Diving deep: meet the alumni driving Hakai Magazine’s sea change

Whether it’s jellyfish in space, sloths in the water, hidden Hawaiian birds’ nests, shell money in Papua New Guinea, or a catch-and-release community aquarium on Vancouver Island, the world of water conjured up by Hakai Magazine is rich, complex and highly readable.

The online magazine is dedicated to exploring science, the environment and society from a uniquely coastal perspective—and it’s powered by an energetic team of UVic alumni, including a computer engineer, a marine biologist, an anthropologist, a historian, a composer and a writer.

Hakai Magazine was started up by two UVic grads and launched in April 2015. “Nobody else was doing this, focusing on an ecosystem that ties half the world’s population together,” says editor-in-chief Jude Isabella (MA ’13).

Hakai: rhymes with “sockeye”

Hakai’s alumni editorial team: Garrison (far left), Isabella (2nd from right)

Part of the Tula Foundation—which also finances the Hakai Institute, a scientific research centre based out of a former fishing lodge on Calvert Island (about 400 kilometers north of Vancouver)—Hakai Magazine remains editorially independent. Both the magazine and the institute are named for the Hakai Pass, located within the Hakai Lúxvbálís Conservancy, one of the largest protected marine areas on Canada’s west coast, and made possible by BC tech entrepreneur, multimillionaire and Tula founder Eric Peterson and his wife. Dr. Christina Munck—who received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from UVic in 2017.

The ad-free online magazine mixes long-form, science-based journalism aimed at a general readership with news and video features into one glorious digital package that is updated weekly, filling a gap for readers—and writers—left in the cold.

But it’s not like Isabella simply stepped into her job as Hakai’s editor-in-chief. She was managing editor of the popular Canadian children’s science magazine YES Mag before it was unexpectedly shut down in 2012. Indeed, prior to a prescient conversation between Isabella and Tula’s Peterson, Hakai Magazine didn’t even exist.

“I was working on my book [and UVic thesis] Salmon: A Scientific Memoir during the first few years of the Hakai Institute, and I kept crossing paths with Eric and Christina,” recalls Isabella. “We had zeroed in on the same scientists who were doing really great work on the coastal margin, and they liked what I’d been writing for The Tyee. But it was getting hard to get your story told when there are fewer outlets to tell it.”

In 2014, Isabella was visiting the Hakai Institute while writing a story for the UK’s New Scientist magazine and was talking to Peterson about the number of media outlets that were shutting down. “Most of my own freelancing was for American and British publications at the time,” she says. And although the Tula Foundation had supported other writing initiatives in the past (“they believe in journalism as a cornerstone of democracy”), it was still a surprise to Isabella when Peterson proposed a new venture. “He said, ‘Let’s start our own mag’—or something like that—so I said, ‘Sure, if you’re serious, I’ll get a proposal to you’.”

Who ya gonna call?

Her first call was to long-time colleague Dave Garrison, publisher of YES and KNOW for over 16 years. “Who else was I going to go to?” she chuckles. “He’s a great organizer and a great publisher; you really need someone who’s good at the process side of things to get a magazine off the ground.” They quickly put together a pitch “and pretty much the day after they read it, [Peterson and Munck] said, ‘Let’s do it!’”

Garrison—who started his publishing career as a Martlet co-editor in 1994—was working for the Victoria-based activity-listing site, Chatterblock, at the time, but didn’t hesitate at the idea of starting up another magazine. “It’s rare to have the opportunity to start something from nothing,” he says.

With Garrison and Isabella filling out the slots of publisher and editor-in-chief, they quickly recruited Shanna Baker (BA ’06) as senior editor, Adrienne Mason (BSc ’88) as managing editor, Tobin Stokes (BMus ’89) as manager of social media and marketing, plus Shannon Hunt (BA ’90, MA ’93) as proof-reader—meaning half of the current Hakai editorial team are UVic alumni.

Garrison and Hunt had already enjoyed success starting up the children’s science publications YES and KNOW together—and received UVic Distinguished Alumni Awards in 2006 to recognize their achievements. Mason had been managing editor of KNOW (aimed at younger children), so along with Isabella, much of the new team already had years of experience in producing science news together.

History inside and out

Hakai’s “Death of a Modern Wolf”, written by former UVic student JB MacKinnon, won a National Magazine Award

Based out of an open-concept office on the ground floor of Victoria’s historic Customs House overlooking the Inner Harbour, the Hakai team exemplify both the ethos and concept of the magazine itself: passionate, coastal people who are working together to tell important stories that could potentially change the world.

“Christina and Eric believe in journalism, so we were given a job to do and we’ve done it well,” says Isabella. “We aim high . . . if you don’t have to worry about constantly fundraising, you can put all your efforts into making excellent product.”

Excellent is right: over the past four years, Hakai Magazine has won over 25 Canadian and international awards not only for what they publish (including two prestigious National Magazine Awards) but also for their chosen medium (17 online and digital publishing awards).

Now on his third magazine start-up, Garrison clearly feels Hakai offers something special. “Hakai is more of a calling, almost a creative pursuit,” he says. “Anything can be called a business, in the sense of pulling people together and getting things done, but we’re not trying to make money; we’re just trying to put our stories in front of as many readers as possible.”

And it seems to be working. Freed from the limitations—and expenses—of a traditional print product, Hakai Magazine is attracting a global readership: 2018 saw a monthly average of 95,000 visitors, up from 39,000 per month when they launched in 2015. Seventy percent of their readers hail from Canada and the US, with the UK and Australia the next biggest audience, followed by India, Germany, France, Philippines, New Zealand and the Netherlands. “In fact, Google Analytics reports at least one visitor from 237 different countries in 2018,” says Garrison, “so arguably we had a visit from every single country in the world.”

The magazine has also earned fame for their puns, with headlines like “Hey, Beacher, Leave Those Fish Alone,” about reckless beachgoers in California who disturb little fish called grunion—because who says getting informed can’t be fun? Readers can also expect professional-quality videos and comics on subjects like a “Cuttlefish Brawl.”

As sea levels and temperatures continue to rise, the idea of creating an accessible, sustainable, paper-free magazine dedicated to coastal peoples and science worldwide seems less of a risky idea and more like a necessity. No surprise, then, that Hakai Magazine was the brainchild of two UVic graduates—and that the magazine regularly features UVic research.

“All you can do is put the stories out there,” says Garrison. “Raising awareness makes a difference.”

Three Fine Arts alumni receive Pro Art awards

Anyone looking for the continued impact of Fine Arts alumni on Victoria’s vibrant arts scene needs look no further than the winners of the 2019 ProArt Regional Arts Awards—all three of whom are Fine Arts alumni.

Matthew Payne (left) with Colton Hash

On May 9, members of the Greater Victoria arts community and the Professional Arts Alliance of Greater Victoria (ProArt) gathered at Pacific Opera Victoria’s Baumann Centre to acknowledge and honour three artists working in the region.

Department of Theatre alum Matthew Payne recieved the PARC Retirement Living Mid-Career Artist Award, while Visual Arts MFA alum Lindsay Delaronde received the inaugural ProArt Early-Career Artist Award, and recent Visual Arts alum Colton Hash was honoured with the new Witness Legacy Award for Social Purpose and Responsibility Through Art, presented by Audain Professor Carey Newman.

Matthew Payne is the Artistic and Managing Producer at Theatre SKAM, possibly the most successful alumni company to ever emerge from the Theatre department. Since graduating in 1993, Payne has regularly worked professionally in Canadian theatre, taking on a variety of roles and spending time in Victoria, Vancouver and Toronto as a writer, performer, carpenter, director, production manager, stage manager and administrator. Locally he has worked with a myriad of companies, including the Belfry Theatre, Pacific Opera Victoria, The Other Guys, Theatre Inconnu, Story Theatre, Kaleidoscope Theatre, Giggling Iguana Productions and, of course,  Theatre SKAM (for whom he is the “M”); nationally, he has worked with Nightswimming, Crow’s Theatre, and Production Canada in Toronto, and a dozen peer companies based in Vancouver. He has also served on the executive of IATSE Local 168.

Carey Newman (left) with Colton Hash

Nominated by the Theatre SKAM Board of Directors for the ProArt Award, Payne was the jury’s strong choice demonstrating a comprehensive practice that represents excellence in the Mid-Career category. The jury was unanimous in its support of Payne’s commitment to his performing arts practice and the significant contribution that he makes to local theatre and the regional arts community.

“Matthew dedicates his professional career to dreaming up inspirational and innovative projects that tour the world, to the development of new work—primarily by Victoria writers—and to building community,” noted his nomination letter.

Audain Professor in the Visual Arts department Carey Newman initiated a new award this year: the Witness Legacy Award for Social Purpose and Responsibility, which he presented to artist Colton Hash. Hash, the inaugural artist-in-residence with Ocean Networks Canada for 2018/19, was presented with this award to recognize the significant impact that artists can have on issues relevant to the Capital Region.

“Colton Hash is doing ground-breaking work combining digital and physical artforms to create installations that bring the forward the reality of data in a visceral manner,” said Newman. “His efforts to draw focus to environmental and climate issues through his practice are not only worthy of recognition, they are an excellent example of what it means to use art for social purpose and responsibility.”

And while she was unavailable to attend the awards ceremony, Lindsay Delaronde was announced as the winner of the ProArt Early-Career Artist Award. Created to recognize an artist who is showing dedication and promise in the early stages of their career, Delaronde’s recent role as the City of Victoria’s inaugural Indigenous Artist-in-Residence was highlighted by Newman in his remarks.

Lindsay Delaronde supported by dancers during the ACHoRd performance during her time as Indigenous Artist in Residence (Photo: Peruzzo)

“I selected Lindsay for this award to recognise the incredible work she has done as Victoria’s Indigenous Artist in Residence,” he said. “Her way of raising awareness around critical social issues and engaging community through her art and curation is something to celebrate. The power of her performances and work are a reflection of her strength and resilience and a testament to her potential.”

Each of these recipients does contributes excellent creative work to the regional arts community, and all are representative of the dynamic arts and cultural community Fine Arts has long supported and encouraged in Victoria.

The Professional Arts Alliance of Greater Victoria was formed to advance the important role the arts play in the life of our community, and to advocate for public sector support. ProArt believes that, by working in partnership with our legislators and government agencies, we can sustain and build our region’s vibrant cultural sector for the benefit of all of our residents and visitors.

The Art & Science of Listening

Kirk McNally in the School of Music’s Create Lab, with music student Ayari Kasukawa (UVIC Photo Services)

Whether it’s Queen recording their iconic title track in Bohemian Rhapsody or Will Ferrell’s hilarious “More Cowbell” sketch on Saturday Night Live, what happens in the recording studio has long been mythologized in popular culture. It’s also at the core of Kirk McNally’s research.

The School of Music music technology professor is fusing his professional background as a recording engineer with a new archive of unexplored recordings to build a better understanding of the relationship between musicians, engineers and music producers.

A set of multi-track audio recordings donated to UVic in 2014 formed the basis for McNally’s initial research into the intricate relationship between technical skills and musical output in the studio. By analyzing these recordings, McNally identified exactly what decisions were made in the studio, and how they affected the creative process of producing the final album—findings he now shares with students.

A temple and a laboratory

“More cowbell!”

Revered as both a temple and laboratory by scholars, the recording studio is historically the place where the best musicians, producers and engineers create the soundtrack to our lives. But this activity has seen little critical evaluation.

“What I’m looking to better understand is the way those relationships—verbal, musical or technological—are communicated, and how the decisions made in the studio are played out to the listener,” says McNally. It could be as simple as asking for another take, or as surprising as a recording error that creates a great sound.

“There’s a long history around the exhibition of sketches that come before the creation of a recognized masterpiece, but that’s never been done for music. By listening to the final album, we don’t know what came before or what was thrown out, or if certain changes were made because of a marketing plan. That’s where my interest lies.”

But hearing what happens is only half of the equation. The rest involves activating that knowledge in the School of Music’s new Create Lab: a dedicated, state-of-the-art recording studio where McNally and his students explore the role of sound recording engineers and music producers.

Enter the new Create Lab

Completed in early 2019, the half-million-dollar Create Lab is booked 15 hours a day by student composers, musicians, engineers and sound artists in the undergraduate Music and Computer Science program—unique in Canada—and with Master of Music Technology students.

“Mindy, Body & Spirit” by Carey Newman

“It all comes down to listening,” says McNally. “Our job as engineers is to communicate something—either through technical or verbal means—in a way that’s understood by the person on the other side of the glass. That’s the importance of having a space where you can understand exactly what the sound is.”

Victoria residents may also be familiar with one of McNally’s projects outside of the studio: he consulted on the audio component of the spectacular cedar sculpture “Mind, Body and Spirit” by local artist and UVic Audain Professor Carey Newman, which fills the ceiling of Pacific Opera Victoria’s Baumann Centre and serves to acoustically enhance the space for music-making.

Fusing professional experience with academic research

Working with a team of International collaborators, McNally will explore how “aha” moments during studio recordings are identified, critically evaluated and correlated to what we hear in the final mix. Prior to joining UVic’s School of Music in 2004, McNally was a recording engineer at Vancouver’s iconic Warehouse Studio. Over the years, he has worked with R.E.M., Bryan Adams, Foo Fighters, Sloan and many others.

“By listening to the final album, we don’t know what came before or what was thrown out, or if certain changes were made because of a marketing plan. That’s where my interest lies,” says McNally, who recently received a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to continue his research.

The research will also take him to the newly established EMI Music Canada Archive at the University of Calgary, where he will explore the multi-track recordings and support material for two albums by ‘80s Vancouver band The Grapes of Wrath: Now and Again and These Days.

McNally is interested in why those Grapes of Wrath albums have become Canadian classics. “From a Canadian perspective, what is a Canadian sound? Is that actually a thing or is just a sales pitch?” he wonders. “These Days was mixed at Abbey Road Studios in London, and it does have a referential Beatles sound—but why? Was that only because they were in that space, or was it always part of the plan?”

The EMI Music Canada Archive spans 63 years of the EMI label, including 40,000 recordings and two million documents by The Beatles, Elton John, Kate Bush, Anne Murray, Buffy Sainte Marie and thousands of others. “This archive includes important information never previously available to researchers,” he says.

Back to the studio

Ken Scott (left) in-studio with Paul McCartney

Fusing research and application, his current project will culminate in two high-quality recording sessions at Leeds Beckett University in May—including one with legendary engineer/producer Ken Scott, who worked with the likes of The Beatles, David Bowie and Pink Floyd.

By revealing what happens in the recording studio, McNally believes future generations will be equipped to better understand the creative process and consumers’ response to how music is promoted and marketed.

This story originally ran  in a slightly different form as one of UVic’s KnowlEDGE research features in the Times Colonist on April 28.

Annual MFA exhibit lights up downtown gallery

April is definitely the month for exhibits in UVic’s Visual Arts department, thanks to a pair of annual exhibitions by graduating artists in both the BFA and MFA programs.

First up is the annual MFA exhibition, showcasing Victoria’s best emerging contemporary artists. This year titled It’s Only An Island If You Look At It From the Water, the exhibit run April 5-14 at downtown’s Victoria Arts Council (1800 Store Street).

It’s Only An Island offers a diverse and compelling range of painting, photography, installation and sculpture by graduate student artists Lauren Brinson, Kaitlyn Dunsmore, Angus Fergus, Levi Glass, Mona Hedayati, Dani Proteau and Claire Scherzinger.

Please join us for the closing reception, starting at 7pm Friday, April 12.

Keep your eyes open for the upcoming BFA exhibit, Scatter, opening April 18 in the Visual Arts building on campus.

Explore the world of Ideafest 2019

It’s neither a surprise nor an exaggeration when UVic describes Ideafest as being about “ideas that can change everything.” This eighth-annual, week-long festival of research, art and innovation runs March 4-9, both on- and off-campus, and offers more than 40 public events designed to inform and engage with thought-provoking and culturally engaging events. And Fine Arts is participating in eight different events this year.

“Ideafest connects research to community. It allows UVic researchers and artists to share knowledge in different ways to appeal to a wide range of audiences,” says David Castle, UVic’s vice-president research. “We invite the public’s engagement so they can better understand how research impacts their own lives and that of society.”

As always, Fine Arts is once again an active Ideafest participant, hosting four separate events of our own and participating in four others across campus. All are free, unless otherwise noted: you can view the full Ideafest schedule here, which is searchable by day or category, but here’s our list of events.

Eva-meta art exhibit

The Visual Arts department’s Drawing 300 class continues its tradition of staging an outdoor drawing exhibition near the Fine Arts building for the duration of Ideafest. Led by Drawing 300 instructor David Gifford, students this year are interpreting meta-drawing and encounters with “aboutness, the recursive and the beyond.” Drawing 300 makes an outdoor exhibit of pictures about pictures. Prepare to have your assumptions challenged!

The Eva-meta exhibit runs Monday-Friday, March 4-9, outdoors in the Visual Arts building courtyard.

Research Reels Video Showcase

Get a taste of the amazing research and creative activity taking place at UVic, as told by our talented students, faculty and staff. A juried collection of short videos highlighting UVic research and how it’s having an impact on our lives and our world will be showcased for one night only. Prepare to be amazed and inspired! Hosted by Lara Lauzon (School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education) and juried by Jay Cullen (School of Earth and Ocean Sciences), Cody Graham (Filmmaker and multimedia producer) and Katrina Pyne (Hakai Magazine).

Among the entries this year are short films created by current students Peter Ojum, Leah Tidey and Chen Wang, plus recent alumnus and current Artist in Residence at Oceans Network Canada, Colton Hash (also last year’s Research Reels winner). Their films cover topics ranging from applied theatre practice and choral research to the research and creative practice of Visual Arts professor Kelly Richardson, and her current IMAX video installation commission from the XL Outer Worlds project, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the IMAX camera — a Canadian invention! Be sure to attend and vote for our faculty’s films in the viewer’s choice category!

Research Reels: Video showcase runs 5-6:30pm Tuesday, March 5, at Cinecenta in UVic’s SUB. And there will be free popcorn!

Write On: A Night Out with New Writers

Meet the next generation of Canadian Literature as MFA students from UVic’s legendary Department of Writing read (and perform) from ground-breaking graduating manuscripts in fiction, poetry, playwriting and creative nonfiction at this lively (and licensed) literary cabaret. Hosted by Writing professor Maureen Bradley, graduate student readers include Vaughn Gaston (fiction), Taylor Houghton (fiction), Janet Munsil (playwriting), Tom Prime (poetry) and Miles Steyn (creative nonfiction). Watch for guest appearances by faculty mentors.
Doors open at 6:30 pm

Write on: A night out with new writers runs 7-8pm Tuesday, March 5 at the Copper Owl Bar & Lounge, 1900 Douglas Street (above Paul’s Motor Inn).

Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards Fair

Meet the next generation of leading Canadian researchers at UVic’s Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards (JCURA). Awards go to exceptional undergrad students to carry out research in their field of study. The JCURA research fair will feature over 100 of these inspiring projects, ranging from the effects of meditation on memory retention, to improving emergency water treatment in refugee camps. Fine Arts participants include Hannah Bell (Theatre), Kai Conradi (Writing), Jamie Crystal (Music), Kim Dias (Writing), Pascale Higham-Leisen (AHVS), Sarah Kapp (AHVS), Trevor Naumann (Music) and Lee Whitehorne (Music). Just click on their individual names to read a brief of their research projects.

The JCURA symposium runs 11:30am – 3pm Wednesday, March 6, in the Michele Pujol Room (A121) of UVic’s SUB.

UVic Author Celebration

Each year, UVic faculty, staff, students and alumni publish an incredible amount of intellectual content, reflecting a wide range of research, teaching, personal and professional interests. Join UVic Libraries for this annual celebration of books written by UVic — including Writing professor Bill Gaston, who will be reading from his recent memoir, Just Let Me Look at You: On Fatherhood, and recently retired Writing instructor Patrick Friesen, reading from his latest poetry collection, Songen. Hosted by Jim Forbes, Director of Campus Services, other readers include History professors Jason M. Colby, reading from his Orca: How We Came to Know and Love the Ocean’s Greatest Predator, and Lynne Marks, reading from her Infidels and the Damn Churches: Irreligion and Religion in Settler British Columbia.

The UVic author celebration runs 2-4pm Thursday, March 7 at the UVic Bookstore.

Hear, Hear: Best Seats in the House

Experience the beauty of an orchestra from the inside out at this unique rehearsal of the UVic Orchestra, where seats for visitors will be interspersed among musicians to provide an unforgettable opportunity. Immerse yourself as never before in the works of Tchaikovsky and Debussy. Feel the magic of being in the midst of it all. Hosted by School of Music conductor and professor Ajtony Csaba and featuring the student musicians of the UVic Orchestra.

Hear, hear runs 3:15-4:15pm Thursday, March 7 at The Farquhar in UVic’s University Centre building.

Voice in Motion

Can the impact of dementia be reduced through singing and socializing? An interdisciplinary research team at UVic — including School of Music professor emeritus Mary Kennedy— is studying the impact an intergenerational choir may have on health outcomes for people living with dementia and their caregivers, as well as the impact on perceptions of dementia for participating high school students. Hear about the researchers’ findings and observations, then listen to this joy-filled choir share their music. Hosted by UVic School of Nursing professor Deb Sheets, presenters include not only Mary Kennedy but also Erica Phare-Bergh (Choir Director), Stuart MacDonald (Department of Psychology) and Andre Smith (Department of Sociology). With thanks to project partners Island Health, St. Andrew’s Regional High School, St Aidan’s United Church, the University of Victoria’s School of Nursing, School of Psychology and School of Sociology.

Voices in Motion runs 4-6pm Thursday, March 7 at St. Aidan’s Church Sanctuary, 3703 St. Aidan’s St. Note: registration is required for this free event: register here.

Other Faces of Nihonga

An expansion of the current Legacy Gallery exhibit,Translations: The Art and Life Of Elizabeth Yeend Duer-Gyokushō玉蕉, Ideafest welcomes Vancouver-based contemporary artist Cindy Mochizuki for a collective embroidery and listening experience focusing on the racialized effects on women of Japanese descent in British Columbia. Visitors will work together with Mochizuki to embroider an image informed by historical references to Japanese Canadian women during and after World War II, while listening to audio recordings of interviews of Japanese Canadian women exploring issues of race, class, citizenship, nationhood and diaspora.

Other Faces of Nijhonga runs 4-8pm Friday, March 8, and 11am-3pm Saturday, March 9, at the Legacy Art Gallery, 630 Yates St. 

Translations continues to April 6, also at the Legacy Gallery, and showcases the movement of ideas, aesthetics, politics and people between England, Japan and Victoria by looking at the life and work of Anglo-Japanese artist Elizabeth Yeend Duer (1889–1951). Born a British citizen in Nagasaki to an Englishman and a Japanese woman, Duer studied Nihonga, a traditional Japanese-style painting, with the renowned painter and teacher Atomi Gyokushi. 跡見 玉枝. Duer took on the artistic identity of Gyokushō 玉蕉. She immigrated to Victoria in 1940 and is among the remarkably few people of Japanese heritage who were not interned during World War II. Instead, she Japanized her new environment by producing Nihonga-style paintings of local indigenous wildflowers while her own identity was being anglicized.

This exhibit is co-curated by Art History & Visual Studies professor Carolyn Butler Palmer, Mikiko Hirayama (University of Cincinnati) and Janice Okada (BA, MM St). This is a project of the Williams Legacy Chair in Modern and Contemporary Art of the Pacific Northwest.

Other Ideafest events that will have appeal for Fine Arts followers include the Re-imagining Justice: Art, Law & Social Change exhibit (March 4-8), Latin American Muralism and Identity (March 5), the Express Your Thesis performance (March 6), and the Three-Minute Thesis competition (March 7). But again, be sure to view the full Ideafest schedule.

Fine Arts is full-on during Alumni Week 2019

UVic celebrates graduates old and new with our annual Alumni Week, running Feb 1- 8 across campus. From film screenings and fascinating talks to concerts, a curling bonspiel, Vikes basketball and the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards night, there will be over a dozen special events to check out. Better still, most are free, although you may have to register in advance.

And Fine Arts is a big part of Alumni Week this year, as we participate in five different events showcasing the talents of a number of our alumni. Here’s what’s coming up:

Film screening with Connor Gaston

Connor Gaston

Did you know that 1 in 3 UVic staff and faculty are UVic alumni? It’s true, and you can meet many of them as we celebrate our campus alumni  and kick off Alumni Week at an exclusive event at Cinecenta. Join us at noon on Feb 1 for a screening of the short film, ‘Til Death, by director and campus alumnus Connor Gaston.

About the film: After losing his soul mate in a fatal bicycle accident, 10-year-old Zachary sets out on a journey to bring Samantha back to life in this magical, modern fairy tale.

Gaston, who holds both a BFA and MFA from the Writing department, is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has screened at film festivals around the world, including the Toronto International Film Festival. Gaston’s first feature film, 2015’s The Devout, earned him five Leo Awards (including Best Picture), the BC Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival, and a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best First Feature. He is also a current sessional instructor in UVic’s Writing department.

Pizza, popcorn and soda will be provided at the screening for just $5, plus everyone will receive a free gift! (Tickets at the door.) Following the film screening, there will be a Q&A with the director.

This event runs noon to 1pm Friday, Feb 1, at Cinecenta in UVic’s SUB. Film starts at 12:15pm, so come early to get your pizza!

Fifth Street

Emerging Alumni concert with Fifth Street

Victoria-based vocal quintet Fifth Street combines the worlds of pop, jazz and R&B in perfect five-part harmony. The sublime voices of Natasha Penfield, Jilaine Orton, Ryan Narciso, Kenji Lee and Taylor Caswell found a groove together while students and as members of UVic’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble. You’ll enjoy their original a cappella arrangements of pop hits by the likes of Imogen Heap and Justin Timberlake as well as fresh takes on timeless classics.

UVic Music alumni are invited to an exclusive pre-concert reception with tasty hors d’oeuvres, door prizes, plus a special pre-concert appearance by Fifth Street. Hear them in action at 8pm Saturday, Feb 2, in the School of Music’s Phillip T Young Recital Hall, in UVic’s MacLaurin building B-wing. Entrance is by donation.

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Come join UVic’s annual celebration recognizing and honouring Distinguished Alumni Award winners that have been chosen from the faculties, UVic Libraries and Continuing Studies. This year, Fine Arts is honouring Theatre alumnus Nathan Medd —a cultural non-profit leader whose work is devoted to developing the performing arts in Canada.

Now the managing director of performing arts for the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity — the nation’s largest arts training institution and incubator of new works — Medd was also the managing director of English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre, where his team successfully championed Canadian creators and initiated a new national stage for Indigenous performance.

Join us at 7:30pm Tuesday, Feb 5, in the Songhees Wellness Centre, 1100 Admirals Rd. Free, but registration is required.

Nathan Medd on Creative Placemaking

Nathan Medd (photo: Andrew Alexander)

Join 2019 Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Nathan Medd for this lively discussion about the ins and outs (and ups and downs) of creative placemaking. From development and gentrification to funding and accessibility for artists and audiences, get ready to “nerd out” about the business of the arts. Joining Medd on the panel will be long-time colleagues Kevin Kerr, Writing professor and co-founder of Vancouver’s Electric Company, Janet Munsil, former Intrepid Theatre artistic director and Metro Studio co-founder (also a Phoenix alumna and current MFA candidate in Writing), and Ian Case, Theatre alumnus, director of The Farquhar at UVic and former general manager of Intrepid Theatre.

In addition to his current position at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Medd was previously the managing director of English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre. As managing producer of Electric Company, he produced original works for the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad and co-founded East Vancouver’s Progress Lab performing arts creation studio in 2009. In Victoria, he worked for Intrepid Theatre, where he co-founded Metro Studio — a flagship venue for Vancouver Island — and held positions with both the Belfry Theatre and the BC Arts Council.

This free talk runs from 12:45-1:45pm Wed, Feb 6, in the Bishop Theatre at UVic’s Phoenix Building.

Esi Edugyan with Shelagh Rogers

Join UVic Chancellor and CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter host Shelagh Rogers as she has a frank and fascinating live conversation with two-time Giller-prize winning novelist and Writing alumnus Esi Edugyan. The internationally acclaimed author of Washington Black, her latest novel, Edugyan is also the author of the Giller Prize-winning Half-Blood Blues and The Second Life of Samuel Tyne.

Join us at 7pm Thursday, Feb 7, in the Michelle Pujol Room at UVic’s SUB. Copies of Washington Black will also be for sale, courtesy of UVic’s Bookstore. Update: this event is now sold out, although a waiting list is being taken.

UVic is accessible by sustainable travel options including transit and cycling. For those arriving by car, pay parking is in effect. Evening parking is $3.

But wait, there’s more!

While Alumni Week only runs Feb 1-8, our Fine Arts alumni are busy throughout the year with their own creative endeavours. Here’s a quick rundown of some other alumni who are active around town in the next couple of weeks:

Victoria Film Festival

The 25th annual Victoria Film Festival features work by both Writing and Visual Arts alumni and students, running throughout the festival. Writing alum Connor Gaston is showing the short film Encore as part of the shorts program “Beautiful Obsessions” on Feb 4.  The Safe Space Panorama exhibition runs Feb 2-10 at the Atrium and features work & talks by Visual Arts MFA candidate Levi Glass (talk: 3pm Feb 3), undergrads Laura Gildner (3pm Feb 4),Jordan Hill (3pm Feb 6) and Jake Hrubizna (3pm Feb 8), plus MFA alumni Leah McInnis (3pm Feb 7) & sessional instructor Emily Geen (5pm Feb 5), as well as the 25th anniversary multimedia installation States of Play, curated by recent Visual Arts alumna Gina Luke.

Cry-Baby

Phoenix alumna & musical theatre teacher Kim Sholinder and the student cast & crew of Victoria High School will perform the Broadway musical Cry-Baby — based on the hit 1990 John Waters film of the same name, which starred a young Johnny Depp! This upbeat, campy musical provides a fun twist on 1950s star-crossed young lovers. Cry-Baby runs Feb 5-9 at Victoria High School, 1260 Grant. Tickets are $10-$12.

For Ground; Background  

The Victoria Arts Council is pleased to be working with Visual Arts MFA alumnus Hjalmer Wenstob on a new solo exhibition. For Ground; Background is a culmination of selected sculptures from over the last four years, as well as new works and installations. For Ground; Background hosts works of question, concern and education, in regards to environment, urban relationships to the land, and treaties. Wenstob is an interdisciplinary artist who specializes in sculpture, installation, and carving; he speaks of three dialects of his work — contemporary, traditional, and community-based.

Through his contemporary dialect, he completed both an undergraduate and master’s degree at UVic, exploring the relationships between cultures and art, and the balance between traditional and contemporary. His work is at times highly political and uses humour and irony to pose difficult questions of respect, reconciliation, and environmental issues. Nuu-Chah-Nulth from the Tla-O-Qui-Aht First Nations on his father’s side, and Norwegian and English on his mother’s side, Wenstob and his family recently opened Cedar House Gallery in Ucluelet, B.C. where he is exploring ways of weaving his contemporary/political work with more traditional materials and styles.

For Ground; Background runs until Feb 16 at the new Victoria Arts Council space at 1800 Store St. Open 11am-5pm Tues-Sat.

Todd Lambeth: Night Moves

Visual Arts instructor & MFA alumnus Todd Lambeth presents Night Moves, a series of paintings that investigates the abstract relationship between space and colour. Influenced by Cubism, hard-edged Modernist painting, comic books and candy wrappers, the colours in these paintings reference the world of advertising and design. These visually stimulating works express the artist’s interest in perceptions of pictorial space and are a direct response to the proliferation of digital imagery and imaging technology.

These paintings explore optical perceptions of space; emphasizing the formal properties of structure and design, Lambeth’s images present the viewer with a sense of visual pleasure. With their bright, welcoming colours and forms the paintings in Night Moves foreground ideas of beauty and express Lambeth’s desire to create optimistic works that distract the viewer from the difficult times in which we live.

Night Moves runs through to March 2 at Deluge Contemporary Art, 636 Yates. There will be an artist talk at 3pm Sat, Feb 16.

 John Barton: New Poet Laureate

Writing alumnus and former longtime Malahat Review editor John Barton has been named the new Poet Laureate of Victoria. Barton has written 26 books and is currently working on his first book of prose; his appointment was reported in this Times Colonist article and this piece from Monday Magazine.

Fowler (in yellow)

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The Victoria Theatre Guild offers a lively version of this 2005 Tony-winning show — a clever, charming and sweet-natured musical comedy about six quirky tweens competing in the spelling bee of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, they spell their way through a series of words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing ding of the bell that signals a mistake. In the end, the youth learn that winning isn’t everything, and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser.

Featuring a fantastic performance by Phoenix alumni Hailey Fowler and an outstanding set by Barbara Clerihue.

Spelling Bee runs until Feb 2 at Langham Court Theatre. Tickets are $25-$35 . . . if you can find one!