The culture celebration pairs 40 artists with 40 businesses, allowing artists to showcase their work in some out-of-the-ordinary locales. This means that patrons can check out artwork in a pharmacy or a hair salon.
A parade band, break-dancers and performers costumed as teeth-bearing lions took over Somerset Street West Saturday to kick off the month-long arts festival Chinatown Remixed.
The festival’s opening afternoon saw live performers take to the stage and to the streets. There was a fusion of cultures crammed together in just one neighbourhood
Mike Essoudry’s Mash Potato Mashers, a nine-piece brass band, marched through the streets of Chinatown.
Trained break-dancers took to the outdoor Empress Avenue stage accompanied by energetic hip hop music and an even more spirited crowd. Some onlookers were even lively enough to try to one-up the trained group of young dancers.
Another act took the audience back thousands of years. The members of Success Lion Dance Troupe donned brightly coloured costumes to perform the traditional Chinese dance.
“I enjoy the arts. I enjoy the idea of a community festival,” said Greg McGillis, while watching the street performances. “It’s a very good feel.”
Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes addressed the crowd. “It’s the perfect festival for Somerset Street,” said Holmes. “Because our artists need many more places to show their art.”
Art exhibits opened throughout the neighbourhood. Artists discussed their work with the public which had gathered at their venues.
Grant Harding, who makes short films featuring puppet characters, can call Chinatown’s Nasa Food Centre his new gallery.
“I really like what can happen when you combine puppetry with film,” said Harding, “because you can cut back and forth between various different ways of working a puppet and making it seem to do impossible things you could never pull off in a live scenario.”
Harding’s latest video will play at Nasa Food Centre for the next month. The hero of the seven-minute piece is a stark white papier-mâché puppet in search of a face and emotion.
“I found that there aren’t really a lot of opportunities for emerging filmmakers that just do weird experimental stuff like I do,” said Harding. Still, having his quirky video showcased in a place like a convenience store does allow patrons to discover his work.
Only opening day featured live performances, but visual artwork will be on display throughout Chinatown until June 12.