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6 Ways To Have A Magical Time at Art In The Open

Dress up like a crow, be mesmerized by artistry in the park, enjoy theatrical performances – you never know what you’ll discover at Art in the Open. Celebrating its 10th anniversary on August 28th, this year’s Covid-friendly event has 36 projects in and works by over 50 artists, and transforms downtown Charlottetown into a magical, contemporary arts festival. Find the 2021 booklet here

Free to the public and family-friendly, this unique event turns the historic core 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 Saturday, August 28th 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 necessarily plan too intensely for or anticipate in advance. It must experienced to be truly appreciated.

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 Confederation Centre of the Arts, Beaconsfield, Rochford Square, The Guild, Victoria Park, and the Charlottetown Waterfront.

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3. Get in on the Action!
Although Art in the Open is a non-contact festival this year, it’s still a very 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.

4. Go at Your Own Pace
It’s always encouraged and welcome to visit the various artworks at your own pace, in any order you like. There are even projects that move around, like the March of the Crows (pre-register here), which starts in Confederation Centre amphitheatre at 7:30pm and travels to Victoria Park. Or the projects that encourage you to move and explore, like the Humzine, which brings visitors to various ambient “hum” sites hidden within the city.

That said, if you do want a little advice, here’s a suggested itinerary created by the Art in the Open curators:

This year we recommend starting downtown, where you can check out Robert Hengeveld’s installation/performance at 141 Kent St., installations at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery by Dayna Danger, Ryan Suter, and Adriana Kuiper, and a project by Russell Louder and Susie Showers in a raised green space just behind the Confederation Centre.

You can then wander over to Rochford Square, where there are four projects, by 9 Yards Architecture, Monica Lacey and Devon Ross, Kirstie MacCallum, and Susana Rutherford. Definitely check out Andrew Maize’s installation in the Carriage House of Beaconsfield, as well as the exhibition presented in Beaconsfield itself by the Newcomer’s Association. Note that Beaconsfield closes at 10 pm, so it’s best to try to see these works early in the day. Just past Beaconsfield, where the boardwalk begins, Maryse Arsenault’s performance extends down to the shoreline of Charlottetown Harbour.

This year there’s plenty to experience in Victoria Park during the daytime, including Gillian Dykeman’s exercise bike performance at the Cultural Pavilion (the artist will be performing at 6:30pm and later at 8:45pm) . The woods will be an exciting site: Erik Edson, Leah Garnett, Mamie Bell, Ben Goss, Louis-Charles Dionne, and the PEI Potters Co-op, among others all have installations. And from 5:30pm on, we will feature our first ever project at the skate park, by Inuit artist and skater Mark Igloliorte.

You will want to catch the raucous March of the Crows as it pulls up to Victoria Park at dusk, with the sounds of the Heartbeat of Epetkwitk announcing the coming of evening. After that the fires of Scott Saunders’ Field of Fire are lit in the main field of Victoria Park, and many nighttime pieces begin, including video works at the Cultural Pavilion by Lucas Morneau and Sophia Bartholomew. The woods at night are always a magical highlight, and there are projects throughout, including Graeme Patterson, Sarah Wendt, Pascal Dufaux, Willow Bell, Ali O’Sullivan, and the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I.

It will be an animated atmosphere throughout the park, but there are many exciting nighttime pieces downtown, and it’s definitely worth wandering back before it’s too late. Around the Confederation Centre, where the gallery will be open till midnight, there is an array of projection-based pieces by Dave Dyment, Michelle Sylliboy, the international Indigenous G.L.A.M. Collective, and Skawennati, as well as Film PEI’s Experimental Shorts Showcase, featuring 7 artists and presented in the library plaza, which is followed by Tasman Richardson’s climactic performance at 11:30pm.

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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 Victoria Park, waterfront locations along the Charlottetown Harbour, historic buildings including Beaconsfield and plenty of stunning streetscapes that will woo you along your adventures.

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6. Embrace the mystic of the Crows
Crows have become synonymous with Art in the Open thanks to the March of the Crows, but unfortunately due to Covid-19, there are a few stipulations this year: First and foremost, you must sign up HERE in advance to attend the march. There will be a cohort of 200 people. Please be sure to sign up every member of your family if you’re all planning on attending! Secondly, please make sure to socially distance yourselves when possible.

It might also come in handy to have a beautifully bedazzled mask on hand when distancing is not possible. Third, and most importantly, please come dressed as your most crow-tastic self. Be loud, be curious, be free as a bird (while following our parade marshals) as we coo and caw our way to Victoria Park where we will disperse upon entry.

March of the Crows Signup

So mark August 28th, 2021 in your calendar and make time for magic and imagination in downtown Charlottetown!

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