For its 25th anniversary, West Vancouver’s Harmony Arts Festival is upping its visual-art ante, both indoors and out.
The Ferry Building Gallery will host 25 Years, 25 Artists, a collaboration between 25 artists who are creating one continuous painting. They’re each submitting 24-inch-by-24-inch panels that will join, “exquisite corpse”–style.
“That’s a really long time for a festival in the community of West Vancouver and we wanted to express the connection that these artists have with the festival—some started their careers here,” explains Harmony’s visual-arts coordinator, Meghan Parker, who curated the show with the gallery’s Ruth Payne. “One connected work made sense with all these artists with all these different backgrounds.”
According to Parker, submissions so far include a carved wooden fish by Xwalacktun; an abstract, three-dimensional triangle that “pierces into your space” by Peter Kiss; and a lush floral by Bobbie Burgers. Other artists submitting panels include Sylvia Tait, Cori Creed, Carole Arnston, and Barry Shelton. Their works will wrap around three walls of the exhibition hall from the show’s opening on Friday (July 31) until the fest ends on August 9.
Parker says the project captures the accessibility and connectedness the fest has offered over the years to festivalgoers and artists. “A lot of it is an openness: the festival does a really good job at showing a lot of different forms of art,” she says, pointing to everything from its popular art market, which runs both weekends of the fest, to its hands-on workshops, Art Speaks talks, and kids’ outdoor art studio. “It’s making connections with the community so that art is important to them…to make it so someone who doesn’t necessarily have a background in art can ask an artist about their process or their work.”
The festival will be creating a massive visual statement outdoors as well, where a lot of its events and concerts take place over the next couple of weeks. Matthew Soules Architecture is installing a spectacular temporary canopy of shiny silver and magenta balloons over the Ambleside Pier. It’s constructed of about 1,000 balloons, all star-shaped and positioned to form a cool arch of repeating patterns that throws shade during the day and lights up magically at night.
“We chose the site mostly because we’ve never done anything on a pier,” Soules, who grew up in West Van, told the Straight. “Usually, for public art or architecture you do something on fixed ground. Also piers are exciting—to look at water and feel the wind and experience the elements in different ways than you would on the ground.”
Called Intense the Heat (a nod to a quote from father-of-modernism architect Louis Sullivan, as well as to our sweltering summer weather this year), the installation is set to debut on the fest’s opening day, Friday (July 31).
“The way we’re hanging them, the breezes will make them sway, and when you see a thousand of them swinging, that sort of forms their own patterns,” Soules said, pointing out the installation has an obvious celebratory feel that fits the festival as well. “They’re balloons, so they’re curved and voluptuous, but also reflect what’s around them—the light, the ocean, the people underneath. It’s super simple, but our hope is it will be quite spectacular!”
The Harmony Arts Festival runs on the West Vancouver waterfront from Friday (July 31) to August 9.