Scott Strasser, CityView, June 14, 2022
Ten years after initially painting it, Airdrie artist Veronica Funk recently completed a refurbishment of her 2012 mural on Main Street, Honouring the Ancestors.
The public art piece is a mural, but rather than adorning the side of a building, Honouring the Ancestors is painted on a utility box, located on Main Street by 1 Avenue N.
Funk explained how in 2012, she was invited by the City of Airdrie to beautify the downtown utility box. Inspired by her upbringing in a rural community in northern Manitoba, but having moved to Alberta as a teenager, she decided to create a piece that referenced the Nose Creek Valley's wildlife and paid respects to Airdrie's Indigenous history.
“A lot of us have moved here from [other places] and the community has grown so much,” Funk said. “I wanted to incorporate that. I’m from northern Manitoba and lived by the Churchill River. That Indigenous history has always been a huge part of my background where I grew up.”
The 2012 piece was filled with the images, colours and symbols of Funk's memory of living in both Manitoba and Airdrie. The painting utilized layers of abstract mark-making and vibrant colour along with recognizable imagery.
Funk said she had learned while chaperoning a field trip with her children's class to the Nose Creek Valley Museum that the land Airdrie is located on used to be a prime hunting location for members of the Blackfoot – something she kept in mind when painting Honouring the Ancestors.
“I wanted to incorporate that just to honour the history of the place we live, especially with everything that has come to light about the residential schools in the last few years,” she said. “We need to honour the past and hopefully move forward in a more positive light.”
Considering the rain, wind, and hailstorms that have battered the utility box in the last decade, Funk noted it was time for the painting to receive a much-needed touch-up this year.
“It survived all of that, but some of the paint had faded on the south and east sides of the utility box,” she said. “I thought that was a pretty good testament that it lasted so long.”
With her brushes in tow, Funk got to work last week. She re-painted the utility box over a course of a few days, working on the piece for a few hours at a time.
Differing from her original 2012 work, Funk said she wanted to add new elements to Honouring the Ancestors this time around. She ultimately settled on the addition of 16 swallows wrapping themselves around the rest of the image.
She said the decision to add the 16 birds was based on symbolism, as the number 16 reflects new beginnings. Swallows, meanwhile, represent good luck in many Indigenous communities, Funk noted, while in other cultures they can also symbolize humility, divinity, grace, loyalty, and hope.
“I think coming out of this difficult last couple of years, I wanted some positive energy or feelings of community,” she said. “I’m tired of the fighting, the anger, the stress and the struggles that people have faced. I think it’s time we hope for something better. Swallows are also representative of community, and that’s really important.”
Honouring the Ancestors can be viewed on the sidewalk at Main Street and 1 Avenue N in downtown Airdrie.
Woman's Work::Sharon Shuttleworth
"Last year, Covid stole my creativity and I was really lost going into 2021.
I was saved by a tiny orphan goat my husband and I adopted in February. She raised our spirits so much, and those of my friends who were following her story on Facebook, that we formed The Lola Project to raise money for mental health care in Airdrie. The Studio 52 artists created and donated art that we featured on many of our Lola-themed merchandise.
For myself, the project kept me wonderfully busy from March to November, and we raised $5055.09!!! Airdrie Health Foundation put the money towards their Pregnancy and Beyond program to help support new moms who are dealing with a lack of social, mental, and practical tools to help them navigate motherhood in these times of isolation."
