It was sunny and warm in Yellowknife during the August long weekend – the perfect weather for a street party.
Aptly named the 47 Street Festival for its location, residents gathered for three days of artist showcases, live music, exercise classes, and crafting workshops.
Among the festivities were a performance by musician Jim Taylor and a painting workshop with artist Donna-Lynn Baskin.
The small festival, which followed all social distancing protocols, was a joint effort between Mermaid and Moon Boutique and Event Rentals Yellowknife. The events came together quickly, the organizers said.
“We’ve always loved festivals, even before we had a business running festivals,” Ainsley Dempsey, a co-owner of Event Rentals Yellowknife, told guests on Saturday afternoon.
“We thought, ‘You know what? We’re going to talk to local artists,’ and they were all up for it, so here we are.
“It warms our heart that all of you came.”
Meredith McNulty is the owner of Mermaid and Moon, a boutique and art gallery located on 47 St. She told Cabin Radio the festival aims to support artists and businesses, as well as celebrating the reopening of her own boutique after a Covid-19 shutdown.
“I kind-of took a chance with opening this small business and it’s been really supportive so far,” she said. “The whole business is … almost like a collaboration of artists.
“It’s just important for me that we recognize the arts community because it’s been impacted by the pandemic. And so, this festival supports businesses [and] brings people together.”
Ali Budgell and Kanina Clorey were selling their artwork at the festival on Friday evening. They referred to Mermaid and Moon as a “home base” for the city’s art community.
Guests enjoy musician Jim Taylor’s performance during the 47 Street Festival in August 2020. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio.
Mermaid and Moon showcases and sells works from artists in Yellowknife. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio.
Ali Budgell (right) and Kanina Clorey came to the festival on Friday evening to sell their artwork. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio.
“Without [Meredith], it would be so sporadic and probably nothing,” Clorey said.
Both Clorey and Budgell have been working on new art since the pandemic began. Clorey specializes in acrylic pouring, which creates something of a paint “skin.” She uses those skins to create portraits, cards, and jewellery.
Budgell has created what she calls “pandemic postcards,” vibrant watercolours centred around a nurse (Budgell is a trained nurse herself) living through the year of Covid-19.
“When I do my art, that’s when I do all my processing,” she said.
On Saturday afternoon, guests were treated to a live painting performance by Jen Walden and Terry Pamplin.
The seasoned painters, donning their fanciest attire, called out for suggestions from the crowd. After two hours of painting – both the canvas and each other – and chatting with guests, the two successfully auctioned off a lake sunset scene for $650.
Pamplin and Walden have been working together for more than 10 years. Sometimes they paint large murals, sometimes they work with a canoeing company to create a “voyageur” painting experience for audiences.
“Even [if] you work solitarily, you paint because you want to connect with your viewers,” Walden said of painting for an audience. “So, you’re not always there when they see it, but you hope that there’s a connection.
Terry Pamplin and Jen Walden stand next to their latest work of art, which sold for $650. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio.
Festival-goers were treated to complimentary popcorn throughout the weekend. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
“And then what’s fun about this is you get to be there and witness that connection; not just with the piece, but you also get to connect with them as a person.”
She added: “It’s just so nice to connect. That’s what humans are all about.”
While the festival may have had its inaugural weekend in the midst of a pandemic, McNulty said the organizers would love to hold the festival again next year – hopefully with fewer social distancing requirements.
Musician and Cabin Radio host Jim Taylor, right, treats the audience to Nova Scotian tunes. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
Walden and Pamplin have some fun with each other while working on their painting – by painting on each other. Walden’s giving Pamplin a goalie on his shirt. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
Donna-Lynn Baskin guides a group painting workshop. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
A painter mimics the techniques Baskin is demonstrating. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio