Arts Year in Review


Literary Liveliness

Two books kicked off the year in January, Natasha Rosewood’s spooky tales for grown-ups, Mostly True Ghostly Stories, and local illustrator Mary Baker’s book, A Giraffe Called Geranium for kids. Mary Burns book Centre/Center sparked a lively discussion at the Gibsons library about draft evaders and their contribution to Canada. Bertha Clark, also known as Adelene da soul poet, spoke up about her son incarcerated in the U.S. and revealed the story of how their correspondence in poetry helped retain their relationship. The richly illustrated book, The Sea Among Us: The Amazing Strait of Georgia by Harbour Publishing was a shoo-in for awards, while Halfmoon Bay’s Caitlin Press earned the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year award. At the 2015 BC Book Awards, Sechelt author Chieri Uegaki was nominated for her children’s story Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin.

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Sechelt’s Betty Keller received one of the most prestigious awards from B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor in April when she was honoured for her many contributions to B.C. literature through her writing, editing, festival organizing and mentoring. Chris and Josh Hergesheimer, two brothers from Roberts Creek, had a hit on their hands with their book The Flour Peddler, and Roy Diamond of Garden Bay blended fact and fiction in his novel about the mysterious disappearance of Agatha Christie, Silence and Circumstance.

Jim Elliot’s slightly fictionalized family history, Belly of Blackness: Coal Dust in My Genes was launched in the spring, while Caitlin Hicks’ story of Annie and her big Catholic family, A Theory of Expanded Love, delighted readers in June. Hideout Hotel was the title of a book of short stories by Gibsons writer Janine Alyson Young that made the short list at a national competition. In April, Iceland welcomed Coast author Carol Gardarsson to its literary scene and said nice things about her Brewing Evil series, set in the Icelandic community of Manitoba.

Kara Stanley’s book, Fallen, described how her partner Simon Paradis struggled back to life after a crippling accident. It brought tears to everyone’s eyes at a book launch at Ruby Lake and again at the Festival of the Written Arts in August.

The Festival was once again wildly successful, featuring Canadian and some local authors, among them Sechelt’s Rosella Leslie speaking about her biography, The Cougar Lady.

Local gardener Bill Terry held conversations with Mother Nature in his latest book, The Carefree Garden. In September Bonnie Reilly Schmidt told all in a book Silenced, the Untold Story of the Fight for Equality in the RCMP, while Russian born author Marina Sonkina’s collection of short stories, Expulsion, told of women who strive to make a difference.

Pender Harbour’s Theresa Kishkan’s elegant novella Patrin described the journey of the Roma through the eyes of a young woman researching her heritage. Frank White passed away at age 101 after publishing his second memoir, That Went By Fast, with Harbour Publishing. Poets Joe Denham and John Pass teamed up to launch their latest books – Pass with Forecast, Collected Early Poems and Denham with Regeneration Machine from Nightwood Editions. The mystery novelist L.R. Wright described the sleepy village of Sechelt in her books; her memory is still very much alive at the Sechelt library where they held a commemorative event in November.

Dianne Whelan, film-maker and adventurer, set out on her 500 Days in the Wild following the Trans Canada Trail, filming and blogging about it on the way.

Prolific and Visual

Glass artists Claudia Cuesta and Bill Baker cut the ribbon on their installation, Nebula Garden, in North Vancouver.

In Sechelt, Friends of the Gallery drew 90 entries from local artists for a great start to the year. Rogest, the marine artist, was active with his own work plus a summer workshop for kids at the Arts Centre. The Azo Gold group show at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG) generated some golden comments from the public.

Fibre artists contributed to the biannual quilt show at the Recreation Centre in May. The Roberts Creek Arts Festival took place this year at several venues surrounding the Creek Hall, and audiences watched four painters work live while listening to music or watching film. Geoffrey Smedley, the sagely sculptor of Gambier Island, continued work on his metaphorical machines. Christenson Village Care Home put on an original show of 12 photo portraits of residents in a collaborative show of seniors and young people. Sechelt photographer Kaylyn Mclachlan got to stroll down a red carpet at Oscar time to shoot the stars.

