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Names in the lights: 2011 year of arts

Year in Review
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Photo Collage by Dimitri Shvartsman

Faces and places that made the news in arts and entertainment on the Coast in 2011.

After a decade of phenomenal growth for the Coast’s arts scene, the breezes of change began to blow, particularly among the many festivals.

Some wound down

The Gibsons Landing Fibre Arts Festival dissolved after successfully staging 11 festivals and putting the Coast on the fabric arts map.

The Asian-inspired New Moon Festival decided to put its energies into day-long events throughout the year.

The Gibsons Landing Salmon Festival discontinued in 2011.

Others turned up the heat

The Pender Harbour Blues Festival in early June brought gospel and good vibes to its three-day event, and it packed the Garden Bay Pub.

The Garlic Festival had a successful second year thanks in part to the showmanship of the veteran troubadour Valdy. Deer Crossing, the art farm, held their Synchronicity Festival at a new location, Shirley Macey Park. The Sunshine Coast Botanical Gardens opened the doors to the public several times, including during the Harvest Festival in August. 

The Festival of Wind Music in March mingled generations of musicians in the Creek Big Band and the Jazz Group of Seven, while the Festival of the Performing Arts once again showcased young musical talents.

Definitely Diva with their new CD kicked off the Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival in June, and the Showcase of the Performing Arts, a fundraiser for the Heritage Playhouse, stretched out over three weeks in July to offer comedy and music. Kids earned their own festival in Dougall Park with entertainer and part-time Coast resident Charlotte Diamond performing.

The month of August featured the Festival of the Written Arts with notable authors Margaret Trudeau and Sylvia Tyson.

The Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival, which was once again sold out, invited special guest violinist James Ehnes.

The Pender Harbour Jazz Festival in September offered music by an Afro Cuban jazz band, a seafood barbecue by a local business and performance from Van Django in the afternoon — and that was only Sunday’s events.  

Another new festival, DOXA, the documentary film festival, usually seen in the city, came to the Coast in September.

Unique films were brought to the Coast by the SC Film Society over the year. The Raven’s Cry Theatre added screenings of theatre from London to its live-by-satellite New York Metropolitan Opera series. Later in the year they also added dance performances from the Bolshoi Ballet.

Delightful dance

In other local dance events, there were also a few surprises. The flamenco performance in April by the visiting Karen Pitkethly’s dancers had a comic narrator in the Coast’s Gerardo Avila.

Vancouver’s The Source Dance Company put on a performance in Sechelt in April with Sammie Broomhall soloing. She gave a few pointers to Coast Reporter about how to try out for So You Think You Can Dance Canada.

A DS Danse troupe performed an original collaborative work in April.

The Dance Works Academy and Coast Academy of Dance (CAD) launched their recitals on the same weekend in June. The SC Dance Society, which selected Tegan Jackson as their scholarship recipient, brought a dancer in residence to the Heritage Playhouse and put on a fundraising gem of a performance in late November.

Thanks to a connection with Julie Izad at the CAD, Sechelt became the audition centre for can-can dancers selected for the famous Moulin Rouge in Paris. Ooh-la-la. Closer to home, some novice can-can dancers enjoyed kicking up their heels in the seniors’ vaudeville group, the Funtastics. Miss Berni G provided music direction and Susie Francis, an old hand at vaudeville, directed the group.

Raising the bar

Theatre also showed changes: fewer productions, terrific quality.

A previous dinner theatre by Peninsula Players, A Bed Full of Foreigners, was brought to the Heritage Playhouse stage in February. One actor said he had never had so much fun in a play before.

Jean Pierre Makosso, Embers Moore, Brittany Robertson and drama students put on a Black History Month presentation, Mother Goddess of Africa.

P. Adrien Dorval challenged himself in a solo darkly humourous show, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.

Driftwood Theatre School began raising a new generation of performers and Driftwood’s travelling group, Story Theatre, put on their tales in the parks.

A new theatre company, Coast Community Productions, was formed by Simone and Daniel Tyrrell, who directed four accomplished actors in The Man with the Plastic Sandwich.

Chatelech students stayed busy with several theatre productions, including a one night comedy performance, LOLZ, that they chose to do specifically to raise funds for the Food Bank.

It’s a Wonderful Life is an adapted version of the classic movie. David Short led a big cast of actors and sound effects people in the Christmas tale in December.

Christmas is all about kids, and 25 of them appeared in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever directed by Ingrid Bilton.

Artists and visions

The Arts Building in Gibsons had a busy year of workshops and open houses. They kicked off with a poetry evening in February at which Adelene da soul poet and several other local bards showed how it’s done.

In Sechelt, the Artesia coffeehouses brought a variety of performers to the stage every month, except for summertime, when the organizing talents of Linda Williams turned to developing the Music in the Landing program in Gibsons.

In Sechelt, a committee of council took the first steps toward a dream arts complex that would combine library, gallery, archives and performance space. Meanwhile, the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre continued to field great shows in the Doris Crowston Gallery: Kristjana Gunnars’ abstracts in February, the third annual Ceramics on the Edge Showcase co-sponsored with the Arts Council in June, Marina Crawford’s photography and a graphic novel and digital art show in November from Michael Hertz and Bodhi Drope, to name only a few.

