Sunday, May 27, 2012

Creativity on the Street: Cathedral Village Arts Festival 2012

This Saturday, Rain or Shine, was our day to put on our funkiest clothes (that striped poncho your wife knitted you and which she later came to rue, that straw hat you wear twice a year, that retro jacket); make sure the streaks in our hair are ship shape; gather up the baby, the toddler, the bulldog, the ferret, and head for Thirteenth Avenue.  The streets were flooded with parked cars as far away as College, and Thirteenth was flooded with people in a carnival mood, so I'd say the CVAF was a success this year.   And if you couldn't find funk in your closet, you could always find something playful on the street.

The Cathedral Village Arts Festival has morphed over its twenty-one years.  If my memory serves me, the early festivals were largely card tables attended by craftspeople (lots of potters and jewellery makers, with a few soap makers and seamstresses thrown in for spice).  Now there's more mainstream food, rather than simply the booth tended by the Immigrant Women.  Mini Donuts are a staple, though now Callebaut ice cream and potato ships on a stick have been added.  This year I saw it as a space where ethics could meet kitsch.  There was the wind chime intended for beer drinkers (beer cans strung up), some fairly loud stained glass and original drawings for kiddies.   But there were also booths like People for Animals, the Regina Farmers' Market, the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild, Bodhi Tree Yoga.  The SWG wanted you to write on their wishing wall, saying what you'd like in your neighbourhood.  A local film industry was a popular choice.  One young woman was selling fair trade saris that had been handstitched together to make a large two-sided scarves in extraordinary colours.  The clothing shop Seeds sells "sustainable style."  Recycling was much in evidence, not only in the streetside bins.  Grass Roots Global sells nothing but locally or imported hand-made products, many of them of recycled materials, and donates 5% of their profits to the village of Takeo in Cambodia.  Another vendor had made charming baskets out of recycled newspaper--mostly the coloured comics, I suspect.

I wanted to talk to some of the artisans to see what their lives were like and to understand what their craft contributed to them.  I have this sense that people who make things, even if it's socks or signs, are, simply, happier (when they're not worried about making a living or about the challenges of their craft and whether they're living up to them).     My sample isn't in any way representative:  I'm a blogger, not a journalist.  It's also coloured by the fact that I had to find people who had a moment to talk to me.  So I didn't speak with Sarah Sanderson, a jewelery artist who had come from Winnipeg and whose work with semi-precious stones, fossils, and pearls is both unique and elegant.  She was understandably swamped.  I'll admit, though, that I'd like to talk to her about the relationship between her new age beliefs and the inventiveness and beauty of her work.  On her website, Sarah writes that she  "believes that crystals are positive, energetic contributors to alternative healing and general well-being. ...It is a common occurrance to have customers 'tuning in' to the energy of her jewellery"  Yet if the positive energy of crystals and semi-precious stones is the only thing that's important, she could simply put them in little velvet or leather bags that we could pin into our pockets for safe-keeping.  But her designs are inventive and her craftsmanship painstaking.  Beauty clearly plays a role in what she makes, yet she doesn't speak of it, as if there's no language for the utility of beauty the way there is for the utility of healing energy.  

But I did speak with Rachel Krywulak, whose inviting booth contained comforting crochet scarves and funky, cheerful jewelery.  Rachel is a student at O'Neill, and began making her jewelery when a close friend moved to Montreal, leaving her lonely and a little bored.  She simply wants, she told me, to make people smile.
Certainly people smile at Rhoderic's retro aprons.  After we'd talked for a moment about the display of vintage aprons at the McMichael's "Fashionality" exhibit (see previous blog), I asked him why aprons.  First, he just loves them.  Second, they don't require a huge outlay.  By day, often beginning at 6 a.m., he works at the Hotel Sask, sometimes also putting in a short shift at the Thirteenth Avenue Safeway.  When he comes home, he's bored and tired.  He has always loved to sew, he said.  Making an apron lifts his spirits and it's something he can accomplish quickly.  Just as I walked away from taking his picture, a young woman said, with glee in her voice, "I want that one"--and pointed to the exquisite Marilyn Monroe number on the left.  In that instant, many of us felt a surge of delight--about her excitement, about Rhoderic's creativity, about the stories that little apron will tell in five years' time.


  1. I'm so sad I missed your reading! We looked and looked for the tent but couldn't find it in the crowd. We found Cassidy later who explained it was hidden behind a hot dog stand :(

    1. Several people found the tent hard to find. Thanks for trying.