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Word On the Street 2023 celebrates all things words with music and much more

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Word on the Street  was the  usual celebration of all things related to the written word including music, Sept. 23 outside the Lethbridge Public Library.

Tara MacLean speaking at Word On the Street. Photo by Richard Amery

 I threaded my way through an assortment of tables offering opportunities to create art to get to the stage for local children's band  The band Formerly Known as Karen, Lewis and pam aka KLP

The casa clay demonstration was underway and the woodturners  guild were hard at work creating objects out of wood.

 Local children’s band The band Formerly Known as Karen, Lewis and pam aka KLP, were warming up an enthusiastic crowd of kids and adults alike as I arrived.

They were playing a spirited set of originals and children’s favourites.


The band Formerly Known as Karen, Lewis and Pam At Word On the Street. Photo by Richard Amery

I arrived in the middle of their grocery store  improv song lead by Ash Thomson, as Jillian Bracken and Gabe Olsen held down the harmonies and music,  with Olsen playing keyboards and guitar. Steve Martin and Brad Brouwer held down the rhythm  on bass and drums respectively.


 They played a Raffi song about  beluga whales and broke out puppets for another song, before playing an original song about burgers.

They played their usual fun set. How could it not be otherwise with Ash Thomson pulling out her slide whistle.

 Bailey Kate and a trimmed down  Starpainter had a busy Word on the Street. They Backed Bailey Kate to open the afternoon, but I missed that set.

 I caught a trimmed down Starpainter as Joel Stretch,  lead guitarist Joel Gray and  Bailey Kate ran though several songs from their latest CD Rattlesnake Dream.


 They also had a separate busking stage. Karen Romanchuk  was among the local performers  playing there.

Sign Language interpretation for Tara MacLean’s set at Word On the Street. Photo by Richard Amery

I stopped by  German -Canadian Author Phillip’s Schott’s tent where he was reading  the latest  in his series of vet/ detective Dr. Bannerman’s latest adventure “ Six Ostriches.”


He read a few excerpts from the book and fielded questions about being a vet and being a German Canadian whose family moved to Winnipeg  after the Second World War.


 I timed my visit to Word on the Street to see Juno award winning songwriter Tara MacLean, who was also part of pop supergroup Shaye With Kim Stockwood and Dahmnait Doyle about 20 years ago. 


She didn't have the audience she deserved, but those who were there were enraptured. MacLean’s new memoir “ Song Of the Sparrow,” became an almost instant best seller since  she released it on March. She read from it and played d a few songs, but was  being drowned out by  DanAlie, whose voices were carrying across the parking lot. She apologized  for asking to be  turned up, saying “ I don’t want to compete with anybody.

 She read from the memoir and  talked about turning 50 and about meeting a guy in Britain while on tour recently. She played a new song about that as well as  “ Song of the Sparrow.”

She, like many of the presenting authors, had a  sign language interpreter  for the readings and in MacLean’s case her songs. That worked in conjunction with another volunteer typing a transcript of the discussion.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor


Arts Days celebrates eclectic Lethbridge arts scene

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If you like the arts , then the next couple of weeks are for you to celebrate all kinds of arts  during the last part of September— the Month of the Artist.


 Arts Days 2023 opens with the AAC Arts Days Cabaret at casa, Friday, Sept. 22 from 7-9 p.m. with local musicians the Decadent Phase and Peace For Bombs.


Kelaine Devine, Eric Dyck and  Luka de Haan with be  creating art inspired by the performances.

The Decadent Phase play the AAC Arts Days Cabaret, Sept. 23. Photo by Richard Amery


It is also the  launch of Trap/Door Artist Run Collective’s new exhibit  “Carrying Baggage”  featuring works by Seema Karchoo, Heather Kehoe, Harley Morman, Kalina Nedelcheva, Arianna Richardson, Noble Seggie.


 And artists  Solange Roy and Kylie FineDay will be answering questions about their art in the casa square kiosks.


“Art is not a passive thing, we are all part of  the art scene. Arts Days is about engaging in the ares in a new way,” said Kelaine Devine, Allied Arts council communications coordinator.


