Artists get "catalytic" boost on the road to success

Eight Alberta artists received the 2012 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award June 14, 2012 in a ceremony hosted by His Honour Col. (Ret’d) the Honourable Donald S. Ethell and Her Honour Linda Ethell.

“These artists represent the best of a community that challenges, enlightens and entertains us,” said Lieutenant Governor Ethell. “Creativity of this magnitude is infectious.”

The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Awards is among Canada’s most generous arts awards programs. Each recipient receives a medal and $10,000.

Susan Green, Chair of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards, says,“Ten thousand dollars to an emerging artist is a catalyst for great things.”

“We’ve seen careers blossom in previous recipients and we know today’s awards will strengthen these artists and Alberta’s performing, literary and visual arts culture in the process.”


Backgrounder: 2012 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artists Award recipients


Lee Elliott, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards



2012 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award recipients

His Honour Col. (Ret’d) the Honourable Donald S. Ethel presented the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artists Awards to the following individuals at Government House in Edmonton, June 14, 2012.

Kyle Armstrong, filmmaker, Edmonton

Kyle Armstrong believes our concept of the art potential of film is limited by what we see in theatres. He describes his work as “...outside the economic order...and I hope delves deeper into matters of the soul and spirit, creating a contemplative space rather than a commercial venture.” Adjudicators call the result, “mesmerizing.”

Armstrong’s works have been screened in galleries, live performances and traditional cinemas. He has worked with greats like Guy Maddin on a number of projects. In March of 2012, he captured IMAX footage of the aurora borealis in Churchill MB for his own film Magnetic Reconnection, to be scored by Jim O’Rourke (Sonic Youth, Wilco, Werner Herzog). He instructs at MacEwan University, is president of the Metro Cinema Society and married with two young children. Armstrong plans to use his award to sustain his work while he makes the leap to feature films.

Naomi Brand, contemporary dancer and choreographer, Calgary

Naomi Brand reaches audiences at a visceral and visual level in her solo and duet choreography. “My choreographic work probes the human and interpersonal through a physical vocabulary that navigates the extremes of closeness and isolation,” she says. The adjudicators describe her as a “compelling performer, strong personal aesthetic, go-getting attitude.”

Brand completed a BA in dance and MFA in drama at the University of Calgary. She has since trained and performed across North America as well as in Uruguay, Poland and Finland. Brand is co-founder of Calgary Contemporary Dance Collective, a not-for-profit organization supporting artistic development of dance artists. She has instructed at the University of Calgary since 2007, writes for The Dance Current and is the Artistic Associate of MoMo Mixed Ability Dance Theatre. Brand plans to use the award money to rent studio space and engage a cast of dancers for exploratory work. The funding will also help her travel for further training.

Mitch Holtby, emcee, producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, Edmonton

Mitch Holtby, a.k.a. Mitchmatic, joined Alberta’s music scene in 2007 and released his first mix-tape, Two Weeks Off, in 2010. The tape charted nationally on Earshot and elicited invitations to open for Big Boi (Outkast) and Chali 2na (Jurassic 5) among others. The adjudicators describe Holtby as a “total entertainer, at ease in spoken word, dub and music.”

2012’s follow-up, It’s Probably Raining, reached number two on Earshot’s National Hip-Hop charts and prompted local Edmonton station Sonic 102.9, to make Mitchmatic their band of the month for April. The record’s single, Why Don’t You Know, debuted on NPR’s All Songs Considered, and the accompanying music video is still creating buzz. Holtby has performed for Edmonton Poetry Festivals, The Works Fest, The International Fringe Fest’, Improvaganza, Metropolis, TEDx Edmonton, NextFest and more. He will also play at the 2012 Winnipeg Jazz Fest’. He plans to invest his award money in a Canada-wide tour.

Kristopher Karklin, photographer/sculptor, Fort McMurray/Calgary

Sir Elton John’s response to seeing Kristopher Karklin’s work was, ‘I’ll take three.’ The adjudicators’ response to his work: “Innovative, entirely original, assured work, pushing technical boundaries.”

Karklin balances a studio practice between Fort McMurray and Calgary. His current series, Camp Life, explores the culture and displacement surrounding industry work camps.

