In­spi­ra­tion goes both ways at kids art pro­gram

ARTS & LIFE

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Rachel Swatek

IN­TER­NA­TION­ALLY rec­og­nized artist Daniel Bar­row traded his Mon­treal stu­dio this past week for Winnipeg’s Art City, a com­mu­nity art cen­tre in his old West Broad­way neigh­bour­hood. The Winnipeg-born per­former has ex­hib­ited his in­tri­cately drawn mov­ing pro­jec­tions all over the world, in­clud­ing the Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art in Los An­ge­les and the In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val Rot­ter­dam in the Nether­lands. He won the $50,000 Sobey Art Award in 2010 and spent the past sum­mer work­ing in Scot­land rep­re­sent­ing Canada as a Glen­fid­dich artistin-res­i­dence. He vis­ited the af­ter-school drop-in art cen­tre this week to lead a Christ­mas-themed pup­petry workshop. “I’m in­ter­ested in com­mu­nity-based projects and I love work­ing with kids and just be­ing around that kind of en­ergy,” says Bar­row. “This is also one of my old neigh­bour­hoods, it’s a neigh­bour­hood that I care about, so I wanted to come back and con­trib­ute.” Par­tic­i­pants in Bar­row’s “Mad Lib Christ­mas Pup­pet Pageant” spent the week mak­ing pa­pier-mâché pup­pets and a large pup­pet the­atre. Bar­row gave each of his per­form­ers scripts for clas­sic hol­i­day sto­ries that were miss­ing ad­jec­tives, nouns and verbs. They filled the scripts in with their own words, and per­formed at Art City. “It’s pretty amaz­ing, be­cause I am a pro­fes­sional sto­ry­teller and I don’t have kids of my own, so it’s re­ally amaz­ing to just see what the story-mak­ing process is for kids of var­i­ous ages and see how a story de­vel­ops and how chil­dren con­ceive of plot and con­flict and res­o­lu­tion,” says Bar­row. Bryce Sing­beil takes her three chil­dren to Art City at least once a week. She said the chance to work with a pro­fes­sional artist gives her kids op­por­tu­ni­ties they don’t get any­where else. “Every­body’s done pup­pet work­shops at school, right, and you’ve done pa­pier-mâché. This is just a whole other level,” says Sing­beil. “It takes them into see­ing that they’re ca­pa­ble of mak­ing some­thing that you know maybe looks pro­fes­sional in the end that they didn’t know they were ca­pa­ble of.” Her son, Pear­son Mont­gomery, said this isn’t the first time Art City has given him that spe­cial op­por­tu­nity. “I think it’s neat that you get to work with some­one that’s done art with peo­ple all over the world,” says Mont­gomery. “We’ve worked with a few peo­ple like that who’ve been in many places all over the world, and we have all kinds of artists who come from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and other places in Canada. It’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing to get to know all th­ese new peo­ple.” He’s had the chance to work with th­ese artists be­cause Art City brings in about 10 pro­fes­sional artists ev­ery year, says Josh Ruth, the cen­tre’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. Do­na­tions to Art City cover travel and liv­ing ex­penses for the artists they bring in. Pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to artists is part of the 15-year-old or­ga­ni­za­tion’s man­date. Ruth says the pro­fes­sional artists serve as role mod­els to the young­sters, as well as of­fer­ing “high­con­cept art ex­pe­ri­ences.” “Those kids that are ac­tu­ally in­ter­ested in pur­su­ing a ca­reer in art have a chance to rub shoul­ders with real prac­tis­ing artists, so it sort of gives them an idea, a con­text for what a ca­reer in art might look like,” says Ruth. Zoe Gor­don from Thun­der Bay and the art duo Whale, made up of Ryan Klatt and Laura Mag­nus­son, were among the artists brought in this year. Ev­ery year, Art City re­ceives about 100 pro­pos­als from pro­fes­sional artists who want to lead work­shops, said Ruth. They are ac­cept­ing sub­mis­sions for 2014. Art City is a free drop-in cen­tre open to all ages and abil­i­ties, Mon­day to Fri­day evenings from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 616 Broad­way.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Above, vis­it­ing artist Daniel Bar­row at West Broad­way drop-in cen­tre Art City; left, Robert Mont­gomery, 9, works on a Christ­mas­themed pup­pet.

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