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Art in the Open


March of the Crows 2017 (photo: Terrance Taylor)

Saturday, August 25, 2018, 04:00pm

Art in the Open returns for its eighth year with an inspiring array of free, all ages activities and contemporary art works by locally and nationally renowned artists.

Throughout the main event, August 25 from 4 pm until midnight, historic downtown Charlottetown will become an open air gallery presenting ephemeral and interactive works of public art. Each year numerous sponsors, artists and volunteers, come together to infuse creativity, inspiration and beauty into the public spaces of the city. In total, there are 39 artworks, installations, performances and historic buildings 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. “Each year I am amazed at how the unique spaces within the Capital City are transformed by the amazing installations,” said Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. “Attending this event is such an eye opening and exciting experience and I encourage residents and visitors to explore the city during this magical evening.”

Formed out of a partnership among the City of Charlottetown, this town is small, inc. and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, the annual festival showcases a variety of contemporary art set within historic downtown Charlottetown. Festival organizer Becka Viau encourages festival goers to park their preconceptions of contemporary art and take their time strolling through the festival sites, exploring the diverse program. 

"To truly Art in the Open, one must be ready 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 March of the Crows, set to march down Victoria Row and onward to Victoria Park at 7:45 pm or the performance called An Agrarian Intervention by local artist and market farmer Carina Phillips which will start on the confederation Centre Plaza at 6:30 pm. 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 Chris Lloyd will read from his 18-year one-sided email correspondence with the Prime Minister of Canada as he merges a campaign stump speech with a non-stop political filibuster to create an 8-hour durational performance; Sarah Wendt and Pascal Dufaux, a duo from Quebec will mount an interactive projection and sound piece in Victoria Park; and Jessica Winton, an intermedia artist from Halifax will be creating a human propelled parade float that will travel throughout the festival sites. Locally, there are numerous high quality artists including Josh Zapf who will present a unique signage project in Rochford Square, the local collective Nucolic, made up of Andrew Cairns and Evan Furness, will create an interactive performative space in the parking lot next to Government pond and Norma Jean MacLean will be installing 49 stakes left to her by her late father in a cathartic performance in 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. Volunteer coordinator Marissa Ladéroute facilitated 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 organizer Becka Viau. “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 all female Mi’Kmaq group Heart Beat of Epekwitk will be playing their traditional aboriginal drums. Whether you join in the parade or simply observe, it is for sure a memorable experience.”  

The festival is presented by the City of Charlottetown, the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, the Fédération culturelle de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard, this town is small, inc., Film PEI, Culture PEI, Discover Charlottetown, 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 Innovation PEI.

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