The work of 15 local artists will come together in one elaborate piece on Saturday afternoon.
As part of Brandon’s third annual Culture Days, artists will assemble an eight-foot wide, 35-foot-long float in Princess Park.
"Our main goal is to pull people together that wanted to work together," said local artist Barb Flemington. "Make the art voice have a presence in our community."
Members of the public are invited to watch the artists assemble the piece and even help with finishing touches, before the float makes its debut in the Culture Days parade at 5 p.m.
Organized by the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, the float is inspired by bowerbirds, which are most known for their unique courtship behaviour. Male bowerbirds build an arch-like structure and decorate it with sticks and brightly coloured objects in an attempt to attract a mate.
"It’s amazing to see," Flemington said. "You’ll see whole areas where they have these huge beds of shells … and they pile them all, sorting and piling neatly. Little pyramids of blue flowers, or they’ve strewn some through the bower."
The fascinating behaviour of the bowerbird reminds Flemington of some of the techniques used by contemporary artists.
"We can take our cues from the natural environment, and this bird is particularly in league with how a lot of us work now, and that’s collections, and organizing by colour, shape, size, sort," Flemington said.
The float will have three bowers in total, which have been worked on by teams over the past month.
"My husband and I built the frame, using plywood and old wire mesh," said artist Shirley Brown of one of the bowers.
Brown’s bower will incorporate lush fabrics, including velvet and gold lamé.
Brown said she hopes this project "is the start of something much bigger."
"In Winnipeg your artists are centralized, so they all kind of know one another … but out here there’s such distances between artists," said Brown, who lives near Elgin. "It’s just the way it is when you’re rural based … Some of us get together all the time, but we were really hoping that this would awaken an artist community so that we could get together more often and know each other is out there."
AGSM gallery services co-ordinator Shanti Subedar said one of the goals of Culture Days is for people to "gain some knowledge and awareness about what is already existing in their community, and how they can use those spaces for their own ideas and projects."
Art in the Park on Saturday, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., will include workshops and artist demonstrations.
"That’s kind of a chance for people to come and meet some Brandon artists," Subedar said. There will be artists showing work in ceramics, photography, painting, sketching, embroidery and leather works.
Canada-wide celebration growing
Brandon will join hundreds of communities across Canada in a growing cultural movement as the country joins to celebrate the third annual national Culture Days weekend from Sept. 28-30.
Culture Days began in 2010 as a collaborative coast-to-coast-to-coast volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.
This year, Culture Days is being celebrated in nearly 800 communities across the Canada, featuring several thousand activities designed to enrich the public’s appetite for architecture, heritage, comedy, dance, music, theatre, literature, visual arts, culinary arts and so much more.
Locally, more than 20 different activities are being staged at nearly a dozen venues in and around Brandon.
"We are really excited about the variety of activities taking place this year and the outreach that has taken place throughout the community," says Hope Roberts, the City of Brandon’s community development co-ordinator.
"The Culture Days movement in Brandon is gaining awareness and popularity. Local arts groups and individuals have really come together to make this year’s event not only memorable, but reflective of the supportive and collaborative nature of the arts and cultural expression across the city. Culture Days is really a win-win for the public and our arts community."
Highlights of Brandon’s Culture Days weekend include a "Pop-Up" Film Festival on Friday evening, featuring works from a number of Manitoba filmmakers projected in two picturesque open-air settings.
Be sure to look for the unique mobile cinema at the Global Market on 12th Street and Rosser Avenue at 6 p.m. and then at the Brandon City Hall courtyard at 410 Ninth St. at 8 p.m.
Saturday’s Art in the Park event, running from noon to 5 p.m. in Princess Park, will allow the public to get up close and interactive with musicians, dancers and artists as well as and take in performances, collaborative public arts projects and workshops.
Then at 5 p.m. on Saturday, the artistic movement will take to the streets of downtown Brandon, with the city’s first ever Culture Days parade. A parade of nearly 20 different and unique arts and cultural groups will make its way from Princess Park west to 14th Street, north over to Rosser Avenue and then east on Rosser Avenue to the Global Market, where an evening of live Latin music will be featured.
Featured in the parade, which is being organized by the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, will be a unique float based on the courtship of bowerbirds. The process to create the float has been a collaboration of 15 local artists using "found" materials.
"The participating artists split up into a few teams, each building their own piece of the display and accumulating materials for its decoration," said Shanti Subedar, gallery services co-ordinator with the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba.
"Everything will come together on the day of the parade during the activities in Princess Park. The audience will also be welcome to contribute to the float’s completion. The AGSM hopes that this final float will woo the audiences into the world of contemporary art."
A number of other community organizations, including the Brandon Community Orchestra, the XII Manitoba Dragoons and 26 Field Regiment RCA Museum, CFB Shilo’s RCA Museum, the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum and the Oak Lake and District Museum, are also participating in Culture Days with interactive events at venue locations across the region.
A complete list of Culture Days events being staged in and around Brandon can be found by visiting brandon.ca/public-notices/776-culture-days-in-brandon.