One of the cornerstone events of ArtsDays is Word on the Street which happens on Saturday , Sept. 23 outside the Lethbridge Public Library featuring food trucks, workshops and live music and plenty of authirs and playwrights  exploring fiction, non fiction,  teen and youth literature and much more. 


 There is no art walk again this year, instead 19 artists will begin creating  murals on the windows of downtown businesses beginning today ( Sept. 21) as part of the Downtown Lens: Window Mural Gallery running Sept. 21-24.


“ That will allow you to ask the artists questions about their work and watch them  creating,” Devine said.


Word on the Street to be an exciting blend of books, music and much more

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Get the Word at the Lethbridge Public Library as the thirteenth annual Word On The Street returns to the Lethbridge Public Library, Saturday Sept. 23 from 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.

 There will be live music, workshops  face painting, family fun and lots of authors on seven different stages including an Indigenous stage inside the library.


Elisabeth Hegerat examines a Word on the Street volunteer T-Shirt. Photo by Richard Amery

 Word on the Street is the keystone event for  Arts Days, so with that in mind,  The Allied Arts Council will be collaborating with Word on the Street for a variety of activities this year.


“We‘re excited to  have Word on the Street as a live event. It’s going to be a wonderful experience,” said Elisabeth Hegarat Word on the Street organizer and Lethbridge Public Library manager of Community Advancement.

“We  were online in 2020 and 2021 and were live last year. And we‘ve got another milestone coming up,” Hegarat continued.


 She said there is a usual mix of non fiction, fiction, First Nations , local authors and  children and teen authors scheduled to speak and read from their works.


Some of Hegerat’s festival’s highlights include prairie poet Syd Marty, who has a new book about the Oldman River, Ann Marie MacDonald, who has a new historical fiction book about  a family  living on the border of England and Scotland in the nineteenth century called ‘Fayne: A Novel.”


“ I can’t wait to read that,’ Hegerat said, adding she is also excited to see artist and author Hali Heavy Shield’s new picture book and John  Vaillant’s new book  on the Fort McMurray wildfires “ Making of the Beast.”


Hegerat is excited about a new collaboration with the Allied Arts Council who will be  adding demonstrations of a variety of artistic endeavours including woodturning and  a one pound clay challenge which means the Allied Arts Council will be bringing the clay turning wheel d from casa  and the first 200 people will get to make something and have it fired in casa‘s kiln.


Waking Death explores different perspectives of death and grieving in new casa exhibits

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Discussing death  doesn't have to be a scary or depressing experience. But get ready for Halloween anyway with a cornucopia of spooky activities beginning with Waking Death, a new group exhibit running at casa from Sept. 9-Oct. 28. The eight artists explore the concept of death and mourning in their works, which encompass First Nations and western perspectives on death and grief.


The Waking Death artists, David Garneau, Faye Heavyshield, Don Gill, Mary Kavanagh, Annie Martin, Bryce Singer, Kasia Sosnowski, and Adrian Stimson, utilized a variety of mediums for their contributions to the exhibit including acrylic paint, photography, sculpture and textile art which are in the main gallery.

Annie Martin, Mia Van Leeuwen, Shanell Papp  and Darcy Logan welcome people to new  exhibits at casa, Sept. 9. Photo By Richard Amery

Waking Dead member Don Gill has a wall dedicated to his photographs of actual death masks created from prisoners in Australia. Bryce Singer created a vividly coloured painting inspired by a dream he had about talking to a relative who passed on.


Local artist Shanell Papp is excited to see her 40-foot gigantic crocheted skeleton, which was on display in the casa in October 2020 come to life in a parade featuring University  of Lethbridge actors and alumni during the happening at casa  at 8 p.m. in the middle of the exhibit’s opening reception, Saturday, Sept. 9. The opening reception runs from 7-9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 9.


“It’s going to be great,” said artist and co-curator Shanell Papp, who contributed a crocheted skull ossuary plus some other death themed pieces to the Passage gallery.


“I’m thankful casa keeps letting me exhibit. I’m hoping  other groups will be able to offer me a room some day,” she said, adding crocheting skulls and bones inspires different , more playful dialogue about death than other mediums.


“ There’s a different dialogue about death then if they were in a different medium like ceramics,” she said.

Her exhibit “Resting Place” is in the Passage Gallery.

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