WORDS: ANGELA WALCOTT
Looking for a unique festival experience to celebrate all-things food, music and art? Look no further. The Clarington Outdoor Art Festival (COAF) is the place to be. Located in Durham Region in Bowmanville, Ontario, this festival within a festival will be a hot destination for Culture Days activities. Situated on the eastern boundary of the GTA and set against the backdrop of the Oak Ridges Moraine, this venue will provide artists with a platform to share their work and bring the community together for a day of learning and discovery. The two-day festival is the first of its kind for the area and bound to be a treat for the whole family.
Activities include hands-on workshops with professional artists; gallery tours; live music and food trucks. An exciting featured activity of the Culture Days 2018 line-up, COAF will be hosted by the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington (VAC). Boasting art exhibits and classes, VAC is a great community space where art brings people together.
“We have always envisioned an event for Culture Days, but we never had the resources and the staff to host it,” says VAC Development Coordinator Vivienne Song. “After talking for a little while, we decided to just do it. It’s in the fall, it’s great timing --we thought it would be better for the festival to be part of the bigger picture."
While COAF is a new initiative created in response to requests from VAC members and artists in the community, it isn't their first planned Culture Days event/ Aiming to unite the community, VAC has previously staged family relay drawing, yoga on the lawn, and gallery tours.
Event organizer Dionne Powlenzuk, Executive Director of the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington, says a core reason behind the Festival is to highlight the talented artists producing one-of-a-kind creations. “This event has been created to support local artists in their practice by providing a platform to showcase their work to our community and other artists.” Modeled after their popular youth arts and market festival, COAF will give local adult artists an opportunity to sell their artwork.
“We have had many requests for an adult version, and spent some time thinking about how we can offer something similar for adult artists, and also attract visitors so the adult art vendors may have a successful day at our event,” says Powlenzuk. Artists on hand will include realist painter Ian Bodnaryk; mixed media artist Marnie Packman; as well as functional and decorative Raku pottery from potter Jane Turner.
Festival organizers hope the community can experience art and culture in their own backyard. By promoting artists in the community it can hopefully lead to a day of learning and discovery. “Culture Days is a time where we can open our doors to everyone with a fully activated space including docents for gallery walks and talks; engaging studio activities for all ages without the barrier of cost,” adds Powlenzuk. “Culture Days is a day we can promote inclusive and engaging activities in our space for everyone in our community.” The Clarington community generally shows a keen interest for the arts on a daily basis. Some members attend exhibitions, while others take classes and workshops,” says Powlenzuk.
So what goals do COAF organizers hope to achieve with COAF? “Our hopes for the Clarington Outdoor Art Festival, and Culture Days is to have a diverse audience engaging in our space,” says Powlenzuk.
In terms of engaging the public, the upcoming Culture Days event is sure to have a lasting impact on the community. “If, at the end of the day, new artists meet each other and people feel inspired by their experience; questions are asked and new things are learned; we have done our job.”
For more information about the Clarington Outdoor Art Festival visit Culture Days.
Image credits (in order of appearance):
Convoluted Conversation, Marnie Packman, 2015
Contemplation of Daniel, Ian Bodnaryk, date unknown
A Girl With Her Music, Marnie Packman, date unknown
Theorem Copy, Ian Bodnaryk, date unknown.
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