Photographer Paul Clancy opened his eclectic show at two galleries, one in Sechelt, the other at Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG). Happy Hour was probably one of the most fun shows of the year at GPAG with friends Jan Poynter, Susan Furze and Coralie Swaney polling the public as to their happiest moments.

The stellar Goldmoss Gallery in Roberts Creek attracted crowds to its several show launches of local artists. The Gibsons School of the Arts ran another successful summer program of classes with experienced instructors.

Artist Autumn Skye Morrison put on two live painting demonstrations at Woods Showcase, attracting many admirers. Nadina Tandy chose to do her live painting session on the Gibsons wharf gazebo to the accompaniment of jazz music. Mardi Ahmed took her live painting demo to the Raven’s Cry stage during the Sechelt Festival of the Arts.   

The Quilters’ Guild put on a stunning show of fabric art in the huge Gibsons ice arena space in July, while Roberts Creek artist Gordon Halloran took his art to the outdoors. His painted lotus installation was launched in Vancouver’s Van Dusen Gardens in summer.

The artist with the unusual style, Rogest, took a break from painting fish to turn his talents to leading art classes at Arrowhead Centre.   

Elizabeth Evans held a show at Westwind Gallery, while graphic artist Arlene Littler sent mail to the royal newlyweds, Kate and William, in the form of a hand-crafted greeting card. She received a royal thank you.

The Martopian Collective, a group of silversmiths in Gibsons, created innovative styles. The Linwood House Art Experience, a summer show of artists that helps raise funds for their retreat space, hosted an art show on their property. Joan Barrington of Gibsons showcased her hand-made brollies when she was asked to design parasols for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

Stone carvers from Zimbabwe visited Paul Watson at his Rock N’ Art Gallery in Gibsons to share carving techniques.

Sculptor Jack Gibson unveiled his two latest bronzes in Garden Bay, making him a popular stop in the Pender Harbour Art Wave.

Whether waving in Pender Harbour, strolling in Gibsons Landing or crawling the Coast — artists invited the public into their studios many times this year. The three-day gigantic Art Crawl from Langdale to Lund in late October saw almost 15,000 studio visits.

New sounds

From indie music to classical piano — the music scene was diverse. Local groups like Sinmobile rocked Sechelt and the Creek. The band Mindil Beach Markets and vocalist Deanna Cartea both launched their first CDs. Steve Wright opened The Sound in Sechelt, a place to bend those audio waves in new combinations. Giorgio Magnanensi took the concept to new heights in offering Laboratorio 2, a three-week exploration of visual and sonic art.

The Coast Recital Society brought a full program of musical guests to the stage including pianist Yevgeny Sudbin in May and soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian in November.

The Pender Harbour Music Society featured classical guitarist Juan Martin and other favourites from jazz to piano. The Sechelt summer choir under the direction of Sara Douglas had a great time preparing for a recital of the Faure Requiem. The Sunshine Coast Community Orchestra continued to grow and flourish, challenging themselves with an excellent concert in May, Around the World in 80 Minutes, and a successful Christmas concert.

The acoustic string band, the Rakish Angles, had a good year and released a lively new CD, Cottonwood Moon, while the queen of the fundraisers, the musical Nikki Weber, now in her 80s, announced her intention to hand on the baton.    

The Celtic Music School, that usually takes place in July in Roberts Creek, was low key during this sabbatical year, but young fiddlers continued to turn up in malls and concert halls as members of Bad to the Bow, directed by Chelsea Sleep. The Harmony Entertainment Society put on a kitchen ceilidh of fiddlers and bagpipers that was almost as popular as their previous month’s musical nostalgia night inspired by George Grafton.

Best sellers

The Arts Centre proved to be the location of choice for book launches this year — and local authors and publishers supplied a huge crop of new reading. Award-winning poet John Pass released Crawl Space in June, while poet-turned-novelist Joe Denham launched his new book, The Year of Broken Glass, published by Nightwood Editions.

Roberts Creek author Laurie Verchomin wrote the story of her time with jazz musician Bill Evans in The Big Love, while Elizabeth Blakely continued her spiritual quest in The Goddess Lives.

Local Caitlin Press launched three new books in October from Maureen Foss, Kim Clark and distinguished author Betty Keller. Ken Budd’s SummerWild took yesterday’s teens on a nostalgia trip to the cottage, while educator and author Michael Maser offered today’s teens a way to self-design their lives with his book Learn Your Way.

Gracie the goldfish became the heroine in Heather Conn’s children’s book, while trees offered the memory triggers in Mnemonic by Theresa Kishkan. Jane Covernton took a break from fiction to bring out a useful little book about healing herbs. Author David Roche started a series of monthly salons at the Gumboot Café inviting creative people to perform.

The Doc’s Side, a debut book by Dr. Eric Paetkau became a runaway best seller on the Coast. Harbour Publishing’s Howard White launched the revised edition of The Sunshine Coast, with new photographs by Dean van’t Schip.

Year of unique

Two special events became highlights. The Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives opened a unique show, Pieces of the Past: Kwekwi’nmut, a display of artifacts from the Squamish civilization who occupied areas around Gibsons. Squamish elders met with Gibsons councillors for a moving opening ceremony.

TEDxSechelt, held at Chatelech in October, was a one-day discovery and celebration of creativity. Organized by local artists’ groups, the event drew 100 interested people to hear talks from such diverse arts activists as a mountain bike trail designer and a surrealist filmmaker.

Onward to 2012!

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