ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Two down three to go, for Antigonish Art Fair’s 2018 season.
The next art fair is scheduled for Friday, July 20, at Chisholm Park, with the final two, on the bi-weekly schedule, Aug. 3 and 17.
The fairs go from 6 to 9 p.m. and take place at Chisholm Park. If the weather decides not to cooperate that night, the fair is moved indoors to the Royal Canadian Legion/ CACL building which is still in the downtown vicinity, on St. Ninian Street.
So far on the season, it has been one outside, one inside. Mother Nature fully cooperated for the first fair (June 22) with a beautiful sun and ideal temperature, but heavy rain resulted in the second moving inside, during the Friday evening (July 6) of Highland Games weekend.
“It was a big crowd for our first event,” Beth Latwaitis said, speaking to the Casket prior to the second fair.
Latwaitis and David Miller founded the seasonal fairs five years ago and have seen them grow in size and scope ever since.
“Each fair brings newness,” Latwaitis said. “While you’ll still see your favourites; younger artists are getting their courage up now.
“It’s never the same old, same old,” she added, about keeping the fairs fresh and progressive. “We’re always open to ideas of creativity, but there is comfort in the continuity too, like being in Chisholm Park.”
An idea which could be described as a win-win-win proposition came from Miller, suggesting there could be a ‘featured artist’ with each fair.
At first, the featured artists were well-established and successful local artists, such as Bill Rogers and Anna Syperek. Famed Mi’kmaw artist Alan Syliboy, from Millbrook First Nation, was another artist of significant standing.
The idea has shifted to include up-and-coming and aspiring artists as well.
Miller said the original idea was for the aspiring artists to meet people like Rogers, Syperek and Syliboy and draw inspiration from their careers.
“I think when you’re a very young artist, there is a realization when you can spend some time talking to a featured artist,” Miller said, a reference to the motivation found in meeting a professional, especially when they’re as generous and genuine as people like Rogers, Syperek and Syliboy.
“Then we switched a little bit and now it’s more ‘aspiring’ artists, which has proved to be useful too,” Miller said, noting being in the spotlight for the week has really instilled confidence in budding artists and helped their exposure.
“It’s letting the community meet the artist and having the artist interact, on a very personal level, with the community,” Latwaitis added, noting too, the informal setting of the fair greatly helps not only that interaction, but all of those between artists, artisans and vendors with the fair goers.
Latwaitis and Miller noted they step back a little further with each year, as far as running the event, and praised Michael MacEachern for his organizing skills in taking over many facets, as well as the students they’ve been able to employ each season.
This year there are two St. F.X. students coordinating; Morgan Hamilton and Damien DeRoy.
“Morgan and Damian will look back on this experience and say, holy smokes, that was pretty good, and go on to bigger and better things,” Miller said.
“It’s personal development working with the whole community and it gives you confidence in the next generation,” he added, as both he and Latwaitis noted how fortunate they’ve been with all the students who have worked for the fairs.
Hamilton, a human nutrition student at St. F.X., said it’s great to be able to step away from sciences for a bit with a more marketing and community-relations role.
“I’ve done a marketing co-op before and that was one of my favourite ones,” she said. “I worked with Health Canada for a bit and public health, but I’m definitely enjoying my time here.
“And Damian is in an arts and business joint degree, and he is just, kind of, starting up his own music and art out there; so being able to get involved in the community this way, has been really good for him.”
Working with the fairs this year also means working with the new The Arts House which is located in the former Visitor Information Centre building, by Boston Pizza, off of Church Street.
The house, with the tag line ‘a space to create,’ is already offering summer art camps and space for rent, for art-related ventures.
“A great addition to Antigonish, absolutely,” artist Patricia ‘Pat’ Foote, who took a moment away from helping children make clay figures to speak to the Casket, said. “We’ve been needing this, for years … a lot of people have said that.”
As for the building, Foote said it’s ideal.
“It’s wonderful; a lot of light and it’s air conditioned.”
For more information on the fairs and Art House, visit Antigonishartsfair.ca/the-arts-house or email email@example.com.
There is also a Facebook page with the latest news, such as possible relocation of fairs due to weather.