By Bradley Turcotte –
Kitchissippi multidisciplinary arts festival The Happening is back for its fifth year of highlighting local artists beginning May 24 and culminating with its signature ArtsPark event June 1.
Happening co-founder and Hintonburg Public House (HPH) owner, Summer Baird, conceived the event in 2014 as a celebration of food and art at Somerset Square and says the feast of creative offerings is “always evolving,” with its mandate of promoting local talent remaining intact.
“We try to keep it as local as we can. We don’t go for huge names to draw people in. The whole point of the festival is to showcase what we do, who lives here, and celebrate it,” Summer says.
The Happening kicks off Friday, May 24 with a launch party at Vimy Brewing Company. Birling Skateshop will roll out an instructional skateboarding workshop. Equipment is provided, bravery is not. Additionally, GT Express will host activities for kids while Drive In Radio blasts as your skate soundtrack.
There is a weeklong three-course menu and events every night of the festival at HPH that extrapolate on the pub’s usual programming in the spirit of “keeping it happening all week,” Summer says.
Happenings at HPH include an open mic, an art market night with all pieces priced $200 and lower, a live “bird army” painting event hosted by previous arts grant recipient Daniel Martelock, a “babies are Happening too” day and a chance to win a custom bike with a basket perfectly crafted for a case of beer by Woodward Bicycle Co.
Festivalgoers can pick up a Happening passport at the launch, at HPH or at many participating businesses. Get your passport stamped whenever you attend an event and drop it off at Parkdale Park Saturday, June 1 for a chance to win a Wellington West prize pack. Summer encourages Happening peeps to tag their social media posts #HappeningHood to connect.
An art throwdown sponsored by Wallack’s and three tiers of dance battles hosted by The Flava Factory anchor the pinnacle ArtsPark day. Musical performances at the closing party include The Street of Rock, a band of children who sing and play their own instruments, neighbourhood staple Lucky Ron, Slo’ Tom, Ray Harris, and Shame 106, who play “all the songs you listen to at your high school dances,” Summer reviews with a laugh.
All proceeds from The Happening go towards artistic endeavours, including funding the festival’s yearly grants. This year’s permanent arts grant winner is a metal sculpture titled The Kiss by Ottawa artist Maciek Peter Kozlowski.
Born in Warsaw, Poland, Maciek, pronounced “Magic”, holds the title of the artistsinfo.co.uk “U.K. artist of the year” and his creations are included in private collections in Japan, Europe, and the U.S.
Planted at The Hair Committee in Wellington West, The Kiss takes inspiration from the community where it will pucker for its lifetime.
The people of Kitchissippi are active and environmentally conscious. When conceiving his grant-winning work, Maciek noticed many of us prefer bicycles to cars.
“Bicycles are multigenerational,” Maciek says. “They can be a way of life for families, more than a mode of transportation. That led to the idea of a family engaging in a show of affection and love as they ride their bicycles through the neighbourhood. It is meant to show love and joy in the neighbourhood, for each other, for family, and for bicycles.”
Maciek has cycled through many mediums from video to oil and acrylic. On his artistic journey that began in 1987, he says he has questioned what the purpose of art is.
“It really took me a while to say ‘I am doing this for the satisfaction of other people, for them to get joy out of the art.’ That is the main mission behind that. That is bigger than me. Some people look at a painting or a piece of art and it gives them joy, it resonates with them. That is what I am trying to create in one million people.”
For less than one million but ample reasons to venture out into our #HappeningHood this week, visit thehappeningottawa.ca/2019-festival.