By Courtney Faulkner
LETHBRIDGE – Lethbridge celebrates their seventh annual Arts Days from September 23 through October 1, with a plethora of activities for all-ages and interests. The event showcases the work of talented local artists through performances, workshops, artist talks, and artisan markets, connecting the community through creativity.
Claire Lint, a local dance artist and co-founder of the non-profit organization the Lethbridge Society of Independent Dance Artists (LSIDA), is one of the city’s young artists who has chosen to invest her talent locally. Lint, who grew up Lethbridge, and whose dance has taken her to perform in the likes of places like the northern artist community of Dawson City, Yukon, has proudly watched the city grow and develop its talent pool.
“I think we’re starting to really blossom and come into our own as an arts community,” says Lint. “I think it’s time that we’re put on the map, especially in Alberta, but I think in Western Canada, as a community that has a lot to say, and has a lot to contribute, in all art forms.”
“As we continue to band together, it’s going to start happening. I feel like there’s a pulse, where the more people that get involved, the bigger the pulse is going to become, and then I think people will just have to come here, they’ll need to come here to access festivals, and residencies, and however you access the community as an artist.”
Lint first became involved with Arts Days as a busker for Art Walk, an annual event that has taken place in Lethbridge coming on its 14th year. This collaboration between businesses and artists will showcase over 40 exhibitions installed in local businesses and venues throughout downtown. Lint remembers the first Art Walk she attended in 2009.
“I have a very vivid memory of walking around, and I think there was only 10 venues, it was very, very small, but I just remember going around and thinking that it was just the coolest thing. For shops to open up their doors, and bring art in.”
Five years later, Lint found herself compelled to participate. Buskers had primarily been musicians up until that point, however Lint had an alternative idea with her dancing shoes.
“I found a piece of plywood in my parent’s garage and I painted it white, and I found a top hat, and I threw out a suitcase and I tap danced,” says Lint.
“I would be like a living statue, and you know, get the coin and then tap. It was really great to see the kids engage with that, and to have that live performance art theatre feeling, while cross-pollinating into this art world, where people are moving around and they’re looking at different visual art, like ceramics and paintings, fabrics and textiles, then to be a part of the busking and the music was really cool.”
Last year LSIDA put out a call for dancers, and the performance of busking dance artists grew to eight different dancers performing 17 times in 17 different locations throughout the community.
“Now, nearly a decade later, I’m able to reach out and connect with other people and bring those opportunities to them, which to me is really incredible,” says Lint. “Something that always stuck in my gut was creating opportunities for others, that was always something that I felt really passionate about.”
The artists participating in Arts Days spans all generations. Karen Brownlee, a local painter and fine artist who has been creating work focused on the landscape and people of southern Alberta for over 40 years, has been involved with Art Walk since its inception. She’s been showcasing her work permanently in Tompkins Jewelers, and in the past offering on-site painting demonstrations.
“The concept is that you take the art to the people. Rather than the people having to search it out,” says Brownlee.
“My life has been devoted to my family, and the creation of my own art,” she continues.
“When you get down to the heart of the arts practice, in the visual arts, it’s me in the studio. There is no exhibit, there is no book, unless you guard your studio time.”
Brownlee has devoted herself to interpreting the everyday sights around her, such as the mapping out scenes of farming towns, grain elevators, community members, flowers and horses, in her colourful water colour creations. She jokingly says that as she ages and grays, her paintings subsequently become more colourful.
“One of my first art professors, Pauline McGeorge, told me ‘True artists find inspiration in their backyard,’ so I really took that to heart. When I see something happening on the piece of paper that’s exciting, I go with it.”
“I really feel it’s been my calling, and in a lot of ways I feel it’s been art therapy. Just don’t give up. You’ve just got to do it.”
Arts Days takes place September 23 through October 1 in Lethbridge, with the Art Walk on September 29 and 30. Visit artsdayslethbridge.org for a full list of events and times.Art Days