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Wheatland Society of Arts to unveil community mosaic

By Monique Massiah, Strathmore Standard

What does it mean to have a cultural identity? In Strathmore, a community mosaic showcasing the Strathmore region’s qualities and history will be unveiled just in time for Alberta Culture Days. On Friday September 29, Wheatland Society of Arts will be unveiling their community mosaic project.

Alberta Culture Days runs from September 29 to October 1. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the provincial celebration and a celebration of Canada 150. The festivities are a chance for all Albertans to enjoy a number of free initiatives aimed and bringing arts and culture to the population.

There are several pop-up celebrations over the weekend, including one that is being hosted by Wheatland Society of Arts.

On Friday September 29, there will be a Night Market in the parking lot of the former co-op in the downtown core of Strathmore. Wheatland Society of Arts will be at the event with information about their programming and people can get a sneak peek on what’s going to be happening the next day, or they can head over the society’s studio for a quick look.

Then on September 30 the day will start off with a free pancake breakfast at the studio.

“On the Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m we are going to have a free pancake breakfast and that will be the unveiling of our community mosaic that we have been working on for the last couple of months,” said Wheatland Society of Arts president Brandy Hebbes.

“We are going to have a family paint night from 6 to 9 p.m.,” said Hebbes. The paint night will cost a very reasonable $20 per person, or $50 for three. The fee helps to cover costs for supplies and instructors fees.

“We are partnering with the historical society (Western District Historical Society) and on the Friday they are going to have a guided tour that features, the On This Spot App, that tells you when you go up to a building, it tells you what it was and the year and such,” said Hebbes. The historical society will also be featured with a table at the Night Market.

Besides the Night Market on Friday, and a chance to paint on Saturday Wheatland Society of Arts will be hosting the pancake breakfast at their studio, and a free event where individuals can visit the studio and try their hand at making their own art with a number of different mediums.

“We will have different stations setup where they can try some different art medium like painting acrylics, and water colours,” she said.

Organizers ask that children under the age of 12 years be accompanied by an adult.

Throughout the day there will be chances to win prize packages as part of the ‘Taste of Downtown’ competition. In order to take part people must write their name and phone number on the back of a receipt obtained by purchasing food in the downtown. Wheatland Society of Arts will have a list of places to visit and eat in the downtown.

“We’ll have a list of actual places you can eat as well as get snacks, like the drug store you can get a snack, or the convenience store up the street. We will try and think of everything,” said Hebbes.

“What we wanted to do was create a project to connect the community with art as well as history,” said Ken Bourassa, the executive director of Wheatland Society of Arts.

“The project was designed to connect not only because it’s Canada’s 150th, but also because we have recently expanded to a studio and gallery here,” he explained.

The mosaic is made up of five four foot by four foot acrylic painted panels.

“We had a plan of a drawing and colouring in place,” explained Bourassa. Members of the public were invited to take part in the creation of the mosaic by painting the tiles. “That way we create a community connection to not only the project, but also art in general,” he said.

The panels were then circulated around the community at Canada Day, and at Heritage Days.

“We had everybody from MLAs and the Mayor and prominent business people, down to kids and just people out for community event. That was great because it created a real broad spectrum of everybody from professional artists, to business people and kids and families,” said Bourassa.

In terms of the subject represented in the actual mosaic, the piece is designed around a Canada 150 logo and celebration.

One panel covers the oil and gas history and Canada’s indigenous people. A second panel is dedicated to agriculture, there is one that featured Heritage Days and everything from the Running of the Bulls to mutton bustin’.

“At the front of it all it is a locomotive train engine because we have such a strong connection with rail out here in Strathmore,” he said.

“Each one of these panels looks as though they are being carried by the train. It’s kind of a unifying concept. The painting in total is four by 20 feet,” he said.

The mosaic will be finished so that it can withstand exterior weather conditions.

“We are hoping that it eventually a tour around some of the areas in town,” he said, for example exhibiting the piece at the newly renovated Strathmore Municipal Library, but a permanent exhibition space is yet to be determined.

“What we are trying to say is that we are here and we have something for everybody as far as arts and culture,” said Hebbes. She explained there are a number of programming initiatives that are free, and some which are more expensive, but affordable. Wheatland Society of Arts is also attempting to offer community programs that cater to all ages and are cross-generational for seniors, the disabled, adults and children to all enjoy.

“Culture Days is usually a great place to promote arts, because arts and culture go hand in hand,” she said.

For more information on Alberta Culture Days, please visit 

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