit this week.  Imagine the kind of limitations a ‘paintings on the wall’ exhibit must have for someone in Grade 2.  What was truly amazing was the interaction that these children had with the art – the conversation with the imagery – in grade school!

One of our intentions when conceiving of Habitat was to offer these kinds of missing opportunities for learning.  For 1/2 hour on a Friday afternoon Jasper students communicated with their teachers while sitting in a room of artwork from the Art Gallery of Alberta.  No lengthy bus ride, no expensive road trip – a two block stroll to Habitat and these youth got to see these beautiful paintings up close and personal.

Aaron Paquette hopes that his art acts as a catalyst for greater understanding.

Habitat hopes that provision of a space for the arts can do the same.

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Special thanks to the Creative Campus Edson and Tracy Templeton for the KIDSTUFF exhibit.

Creative Campus also hosted their SECOND ANNUAL Celtic Hour on March 17th.  The Peoples Gallery at Habitat was close to capacity thanks to the amazing talents of Lisa Riddell and Monika Schaefer.  If you didnt catch them this year – shame on you!!  Mark your calendar for next year, St Patricks Day 7pm at Habitat!

Celts, Smiles and hiring street ambassadors.

Jasper is a wonderful place.  And submitting funding requests to add more art to something that is already wonderful is almost beyond words.  Almost.

The Habitat for the Arts has hosted its first Creative Campus sponsored COME FOR THE SMILES event – a 1/2 day of engaging in art, pottery, video and theatre for adults.  You see, we don’t think anyone quite understands exactly what it is that we are doing up here.  So we invited all of Jasper’s ‘Communicators’ to a FREE morning of play.

Town officials were allowed to get their hands dirty – instead of focusing on infrastructure or bylaw issues – they had to focus on centering a wedge of clay on the wheel.  Tourism officials were allowed to forget about the coming season – instead of wondering how to make 2011’s summer successful – they got to don grass skirts and butterfly wings in the improvisational theatre room.  Teachers who normally are the ones trying to creatively engage with their students got to drop into the world of video editing and just engage creatively with themselves.


Funders like programs with names…a traceable entity when it comes to volunteer or financial statistics.  While we may have chosen COME FOR THE SMILES hurriedly to get the project rolling – it couldnt have been more suitable for the morning of smiles and laughs that rolled through the halls of Habitat on March 2nd.  And as usual – many adults were hesitant to come out and play…so we shall repeat the day with another group of ‘communicators’ in a few months.

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Our second annual CELTIC HOUR approaches…music by two extraordinary fiddlers…Lisa MacDonald and Monika Schaefer.  March 17th of course from 7-8pm tap your toes to the lure of Ireland for only $5!

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More updates…coming soon.  Gotta go open the doors to the Aaron Paquette exhibit!  See the previous post on March and A Musements…