It can be easy to lose sight of the good or interesting things that happen during challenging times. And while 2021, like the year before, posed plenty of challenges for the local arts and business communities (and everyone else), it was encouraging and inspiring to see artists creating (while giving back), businesses working together with them in partnership, and people supporting one another far and wide. And here at Business & Arts NL, we’re also proud to have been involved with some pretty cool projects.
If you’ve been following our blog, you’re probably familiar with some of these stories. But in case you haven’t, here’s our rundown of the top Spotlights of 2021 to get you up to speed.
Explore Art NL Public Art App
What do you do when you have countless works of public art, but no easy way to track them all down? You create an app! This past fall, we were thrilled to release our Explore Art NL app, which features over 100 murals, memorials, sculptures and yarn-bombings across Newfoundland and Labrador, from Makkovik to St. John’s and everywhere in between. To celebrate its release, we also partnered with Genesis St. John’s to create the Genesis GV80 Art Car, featuring the artwork of local illustrator and designer Vanessa Iddon. Learn more here.
The Art Cart with Kildare Renovations
If you spent any time at Quidi Vidi Village this past summer, or before Christmas, you probably spotted our Art Cart. The mobile vendor kiosk hosted a number of rotating artists, giving them the opportunity to promote, display and sell their work (everything from jewellery and fine art prints, to greeting cards and clothing) while also connecting with the community. Local business Kildare Renovations not only generously donated the materials for the Art Cart, they designed and built it as well. Click here to read more.
The Community Altar at Cox & Palmer Second Space
When local artist Santiago Guzmán performed his one-man show “ALTAR” at the LSPU Hall this past November, he also found a clever way to give back to the community, while sharing an important part of his culture. In the show, Guzmán’s character sets up an altar, a central part of the Día de Muertos (The Day of the Dead) ritual. Guzmán and team also set up a community altar in the Cox & Palmer Second Space to receive donations (everything from non-perishable food items to clothing) for a number of local organizations in need including The Gathering Place, the St. John’s Women’s Centre and others. Theatre goers were also invited to share a photo to honour and remember a departed loved one. Read more about this wonderful initiative here.
Garden Dances Project
While the ongoing pandemic has thrown a wrench in many a performance plan, several local arts groups united and found a creative way to keep moving. The Garden Dances project from Neighbourhood Dance Works, DanceNL and Kittiwake Dance Theatre took live dance performances right to people’s doorsteps, or backyards and gardens, during the summers of 2020 and 2021. The innovative project served each organization in different ways, while providing work for local artists and the opportunity for the public to enjoy live art at a time when it was lacking. We chatted with the three organizations about the project this past summer. Read more here.
The Rock Vandal’s Outdoor Art Gallery
If you’ve ever been to Twillingate, or are on social media, you might be familiar with the work of Nina Elliott, aka “The Rock Vandal.” Her spectacular yarn bombs, in a variety of characters and colours, have been helping light up the town since 2015. During the summers of 2020 and 2021, Nina displayed her work in an “Outdoor Art Gallery,” which provided people the opportunity to interact and engage with the art in a safe, socially-distanced manner. Nina has also partnered with a number of local businesses to help brighten up their spaces with her whimsical artwork. Check it out.
St. John’s Summer Trail Mix
There’s no doubt that Newfoundland and Labrador is overflowing with musical talent. What better way to help expose people to some of it than by creating a playlist, filled with local artists, that they can enjoy while out on a stroll? That’s the idea behind the St. John’s Summer Trail Mix, a collaborative project between MusicNL, the City of St. John’s and the participating artists. The playlist was made available on MusicNL’s website via SoundCloud and Spotify, and via QR codes posted throughout the city’s parks and trails. There was so much interest that MusicNL expanded the project by partnering with other municipalities around the province. Learn more here.
2021 Bonavista Biennale
Much has been said about the sense of separation and isolation that has prevailed over the pandemic – making the theme of the latest Bonavista Biennale, “The Tonic of Wildness,” all the more relevant. This past summer’s event invited visitors to disconnect from screens and devices and reconnect with nature, themselves and the community while checking out spectacular pieces from local and national artists spread across 26 sites around the peninsula. “This year, we hope that the experience is a healing re-engagement with the world beyond digital screens,” said Sarah Agnew, Co-Executive Director of the Bonavista Biennale. Read more of our interview with Sarah here.
St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival & Director’s Cut
How do you like some brews with your views? This past fall, for the third year in a row, the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival partnered with local business Quidi Vidi Brewery to release “Director’s Cut,” a limited-run festival beer featuring original artwork by local women artists, curated with the help of Eastern Edge Gallery. In addition to receiving an honorarium and festival pass, the partnership has also provided artists with another avenue to display and promote their work – something that’s especially critical during these times. Click here to check out the complete post.
Essential & Frontline Workers Mural Project
We can’t talk about the pandemic without expressing a debt of gratitude to all those who are helping us pull through it. This past spring, an inspiring mural project by local artists Molly Margaret, Amber-Lynn Thorne, Nelson White and Anastasia Tiller was officially unveiled at the Avalon Mall. A partnership between the City of St. John’s, Eastern Edge Gallery, the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, Lawnya Vawnya and Riddle Fence, it pays tribute to essential and frontline workers via four separate panels, highlighting each artists’ unique vision and style. See more photos here.