Potter Rob Froese and photographer Gabriela Garcia-Luna have created an impressive body of work influenced by Japanese, Mexican and North American cultures. This is a heartfelt conversation about their need to be creative.
Painter Gus Froese, one Saskatchewan most loved artists, takes us down a nostalgic path as he recalls some of the highlights of a career spanning decades, with an impressive portfolio that includes a painting hung in Buckingham palace.
In the small town of Willowbunch stands an historical museum. Once a residential school operated by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, this iconic building is a testament to a dedicated board of volunteers who care deeply about preserving the history of this town.
Bonnie Mills-Midgely, Community Development Coordinator for the Rivers West DSCR, has invited me to a few of their meetings, and I must say these gatherings have been invaluable.
The first meeting was in North Battleford, on April 22. My contemporary, Kevin Power, was also in attendance.
The meeting was informal. We went around the room and introduced ourselves and spoke of what we hoped to garnish from the gathering. Both Kevin and I not only introduced SK Culture Days to the group, but we also got to speak about our own repertoire of capabilities, our hopes for Culture Days, and offered our services to those who were interested.
Again, this kind of networking is invaluable. Many at the meeting were unaware of the role that Animateurs play in SK Culture Days, and were happy and interested to hear of how we can facilitate the celebration of their communities. Some, surprisingly, did not know about Culture Days at all. While others were eager to provide their business card and book us for an event.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
The anticipation ended this past Friday as I finally took the SaskScapes podcast on the road, with stops in Moose Jaw, Willowbunch, Rockglen and Gravelbourg. I drove across the prairies watching the unmistakable “big sky” … like a constantly evolving canvas on which the image is always changing…never the same twice.
What an amazing group of people I’ve met on this trip. And by the end of my visit in each town, I feel like I made new friends.
My jaw dropped as I pulled up in front of the Willowbunch museum. The 1914 structure is an anomaly against the backdrop of rolling hills and farms. It’s of grand proportion and a heritage gem. The museum board members care deeply about the preservation of the museum, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation together. Thank you Doris and Nicole!
It was a true family affair in Moose Jaw. Father Gus Froese, a painter with a successful career spanning a lifetime. His son Rob Froese, one of Saskatchewan’s most gifted potters. Rob’s partner Gabriela Garcia-Luna, a photographer whose work is like nothing I’ve seen before…a powerful, moving experience for me. All three artists kindly invited me to their studios. Prolific is the one word that comes to mind. Each surrounded by past works, and works in progress. The are three passionate, articulate, gentle souls. Thanks to Rob and Gabriela for hanging out with me under shelter during the torrential downpour after the interviews. The brilliant rainbow was the payoff. You’ll understand how I happened upon the “word” artitecture when you hear the podcast.
Rockglen was unforgettable. I’d not travelled that far south west before I was agog at the rolling hills which were more like foothills of a mountain range. A rare archeological find! Thanks to Dick Oakes for introducing me to the old railway station museum and the nature walk. And then their were my hosts; Jan Johnston and artist/musician Neil Jones. They opened their home to me, and invited 15 of their musician friends and had a house party in my honor. Jan and Neil created a concert series for bands traveling through the area as well as local musicians. They literally hold the series in their house – well, Neil’s studio to be exact. What a time we all had! And what would such an event be without a three hour power failure! Even that couldn’t stop the music. The sound system got turned off, and the remainder of the evening was an acoustic musical buffet! I slept soundly in the cozy room they made up for me. I can’t wait to post the podcast. I made some truly lasting friendships here. I even met the town’s “cowboy poet”.
I’ve really been looking forward to seeing Gravelbourg. It’s no wonder the town has been dubbed “the cultural gem of Saskatchewan”, and “little Europe”. I fell in love with the rich French heritage. Thanks to Louis Stringer for giving me a tour of the museum. Louis is a dynamic personality who cares deeply for Gravelbourg and its history. He is, to be brief, a walking history book. The museum is home to two floors of impressive artifacts and memorabilia from the early 20th century onward.
Then on the Renaissance Gaiety Theatre, another landmark, and home to the Gravelbourg community players.
Lynn Holmes and her group sat down on stage with me and poured out their love of drama, and their passion to keep theatre alive. I was especially impressed with the outreach they do with the senior population of the town. This is one caring and dedicated group of volunteers who have all come to drama on the heels of careers in other fields. This is their time to find their passion and they’ve done just that.
I have over 10 hours of recorded material from this trip and so beings the editing so that you can share the experience with me through the next several SaskScapes podcasts. In the meantime, the next journey is already being booked. More stories to tell and more friendships to make!
Never has Barbershop Quartet singing had a bigger “cool factor” than today. And these four university students are proof. The Sharp Flats prove that this style of singing is for the young and the young at heart.
The discussion re public art continues!
Could two bales of compressed recycled material placed on a busy downtown intersection possibly be art? What’s that supposed to be anyway? Somebody funded that?! Artist Keeley Haftner and 6 other artists debate the merit of their work, and may have you rethinking how you look at art. This is a two part podcast.
You may know her as Fitzy’s grandmother on Corner Gas, but Jean Freeman is an award winning author and pioneer in Saskatchewan’s film, television and radio industry. And, she’s hilarious to boot!
I stand to be corrected, but we may have a “SK First” here… all because of Culture Days.
Arising out of one of the meetings with Rivers West, Susan Plant, Principal of Lashburn Elementary School, called me and asked me to help her actualize a vision she has for her school.
She wants a School Garden.
There are two spaces surrounding the school that she wants transformed into gardens. At the front of the school is a large flat area that will be Vegetable Garden. Created by Students, Maintained by Students, Harvested by Students.
And at the entrance of the school there is a triangle patch that will be transformed into a colourful, bright, planter garden (using up-cycled materials).
I am not sure, but I think the Vegetable Garden may be a first. I have not heard of a Saskatchewan school having its very own garden (created, planted, maintained, and harvested by students). …. You should have seen the look on the students face when I told them they could come eat peas whenever they felt like it! A combo of surprise and delight.