Art in the Open returns for its sixth year with an inspiring array of FREE, all ages events and contemporary art works by locally and nationally renowned artists.
During the main event, Saturday August 27 from 4 p.m. until midnight, historic downtown Charlottetown will become an open air gallery presenting ephemeral works of public art. Each year numerous generous sponsors, artists and volunteers, come together to infuse creativity and beauty into the public spaces of the city. In total, there are about 40 artworks, installations and performances for people to discover and interact with.
Since its introduction in 2011, Art in the Open has become a well-loved and inspiring festival that takes pride in transforming many of downtown Charlottetown’s green spaces. "The City’s historic buildings and open green spaces provide the perfect canvas for Art in the Open and we are so proud to host this amazing event each year," said Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. "Attending this event is such a unique experience and I encourage residents and visitors to explore the city during this magical evening."
Originally formed out of a partnership among the City of Charlottetown, this town is small, inc., and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, a new partnership has been forged with the Fédération culturelle de l’ÎPÉ making the festival even more accessible to all islanders. "Art in the Open is a barrier-free community driven event, so it made sense for us to partner with the festival" explains the Fédération culturelle de l’ÎPÉ’s Executive Director Ghislaine Cormier, "We are very happy to provide high-end bilingual programming which further opens the festival up to a larger, more inclusive audience."
Co-curator and festival organizer Becka Viau encourages all festival goers to park their preconceptions of contemporary art and take their time strolling through the festival sites, exploring the diverse program.
"To truly appreciate Art in the Open, one must be open to making unexpected memories," said Viau. "You don't need a set plan, but there will be some scheduled performances that should not be missed, like the Mi'Kmaq Heritage Players at 4 p.m. on Victoria Row and Tanya Davis in Victoria Park, who will perform her piece Communion on the hour from 7 p.m.- 10 p.m. But overall, my advice for festival goers is to plan for a journey of the imagination, that can take a few hours, and have FUN!"
This season, Art in the Open has attracted some extremely high-profile artists. Festival goers can look forward to a variety of new programming as well as a few fan favourites. Quebec based artist José Luis Torres will be mounting a large scale installation along the outside of the Confederation Centre Of the Arts; John Boehme, a performance artist from Vancouver will be staging shows in both Connaught Square and Victoria Park; and Amanda Dawn Christie, a mixed media artist will be projecting an original film, Where Ocean Meets Air in Memorial Hall. Locally, there are numerous high quality artists including Josh Zapf, who will be screening an original film with his family, Russell Louder and Camila Salcedo will be engaging audiences in a two-person cow costume and Alexis Bulman and Norma Jean MacLean who will both be installing separate projects in the harbor off Victoria Park.
Alongside the new programming, organizers say festival goers can expect to see a few fan favourites again this year such as the March of the Crows, an annual parade where hundreds of local residents dress up in handmade crow costumes. Long-time festival volunteer Erin Bateman facilitates two costume making workshops in advance of the parade.
"It's wonderful to see all ages and artistic abilities at the workshops having fun and coming up with such unique costumes. Parading through town on the night of Art in the Open, with hundreds of joyful crows, is an amazing tradition."
Scott Saunders’ Field of Fire will also return to Victoria Park. "This is a great exhibit that creates a magical atmosphere," said festival project manager Beth Lassaline. "Victoria Park really comes alive around dusk. The twenty-one fires that make up Scott Saunders’ exhibit will be lit while the crows are making their way down to Victoria Park. As the parade winds down, the Lone Cry singers will be playing their traditional aboriginal drum. Whether you join in the parade or simply observe, it will definitely be a memorable experience."
The festival is presented by the City of Charlottetown, this town is small, La Fédération culturelle de l’ÎPÉ and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, with the support of the Island Media Arts Coop, The Architects Association of PEI, the PEI Council of the Arts, Discover Charlottetown and Downtown Charlottetown Inc. and is supported in-part by the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program at Canadian Heritage, a department of the Government of Canada, and the PEI Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture.
Beth Lassaline, Project Manager
City of Charlottetown