Picnicking under a suspended car, marching with crows, being mesmerized by artistry in the forest – you never know what you’ll discover at Art in the Open. Each year in late August (Aug 25, 2018), for one day and night only, Charlottetown’s downtown becomes the site of this magical, contemporary arts festival. Free to the public and family-friendly, this unique event transforms the historic downtown into an open air art gallery that celebrates the heritage and green spaces of the city with ephemeral works of visual art, including installations, screenings, projections, performance art, dance and more. Here’s our guide on how to have a magical time at this year’s Art in the Open, taking place Aug 25 from 4pm to midnight.
1. Leave Your Expectations at Home
Park any expectations you might have about what you’ll experience at Art in the Open before you head out for a journey through imagination land! Like the best things in life, Art in the Open is meant to be an experience you can’t plan for or anticipate, it’s simply too magical for such constraints!
This year’s theme, Future Tense, will be explored in a myriad of unusual and unexpected ways through 40 exhibits, performances, installations, etc.
2. Do it by Day, Then Do it By Night
Art in the Open runs from 4pm to midnight, giving you the opportunity to experience it by day and night. Make the most of the daylight hours by exploring the spaces in downtown Charlottetown including Victoria Row, Beaconsfield, Connaught Square, Rochford Square and the Confederation Centre Plaza.
As day turns to night, at about the same time the March of the Crows takes place (7:45 PM), make your way to Victoria Park for evening programming, including live performances in the woods, light-inspired art installations, and so much more.
Do be sure you check the Art in the Open’s program brochure to ensure you catch the performances you’re most keen to experience!
3. March with the Crows, or Cheer Them On
Join the city’s most highly-anticipated bird event of the year (by our estimation in any case). Caw, squawk and generally embrace your inner crow as the March of the Crows winds its way through historic Charlottetown, ending at Victoria Park.
Led by this year’s Queen of the Crows, Julie Pellissier-Lush, the March leaves the Schurman Family Studio (next to Province House) at 7.45PM and arrives at Victoria Park at 8.15PM. Simply show up at the amphitheatre of the Confederation Centre by 7.30 (ish) in your crow-inspired costume and join in the bird-loving fun! There are also free crow costume-making workshops available in the lead-up to Art in the Open (Aug 16 and Aug 23, 5.30pm – 7.30pm at Schurman Family Studio).
If, for whatever reason, you opt not to be IN the march, be sure to cheer the crows on as they march their way from the Confederation Centre to Victoria Park. Each year, the flock (or murder, if you want to get technical) grows bigger and bolder – it’s a sight you don’t want to miss.
4. Get in on the Action!
Art in the Open is a fully immersive experience that will engage all your senses AND your imagination…if you let it. It is not designed with the passive observer in mind. Instead, Art in the Open extends an invitation to rediscover your playful side and fully embrace your creative nature.
Certain exhibits, installations and performances are specifically designed with participation in mind, including the following in 2018:
Waterline (Jessica Winton, NS) – Community members are invited to join the performed social sculpture as it floats and drops its way along the streets of Charlottetown.
How Do You Know Me? (Ann Thurlow, PEI) – This project explores the psychogeographic connections of a small city by exploring the community connections of one woman.
Mooring (David Dyck & Diana Chisholm, NL) – Mooring is an interactive project that uses a machine to construct mooring lines out of repurposed textiles; traditionally used to secure and prevent movement of ships at dock.
These are just three of several interactive, engaging not-to-be-missed installations, performances and exhibitions that you’ll discover as you explore Art in the Open on Aug 25, 2018.
5. Explore the Nooks and Crannies
Charlottetown is full of hidden and not-so-hidden spaces that come alive during Art in the Open. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore the historic downtown’s many nooks and crannies.
Discover green spaces such as Rochford Square and Connaught Square, historic buildings including Beaconsfield and All Souls’ Chapel, and plenty of stunning streetscapes that will woo you along your adventures.
6. Let the Fires Inspire
There’s nothing quite like seeing a field of fire greet you as nighttime falls over Charlottetown. Make your way to Victoria Park’s front field and let yourself be inspired by Vancouver-based installation artist Scott Saunders’ arrangement of small fires.
Sit down and soak up the wondrous warmth of a fire, take a break and meet new friends around a fire or simply admire the fires from afar.
7. Check out the BIG Crows
Crows have become synonymous with Art in the Open thanks to the March of the Crows, but in 2018 this popular inhabitant of Charlottetown is getting even more attention!
When the Rubber Meets the Road is series of three crows assembled from used tires cut and fastened together. They will be displayed crashed along the Victoria Park Roadway. Created by Gerard Beaulieu of PEI, who is known for his impressive, massive installations from past years, this is another not-to-be-missed installation.
To cap off the crow theme, Discover Charlottetown and Confederation Centre of the Arts will present Crow Agenda by Jason Arsenault and A Brief History of Charlottetown by JoDee Samuelson during a special screening of Projections on the Plaza. To ensure the films do not interfere with the market and performances taking place on Victoria Row, the volume will be adjusted or turned off completely.
8. Take in the Artisan Market on the Plaza
Want to take something home as a keepsake of your Art in the Open experience? The Market on the Plaza (at Confederation Centre of the Arts) features over 20 PEI artisan booths and offers the perfect opportunity to support local artisans and artists whilst snagging yourself high quality, hand-crafted products.
Open from 1pm to 11pm, it’s the perfect interlude to your Art in the Open explorations!
So mark August 25th, 2018 in your calendar and make time for magic and imagination in downtown Charlottetown!