Elly on the Arts: Looking at Culture Days, in detail

We all know that Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach are all about Culture Days, but this year is special. Culture Days is a national celebration of arts and culture held annually on the last weekend of September. Flin Flon and area has been listed in the top ten communities in Canada every year since its inception for the number and scope of the arts and cultural activities we offer for the general public.

This year will be no different, though the national organizers have determined they don’t require ranking anymore.

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People will still be able to partake in as many events as they can squeeze into three days, including favourites like Pictures at an Exhibition, an afternoon of musical improvisation and visual art that is like nothing else you will ever see or hear, or the Wild Things Market where you can satisfy your hunger or thirst, listen to music, try vintage clothing and watch the magic that is raku pottery emerging from the fire. There’s learning both the complexity and simplicity of the Seven Sacred Teachings with Elder Margaret Head-Steppan, or the Wild Rice Cabaret, where you can watch the joy of several visual artists as they produce a complete original art piece in an evening together, all the while enjoying the best of the Flin Flon area music scene in performance.

This is the 10th anniversary of Culture Days in Canada, which is enough to make cultural coordinator Crystal Kolt go the extra mile to make this celebration more spectacular than ever, but that isn’t why this one is so special. On this occasion, we will be visited by Janice Filmon, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, accompanied by her husband Gary Filmon, former Manitoba premier. To make the event more exciting, Her Excellency Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, will also make a short visit to Flin Flon. This is a remarkable coup for our town and kudos to Kolt for making it happen. Arts and culture have really put Flin Flon on the map, provincially and nationally.

There are several other events that would be occurring that merit mention at this time. The first is the Square Foot Auction and Art Exhibition taking place at the NorVA Centre. It opens on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. Your intrepid columnist has had a sneak peek as the show was being mounted and can happily report that it is at least as beautiful as in previous years, with some very exciting new pieces from well-known local artists and many surprises from hitherto “unknown” artists in our communities.

A second art show, “Water and the Wild by Whitbread and Watt” will open for public viewing in Flin Flon City Hall on Friday, Sept. 27. It features two incredible area artists, painter Ron Watt and photographer Randy Whitbread, who specialize in work representing our boreal landscape. The exhibit features all new work and is bound to be spectacular. It should most certainly travel far and wide.

The Culture Days visual artist is a Winnipegger named Evin Collis. Evin is a multi-disciplinary artist and art educator who creates paintings, drawings, sculptures and stop-motion animations that investigate the complexities of history, identity, survival and the degraded landscape.

Much of his fascination with these subjects stems from his past experiences as a porter on the Canadian Pacific Railway and while working as an interpreter at a historical Hudson’s Bay Company trading fort. He has a master of fine arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Ontario College of Art and Design University.

By the time you read this, the second artist of note for Culture Days will already have presented his concert - however, there are sure to be other opportunities to see and hear Scottish smallpiper (as opposed to the much larger and louder highland pipes) Ian Kinnear, who has come all the way from Edzell, Scotland (hometown of Alistair Callegari) to play for us.

The smallpipes date back to the 15th century, making them about 100 years older than highland bagpipes and are bellows-blown, not mouth-blown. They still have a chanter and three drones attached to the bag but the chanter is open so they can only play nine notes. Hopefully when our guest performer is here, he will offer far more explanation.

It’s going to be an excellent weekend. See you there!

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