~ Sharon Shuttleworth
I spent last week on a farm in Saskatchewan visiting an old and dear friend from art college. She has been creating the most amazing glass artwork since we went to school so many years ago...her name is Jacqueline Berting (www.bertingglass.com) and she is known internationally for her glass wheat. I decided to use the time to experiment a bit in a travel sketchbook while she worked at her torch...it was a wonderful time to re-fresh a bit and to try out the Holbein Acrylic Gouache that was recommended to me at Inglewood Fine Arts. Finally, a gouache without the strong scent (none really) that glides quite smoothly onto the paper, plus it mixes with acrylics or watercolours...a win-win in my books. I think it is a perfect travel medium and I'm considering working on some small round cradled panels as well. For many years I've been enamoured of the old structures that are found everywhere in farm country around the prairies and, since we lived on an acreage near her for a year many years ago, I was excited to see those beautiful weathered structures again. I have tried time and time again to create imagery using simplified shapes and strong blocks of colour and I feel as though I'm finally getting somewhere. Because I really like the way the ink of the pen I used initially in the first image had bled through the paint, I'm considering adding some stenciling patterns to the images. We'll see where this leads.
Since I've been working on my altered book for the past couple of months, I have been leaning towards using materials that won't allow the pages to stick together. Some of them are matte or craft acrylic paints, acrylic gouache, watercolour, pen & ink and now also a few Faber-Castell pencil crayons. I have also always drawn out my wardrobe for packing in my journal, so these have been so much fun to use there as well. I did end up picking up a few more colours, lime green, grey and black as I prefer to draw with something that doesn't smudge (like pencil or charcoal)...I'm okay with sketching new lines and doodling rather than being able to erase as I think those marks make the drawings much more interesting for me. Anyway, having fun with these for now...I may add a few Derwent Inktense as well as I've been hearing so many good things about them.
Woman's Work::Jessica Archer
"I myself lost 2 jobs during this pandemic. My last job came to an end this past June. The world still being in the state it is in, and being older, getting hired has been quite difficult. It took me almost a year to get my last job, as I'm older, over qualified, or don't speak certain languages that are fluent in my city. It was most disheartening losing security, a paycheck etc. But at the same time, I was so frustrated working for someone else's dream to be left looking again for employment. This time I decided to take matters into my own hands and try my luck at something I loved and was actually passionate about-my art. While I'm not quite an established artist and making income off my art yet, I have been very blessed with some amazing opportunities. I have had a portrait be part of a group show in New York, and a participating artist for a second time for Art For Life Chicago. I work everyday on creating art, learning the business side of my line of work, website, social media-lol it is a full-time job. I believe everything happens for a reason, and believe I was given this chance to pursue what I love and to give back to others." ~ Jessica Archer
Our daughter is marrying this wonderful man next summer and we couldn't be happier. He has been a part of our family for almost 10 years and I have never been more grateful to have such an intelligent, polite and kind person in my daughter's life. They have been together through so much and he has been the best support system for her. They met in the first year of university; he was by her side during surgeries and diagnoses; two years ago they purchased their first home; last year they got the largest and sweetest dog named Willow; and next year, after she completes her Master's Graduate Degree, they will be married on his family's generational farm and we couldn't be more pleased.
Airdrie Reads 2022
I am thrilled to have been asked to defend a wonderful book as part of 2022 Airdrie Reads...Five Airdrie champions will pitch their book selection to panelists one will be crowned this year's Airdrie Reads winner. Combining the passion for books with the drama of reality TV, this online contest will inspire our city to read more.
Support Local by Following the ABCs of Airdrie Reads
by Allissa Blondin
The past couple of years have been hard on all of us. With local businesses having to pivot at every turn, families and individuals adjusting to new work conditions, isolation and dealing with mental health issues caused by the pandemic, it has been a tough go for everyone. With lockdown restrictions and new regulations, we have seen a number of amazing local businesses close their doors, possibly forever. As local small businesses ourselves, this has weighed heavily on our hearts. At Big Sky Author Services and The Feathered Pen, we wondered what we could do to help small businesses recover. Then it hit us – we could use our Airdrie Reads contest platform to encourage the Support Local movement.
A: Awareness & Adventure
The Airdrie Reads contest has always been an advocate of supporting local, in that we encourage local Alberta authors to submit their books in order to share these written treasures with Airdronians. The contest is designed to promote these writing superstars and their work to create awareness within Airdrie and surrounding areas as well as encourage the adventure of reading a new book or two!
