AGA elevates healing role of art with wellness market

· The Pulse

The Art Gallery of Alberta is holding its first-ever wellness-oriented market to promote local vendors and artists whose work promotes self-care.

The Art of Wellness Market will see exhibitors set up shop in the downtown gallery's entrance from 11am to 5pm on Nov. 27. The idea grew out of a brainstorming session to connect what goes on at the gallery with day-to-day experiences. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made health and wellness top of mind, suggested public programs and outreach coordinator Michael Magnussen.

"Art is really healing," he said. "We thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to have a market that celebrated that?'"

Artists at the market include painter Robin Light, pastel artist David Shkolny, Robin Good of Robin Good Art & Design, Stefani Alzati of Stefani Alzati Somatic Poetry & Artistry, Olivia Albert of Weeping Willow Beads, photographer Nozomi Kamei of NJK New Dimensions, and the mother-daughter duo behind Origami Cranes Club.

They'll be selling their work alongside vendors such as skin-care company Buff Experts, The Bee & Bar Soap Company, Little Plant Shop, and Neo Juicery.

Markets have turned out to be a great way for the AGA to attract new people to the building and shine a light on more artists than it can include in its collections and exhibitions. "A strong local arts community is beneficial to everyone," Magnussen said.

The first such event was a collaboration with Black Owned Market YEG in February. Two more are in the works: an Indigenous arts market in March, and a comics and zine market in April, he said.

A stubble field in colourful pastels, surrounded by a painting of a church in snow, a drawing of a kitten showing its paws, green and white beaded earrings, and bottles of juice

The Art of Wellness Market will feature the work of David Shkolny (centre), Robin Light (top left), Robin Good (top right), Weeping Willow Beads, and Neo Juicery, among others. (Supplied)

As the holidays approach, markets are popping up everywhere. The venerable Royal Bison Art and Craft Fair will be at the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre on Nov. 25-27 and Dec. 2-4.

New vendors at this year's iteration of the curated market include stained glass purveyor Sanguine Studio and ceramics collective Kindred Pots, reflecting a newfound interest in reimagining traditional mediums, co-organizer Vikki Wiercinski told Postmedia.

"These more intensive crafts are coming back and being reinterpreted in this new, modern way," she said.

The Public Food Hub Co. is putting on its Edmonton Christmas Market from Nov. 30 to Dec. 18 at Fort Edmonton Park. After holding last year's market in the midway area, this year's iteration will cover 40% of the park, co-founder Kirsta Franke said, with hopes of seeing 50,000 people pass through across the three weeks.

SNAP Gallery is holding its Annual Print Affair: Reunion on Dec. 3, inviting past, present, and future members to take in the members' show and sale, try out printmaking, and raise money for the facility.