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Nocturne’s 2010 turnout is highest yet

By Lauren Naish, Arts Contributor


On Saturday night, the rain stopped and the moon came out, setting the stage for the third annual Nocturne: Art at Night festival. The art was not located in one gallery, but peeking out from public spaces and venues that spanned across the city. The 48 independent installations and 46 different galleries and participating venues were free to the public and provided an interactive way for Halifax to engage and celebrate the artistic community around them.

Hoping to see it all, The Gazette set-off downtown. The first stop was a new venue for Nocturne this year: the Public Gardens. The curator of this show, Scott Saunders titled the show ‘a year in the making…’ after the time he and volunteers spent lobbying to get the park opened for this one night event. The long and arduous process paid-off as the nine different artists filled the park with light and sound pieces.

“They are all fantastic artists, some of the most talented in the city,” said Saunders. “We have a really broad mix of things throughout the park, it is really quite an experience.”

One of these titled Lament, by Valarie Salez and Jesse Mitchell showcased exactly that. Set up by the fountain on Spring Garden Road entrance it greeted guests with psychedelic wailing of an old organ surrounded by black-lit sculptures. “It’s a really huge privilege and it feels really good to be in the gardens,” said Salez as she took a break from playing the old wooden organ and a young observer took over the performance. “He wanted to play and he’s really into it and he said it feels the closest to feeling like he is in space,” said Salez a NSCAD grad and native of Yukon.

Leaving the sounds of the park behind and heading towards Barrington, groups of people passed by excitedly discussing what they discovered around the city. Kathryn Morse was just entering the park after attending the Circus Spectacular performance at St. Matthews Church with her young daughter. She enjoys Nocturne because it generates new audiences for the artists. “Everybody enjoys the artists together, it connects the artists and their audience,” said Morse.

On Barrington Street there was plenty to see. From fire throwers outside St. Matthews to The Miscellaneous Marching Band marching through downtown with a giant octopus, to a performance piece called ‘No Rest for the Weary’ an artist dressed as a maid mopping up her own tears in a window installment, it was clear you could experience art here without ever stepping into a gallery.

Brent McCombs, fashion and landscape photographer wished he could be out on the street exploring the night’s activities, but he and his Big Sky Studio partner Steve Richard were busy showing their photography in their temporary studio gallery on Barrington Street. McCombs loves the way Nocturne showcases visual art through the play of shadows and light. “Holding this at night creates it’s own visual boundary, your art happens only where you want it too, in the pools of light,” said McCombs.

After visiting a few more studios, including a high-energy urban dance demonstration by Hopscotch Urban Dance Variety, and a beautiful performance by Charles P. Allen High School, titled the Halifax Explosion Interpretive Fusion, the final hour of the festival was approaching. Seeing all five zones of art in one night would be impossible but the variety and far reaching aspect of Nocturne ensured art could be experienced by anyone, whether you were on the Dartmouth ferry, or visiting the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Nocturne co-chair Alyson Queen is happy to report this year’s event was a tremendous success. “At this point we can say that attendance this year was the highest yet,” said Queen over the phone Sunday afternoon. “The streets were packed, the galleries were packed and it was an amazing energy that existed within the streets, almost transformative, I would say, for Halifax,” Queen said.

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