Culture Days reached out to Community Reporters across Canada to submit articles to culture365 about their experience during the Culture Days weekend that took place from September 26 to 28. The reporters were asked to describe their observations of Culture Days activities they attended in their communities and the impact they had on the artists, public participating and their community. Below is a report by Lynn Broughton from Guelph, Ontario. Click here for more community reports.
Day 1 - GuelPhonography = Guelph mobile photography
GuelPhonography’s mission is to showcase the spirit, energy, beauty, abundance and character of the Guelph community via an annual contest and exhibit. But that’s just the gala aspect. Guelphites are encouraged to snap local shots with their phones all year long, maybe even tweak them with some handy free apps, then tag them with #GuelPhonography to share on social media sites. The Friday night of Culture Days was the grand event, showcasing the 20 finalists photos chosen from hundreds of submissions. What a happy event. Our beautifully renovated Guelph Civic Museum hosted a room jammed with phone addicts and art admirers. We were treated to music by Tannis Slimmon and Lewis Melville while some danced, many sweated, and we all fêted the broad range of perspectives of the same place. Organizer Stacey Hare (video) was inspired by the project, saying she found herself amazed at the breadth of vision and observation exposed in the submissions.
Just down the hill and over to Market Square — yet another revamped civic space — Rock the Square was hopping, featuring young bands The Adelaides, Growing Irons, Noah and the Roaches, Swanfleet and 5 Live Rock. Hand-picked by Jam School whose tenet is, “performance is key to developing a life-long love of music”, each took a turn on the stage with the magnificent backdrop of City Hall behind them. They were all fantastically loud and well-polished performers. The crowd of tweens was clearly in love.
Throughout the night we checked our Twitter accounts, hoping to hear something - anything - from our tweeting statues. That’s right, statues. (Except @OldJeremiah, who is our ancient cannon on the University of Guelph Campus, a victim of decades-long paint makeovers, but nevertheless, a furious tweeter.) Beloved by the citizens of Guelph, the self-proclaimed #StationaryCrew are a cheeky and chatty bunch. We also have @TheBeggingBear, who stands near the sidewalk outside Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, hand held out; also the recipient of frequent public dressings up. The Begging Bear can be adorned with football jerseys, wedding gowns, grass skirts, even chaps depending on the theme of local event taking place.
Pearl Van Geest is a well-established local artist who has recently been selected as Guelph’s first ‘Artist in the Community’. The lead-up to her project, Terrain of Sensation, was a collaborative mapping of the naturalized area surrounding the West End Community Centre. The process married cartography with personal artistic interpretations of the space. The subsequent drawings, sketches, paintings and prints created on site during this period were then photographed, layered with site plans and topographic maps to create the larger collaborative map displayed at Culture Days. I was struck by the connections Van Geest made between a newly built-up suburban area, its neighbouring ecosystem and history. The finished piece is a wonder to behold.
Culture Days ended for me on Sunday night, with the Vocamus Press Book Bash. As a former bookseller, I’m book mad, so this event particularly appealed. I was amazed by the number of published authors there are in our midst that I had yet to discover. It was a beautiful mixed bag of performances by spoken word artists, live music and “speed-dating” type of questions answered by the over 20 local authors. The true belles of the ball, however, were the simultaneous launches of The Rhapsody Anthology — an annual publication of Guelph Writing, and The Etch Anthology — a collection of stories written for the Guelph Public Library's 2014 Teen Writing Contest. I spoke with many of the authors, each thrilled with an opportunity to showcase their words. One young woman in particular stood out to me though. Teenager Annie Zhang wrote Dandelions, skilfully tying together her heritage as a new Canadian, fitting in, and the power of words.
To be honest, it feels like most days are Culture Days in Guelph. In my opinion, we are a steady hotbed of innovation and talent. But there is value to naming it annually. To spotlight and celebrate our brightest ideas. The weekend brought out participants who may not otherwise engage with arts and culture in Guelph. It also attracted Guelphites of all ages. So maybe we’re building a new audience and turning on fresh minds; possible shortcomings that we debated only last year. Now that’s a Good Guelph Thing.
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