celebrating art that is local


I'm getting a bit anxious for my upcoming trip to Washington and New York at the end of the week and as a result I can't sleep. Blog post to the rescue.

Tonight I went to the 23rd Mayor's Celebration of the Arts at the Winspear. I didn't have any particular reason to go, I hadn't really paid attention to the nominees and I hadn't seen any information about the performance program. But a colleague invited me last week and I figured that I could use one night out this week and a night out supporting the arts would be a good idea.

I wasn't attending the reception prior to the event so I made plans to meet up with my colleague and her band of friends who were also coming along. The recent cold snap meant that I was less inclined to pull out one of my spring dresses to wear to the event, so instead I pulled out a reliable black dress to wear with patterned stockings and a little black shrug. The house is a complete mess right now (there is a shelf that is 2/3 way assembled lying on the living room floor) so I couldn't find a spot that would allow for a decent self-portrait. This shot looking down was about all I could manage.

dressed and ready to go

Despite the cold (and my lingering cold) I wandered downtown on foot to get to Moriarty's, my newest favourite (based solely on the decor and the delicious club sandwich). I like the decor so much that this is my second visit to Moriarty's in as many weeks, the gentleman and I having finally visited there last week. I had tried to go a few times before but the restaurant was either closed or reserved for a private function.

first of all

I'm not sure what nights are busy there, but both times I've gone now there have been maybe one or two tables filled with ample seating left over. I'm not sure why the place isn't as busier, as the service is good and the prices are fairly reasonable. It doesn't have the most varied menu, but like I said, the club sandwich is a delectable culinary treat.

bar on fire

The place definitely has a polished look to it, with oversize black lamps, shiny black Louis Ghost Chairs, floor to ceiling sheer curtains, tufted white leather/vinyl booths and dark wood accents. It's not secret that I'm a fan of the black and white colour palette and by this virtue alone I have been won over by this establishment.

An added plus of Moriarty's is its close proximity to both the Winspear, Citadel and Art Gallery. Perhaps the frou-frou interiors might not be to everyone's taste, but I like it and I will continue to frequent the spot in the coming months.

After our rather leisurely dinner we walked the short distance to the Winspear and took our seats in the Upper Circle. The nice thing about sitting up high is being able to take in the rather impressive view of the performance hall and watch as the crowd fills in the seats below. The seats didn't afford much in the way of a close-up view of the action on the stage though, which was fine for the performances by local artists in between awards, but I would have liked the video screen to have shown some closeups of the individuals presenting the awards as well as the award recipients themselves. I felt a bit distant from this portion of the evening, which was too bad since it was the artists that were being recognized with awards that were the focus of the evening.

the air is thinner up here

After intermission I deserted my seat and found a new one in the terrace. During a symphony performance these seats are highly coveted (I believe they're the best sound in the house, not that any seat in the Winspear is bad) and sitting there I could see why. Sightlines of the stage are good and also you're sitting on the same level as the orchestra, which I guess would mean that you're getting sound in a less distorted format? I'm hypothesizing here. I'm pretty sure that Phil has explained this to me before but it's been a few months since I've gone to see the symphony.

pink eye

In all the evening was enjoyable. It was nice to see a showcase of local talent and to see all different types of artists being recognized, like super cool illustrator Raymond Biesinger (the gentleman has a pretty cool piece that Raymond did - it has a story all of its own that I might one day write about if the gentleman ever is inclined) and novelist Thomas Trofimuk. I found that I left the evening without knowing too much about the award winners (that might be because I gave away my program at the beginning of the event and then didn't think to grab another one, but it was too dark for me to read the program anyhow). I sort of wished that all the winners were given a video showcase of their work like the winner of the lifetime achievement award, former Poet Laureate Alice Major. I realize that might have increased the cost of this event quite a bit, but it would have provided a bit more context about the nominees/winners and maybe succeeded in increasing the awareness of all of these different artists (or individuals who are strongly supportive of the arts). Maybe this was all addressed in the reception before, but attendance to that event was limited (plus I didn't feel like buying a ticket).

and the fourth wall comes crashing down

I left the hall briefly while a standup comedian took the stage, and from the little that I managed to see and hear from the monitors outside his brand of humour was not exactly my style. While I can't say that I was blown away by any of the performances, (although I did like the piano, violin and clarinet trio that was first up), I am glad that I went. I saw quite a few familiar faces and also got to enjoy a night out in Edmonton that was celebrating the arts community. I think that will be a good send off before I head to New York. Edmonton might seem a little bit less depressing if the memory of all of these varied artists are fresh in my mind.


Perhaps one of the best thing of all about this event is that when it wrapped up I was able to hop on the train and only a few minutes later I was at home. No worry or fuss about traffic or icy roads, just a short wait with my friends (all who also live on the LRT line) on the platform where we shared our opinions about the event (my particular beef was with the exactness of dance choreography, my few years in Irish dancing having burned into my brain that everyone must be on the same beat) before hopping on the train for the short ride home.

I'm still familiarizing myself with the quietness of the street where I live. I used to walk this way to work for nearly a year but it was always at the beginning and end of the business day. When coming home late at night I would often hurry down this stretch, wishing I could stop and linger but feeling the pressure to just speed through the last final blocks until I got home. But now I live on this street and when I'm heading back to my apartment I don't feel so guilty stopping to linger to photograph the church across the street. Again, probably a good move before taking off to New York for what I hope will be a photographic orgy. It's good to keep in mind that Edmonton will have its fair share of photographic opportunities waiting for me when I return. Photographic opportunities that might translate into art that might one day be celebrated (locally).