Culture Days After Dark: Nuit Blanche 2017

The Noble Thiefs wow the crowd in a Bannatyne Avenue parking lot.

For 2017 Nuit Blanche pulled in huge crowds downtown.

This 10-hour event is the centrepiece of Culture Days weekend and winds up at 4 a.m. It’s a celebration of contemporary art and related arts that want to come along for the ride.

Nuit Blanche is one of the rare nights when downtown Winnipeg “crackles and hums.”  Music and art installations spill out onto the streets and the Winnipeg Art Gallery is open all night for the celebration of culture.

A perfect event for insomniacs. And this year, there was even a performance piece called Insomnia.

It’s an impossible mission to take in everything. Events are concentrated in the Exchange District, but are also clustered at the Forks, the WAG/Graham Avenue and St Boniface.

Plenty of bikes were moving around the downtown, and they started to look like a sensible solution to tight parking and traffic.

Gallery patrons saw Insomnia, rather than having insomnia.

Insomnia was a movement based performance piece by Antiscian Productions. New pop-up Finch Gallery Workspace was the venue for what was billed as capturing “the unconscious moments of body twitches, posses and turns, and restless fits that many people experience in the late hours of the night.”

Audience members were free to come and go, but looked fascinated (or reluctant to further disturb the performers’ “sleep”). Viewers packed the foyer and windows too.

Winnipeg’s largest dance class moves and grooves at the Cube.

Dancer/teacher/choreographer GeNie had a Hip-Hop dance class of hundreds in Old Market Square.

GeNie is billed as a “freestyle battle dancer.”

He was honoured by the City of Winnipeg in 2009 with the Youth Role Model Award. For the past eight years, GeNie has been working at a professional level teaching, choreographing and directing. Toronto’s National Ballet School selected him as one of four Canadian choreographers to create a “Sharing Dance” flash mob routine for Canada 150.

Illuminated at the former Neon Factory.

Main Street’s Neon Factory was billed as the Neon Graveyard this year.

The building at 594 Main Street has been sold but the Wolchocks are hanging on to their collection of Winnipeg neon from days gone by. Pure Winnipeg nostalgia was on display with signage from the Blue Note Café to the Shanghai Restaurant to the Turkish Baths.

594 Main’s new owner is converting the second and third floors into space for artists.

The Spinster Aunties at MAWA.

Just across Main Street from the Neon Graveyard, MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art) was hosting their closing party for the Feminist Futures exhibition. The exhibit featured one work by each member who chose to participate.

The Spinster Aunties figures are by Kathleen Shellrude.

Window shoppers check out paintings by Les Brandt at Warehouse Artworks.

At the corner of Albert and McDermot, Warehouse Artworks has the Manitoba Society of Artists (MSA) open juried competition and exhibition on display till October 14. Warehouse has offered art and professional framing in the Exchange for more than 35 years.

Light at the end of the tunnel? Exchange alleyway hosts an art installation.

One of the Exchange’s covered laneways is inevitably occupied by an art installation. This year was no exception for the lane between Artspace and Red River Books.

The Light Within the Tunnel by Madeline Rae and Talia Shaaked filled the alley with two curtain-walls and projected video. Those making the traverse might experience wonder, or wonder what it was all about.

Free-range pedestrians mob Albert & Bannatyne.

Several blocks were closed around Old Market Square. Several thousand pedestrians had a welcome respite from traffic.

Streets were packed, in particular for Nelson Tagoona’s performance for hundreds on McDermot, which had originally been slated for the roof of Deer and Almond.

Tagoona combines throat singing and beat boxing. He was in the city as part of Urban Shaman’s Floe Edge: Contemporary Art and Collaborations from Nunavut.

Glowing in the dark at the PEG Beer Co. in the East Exchange.

In the East Exchange, the brew pub PEG Beer Co. was glowing, and not just because Rorie Street road construction is finished.

Artist Pink Panda created a glow in the dark mural using spray cans as passersby watched.

North Main: new mural on the New West Hotel.

The New West Hotel on the Main Street strip had a new look for Nuit Blanche. A recently completed mural covers its south side and became a selfie magnet for Bike Jam participants gathering nearby for their mass ride.

Bike Jam blur on Sutherland Avenue in the North End.

In a Nuit Blanche tradition, Bike Jam launched from the Vineyard on Main after a kickoff party.

Bike Jam is group ride of hundreds of cyclists.  Many are lit up and the music and colour turns it into a moving art piece rolling by.

Walk-in gallery on Old Market Square.

Along with the featured works and juried selections and galleries, West Broadway’s community art studio, Art City, had several small murals installed in Bronuts Donuts + Coffee.

On this September evening with more than a hundred events, all of downtown Winnipeg felt like Art City.

All photos by Greg Petzold


Photographer and local historian in spare time. Hiked Sinai, kayaked Superior, capsized on the Nahanni. Tracing (slowly) the Trans-Canada Trail across Manitoba by bike.

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