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Lobster & Laughs
Port Colborne/Wainfleet Chamber of Commerce
Friday, June 26, 2015
For more information and tickets, contact the PCW Chamber Office 905-834-9765
All events may be cancelled without notice.
Art Crawl Port Colborne
Art Crawl Port ColborneStreet festival of visual art of every genre, exhibits, demonstrations, activities, live music, choirs, dancers, drummers, and surprises
First Saturday of Summer: June 27, 5 to 11pm
Downtown Port Colborne along West Street, Clarence Street, Charlotte Street, King Street
Artists arrive to start set-up at 4pm
With little more than six weeks away, organizers are thrilled with the response to the fifth street festival of all things creative: Art Crawl Port Colborne.
"You know you're doing something right when people start calling in January to be part of an event six months away," said Gail Todd of the art crawl organizing committee. "We just asked them to be patient. And patient they've been. The call went out first of May for our June 27 after-hours event, and already application-registration forms have come in from across Niagara."
Port Colborne is the pretty little city of almost 20,000 on the Welland Canal at Lake Erie. Art Crawl Port Colborne originated as a partnership between downtown business and a dozen or so members of the local arts community, to promote the Niagara South Coast arts and culture route map, launched in autumn 2011.
Todd, and a crew of Elizabeth "Putzy" Madronich, Jeff Ballin, Chris Summerhayes, Pam Koudijs convinced business owners to stay open late on a Saturday evening to welcome artists in their stores, to share store and window space to showcase a variety of work. Since that October evening, the committee has grown the festival from a handful of stores on one block along the canal to several downtown blocks, including West Street, Clarence, King and Charlotte. Stores, banks, offices, restaurants and service agencies all take part, whether they are open to receive visitors, or whether they offer window space for art exhibits.
Last year, more than 100 visual and performance artists participated, and well over 2,000 people made their way downtown to take in so many sights and sounds, and to take part in art from 5 to 11pm.
"Every type of visual art is on display in stores, on sidewalks, in parking spaces along the streets," said Ballin, art crawl logistics coordinator. "In addition to painters, sketchers, sculptors, photographers, we also feature musicians, choirs, and dancers. We try to find something to surprise visitors around every corner."
Among the popular "traditional" activities in which people "take part in art" is the six-foot community canvas at Something Else, on which everyone gets to paint their part of a mural. The project was founded by Todd as not only a fun thing to do, but a great lesson in how to make new colours from the three basic primary colours plus black and white. ("We get all our paint and brushes from our pals at Port Paint and Paper.")
There is also the "paint-your-own t-shirt" event for children of all ages, which is also secretly a lesson of colours and composition and positive and negative space. (Supplies for that project come from Super Service on Catharine Street)
The Bargain Shop at the corner of King and Clarence is the site of the famous art crawl chalk wall, where people of all ages write in washable chalk something according to an annual theme. Past themes have included "things to do before I die," "my wish ...," and "what makes me happy."
The fenced off property at King and Charlotte becomes a "wish wall," inspired by Nepalese colourful prayer flags. People write a wish on a strip of biodegradable paper, tie it to the fence, and when the paper disintegrates, their wish may just come true.
Art Crawl works, Ballin explained, because it's a simple, sweet, home-grown local event, with emphasis on local, coordinated with heart and soul and love of all things artful. "We are blessed with an incredibly vibrant arts community and a generous and dynamic business community. We want the world to know it, and see it. And take part in it. And it does!"
The Downtown Business Improvement Area sanctioned the art crawl event last year, and provides some funding for logistics and promotion. To help cover the cost of the festival, and not continue to come out of the pockets of organizers, artists will be asked to pay a $10 registration fee.
"We do not charge any substantial fees to participate," noted Ballin. "We do not charge a commission on any art sold during the festival, we do not charge rent for space, and there is no admission fee to attend. But these things do have costs, so we implemented a registration fee. We are grateful to the BIA and city hall for all their support of our event, but there are always costs associated with events, especially as they grow bigger, and better."
"Look up, look down, look in every window and beyond every door," advises Putzy, a well-known local artist whose work will be displayed while she schedules and monitors musicians inside restaurants and bars as well as outside on the street. "We try to include as much local talent to be part of our crawl. So many have asked to come, or come back, because they love the response, they love to perform to the home-town crowd, and they do not charge us a penny. Now that is true love and commitment for our Port Colborne cultural community."
Art Crawl Port Colborne has always been billed as running "the first Saturday of Summer," so people will always remember; if it's summer's first Saturday, people will know to come to Port Colborne for the evening for art crawl. In 2015, summer starts on a Sunday, so the first Saturday of the busy season is June 27. It's also the date of Port Colborne's popular Flavours food and beverage festival, just a few blocks away in the park near the marina.
"We're hoping families will come enjoy art crawl for a few hours and also take in some food and wine and beer at Flavours, all on the same evening," Summerhayes suggests. "For a little city, we always have a lot going on in Port. We hear it all the time from visitors from across Niagara region, as far as Hamilton, the GTA, and Kitchener-Waterloo area."
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