He begins his work by building and photographing miniature models. He then photographs human models and super-imposes them into the photo of the miniature setting, emphasizing the figure-space contrast. The completed work is presented as a large-scale photograph.

Karklin graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design with a BFA with distinction in 2007. His works have been exhibited in Kyoto, Japan, Alberta and Ontario and are found within the collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and private collections. Karklin plans to invest his award money into materials that have otherwise been out of his reach, supporting his pursuit of a cross-Canada exhibition.

Chris Millar, painter/sculptor

Chris Miller aims to create a new form of storytelling, “that expands on the traditions of painting, sculpture, and comic books by weaving the humorous and narrative possibilities with fanatical accumulation.” The adjudicators credit him with a “most fertile imagination, pushing painting into sculpture, utterly unique.”

Millar earned a Fine Arts Diploma from MacEwan University and a BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design. His work was included in the 2005 and 2010 Alberta Biennial collaboration between the Edmonton Art Gallery and the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre for the Arts. The National Gallery of Canada recently acquired his work Bejeweled Doubled Festooned Plus Skill for Girls. Most recently his work is included at oh Canada, an exhibition of contemporary Canadian art at the MASSMoCa in North Adams, Massachusetts. Millar says this award will ultimately, “provide me with resources to share my ideas with other curious, open-minded, fun-craving humanoids.”

Emma Parkinson, mezzo-soprano, Lethbridge

According to adjudicators, “She rose to the top of the ‘ear’ chart with the quality of her exquisite voice.”

Mezzo-soprano Emma Parkinson calls Lethbridge home, but her voice belongs to the world. She made her solo debut as Siébel in Faust with Opéra de Montréal this spring and will debut in Europe as Mercedes this summer in a new production of Carmen with Seefestspiele Berlin. Winter will see her back at Opéra de Montréal playing Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus. Parkinson completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Lethbridge and master’s degree at McGill University. In 2010, she was selected as a young artist in the Atelier Lyrique of the Opéra de Montréal, a training program designed to develop professional singers, and is in her final season with this program. Parkinson says the award money will support ongoing training and an audition tour, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in November 2012.

Diane Mae Robinson, children’s author, St. Paul

When a princess is given a birthday wish, the formula says she wishes for a knight in shining armour, not to become one. But Diane Mae Robinson’s creation, Sir Princess Petra; The Pen Pieyu Adventures, shatters fairy tale princess stereotypes.

The chapter book, Diane’s first, was published in January 2012 by Tate Publishing in Oklahoma and the second of four in the series is expected out in early 2013. The road to publication was nine years long. Throughout, Diane stood by her belief that this was a good story. The adjudicators agreed, saying, “Her writing grabs you, is perfectly pitched, nuanced, a fresh approach.”

After completing a journalism diploma, Robinson enrolled in a four-year correspondence course and received an advanced diploma from the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut. She plans to use the award money to support travel and expenses for a school reading tour.

Eric Rose, theatre director

Eric Rose is the Co-Artistic Director of Calgary’s Ghost River Theatre. Trained as an actor at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College’s Joint Theatre and Drama Studies Program, he considers the four seasons he spent as Theatre Calgary’s Artistic Associate as his real education.

The adjudicators were “knocked out by the visual quality and physicality of his approach.” An approach that has led to work across Canada, into the United States and as far away as South Korea and Ghana.

“I am experimenting with developing new performance in a laboratory environment,” says Rose. “Everyone participates in all aspects of creation.” Rose also explores technologies and their impact on the construction of narrative, representation and the theatrical experience. And he’s fascinated by the dynamics of spatial relationships that can be transformed and re-imagined by the use of choreography, blocking and design. Rose plans to use the award money to develop collaborations locally and abroad.

About the awards

The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation was established in 2003 to celebrate excellence in the arts and to underline the importance of the arts in Alberta.

The Emerging Artist Awards, offered in alternate years, gives up to 10 awards of $10,000 each to support and encourage promising artists early in their careers, who have created a modest body of work, and are recognized by established artists in the same field of endeavour as having potential to achieve excellence in their discipline. Recipients also receive a medal designed by Wei Yew. The 2012 adjudication panel included Charlie Austin, Denise Clarke and Nancy (Tousley) Cameron.


Lee Elliott, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards