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Celebrating Six Years Of The Finest Art & Music In Niagara

Our guide on what to check out at this year’s Carmel Fine Art & Music Festival

From September 14-16, the sixth annual Carmel Fine Art & Music Festival will take place at Firemen’s Park in Niagara Falls. Admission to the Festival is 5$ for both Saturday & Sunday, but the Friday Night Artists Gala’s ticket price is $15, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet the artists while enjoying a complimentary glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres.

Visit carmelfineart.niagaraartshowcase.com for information on the festival.

BRIAN BOYER

“I’ve twisted every wire I could get my hands on for years for no one but myself,” said Prince George, BC artist Brian Boyer.
He recalls a moment from 15 years ago where he saw a man walking in Surrey, BC with a wire tree that he had made and fixed onto a rock that started his passion for his art.

“Then, after a few years of watching people almost kill one another over scrap metal, with copper becoming almost a currency in itself, I noticed that some of the wires being returned came in beautiful colours like Candy Apple Red and dark purples and green and I thought how beautiful this tree was and could be with more branches and I just started twisting and never stopped,” he said.

Now, twisting wire into beautiful trees has become his raison d’etre. It’s part therapy and part homage to one of his ‘protectors’.

After Boyer left home in Niagara Falls, he would find himself sleeping in abandoned houses, parked cars and even box cars down on Bridge St., but he finally found himself safest in a giant Christmas Tree in Victoria Park directly across from the American Falls.

“That tree was my protector from the elements and when I was alone, I talked to it, I yelled it and even shed a few tears to it,” said Boyer. “It never let me down and was the only thing I could really count on to take me in when I thought I had nowhere left to go.”

Although that tree acted as a place of solace for Boyer, it wasn’t until five years after he had been handcrafting these elegant wire tree sculptures that he realized how important these trees are to him.

“These trees saved my life. To show my gratitude, I put my heart and soul in every one I make. I believe 100 per cent that this positive energy stays with them for eternity. The wire can somehow feel like I am giving it a second chance at life as a tree, just as the trees did for me.”

Jessica Wilson

Jessica Wilson has been writing and performing music for the past five years. A trained “triple-threat performer” (singing, acting, dancing) Wilson released her debut EP Sincerely last year, and spent the summer performing with HASTINGS! The Musical while playing countless gigs around the Niagara Region.

“I love gigging and playing my own music for crowds but sometimes playing a cover gig everyday can get extremely exhausting and boring. I’m always working on my musical theatre career and then also looking for new places to play in between contracts,” said Wilson

“Working on HASTINGS! The Musical has been perfect for me because not only is it an original Canadian Musical, the actors also play the instruments and music, so I get to do everything I love.”

Wilson was most recently in headlines this past March when she won a contest to sing with Hedley. She backed out of going on stage (self-explanitory – she doesn’t regret her deicision), and joked that the next headline she gets is “Local Singer-Songwriter Opens for Fleetwood Mac” but admitted that logistically she hopes it will be “Jessica Wilson Plays a Sold Out Show.”
Wilson has her eyes set on getting more theatre contracts and creating new music – perhaps with a release as soon as the end of the year.

“It’s very awesome to be able to write your own music and see people react to it, but I’m a trained triple threat performer, so for me nothing beats being able to incorporate all three of my disciplines into a stage show,” she said.

“I guess my plan is to try and be the best I can be at both of them until I really have to choose. I’ve yet to give one up over the other so it’s working out for me so far.”

The Ascot Royals

10 years ago the members of rock ‘n’ roll band The Ascot Royals met while going to Metalworks Institute of Sound. They were all from Brantford, ON, but it wasn’t until they at school that they fell in to each others lives.

“Sometimes it’s hard to believe its been this long but overall we just keep getting better every year, whether its personally or collectively as a group. To look back to close to 10 years ago to us meeting at college and figuring out our sound and identity and to think that where we’re at now is pretty mindblowing,” said drummer Sam Stark.

They went on their first tour with Fast Romantics in 2009 and have been pacing back and forth through the country ever since – their latest tour being with Matthew Good and Our Lady Peace. The tour came just after the band released their latest single “Evil I Know” this past February.

“Since the tour we’ve just been focusing on writing and recording demos,” said drummer Sam Stark. “Tal Vaisman (guitarist) and Jimmy Chauveau (vocalist) just got back from Nashville for a week. We’re just getting in our rehearsal room to keep things rolling and hopefully there’s a new release in the future.”

Aside from their latest single, the Ascot Royals released their New Skin EP in 2017, a single for “The Best is Yet to Come” in 2015, the LP Don’t Let It Stop You in 2012 and their debut Awkward When I Stop in 2009.

“Ever since we started we’ve just been going out there and having fun. Life is too short so we want to live it for every moment we can. For us, it’s all about being in a rock band and sharing our music with everyone we possibly can,” said Stark.

“Life is life. Everyone can paint that however they want to see it, but you have to do what you enjoy and for the group of us, we enjoy playing music together.”

Josh Tiessen

Inspired by his mentor Robert Batemen, Josh Tiessen got his start as an artist painting nature and wildlife at the age of 15 in British Columbia. From there, he found himself creating compositions showcasing nature’s power over man-man structures. These days, he’s crafting beautiful acrylic and oil paintings in a style that he calls ‘narrative hyperrealism.’

“I infuse story and symbolism into each painting, drawing from my studies in theology, philosophy and environmentalism,” he said.

“I use acrylic for the under-painting and oils for the layers of detail and blending. When I was younger I took photography and graphic design courses, but now I mainly use these skills for taking reference photos and composing my paintings on Photoshop from concept sketches that I draw.”

Tiessen became a professional artist at the age of 16, and was dubbed as the ‘only known male art prodigy in North America.’

In 2016 he published his first art monograph book (Josh Tiessen: A Decade of Inspiration) at the age of 21, and has had solo and group exhibitions in Canada, and group exhibitions across the U.S.

Currently, Tiessen is working on his series Streams in the Wasteland, which will be shown at the New York City gallery Jonathan LeVine Projects from October-November 2019. The exhibition was an award from winning a competition in 2017 called “Search for the Next Great Artist”. Tiessen was chosen out of over 2000 artists worldwide.

“It’s exciting to be recognized internationally, but I’m still happy to have my studio gallery located in Stoney Creek and exhibit in festivals like Carmel where I enjoy meeting the public and showing my art,” said Tiessen. “I am honoured that many people in Niagara resonate with my work.”

Tiessen will be delivering a keynote presentation at the festival focusing on how he became a professional artist at such a young age and reflecting on challenges like struggling with Chronic Lyme Disease, and how good things can come out of the worst circumstances.

You can check out Tiessen’s art at joshtiessen.com

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