“Can I come onstage?” the little girl was asking.
I was alone on the Cube stage snapping photographs out over a very lively Old Market Square crowd. “Why not, ” I said.
It was a weekend when all the world seemed a stage. By day and by night Culture Days had Winnipeggers roaming the Downtown and St Boniface.
You could join a David Bowie sing-along, or have your portrait taken and then projected giant-sized onto the Crocus Building. You could meet artists in numerous galleries or join the ‘We are the Light’ bike jam where hundreds of cyclists toured the events with their own soundtrack. Even Millennium Library was open till 11 p.m.
Culture Days has grown — with communities from Morden to Gimli also participating. In Winnipeg, the audience has a tough time taking everything in and most people are left with a few snapshots of a very large-scale event.
Ceramic artist Jordan Van Sewell (the best known resident of Point Douglas?) was working his clay magic at Pulse Gallery at the Forks. In several hours he went from raw clay to kiln-ready figures and chatted with visitors.
CLOUD is an installation of 6,000 light bulbs by Calgary artists Caitlind r. c. Brown and Wayne Garrett. At the foot of the Esplanade Riel, it became “selfie central” during Nuit Blanche. The interactive installation allowed visitors to use the pull-strings hanging from the sculpture to light it up and make it flicker.
At Fleet Galleries on Albert Street, Winnipeg artist Deborah Danelley was on hand to talk about her new exhibition – The Pathos of Things. The art is created from abandoned materials – be they used, broken or in disuse. Here that means books. Collages are created from covers, spines and other fragments. Danelley assures us that no significant book was harmed in the process.
What’s that glow on Main Street? For Nuit Blanche, the Neon Factory literally threw open its doors. Now more private museum than business, it is stuffed with Winnipeg neon history. One of the more recent additions adorning its ceiling is the old letters from the now demolished Shanghai restaurant.
Just across the street from the Neon factory, MAWA at 611 Main Street featured works on paper by MAWA members. MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art) has a mandate to encourage and support women in the visual arts. The organization has been active since the 1980s and moved to their current Main Street location in 2005.
An all-ages crowd on Old Market Square learned how to dance the night away with some quick lessons. As always, the square was action central – a crossroads for the visitors moving between events.
Fashion theatre? The Lennard Taylor boutique on McDermot had its living mannequins working the window. No needle and thread was in evidence – tonight they were being touched up with paint.
QUADRIGA is an inflatable installation by Toronto-based artist Max Streicher. This outsized “equestrian monument” towered above City Hall. Streicher has been working with inflatable technology since 1989. The historical Quadriga was a chariot drawn by four horses that ran in the Ancient Olympic Games.
Further afield, the ARTlington studios offered three floors of art. The recently converted warehouse at 618 Arlington offers some of the most attractive artist studio space in the city. Occupants include painters, glass workers, ceramic artists and photographers. On hand to greet visitors was Vincent van Gogh (aka glass artist Wesley Krahn).
Although a fair distance from the Exchange, ARTlington was open till midnight. Tim Froese made these clay cats on display in the main gallery exhibition.
On the Winnipeg arts scene, nothing stands still. At least on Culture Days weekend.