Administered by the Edmonton Arts Council and supported through initial funding from John and Barbara Poole, Edmonton Community Foundation, Clifford E. Lee Foundation and, since 2017, the Eldon and Anne Foote family fund, EATF has supported over 120 artists working in a variety of mediums, from multimedia to music to visual arts to film (and much in-between).
The Fund recognizes an artist’s work and contribution to the community and provides financial stability with $15,000 awarded to each recipient to renew, develop, grow, create or experiment with his, her or their art form.
Here are three of the 2021 EATF award recipients:
Before he was an award-winning filmmaker, