The earth without art is just eh. ~ Unknown

I never considered myself an artist. I enjoy creating things but usually choose other means of creativity to express myself. Yet art has always intrigued me. I have often thought I would like to take an art class but I was too afraid. I always felt I didn’t have the natural skills to create a pretty piece worthy to hang on a wall. I decided it was time to challenge that view of myself and try something new. I noticed an advertisement for a Zendoodling Art Class that was being held at the Watson Art Centre in Dauphin. The class description claimed I didn’t need any special skills and that if I could write my name then I could create a zendoodle. It sounded like the perfect art class for a beginner and I quickly signed up.

When I arrived at the Watson Art Centre I was greeted by a familiar face, Jan Jenkins, a local artist. I was pleased to discover she would be teaching the zendoodling art class as she has such a welcoming and supportive personality. People began to trickle in to the class, a mixture of old and young, male and female, established artists and beginners. Jan went over the basics, describing how zendoodling is simply an abstract drawing created by using repetitive patterns. She demonstrated some basic zendoodling techniques and supplies and encouraged us to let go of any pre-conceived notions and to tap into our creative part of our brain. After a quick break we were ready to start our own zendoodle. Quiet music played while we let our doodles guide us in our new artwork. The techniques were surprisingly quite easy and it didn’t take long for myself and my classmates to create some interesting pieces of artwork.

The day after my zendoodling class I wanted more, I was officially hooked on zendoodling. I found a quiet spot in my house and I sat down and practiced the techniques and information I had learned in the class. I think my zendoodle “Sunny Daze” turned out pretty decent considering I am a beginner artist. I can’t wait to see what I come up with next!

If you are interested in taking an art class in Dauphin please visit the Watson Art Centre at www.watsonartcentre.com for more information. If I can create a piece of art, so can you!

the great canadian slugfest

The Stanfields make you proud to be a Maritimer, and jealous if you aren't. ~ Q104FM Halifax

Adding Nova Scotia charm to New York punk rock, Gloryhound continues to solidify their spot in the Canadian music scene. ~ The Examiner

I spent most of my twenties in Halifax, Nova Scotia where east coast music is celebrated and encouraged. I would routinely hit a local pub or bar with friends and catch the newest east coast band. I have many fond memories of those years, and lots of songs as souvenirs that immediately transport me back to that time in my life. When I moved to rural Manitoba it was a bit of a struggle to give up the idea of not being surrounded by east coast music. Friends back home would email me with tips on all these new great Nova Scotia bands they were seeing live, and a small piece of me would twinge with jealously that I wasn‘t there to see them in concert. Now it is their turn to be jealous of me.

Recently The Watson Art Centre in Dauphin hosted two fantastic Nova Scotia bands - Gloryhound and The Stanfields. I knew I had to go. Nova Scotians always support other Nova Scotians, especially when they are outside of Nova Scotia. I was familiar with The Stanfields, they came on the Nova Scotia music scene after I moved to Manitoba, but friends back home raved about how great they were live and I already knew all the words to a couple of their songs. Gloryhound seemed familiar but I didn’t know any of their music, but I had this gut feeling they were be great too.

Both bands were fantastic live at the Watson Art Centre. With two Nova Scotia flags proudly displayed on stage, both bands rocked out and put on a great show. Gloryhound was a heavier rock band, their talent and skills were very evident and they were great interacting with the crowd. The Stanfields combined traditional east coast music with old fashioned rock and roll, producing a very upbeat and enjoyable sound. After the concert was over both bands hung around and mixed with the audience. It was really nice to meet all the members of both bands and to share some east coast memories and stories. As I left the Watson Art Centre after the concert one of the other east coasters yelled out to me “see you later, Nova Scotian”. It was a proud moment. Proud to have the opportunity to see two great Nova Scotia bands in Dauphin, and proud that I live near Dauphin - a city that values up and coming Canadian music and strongly supports touring musicians.  I am thankful to the City of Dauphin, the Watson Art Centre, Gloryhound, and The Stanfields for offering me a small taste of home.

If you are like me, a “come from away” living in the Dauphin area, keep your eyes and ears open. You just never know when a band from home will cruise on into Dauphin and play a show. It sure was nice to have a little piece of home show up in my new Manitoba community.

For more information on The Stanfields please visit www.thestanfields.ca.

For more information on Gloryhound please visit www.gloryhoundband.com.

For more information on the Watson Art Centre visit www.watsonartcentre.com.

little yurt on the prairie

Tucked away in a quiet, small community in rural Manitoba not too far from Riding Mountain National Park sits two Mongolian yurts in an old farmhouse yard. Those yurts represent the dreams of two people - Sherry and Robert - the owners of Journey Home Artist Retreat. Their initial idea was simple - create a warm and inviting space where artists can come and create and enjoy life - but now that simple idea is blossoming into something much bigger and more powerful and is catching the eyes of Manitobans seeking a unique b&b experience.

I was taking part in a sponsored journey through a Tourism Dauphin social media initiative called "One Year Here" and I was very much looking forward to experiencing this unique bed and breakfast, although I was a bit unsure about what to expect. When my husband and I arrived at Journey Home we were greeted by Sherry and she immediately gives us a tour of the property. Her enthusiasm is apparent from the get-go as she guides us out in the yard to see the yurts. She points out the authentic details of the artwork on the doors and ceilings of the yurts, describing how they are the real deal - traditional Mongolian yurts. We duck our head and enter the smaller yurt, our home for the night. It is toasty warm with an electric fireplace and lots of blankets. I know immediately we will be just fine spending the night in a yurt while the wind, rain, and snow blows.

We then head into the farmhouse and meet Robert, the resident artist, and Peat the resident dog. Both are very friendly and quick to sit and visit. The farmhouse is a neat combination of old charm and antiques and quirky art, I can see why artists would choose this retreat for a getaway as it is serene and calm but every corner has something artistic and special just waiting for you to take a peek. The four of us shared some laughs over a wonderful meal of vegetarian sushi, salad, jasmin tea, and one of Sherry’s specialities - homemade plum sorbet. It was delicious, and a visit to Journey Home is worth it just for the food. Robert and Sherry explained their plans to expand their retreat, hoping to add a separate washroom and kitchen facility, some more yurts, and some yaks. They also hope to add a dedicated space for artist workshops. I can easily envision the growth of their business, and imagine people being drawn in for the unique yurts but then wanting to return because of the warm hospitable hosts who take the b&b experience to a whole new level with their food, conversation, and art. I can visualize people wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and venture out to something new in a quiet and peaceful rural Manitoba location. Sherry and Robert are creating more than just a place to stay, they are creating an experience, a place to grow and expand your creative side, a place to get in touch with the artist that lies within all of us.

After dinner I have a reiki session, which is another unique option available at Journey Home. Reiki is new to me, and Sherry explains it is basically therapeutic touch that helps shift energy within the body to create more balance. It was a great experience, I would describe it as a milder form of massage or reflexology. Sherry had me lay on a massage table beside the wood stove and for the next hour she helped guide energy through my body by touching various points on my arms, head, legs and feet. She seemed quite in tune with my energy, picking up on my bad knee quite easily and helped to shift it back in equilibrium.

Following my reiki session it was time to head into the yurt and call it a night. My husband and I crawled into the warm bed piled high with blankets. The flicker of the fireplace cast shadows on the latticework of the yurt walls and we giggled at the thought that here we were in rural Manitoba experiencing something completely unique, but something that is the norm to many people in Mongolia year round.

After a great sleep we rose and opened up the doors to the yurt to check out the weather. We were greeted by a fresh snowfall. We decided to stay inside and enjoy the yurt for a little bit longer. Eventually we made our way to the farmhouse to see how breakfast was coming. Once again Sherry was hard at work in the kitchen, this time it was for coffee, bacon, eggs, muffins, toast, and three homemade types of jam. The three of us ate breakfast by the beautiful large window, and admired a large hawk and other birds as they frolicked in the trees. Once breakfast was complete, I knew it was time to head out. Our Journey Home yurt experience had come to an end, but as I signed the guestbook and bid the host farewell I knew we would be back again in the future. There is no way the yurt, the food, the art, and the hosts is a one time only experience. Next time I’ll bring friends and stay an extra night, and perhaps have Robert guide us through a custom art class.

For more information on Journey Home Artist Retreat visit www.journeyhomeartistretreat.ca.

up, up and away

Last week I flew with Perimeter Airlines for the first time. It was the easiest flying experience I have ever had, and one of the shortest flights I have ever taken. No hassle, no long line ups, just a quick and easy no frills flight. Perimeter Airlines flies from Dauphin to Winnipeg early every weekday morning, and flies from Winnipeg to Dauphin early every weekday evening. It is a very short flight, less than 40 minutes in the air, and is a very efficient form of travel for business people, students, tourists, and locals.

The Dauphin Airport is small but very adequate. Comfortable seats, friendly and helpful staff, and a fresh pot of free coffee greets you. As I waited for my scheduled flight I watched a couple helicopters take off and admired the sunrise as it peaked up over a water bomber.  I watched as Perimeter Airlines landed in Dauphin and prepared for my flight. It was a small plane, but large enough for at least 10 passengers and their luggage.  Myself and the other passengers were sent outside to board the plane - no body scanners, seat assignments or identification required - just flying the old fashioned way - really putting the fun back into flying. The co-pilot escorted us onto the plane, and handed us ear plugs to help with the noise. We settled into our seats and prepared for take off. Take off was very smooth and I knew I was in good hands with the pilot and co-pilot. It was at this moment when the flight from Dauphin to Winnipeg became extraordinary. The view was amazing! I could see Riding Mountain National Park in the distance. Its colourful autumn leaves looked stunning next to the crisp fall fields. This bird’s eye view showcased all the beauty the Dauphin area has to offer, and certainly drove home the point that Dauphin is perfectly located beside such a fantastic national park.

Only 35 minutes later I found myself once again admiring the beautiful Manitoba landscape as we descended through the clouds into Winnipeg for landing. I caught a glimpse of the city, its rivers, and a few of its famous landmarks, which all looked stunning from above. Landing was quick and smooth and before I knew it we were off the plane and escorted into the small Perimeter Airlines Airport. My luggage arrived in only 3 minutes, the quickest and easiest luggage retrieval I have ever experienced!

Later that day I returned to the Perimeter Airlines Airport in Winnipeg for my return flight to Dauphin. Check in was very quick, and again no identification or body scan or security questions were required. The airport may be small, but it had everything I needed while I waited for my flight - a restaurant, comfy seats, and I even found an electricity outlet where I could plug my cell phone in for charging. My flight was called over the speaker and once again boarding the flight was quick and painless. Take off was smooth and again offered some great views of Winnipeg as we climbed into the clouds. It felt like only a few minutes of flying when the plane started to descend into the Dauphin area. This time, instead of beautiful autumn views of Riding Mountain National Park I was treated to the terrain of the City of Dauphin. I saw farmer’s fields, businesses, homes and churches as we headed in for a landing. Touchdown was short and sweet, and luggage was returned to me within a couple of moments.

Flying from Dauphin to Winnipeg return with Perimeter Airlines was a real treat. It was an efficient and smooth experience filled with magnificent views of the Dauphin and Winnipeg area. I look forward to flying with Perimeter Airlines again in the future. For more information on flights from Dauphin with Perimeter Airlines please visit www.perimeter.ca.

get wac'd

Now if you're going to be here, come along with me, maybe I could show you something you've never seen. ~ 54-40, Come Here

As I pay for my new t-shirt at the refreshment stand I nod my head in agreement with the slogan on the t-shirt - “Live Music Is Better At The WAC”. The WAC stands for Watson Art Centre, a really neat old heritage building in downtown Dauphin, Manitoba that has been turned into this great art and music centre. My first encounter at the WAC was a small free flow writing class a couple months ago which was a huge success. While in the building for the writing class I noticed a sign for an upcoming concert - the band 54-40. I knew I had to attend.  I have lived in the Dauphin area for just over two years but had yet to take in a concert at the WAC. I thought 54-40 would be the perfect band for my first “get WAC’d” experience. I had seen 54-40 in concert a few years ago when I lived in Halifax and fell absolutely in love with their music. I had a hunch the concert room at the WAC with its amazing old features such as a spiral staircase, balcony and patterned ceiling would create some interesting acoustics for a concert. So with my previous 54-40 concert experience and hunch about the neat acoustics I eagerly purchased a few tickets to the concert and arranged a girls night out with some friends.

As my girlfriends and I drove to the WAC we pondered what the concert experience would be like. We were not sure if it would be standing or sitting, or if the crowd would be packed and pumping, or more relaxed and subdued.  We were open to anything and everything. We arrived at the concert and climbed the steps to the hall. Refreshments and t-shirts for sale in the foyer proved very popular with patrons, and the hall was set up quite nicely with round tables and chairs, a dance floor at the front, and dim candle lighting. My first thought was this is such a great, small intimate venue for concerts, I wonder if the bands enjoy this set up too? I made a mental note to try and gauge whether 54-40 enjoyed their own “get wac‘d“ experience throughout the concert. We found a table close to the front and settled in with our drinks. The crowd was an interesting mixture of old and young, alternative and more traditional. I took comfort in the crowd, it really showcased nicely how Dauphin is a community that comes together to support music and the arts and that it doesn’t seem to matter who you are or what your taste is, there is a spot for you.

The opening act, The Bad Marleys, took the stage. They were a wonderful, tight country meets rock musical group, and interacted in a joking manner with the crowd. Perfect choice as an opener for 54-40. After a brief intermission and my unsuccessful try at winning a raffle draw, it was time for the main attraction. A small group of people began to make their way to the dance floor directly under the stage in anticipation for 54-40. I admired how the stage was high enough that even if you were sitting at the back of the room at a table, or up high in the old fashioned balcony you had a perfect view from every angle. We chose to stay seated at our table, as free food such as popcorn and veggies and dip had been brought to the tables and it had caught our attention. But as the band came on stage and struck up their first song the food no longer seemed important and we became fixated on enjoying the musical show. 54-40 played for quite a while, and once they started playing their hit songs we were drawn to the dance floor to rock out with the band too. As my friend and I danced and sang the lyrics a man, a complete stranger, leaned in and sang the lyrics right along with us. It was obvious he was having a great time, and I was having a great time too knowing this type of entertainment was available in Dauphin. It was also very obvious 54-40 was enjoying their own get WAC’d experience, smiling and laughing and interacting with the crowd.

When the concert finally drew to an end we left happy. Getting WAC’d was reasonably cheap, close to home, and a great way to have a girls night out on the town. We are already making plans for our next get WAC’d experience! For more information on the Watson Art Centre and how to create your own get WAC’d experience please visit www.watsonartcentre.com.