Ones to Watch: Meet seven local talented young adults
Airdrie is filled with artistic talent, especially in the under-25 category. Here airdirelife introduces some of those highly creative people who express themselves in a wide variety of ways. Watch for these names in the years to come.
A love of First Nations culture and the recollection of a childhood trip to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump inspired Alicia Barbieri to create her award-winning charcoal sketch, Eyes of the Buffalo.
Her vision in charcoal was so good that the 18-year-old Bert Church high school graduate was named one the winners of the Western Art Scholarship at the Calgary Stampede, giving her piece a spot alongside professionals at the Western Showcase during the entirety of the Stampede.
“I just love the first nations culture,” Barbieri says. “I love the stories.”
Coming from a family that has always had a love of music, the teen has also played piano since the age of seven and when pressed says that her love of art must have come from her grandmother, who was an artist.
Barbieri loves surrealism and abstract works and spent the summer working on photography and developing her Photoshop skills in order to polish her portfolio for her application to the prestigious Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver. She is hoping to attend the school beginning in 2016.
“It’s (a good school) for animation and I’m not quite sure if I want to go into that or remain in fine arts,” she says. “I’m leaning more to fine arts, but it’s an amazing school. I’ve been there a couple of times to visit and the work they do there is amazing.”
When Brad Fleischer was 12 he asked his father, John, to buy him a guitar. Instead, Fleischer was given a raise while working with his dad in his construction business, so he could buy his own.
“Essentially (my father) paid for it, but he taught me how to work for it,” the 22-year-old says. “I bought my own used Fender-styled Strat and the rest is history, really.”
Brad, his brother Ryan and some of their buddies formed their first band seven years ago, playing classic rock tunes. Today, Brad, Ryan and drummer Brandon Alberts are the three-piece band Storm, a fast-rising trio that has opened for such big-name Canadian acts as Tom Cochrane, Harlequin, Nick Gilder, Gord Bamford and the Headpins.
One of the songs off of Storm’s upcoming EP, One More Time, is already out and receiving airplay on two area stations – Drum 99.5 in Drumheller and Rock 104.5 in Olds, where the band won the station’s star search competition.
“I like to write upbeat stuff, optimistic stuff,” says Brad, who was named Hopewell’s Emerging Artist of the Year for 2015.
“Music is very powerful and it makes you feel certain things,” he adds. “If I can get a person to listen to my songs I want to help them to be the best they can and push them to the top. I’d rather do that than have them feel sad.”
Ali Froggatt wants to be more than an actor. The 22-year-old wants to do it all in the film and theatre business.
“I wasn’t satisfied with only being an actor, although I love it, it’s one of my passions,” Froggatt says. “I want to be able to wear all different hats in the industry and keep learning.”
Froggatt joined Calgary’s improv factory Loose Moose as a 16-year-old.
“(Loose Moose is) a blast and it’s the best training I’ve ever received,” she says.
Improv is her first love, but she made her directorial debut at Loose Moose this summer with a three-day run of the scripted show Dog Sees God by Bert V. Royal. It was so well received it was held over for an encore show. A graduate of the Randolph Academy of Performing Arts in Toronto, Froggatt now runs her own theatre company, Sour Dog Theatre, and in addition to the Dog Sees God production has produced two Airdrie improv shows that both sold a lot of tickets and drew positive feedback. She is fresh off the success of her first Calgary Fringe Festival production – Missed Connections, a totally improvised show based on real Craigslist missed connections. She developed the concept while in Toronto but was thrilled to bring it to life closer to home with a cast of her peers and improv mentors. Then off to school in the fall.
“I’ve been accepted into SAIT’s film and video production program,” Froggatt says. “It’ll help me develop the other side of my company, which is the film side. I hope to produce my own sketches and films and web series one day and that’ll help me start that up.”
Editor’s Note: Froggatt’s Fringe show, Missed Connections, will have an encore presentation at Bert Church Theatre Sept. 26 as part of the ARTember celebrations. To win free tickets follow airdrielife on Facebook!
Mitchell George’s first short film, Father Robin Hood, was inspired by his experience as a homeless youth and the joy he now gets from being a father to four-year-old Cage.
“I love being a dad and it was one of the things that helped me turn my life around,” says the 23-year-old. “Anything I can do to inspire him I do. It’s very rewarding.
“Having the badge ‘Dad’ is probably the most rewarding title I can have,” George adds.
Employed as a youth outreach support work at Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie, Mitchell also runs his own production company, Crooked Cinema, and for the past two years has focused on making short films. His first, a twist on the classic tale where a homeless dad robs from the rich to help support his son, can be seen on Telus on Demand. Currently, George is working on a sequel, along with a “top secret” documentary.
“I love making films,” he says. “It’s obviously one of my biggest passions and I’m never going to stop doing it.”
Despite walking the halls of the same school, Bert Church High School, Jillianne Kell and Cameron Swainson did not meet each other until two days before they became a video production duo at a regional Skills Canada competition. Swainson and Kell qualified there, went on to win at the provincial competition and then were top 10 in late May with a video about “trades then and now.”
The two students are the product of the school’s communication technology course dating back to Grade 9. “It mainly focused on photography but when we went on to the video unit I was so fascinated by how we can make stories using video. I really enjoyed it,” says 16-year-old Swainson, who contemplating attending either Mount Royal University in student broadcasting technology or Vancouver Film School.
Kell is also planning to make video production a focus of her post-secondary studies. “Most definitely,” the 17-year-old confirms. “I’m thinking about going to SAIT for video production and continuing to make my own videos in my spare time to keep getting better.”
Little did they know that while they were updating their home, Katie McCann’s parents were also planting the seed for her career path.
The 18-year-old, who recently graduated from Bert Church High School, will attend Toronto’s Ryerson University this fall to study interior design.
“My interest in design came from working around the house with my parents, renovating,” McCann says. “I always wanted to help out with that and now I’d like to make a career out of it.”
Ryerson’s full-time, four-year program will teach the budding designer everything she will need to know to create spaces for all facets of life and work. “They have a really good reputation in Canada as having the best program, so I wanted to challenge myself,” she says.
Creative Airdrie is lending its support to her dreams, having chosen McCann as the first recipient of the Karin Simpson Memorial Scholarship for Creativity. (The award honours one of Creative Airdrie’s founding members, who passed away in 2014.)