The 26th Annual Art in the County (AITC) closed for yet another year on Monday and, according to organizers, over 2,500 people attended the show during its 17 day run with a notable 750 people attending on Canada Day.
This year saw several changes to the exhibition. Not only was this the first year that the show was held in the newly revamped Armoury, but it was also the first year for the Children’s Choice Award.
Local artist Krista Dalby took home both the much-coveted Peoples’ Choice Award and the Children’s Choice Award for her cardboard sculpture entitled Cardboard Canadensis, a two-foot tall beaver.
Cardboard Canadensis joins the ranks of Al Purdy, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Margaret Atwood in Dalby’s Canada Series, a collection of cardboard portraits of iconic Canadians.
On hand to present the award was sponsor Elizabeth Crombie of Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty Brokerage.
Dalby also took home the Community Arts Builder Award, which was presented on the opening night of AITC. The Community Arts Builder award was presented to Dalby in recognition of her efforts to promote the arts in the County, specifically through such events as The Firelight Lantern Festival, ICE BOX and Adventure PEC, among others.
“Krista is so dedicated to providing artful experiences for local children and youth, said Co-Chair Amy Shubert, “it is only fitting that she receive the first Children’s Choice Award.”
Having been an artist from a young age, Dalby explained to the Gazette what she describes as art as a tool for bringing people together.
“People really benefit from being part of something larger than themselves. To come together with strangers, to get to know your neighbours through the lens of art and just being with each other in a creative setting does wonders for strengthening the fabric of this community,” stated Dalby.
Dalby extols the benefits of art as a means to bring each other together and get to know one another. Though she explains that community building is much of what drives her to organize art events, she concedes, “Art is, of course, beautiful on it’s own.”
Many of the arts events that Dalby has helped give life to would not exist without The Department of Illumination.
“The Department of Illumination has been around for seven years and we just became incorporated as a non-profit a couple months ago. We started out as an arts collective in order to create the Firelight Lantern Festival, which is now seen years old,” said Dalby, adding, “That really does use a community arts model in that we usually have around 15 workshops wherein there’s no experience required and we teach people how to make their own beautiful lanterns. Then, there’s the celebration/parade as a finale.”
Dalby explains that the lantern festival works to build community on two levels: the artists have the opportunity to work together and then bring what they’ve made to the community.
Recently, Dalby also co-hosted Boxtopia during the Canada Day festivities in Benson Park. The event was geared towards children, being billed as a creative cardboard kingdom for kids.
“I think it might surprise people that a lot of the work I do, which is community oriented, is done alone,” said Dalby, “So, it’s great to come out from behind my computer screen and be with people and feel acknowledged for my work,” she added.
Having taken art from the galleries to the streets, it should come as no surprise that Dalby has been recognized for her role in helping to spread art throughout the County.