September is when Niagara “wakes up” (especially after the humid languid Summer) and this is manifest in Culture Days (September 28th to 30th) here in STC. Your #artcriticfromhell loves the Fall, because it means new exhibitions / events / happenings in Niagara. So, let’s go then, you and I, to see what you should fully experience Culture Days 2018.
The Saturday and Sunday are rife with workshops (most drop in / all ages), at various locales.
There’s Expressive Drawing in the Rodman Hall flex space, facilitated by Geoff Farnsworth (Fri: 5 – 9 PM also Saturday 12:30 – 4:30 PM). You’ll “explore expressive drawing with a focus on shape and colour…..Farnswoth specializes in portraiture through his own work, and will be sharing insights and demonstrating to visitors throughout the workshop. Don’t feel like drawing? Then join in by posing for the group and be rewarded with your own portrait!”
And Rodman is a hive of activity Saturday: there’s Expressive Acrylics | Still Life & Objects (12:30 to 4:30 pm | Studio Gallery with Jana Simms-Bergsma) where you’ll “[c]reate a colourful painting with acrylics on canvas as we explore painting still life and objects. …experiment with colour, shape and texture in your painting; yours to keep at the program conclusion.” Outside RHAC, on the lawns / grounds, are two more interactive activities on the Saturday. Capturing Heritage & Architecture (12:30 to 4:30 pm with artist Diana Willamson) where you’ll spend half an hour “contribut[ing] to a collaborative mural as you learn to paint en plein air… [the] historic façade of Rodman Hall [will inspire the mural].” Both of these also happen on Sunday.
Exclusively on Saturday, in the RHAC Walker Botanical Gardens, is an interactive theatre workshop titled The Drama Garden (1 to 4 pm, presented by Carousel Players). You’ll spend 30 – 60 minutes in a “promenade-style theatre experience [with] several stations that encourage you to view a short performance, then join in and perform yourself.” Also only Sunday is Exploring Model Magic (1:30 to 4:30 pm) where Dena Colling Gelentso facilitates 45 minutes creating / exploring “through sculpture techniques as we twist, roll, pinch, squeeze and build your own unique creations.” The last thing to mention at RHAC is the ongoing site-specific sound performance ECHO (2 to 4 pm, Walker Botanical Gardens Amphitheatre). This audio outdoor event invites you to “enjoy the gardens animated by an electro-acoustic soundscape performance led by Niagara-based artist and DJ Marinko Jareb. Bring a blanket, bring a picnic, and enjoy some music outdoors.”
I’ve focused heavily on Rodman: but there are numerous interactive sites around STC. At St. Catharines City Hall (50 Church Street in the 3rd Floor Exhibit Space) there’s an opening reception, Friday afternoon from 4 to 6 pm. Motion | 2018 City of St. Catharines Juried Art Exhibit will include artists like ECHO‘s Jareb and Donna Szoke, among others.
Also on Friday, there’s Pieces: A Community Paint Project, happening at the Walker Family Cancer Centre (1200 Fourth Avenue, Cancer Centre entrance to left of hospital main lobby entrance), from 9:30 am to 1 pm. Artist Helen Michlik will facilitate this drop-in | all ages event where you can “[c]ollaborate with the community on a painted mosaic as you create a section of the larger canvas. The final mural will take inspiration from geometric shapes and bright colours.”
The Silver Spire Church (366 St Paul Street) will host Art Hive (Saturday 1:30 to 3:30 pm) with Jennifer Judson & Katie Mazi (Visual Arts) & John Sweeney (Drama), where in this all ages drop in you can “expect to spend 10 – 30 minutes creatively experimenting with collage, sticker-making, still life, bracelet-making and a drama workshop.”
Hopefully you’re also familiar with The Robby / Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre (85 Church Street) which is another interactive Culture Days hub. Among several family friendly / all ages activities is Are You in Your Right Mind? (10:30 am to 3:30 pm with Hether Klesh). She’ll “guide you through a drawing lesson and brain hacks [exploring] how the coordination of your brain and eyes can impact your drawings.” Each session is 45 minutes.
Now, I’m just offering a teaser: there’s many exhibitions on display during Culture Days. Heather Hart: Northern Oracle is “an ambitious rooftop installation that emerges from the floor of the gallery…accompanied by a series of mixed media drawings” at Rodman. In the VISA Gallery at 15 Artists Common (MIWSFPA) is Three to eight by Murray Kropf: “Exploring the first purely abstract body of work produced in his career, the paintings are predicated upon the challenge of creating compositions with limited palettes of between three to eight colours.” Russell Avenue Community Centre (108 Russell Avenue), St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canal Centre (1932 Welland Canals Parkway) and – of course – the PAC (250 St. Paul Street) will all be hosting activities.
This is just a taste, and as with any compact, intense, festival, it’s good to plan ahead. More information can be found here to help ensure you get the most out of Culture Days 2018.
Bart Gazzola (also known as #artcriticfromhell) is an arts writer/critic who has published with Magenta Magazine, Canadian Art, New Art Gazette, Galleries West, PrairieSeen, Long Exposure and BlackFlash (where he was Editorial Chair for 3 years). He is Assistant Editor at thesound.rocks and a frequent contributor to various cultural spaces in Niagara.