Artist collaborations were popular. The St. John’s United artists proudly put on their show in early June, while the youth of the Sunshine Coast put on their show at the Arts Centre in Sechelt. The annual warehouse show in Wilson Creek drew a lively crowd, while wood artisans put on a spectacular and well-attended show at the GPAG in June. A group of artists, Ginny Vail, Jen Drysdale and Odette Venuti, gathered to show their work at the home studio of Christy Sverre, while a two-day, pop-up show of work organized by five friendly artists was held in Wilson Creek.

The Woodlands summer art camp for kids took place at Deer Crossing, the art farm in July, and the student youth leaders went on to work together on a project in December, Pieces of a Forest. The Arts Centre saw 51 shades of grey in their group show in July. The Eleven Equal Artists once again proved themselves a class act when they opened their show at the Seaside Centre in August. Pat Ridgway and Brian Romer teamed up for their show in September at the Arts Centre. Anna Banana of Roberts Creek set out for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and Open Space gallery in Victoria to mount a retrospective show of her 45-year career. The Gibsons Marina sparkled with a new gate fabricated by metal artisan Ashley Odd.

The Sechelt Arts Festival opened in October with a group show at the Seaside Centre on the theme of cedar that involved some fine work. The same weekend artists opened their studios for the ever popular Art Crawl put together by the Coast Cultural Alliance. With 125 venues, it was a spectacular show that drew 28,000 venue visits over three days. Artists from Powell River came south for this year’s Crawl and opened up shop at the Roberts Creek Hall, where they were welcomed.

The Gibsons Landing Gallery invited young and old, amateur and professional, to submit Random Acts of Art Revision in October. It showcased the work of member artists each month. Harbour Gallery in Madeira Park continued to show the work of local artists including a collaborative collage that was auctioned off to raise funds for student scholarships. Evi Blueth used her art as a kind of therapy for those with disabilities.

GPAG opened the celebratory Joni show in November that inspired many artists to work with Joni Mitchell lyrics. Music, poetry and dance were offered every weekend with Luci Herder organizing the musicians and Ross Harry herding the poets.

Gordon Halloran was inspired by the aftermath of the Old Sechelt Mine forest fire this summer and worked with the burnt stumps to create something positive and regenerative.

Much Music

The Coast Recital Society was on the mark in January with the Gryphon Trio’s concert. Whenever possible, visiting musicians performed outreach concerts at care homes or for schools – as did the piano violin duo of Mark Fewer and John Novacek in October. Ken McBride rocked on and debuted a new recording, Tone, in February. The Jazz Group of Seven with guest Karen Graves revived the jazz era in a presentation from the Sunshine Coast Music Society. The Coast Symphony Orchestra led by Edette Gagne stirred audiences with Strauss waltzes and other dance music at a concert in March.

Nikki Weber, still going strong at 88, produced a show of talented young people, the Now Generation, in April. - Jan DeGrass Photo

Nikki Weber, still going strong at 88, produced a show of talented young people, the Now Generation, and was active again in the summer organizing a youthful talent show. Many of the young musicians were contenders in the Festival of the Performing Arts held in April. The Suncoast Concert Band took on the musical tunes and stories of the country’s pioneers. In Pender Harbour the annual Blues Festival brought crowds to the Garden Bay Pub and other venues while the Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival celebrated its 20 years in June with performances on the street and in the park.

Double Helix, two brothers and their guitars, performed in several shows on the Coast, while fiddles and flutes once again rang out from the 15th annual Coast Celtic Music Camp in Roberts Creek.

Daniel Brubeck, son of the jazz icon Dave Brubeck, played sweet memories of his performing father and song-writing mother in a concert at the Heritage Playhouse that launched a CD featuring his own quartet. Sechelt’s Janet Panic invited a band from Mexico to visit, Super Mistico Fantasma, and play with her on the Coast.

The Gibsons, Roberts Creek and Sechelt Legions held non-stop musical events throughout the year, featuring local bands; some innovative musical acts also turned up at the Gumboot Café. The Pender Harbour Music Society scored a hit with their Roy Forbes season opening concert in October.

The Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival in August drew a full house for their professional musicians and for their launch of a free showcase for younger or newer performers. The Registered Music Teachers of the Sunshine Coast worked with students to raise the bar on music study. The Pender Harbour Jazz Festival saw a New York legend, Louis Hayes and his Cannonball band, visit the music school, while fans of the music that ranged from Latin to swing filled the community hall for the afternoon jazzapaloozas.

