Huntsville Arts Festival gets City support for summer public art installations

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The Huntsville Festival of the Arts (HfA) celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with 30 shows and events scheduled for its summer season.

Among these are several public art projects, including the return of the Group of Seven canoe murals and the popular piano Play Me, I’m All Yours.

HfA Executive Director Dan Watson was before the Huntsville General Committee asking for city support through the free use of public spaces for these projects.

“Our public art activities are… free and provide an accessible point of contact that can generate interest in arts appreciation, which is part of our mandate. We also believe that some of these public art activities enhance the visitor experience and brand of Huntsville as a creative community and contribute greatly to the cultural vibrancy of our city,” said Watson.

The artistic projects planned for this year are:

  • Group of Seven Canoe Murals: Artist Gerry Lantaigne, who launched the Group of Seven outdoor gallery, will lead a group of other local artists in creating seven more canoe murals between June 21-26 at River Mill Park. The 2021 canoe murals will be displayed in the park from June 1-30, followed by the new 2022 murals from June 27-October 1.
  • Kareen Burns’ Rubber Garden: This garden, with painted boots filled with flowers, was created by friends of Kareen Burns in her memory. Burns was a former board member of HfA and a strong advocate for the arts, especially fringe pursuits. The boots will be on display in the Pergola Gardens at River Mill Park from June 1 through October 1.
  • Play Me, I’m All Yours piano: A working piano will be painted by local artists Natasha and Naomi Banks, in a design celebrating the HfA’s 30th anniversary. The piano is placed in Civic Square in front of the Algonquin Theater from May 20 to September 30 for anyone passing by to play.

“We are truly grateful for the partnership we have with the City of Huntsville in so many ways,” Watson said. “It’s a model of collaboration between arts organizations and municipalities.

Several councilors expressed support for the projects, as well as the overall work the non-profit Festival does in the community.

“I truly believe these are the things that make Huntsville punch above its weight,” Deputy Mayor Nancy Alcock said, echoing the comment from a friend who visited Huntsville and the HfA Snow Village last winter.

Councilors Brian Thompson, Tim Withey and Jonathan Wiebe also said they support arts initiatives.

“I want to thank the Festival and you for the things you do, especially the free things you do for the community,” said Mayor Karin Terziano. “It’s a benefit for everyone and I think any way we can help with that, we should.”

The committee agreed to waive park permit fees for these projects.

HfA has 22 shows scheduled at the Algonquin Theater in July and August this year, Watson noted, in addition to shows at other community venues and events, including the return of Nuit Blanche Nord on July 23.

For more information, visit festivalhuntsville.ca.

HfA’s summer programming celebrates 30 years
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