This year, we are looking to promote Airdrie businesses. We want to help Airdonians uncover these local treasures to create awareness of what services and products are offered locally, right here in Airdrie! We hope to encourage residents to go on an adventure, shop around the corner, and help these businesses keep their doors open.
If you are a local business and are interested in learning how you can participate in the Airdrie Reads Support Local movement, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
B: Battling Boredom
Spring is finally here – thank goodness! With restrictions lifted and the weather beginning to look up, we are going to come out of our hibernation holes and walk, hike, bike, and do all the things that come with spring and summer weather – yay!!! But what about those lazy days where we just feel like hanging out at home, or what if we want to start reading in the morning, or include reading as part of our bedtime routines? Airdrie Reads has got the solution for battling boredom. We are going to narrow the submissions down to five finalists and then you will have the opportunity to get a super Shoplift Deal so you can read along with the Champions this summer!
While you are out and about, why not make a stop at a neighbourhood eatery or a shop and battle some boredom by buying local?
C: Creating Community Connection
Airdrie Reads is an opportunity for us all to connect with each other as a community as we read our way through these amazing local gems. We have created a Facebook page: Facebook.com/Airdrie Reads, for people to chat about the books they are reading, share their experiences, connect with one another in the community and so everyone can stay in the know! You can also connect with us on Insta @AirdrieReads. We can’t wait to connect with you so we can work together to Support Local!
Woman's Work::April Muschara Harris
"This past year I suffered a major setback, I had a tbi (traumatic brain injury) that resulted in a brain bleed that required brain surgery. Everything went well thankfully and I’m thriving on the other side of the accident. What was fascinating to me, was the way I was working, creating, taking care of others through it all. I had to learn how to slow down and let myself heal. Women have an astonishing capacity to get back up and keep going even in the most dire of circumstances. Learning to take time for ourselves and to recoup is a tough lesson." ~ April Muschara Harris
'HONOURING THE ANCESTORS'
iTen years ago I was selected to paint a utility box on Main Street and, even though it has weathered many hail storms, the colours have begun to fade, particularly on the south and east sides, so I was asked by the City to refresh it. I'm so glad as I have been thinking of it in any case as reds, oranges and pinks don't last as well in the sun, but I am so grateful that it has lasted so well. So, I headed back to Home Hardware in my community as they have always been so supportive of arts and culture and we planned the refresh. Also very thankful for the support of the City of Airdrie in these public art projects.
In my initial proposal, I discussed my history of growing up in northern Manitoba as I was enamoured of the works of the Woodlands Artists and was exposed to my first exhibit of works by Benjamin Chee Chee. With my classmates, I visited an archeological site near rapids on Churchill River, the ones after which my community, Leaf Rapids, was named. At the age of seventeen my family moved to Alberta where I was exposed to the prairies and the Rocky Mountains, both which I have the privilege of viewing outside my living room window. This work is a reference to the history of the area including both animals and arrowheads, also referencing Nose Creek which has been a vital part of the community; each is filled with the images, colors and symbols of my memory. Utilizing layers of abstract mark-making and vibrant color along with recognizable images, these pieces represent my experience of living here.
I decided to add 16 swallows that wrapped around the entire image as the number 16 reflects new beginnings while swallows in many Indigenous communities represent good luck, in folktales they symbolize humility, in Greek & Roman mythology they are connected to divinity & grace, and in traditional sailor's lore swallows were representative of loyalty & hope. All the things I want for my community.
New 4x4 hearts have now been delivered to Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond and are also available at Homegrown House in Airdrie. With this particular batch, I decided to leave pattern exposed in the center of each heart and then added more pattern around the edges at the end. These are just such fun experiments and it's been so lovely to see how many are given as gifts...for birthdays, weddings, friends, etc. It gives me so much joy!