Edmonton’s first major festival of the summer season kicks off Thursday.
The Works Art and Design Festival transforms a one-kilometre square section of downtown Edmonton into a visual arts spectacle.
The festival’s main site at Capital Plaza on the Alberta legislature grounds features interactive exhibits, demonstrations and live stage performances. The art market, food vendors and main stage run from noon to 9:30 p.m. daily.
“We’ve got 136 hours of musical programming, all kinds of genres and lots of partnerships with other community organizations,” said the festival’s executive artistic director Amber Rooke.
“We work with Festival Edmonton Chante for some excellent Francophone programming [and] we’ll be celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day [Friday]” on the main stage, said Rooke.
The Works also partners with the Edmonton Jazz Festival to present weekday jazz music over the noon hour, and on Saturdays as well.
Between musical acts, and new this year, are duelling painters vying for the audience’s affection.
“We set them up on the stage between [music] sets and then we vote. Who did what we like the most this time in this half hour slot,” said Rooke.
Sitting prominently at the centre of the festival site is an installation by international festival artist José Luis Torres.
It’s a piece that will be very hard to miss. The two-storey, fully accessible installation will welcome guests to climb up scaffolding surrounded by 300 colourful doors.
Rooke says the installation sits in stark contrast to the brutalist architecture surrounding Capital Plaza.
“It’s something to discover, it’s something to interact with and it’s something to change how the public plaza and the public space in a lot of ways is seen,” said Rooke.
Nearby Capital Plaza are 30 different venues featuring 40 exhibits throughout Edmonton’s downtown core. An interactive map of all the festival exhibits can be found here, and daily free guided tours will be offered.
If you’re interested in exploring a behind-the-scenes art-in-creation, a number of daily workshops are being offered inviting audiences to immerse themselves in the creative process.
The Works Art and Design Festival runs until Tuesday, July 2.