GET YOUR ART ON!

Annual artsfest will open your eyes and ears to the vast amount of talent in our city.

New calendars need to be printed in Airdrie, because it’s not September here anymore – it’s ARTember.

For the last half-decade, Airdrie residents and local artists have gathered to celebrate the arts in this city, whether through painting elaborate Adirondack – sorry, AIRdirondack – chairs which are auctioned off at a prestigious gala, sharing culinary creativity, performing music or going into the schools and giving youngsters a firsthand look at what it means to create.

This year’s ARTember festivities run Sept. 12-27, and Erika Holter, executive director of Creative Airdrie, which organizes the festival, says that this year’s celebration will be bigger than ever.

“It’s definitely been growing year after year and we have some pretty cool things coming up,” Holter says.

ARTember officially kicks off Sept. 12 with the Ravenswood AIRdirondak Art Project & Gala, where a dozen chairs that have been displayed around Airdrie and at CrossIron Mills are placed on the auction block, with proceeds supporting Creative Airdrie.

During the two weeks, several local businesses partner with local artists to showcase their work for Art in Business. For example, Good Earth Coffeehouse & Bakery on Mackenzie Way will feature art by photographer Ryan Donnelly, while artist Michelle Wiebe will have her work on display at Airdrie Public Library (APL). Other businesses participating include CIBC, Luxstone Manor, Krave Steakhouse & Bar and Foggy Gorilla.

Taste of Airdrie also coincides with ARTember, with a diverse group of local restaurants and cafes offering discounts and other incentives. Or if you’re into learning how to create a piece of art to be proud of, Cre8ive Ways, Muk-Luk Magpies Stained Glass Emporium Inc., 4Cats Art Studio and Color Me Mine will be hosting arts-related workshops. And along with hosting a children’s illustrator/author visit and a writing workshop, APL is inviting teens to take part in a decorating project for the library’s new teen room, The Den.

“We also have School and the Arts happening on Sept. 25,” says events co-ordinator Brenda Hong. “We’ve got a bunch of instructors going into Bert Church High School to teach hip hop, photography, improv and [singing]. The kids can sign up for whatever they’re interested in and they’ll get a great experience from the instructors.”

Everything comes together with the free Culture at the Creek celebration, which takes over Nose Creek Park Sept. 26-27 as a tie-in with Alberta Culture Days.

The Cooper’s Crossing Stage will feature a nonstop lineup of dance and musical performances, including belly dancing, Filipino dancing, the Calgary folk group Steel & Timber, musical group Meta Mofo and the a cappella group, Hoja.

Also performing is Juno Award-winner Alberto San Martin, who established Airdrie’s Solfeo Music Academy, where, on any given day, he might be found teaching four-year-olds to play piano or 68-year-olds to play ukulele.

“First of all, this is a showcase of local musicians, and artists in general … you get a taste of what Airdrie is about in terms of the artists we have here,” says San Martin, who will be performing with local guitarist Jordan Bencharski.

Solfeo will also have a tent set up at the event. “We’ll have guitars and instruments in there for people to look at,” San Martin adds.

There will be several other exhibitors on hand, plus a Food Truck Frenzy, the Airdrie Festival of Lights Train, the Propak Art Pavilion, a creative gardening booth hosted by the Airdrie Horticultural Society and even a cupcake-eating challenge.

Holter says that Creative Airdrie is pleased to have Airdrie’s teen anti-bullying crusader, Caitlin Haacke, on hand with her Positive Post-it® project. Haacke will have a station at the park where guests will be invited to write positive messages that will be used to make a big Post-it mural.

Culture at the Creek runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 26 and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sept. 27.

ARTember chair and Creative Airdrie vice-chair Michelle Wagner says that the event continues to grow in stature, and demonstrates the best of Airdrie’s community spirit.

“I think ARTember is a fantastic opportunity for the community to come together and really celebrate the artists here and celebrate creativity and what it means for all of us who live here,” Wagner says. “The festival has grown immensely. We’ve always had community support and key individuals involved since the beginning.

“ARTember demonstrates how passionate this community is about the arts and the different artists,” she adds, “and how important it is to have those opportunities in Airdrie.”

As for Holter, who joined Creative Airdrie earlier this year, community support for ARTember is the secret to its ongoing success. “The amount of volunteer support and the passion of the organizers has been pretty impressive,” she says.

For more information about this year’s ARTember events, visit artember.ca

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