“Now art should never try to be popular. The public should try to make itself artistic.” ― Oscar Wilde
I am both cursed and blessed to have a long commute to work. My husband and I start with an hour in the car, half highway driving, the rest in traffic. I then hop out and take the ferry from Dartmouth to Halifax, my favourite part of the day, then I walk down the waterfront to my office. I get to live in the beautiful Gaspereau Valley, rural, scenic and quiet. I get to experience the hustle and bustle of the morning water crossing and the sun coming up over the harbour. I get to interact with my colleagues within the Cultural Federation of Nova Scotia (CFNS) offices, artists, craftspeople, collectors, tourists and interesting people generally. By the end of the day I am exhausted, and usually wishing I never had to get in a car again (cursed), but I also have experienced culture, diversity and nature (blessed), so the balance keeps me going.
With Nocturne – Art at Night just one day away, I’ve been thinking about the art I experience on my commute. Nocturne is amazing, one night when the entire city explodes with installations, videos, performances, hands on opportunities and of course people. People everywhere. You might find 40 ukelele players on the ferry or in the middle of the street, or a giant ball of fire projected on the wall as you walk down a random street. You may have the opportunity to create a magic garden or see spinning wheels whirr with sound and light. But Nocturne isn’t the only time I experience art in my community.
As I look back at photos I’ve taken on my commutes over the years, they are filled with giant red hats, painted parking meters, colour block prints, discrete stencils of blenders, bananas and people. Then there is the public art, John Little’s Sonic Gizmo, sculptures of historical figures, waves, textile installations and a ridiculously large canon. Sometimes the art is almost invisible, like the tiny knitted icicles that adorn one tree on Lower Water Street or the intricate storm grate underfoot. There is the artwork I look at when I sit at my desk, three “smokestacks” with images of the power station that inspired them. The artwork that I gaze at as I do the dishes at work, small tiles created by my colleagues past and present within the CFNS shared space. Sometimes I even get a peak at artists in training, when I pick up my husband at the Waterfront Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, the Arts & New Media students often have their graphic design work on display. Some things inspire me, others, not so much, I don’t always like everything I see, but sometimes it is just small and simple enough to make me smile, either way, I’m happy for the experience.
So tomorrow night I will be partaking in the biggest public display of art in one night in Halifax. Nocturne – Art at Night will see thousands of people enjoying their community and the art that lives here. Sunday morning many of the installations and displays will be packed away, but I trust that the commuters, students, visitors and residents won’t forget that art is an important part of our culture, 24/7.Julie Rosvall Wolfville, NS (where I have my three spinning wheels ready to make the commute with me to Halifax tomorrow for Nocturne, we’ll be lighting the way at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft at 1061 Marginal Road, 6pm to Midnight)