The many Coast choirs were ready for the Christmas season. A Cappella Strait and Choralations launched the season in early December, the Messiah Choir performed twice, Suncoast Phoenix gave several shows including one in the Botanical Gardens, Music Makers held their annual event, and the Pender Harbour Choir sang under the direction of Joy McLeod. The Sunshine Coast Jazz and Entertainment Society presented a Bon Voyage concert for singer, songwriter Katherine Penfold, and they also organized a concert for the gypsy jazz group Van Django. The Rakish Angles refreshed their line up in a show that included a new group, Sky Parallel. John Ashworth of Gibsons rehearsed the full Messiah for his role in the Vancouver Bach Choir.

A full house attended the Sunshine Coast Community Orchestra Christmas concert and sang along on carols while four ensembles played: Junior Strings, Suncoast Concert Band, Chamber Strings and the Coast Symphony.

Dynamic Dance

From ballet to Bollywood – the pre-professional dancers of the Coast Academy of Dance (CAD) demonstrated their diversity in a February show. Youthful dancers from Dominique’s School of Dance began their preparations for a unique show to be held in Belgium during its commemoration events of Canada’s role in WWI. The Sunshine Coast Youth Dance Association invited Belgian dancers to visit Gibsons for an August show then set off on a whirlwind trip to Europe to perform.

CAD dancers were big winners in competition in Vancouver in May and they held their annual spectacular recital in June. Sammie Broomhall, teacher and dancer, was invited to perform at the closing ceremonies of the Pan American Games in Toronto. The Sunshine Coast Dance Society awarded honours and scholarships to five promising local dancers this year. The Society also presented the visiting Source Dance Company and hosted a flamenco dance show. Their involvement in the Sechelt Arts Festival in October lured national star Margie Gillis to the Raven’s Cry stage where she performed with her dancers and the Coast’s own Katherine Denham.

The year closed with the most extravagant dance production, The Nutcracker, under the artistic direction of Kathleen Holmes and with two full casts that included many aspiring ballerinas and guest artists.

Polished Performances

The crows flew on stage at the Heritage Playhouse in the form of two clever mime and shadow puppetry artists, Chloe Ziner and Jessica Gabriel. Anna Banana was having a great year winning the Gillian Lowndes Award from the S.C. Arts Council before opening her retrospective show in Victoria.

Driftwood Players arranged a Downton Abbey-style tea complete with costume, theatre, dance and servants as a fundraiser for Grandmothers and Grandothers’ cause. In March, Driftwood also presented The Grandkid, a drama featuring Brian Harbison and Laura Simons. Their next production was an original play by local author A.S. Penne, Coming Back. The Driftwood Theatre School had a busy year by mounting their full stage production of Alice in Wonderland in May.

Christenson Village Care Home put on an original show of 12 photo portraits of residents in a collaborative show of seniors and young people. - Jan DeGrass Photo

David Roche organized a Storytelling Showcase at the Arts Centre in March that drew tears and laughter from the audience. Dianne Whelan, film-maker and adventurer, set out on her 500 Days in the Wild following the Trans Canada Trail, filming and blogging about it on the way. The Imagination Network, a collaboration between the Art Farm and Christenson Village, set out on an eight-month project to blend art, health care and education. Later in the year they took part in the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl, putting on a hilarious and creative show involving residents.

Jane Covernton sent out a call to poets for a springtime festival and was overwhelmed with the huge response. In June the Festival of the Written Arts and the School District presented a Spoken Word Festival that teamed students with mentors in the fine art of telling a story or song.

Coast Pride organizers celebrated for three days this year with a film, a dance and a literary salon. The Synchronicity Festival brought music and art together in Shirley Macey Park. The bands were rocking, and the biggest attraction was the Rainforest Circus, eclectic acrobatic artists, singers and performers in the trees.

The S.C. Film Society continued to run interesting feature films in Gibsons and Sechelt, alternating with some environmentally conscious films from the Green Films series. Canadian activist Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis launched their film This Changes Everything at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

The Funtastics put on popular entertainment at the Seniors Activity Centre – this time by reprising Broadway melodies. David Short directed the annual Christmas radio play this year and the cast went Welsh with A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

Have I covered everything? Probably not – this Coast is vibrant with arts and entertainment. Do I have a great job, or what?

© Copyright 2018 Coast Reporter


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