LAC LA BICHE - Two years of planning community art events in tandem with the 2022 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Art Awards that took place June 10-11, a masterpiece was created for community members and visitors to enjoy, says Lac La Biche Art Club President Sandy Makokis.
While the provincially-recognized art awards for distinguished and emerging artists took centre stage over the weekend, the community arts scene was spotlighted as well, says Makokis.
The local art club has been preparing for the provincial arts awards since they were first announced in 2019 ... but were delayed for two years due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The delays helped the club and the community brush up on events that made the week around the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta's visit a memorable one.
The hallmark event for the club was an ‘Art Maze’ which had hundreds of pieces of art on display from artists and students from across the region. The walls of art were on display at the Bold Center for what the club called its Four Days In June exhibition that went from June 8-11. The maze saw more than 400 visitors over the four days, said Makokis.
“We had lots of people come though the 'Art Maze', we had an outstanding showing of artists. We had artists from as far as we can get because it was an Alberta event. It wasn’t just our corner of the world participating; we had artists from St. Paul come, and some of the schools over that way.”
People’s Choice: Ron Dominique
All individuals who went through the Art Maze each day selected their favourite piece of art on display and submitted their pick. Local painter Ron Dominique won the $150 prize for his painting title The New Bride.
Behind Dominique’s over 30-year career, his primary inspiration has been cultivating nature and Indigenous-themed work that takes hundreds of hours to create.
Fun and games
Alongside the display of art, attendees had an opportunity to play in a ‘Clue’ game to find information throughout the 'Art Maze' to solve ‘the Great Fish Heist’. The game took participants on a chase which Makokis says was another way to encourage people to really look at the art and have some fun. The clue-game winner got a $50 gift certificate.
“It was a fun way for people to walk through the art and look for something besides the pictures on the walls, they could look at the pictures but they could also be looking for these small clues that could lead them to discover who the culprit was in a fish heist. It was fun and it encouraged people to go all the way through the maze.”
Alongside the maze, with the support of Portage College and Lac La Biche County, the club hosted workshops led by community artists. From a resin workshop hosted by Plamondon-based artist Melanie Braund, to a quilting workshop hosted by Makokis herself. Additionally, on June 11 the Art Walk and Market had painting sessions, family fun activities, free food and entertainment from Juno-award winning children’s artist Peter Puffin’s Whale Tales for hundreds to enjoy. The art events over the week also included musical performances by local bands and musicians.
Makokis says that with the positive feedback from attendees, more opportunities for art throughout the year are on the way. “People are turning to us and asking for events now. Asking for more courses and classes. We do have a couple already in mind.”
But for the time being, organizers are taking some time to relax after two years of planning went into the week-long celebration.
Finding a permanent space
Despite some big successes that accompanied the huge arts-themed week of celebrations, the local club is still pretty small, says Makokis, and they don’t really have a home base to work from. Finding a solid space for the club to have art events and workshops is a priority in the coming months. Riding on the awareness of the local arts scene that the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Awards brought, Makokis hopes to find grant funding and more local support to help build a permanent club studio.
“We’ve had conversations with the County about helping us get a permanent space where we can have year-round opportunities for people to do courses, to come and learn, have events and to teach or just to view the art,” she said.
Fortunately, the club is in a good position with the many talented artists in the community, many more looking for a chance to learn and find opportunities to get creative, and the availability of a college Fine Arts program at the local Portage College campus, Makokis said.
“There are so many hidden pockets of artists in the community, my goal is to get everyone out of the shadows and try and help people to be able to show their stuff and not have people afraid of looking at their artwork. It takes a lot of courage to create something and let other people see it.”