Mirror Theatre’s Panto of the Opera was complete with puns and Valkyries, and just one of many theatrical offerings in 2013.

Mirror Theatre’s Panto of the Opera was complete with puns and Valkyries, and just one of many theatrical offerings in 2013.

Nakusp and area filled with entertainment in 2013

Art, play, music and writing – particularly by our regular columnists – filled ALN pages with entertainment for 2013.


Colourful quintet offers reprieve from winter’s grey

It was like standing in line to get on a plane to warm, welcoming Cuba at the Bonnington for the Jan. 30 Luis Mario Ochoa Quintet show. Winter’s refugees came from all over the valley to catch the warmth and sunny vibrations, and the excitement was palpable. From the nearly newly born to elders in our communities, everyone was ready to soak up some world music sounds.

This is the first time the Arrow Lakes Arts Council has had what is known as world music, and it was a real treat. The band was fronted by Luis Mario Ochoa himself, a radiant and charming man. His wit and humour engaged the audience between songs, and his voice filled the hall with passion and rich song.

The audience was enraptured; it was hard not to get up and dance to the seductive sounds, and there was some serious chair dancing happening. If this is what happens when the world visits town, let’s start sending out invitations now!


No money required: Artist Trading Cards more than collecting

It’s a gallery’s worth of art, all in a regular sized binder. When Wendy Toogood and Chuck Stake, whose everyday around town name is Don Mabie, head out to the monthly Artist Trading Card (ATC) session, they usually take at least nine new original artworks to trade with other local participants. And all nine fit in a single baseball or hockey card sleeve.

Good things come in small packages, and at the ATC sessions, they come in 2.5 x 3.5 inch (6.4 x 8.9 cm) dimensions. The size isn’t just for carting convenience, although being able to carry them about is part of the appeal.

Stake points out that artists have used the card format for a number of purposes in the last few decades as promotional tools, catalogues and other commercial purposes.

ATCs, on the other hand, cannot be bought, must be traded, and can be handmade. ATC sessions are open to anyone, and the social part of the event is still key; both Stake and vänçi see the ATC process as a collaborative cultural performance.

The cards also do away with ideas of high and low art too, challenging traditional ideas of art and opening it up to be something that everyone can take part in.

“The creative freedom and spontaneity of artist trading cards also recalls the era of Dada,” said Stake, who also enjoys the fact that they don’t involve the exchange of money.

ATCs caught on in a big way, and there are now groups all over the world getting together every month to trade. In Calgary, the phenomenon caught like a prairie wildfire, with 40 to 50 traders attending regularly, and over a hundred showing up to trade cards at special events.


Artist’s Genesis on display in Burton

What do artists do all day? How do they get from an idea to a complete work?

Arrow Park wildlife artist Sharon Bamber’s next show will be pulling back the curtain and revealing the creative process. Genesis: From Concept to Completion follows the creation of a painting from first ideas to final polished work, and details how decisions are made through the creative process.

“Building art appreciation involves giving people the knowledge they need to have rich encounters with art,” said Bamber. “I believe that art can be better understood, appreciated, and evaluated by examining the artist’s path from idea to final product.”

Artist finds quiet stillness Under Box Mountain

There is a quiet stillness to the objects captured in shades of charcoal that make up Debra Rushfeldt’s most recent work “Under Box Mountain.” Evidence of human hands are shown in stones sitting balanced on posts or in gardens. Peeling paint on an unopened door, a shovel adorned with the beginning cups of three wasps’ nests hangs on a wall, a well-used washtub fades into dark corners: solitude and familiarity and the ghost of work past fill the frames.

Rushfeldt’s exploration of her neighbours’ property and the objects on them led her to deeper themes of isolation and protection.

“People are there, but they’re not seen,” she agreed. What initially began as a series of sketches showing the beauty in the discarded became an emotional journey as Rushfeldt discovered she was responding emotionally to her surroundings.

Changing the scale of the images Rushfeldt found has changed the importance of the objects, giving them new significance. When made larger than life, the simple work done of placing stones on top of posts becomes totemic and important, as though the structure is an important and mysterious artifact like an Easter Island statue.


Dub-step away from me with that noise, man

I’m sometimes accused of being “behind the times.” Classmates criticize the shows I watch, or the music I listen to. Why, they even poke fun at my hair! Yes, I know, how anybody could think that a luxuriant mullet such as mine is out of style is simply unfathomable. Sometimes I think they might be right. But then, as the first wavering strains of the most obnoxious music extant drift into my eardrums, leering like the sullen youth whose iPods they dwell in, I snap back to reality. It’s no use being “of the times” or “current”, because today is horrible. And I’ll tell you why.

Dubstep, ladies and gentlemen, is why. Well, it’s one of 61,700 reasons why, but it’s the easiest to mock, so I’ll take it. For those of you who may not know (truly, a blessing), “dubstep” is what the kids of today call a microphone in an industrial tumble dryer. It’s a so-called genre of “music” that defies all standards music should be held to; it is abrasive to the ear, it is purveyed by people whose hairstyles are even worse than mine, and holy crabnuggets is it popular. Waaay too popular for what amounts to the sound of transformers doing the horizontal tango over the remains of Skrillex’s parents’ respect for him.

Too mean-spirited, you say? No. For this musical plague has infected the world.


Spooky squash have an Irish heritage

Every October, grocery stores fill up with large orange squashes sold almost exclusively as decoration as opposed to food. Families and merchants then decorate and carve these vegetables up into scary and funny faces, getting more and more elaborate year after year.

I set out to find out the origin of this tradition, thinking it must have something to do with an old pagan or Wiccan ritual since Hallowe’en, All Saints Day and Samhain are where we get many end-of-October traditions.

We carve pumpkins into Jack O’Lanterns today thanks to an old Irish folk story. There was once a cheap chap named Stingy Jack. He was so miserly that he didn’t even want to buy his own drinks.

Legend has it that he invited the Devil to knock one back with him and then somehow convinced the demon to turn himself into a coin to pay for the beverages. In keeping with his true nature, Jack opted to then pocket the money instead of paying, along with a silver cross which prevented Lucifer from returning to his original form. He eventually let the Devil change back on the proviso that he leave Jack alone for the rest of his natural life and not take him into Hell once his time was up.

Soon thereafter, Jack died. Surprise surprise – he was not admitted into Heaven since his life had not been lived in goodness or piety. The Devil was still bitter about the tricks Jack played so there was to be no admittance into hell either.

Strangely, though the Devil kept his word yet again (pretty honest depiction of the Devil if you ask me, keeping his word over and over) and didn’t admit Jack into the burning ever-after either. He was kind enough to give Jack a piece of coal, which was placed into a carved-out turnip and he he set out to roam the countryside for eternity with his lantern. Stingy Jack is still wandering the earth by lamplight but his name has now evolved to Jack O’Lantern.


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