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Patterns planned in the Deh Cho
Open Sky Festival ready for 12th year

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 21, 2012

With a week to go the 12th annual Open Sky Festival is starting to take on a life of its own.

NNSL photo/graphic

Fort Simpson artist Tonya Makletzoff works on a painting during the Open Sky Festival in 2010. She will be one of four artists with exhibitions featured as part of this year's festival. - NNSL file photo

"I'd forgotten how crazy it is," said Lynn Canney, the programming co-ordinator for the Open Sky Creative Society, which organizes the event.

Speaking on June 15, Canney listed off all of the finishing touches that are being put on the festival. The three-day event is the artistic highlight of the year in Fort Simpson.

"The festival starts to build its own momentum at this point," Canney said.

Working on a suggestion made by a local artist, the theme of this year's festival is patterns. The theme will be evident in a number of aspects of the festival including the exhibits, she said.

The first event in the festival's line-up is the closing reception of Patterns from a Cold Place on June 29. The exhibit is a compilation of work by Hilda Tsetso and Nathalie Lavoie of Fort Simpson, which includes series of photographs as well as a collaborative video about traditional doll making.

Patterns will be even more evident in the next exhibition scheduled for the OSC Gallery. Nichole Bauberger, a Whitehorse artist, will be completing one of her My Dresses projects in the village.

Bauberger will arrive on June 22 and spend 10 days creating 100 small paintings involving dresses. Every day she will offer a two-hour long workshop on the encaustic painting method that she uses. The method involves heated wax to which coloured pigments are added.

"She's really looking forward to coming here," Canney said.

The paintings that Bauberger creates will be displayed in the OSC Gallery under the name 100 Dresses. Some of the creations done by those attending the workshops will be featured as guest dresses.

Other exhibits at the festival will include one with works by Fort Simpson artist Tonya Makletzoff, which will be on display in the Visitor Information Centre. Makletzoff's paintings, depicting scenes from the South Nahanni watershed, blend the natural and cultural landscapes of the North, said Canney.

The festival will also play host to the inaugural exhibit of prints created by the Trout Lake printing press. Trout Lake's print studio opened in August 2010.

The works will be on display in the recreation centre on Sunday afternoon.

"It's really exciting," Canney said.

There will be workshops held on both Saturday and Sunday on a variety of traditional art forms including caribou hair tufting, loom beading and leather vests for youths as well as some newer topics including wire wrapped jewelry, felting, silk scarves and acrylic on birch bark.

A variety of musicians will also be performing during the festival, including Wesley Hardisty of Fort Simpson, who recently graduated from the Gulf Island School of Performing Arts on Salt Spring Island, B.C. Fiddler Linda Duford and the Dana Cross Band will headline the Saturday night dance.

This is Canney's first time co-ordinating the festival, although she's been part of the event during three other years. In the final days before the festival all of your stress releases because you know it will just happen, she said.

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