Sunday, November 30, 2014

NANAIMO ARTS & CULTURE (2) by Dan Appell

a personal view of arts and culture in Nanaimo

This is the second in a series of articles dealing with the persons and conditions creating cultural experience in Nanaimo.

The Art Ensemble Initiative Of the Universe (AEIOU) sprung from the very active mind of Valentina Cardinalli. She collected a varied crew of fellow artists who collaborate on “live” paintings created at public events, usually musical events. Her fellow artists include Alejandra Gomez Cono, Carly Jahova Neigum, Denisa Kraus and many others including myself.

Valentina has at arts background that leans towards the performance arts. Her talents and training are particularly well suited to organizing the collaborative events she is involved in. Her one prevailing rule is; if it stops being fun then stop doing it. Then the second rule is; if you are preventing someone else from enjoying themselves then get out of the way. Its most important to enjoy the experience of creating something as a small community and less important the final product.

Usually, the group works on one or two fairly large canvases, during a performance of live music. The direction from Valentina is very light, she suggests a theme and off we go. The atmosphere is more of a party event than an art event, so it is easy going, without the clash of egos. Afterwards the paintings may be sold or given away.

This group also has an educational component. This weekend we are involved in a workshop-like craft event at the Downtown Library. We want to demonstrate the art of making shadow puppets and we hope to involve children, families and everybody participating in the Art Walk.

Should this group ever get any financial backing it could easily expand into complete theatre production, including happenings, dance, fringe theatre and traditional theatre productions. The range of talents Valentina has collected is phenomenal, and, I have to admit, I feel very honoured to be a part of it.

My own involvement with this group and our projects has always made me ridiculously happy.

This group reinforces the idea that all art is essentially an experience. As a visual artist we tend to focus on the object we are creating. We tend to mistake the object for art. In fact the object is just pencil on paper, or paint on canvas, or whatever other materials we happen to be working with. The art happens, just as it does in theatre, or musical events, as we experience it. Art happens behind the eyes and between the ears. If someone is inclined to buy that object we hope it is because they want to relive the experience of viewing it in a more personal setting.

AEIOU is a group of bright, young, optimistic, creative individuals and myself who are making art in a very non-traditional way, and pushing the boundaries of how we define fine art, and culture in our community.

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