By Pan Wendt, Co-curator, Art in the Open
Art in the Open is now in its 6th year! Charlottetown residents and visitors are invited to experience, for free, over 30 art projects throughout the downtown core during Art in the Open's main event, Saturday, August 27th, from 4:00 pm to midnight. Annually, in a collaboration between the City of Charlottetown, this town is small, inc., and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, and featuring numerous local partners including the Island Media Arts Co-op and the Federation Culturelle de l'Ile du Prince Edouard, the city will be enlivened by temporary artworks ranging from sculptures and installations to projections and performances. The festival features work by artists from across the country (8 provinces are represented), as well as two artists from the United States (Ohio and California). More than half of the projects have been created by Islanders, and there is significant involvement from local community groups. It promises to be an exciting example of the creativity in this city and region.
Art in the Open is meant to include the unexpected, and for this reason we do not generally post signage indicating the placement of artworks. We hope that viewers will experience their surroundings in new ways. A booklet is provided to guide you through the festival and can be picked up from the festival information booths the day of the main event or beforehand at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, Charlottetown City Hall, Kent Building Supplies or Receiver Coffee on Victoria Row. That said, we understand that everyone will want to experience as much of the festival as possible, and not miss scheduled performances. For this reason we are offering some suggestions about how, where, and when to proceed.
To start with, we suggest attending Choir Choir Choir's event Friday night at Memorial Hall. It's a fundraiser, and raising funds is always important for keeping the show alive. It's also going to be a memorable experience, as Nobu Adilman and Daveed Goldman lead the audience to sing the Tragically Hip classic "Ahead by a Century." Tickets are available through the Confederation Centre's box office, and the event begins at 8 pm. It is open to adults, and children accompanied by guardians. It will be a wonderful way to kick off the festival.
The next day, the event opens with a presentation of Mi'kmaq Legends on Victoria Row at 4 pm. From there, explore some of the projects around the Confederation Centre plaza, including Argentine artist Jose Luis Torres' sculpture on the roof of the Grafton St. Entrance of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, and performance artist John Boehme's presentations at the 1864 sign near the Centre's outdoor amphitheatre. There will also be a Fine Art and Craft Market on the plaza in front of the library, a great opportunity to see the work of, and meet some of the inspiring artists from the Island.
5:00 pm – Head over to Connaught Square, where Russell Louder and Camilla Salcido are presenting a performance project, and where John Boehme will continue his citywide performance work. Boehme, with the assistance of P.E.I. artist Donnalee Downe, is demonstrating, during the 8 hours of the festival, numerous modes of performance art. He will pop up at various times throughout the downtown core. Expect him anywhere, and anytime.
After 6:00 pm, head over to Rochford Square, to experience works by Jennifer Demitor, Betty-Jo McCarville, and Anna Wansbrough. I should also mention that throughout the downtown core, Sandi Hartling and Max Knechtel are animating the city with works in unexpected places. Around this time, take a look at Robert Harris's turn-of-the-century religious murals in the chapel of St. Peter's Anglican Church. These works are a civic treasure, and open to the public for Art in the Open.
7:00 pm – After visiting the gardens of the Lieutenant Governor's residence, walk to Victoria Park, where Fenn Martin is presenting an interactive project on the East Meadow. As dusk sets in, Lone Cry Singers will present Mi'kmaq drumming and singing, and the March of the Crows will arrive to awaken and disturb the city, culminating at a gathering near Fort Edward's cannons, near Maria Campbell's installation. As darkness arrives, Scott Saunders' Field of Fire will be lit, and will animate the front field of the park. This popular event has become an annual gathering, a highlight of Art in the Open. Bring marshmallows!
Art in the Open comes truly alive at night, and a highlight is a walk through the woods of Victoria Park. Starting near the parking lot of Pottery in the Park, encounter Andrew Cairns' Big Pitcher and wander down into the woods, where Tanya Davis is holding a "Communion" on the hour from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. Within the woods paths there are works by Josh Zapf, Salvatore Salamone, Jamie Shannon, and Joe Fowler. In a clearing known as the Arboretum, the Architects Association of Prince Edward Island presents results of a challenge to create structures for less than $100.00. Exit the woods and visit Sheilah Wilson and Dani Leventhal's Night Swap, located next to the Kiwanis Diamond. Bring objects to exchange and watch as the piece is transformed over time.
By all means, spend plenty of time in the Park. It's a rare opportunity to see it at night, animated by artist projects, including John Boehme's performance near the Victoria Park sign, and Tanya Davis's dance party at 10:00 pm. But there is plenty to experience downtown at night. Wander back along the boardwalk and witness Norma Jean MacLean and Alexis Bulman's pieces in the harbour itself. For the first time, Art in the Open is presenting sculptural installations in the water, along the path that leads to Government Pond, where Simon White presents a multimedia installation.
Heading back downtown, check out Ali O'Sullivan's projections on the side of the Dominion Building, and return to the Confederation Centre, where, on the plaza, Ukrainian artist Taras Polataiko presents his multimedia piece, Moth. Don't miss the Beaton Archive's project in the Confederation Centre Public Library, and finish your evening in Memorial Hall, where New Brunswick multimedia artist Amanda Dawn Christie presents a 16mm film loop installation, a spectacular end to the evening. I hope you enjoy the amazing creativity on display for Art in the Open!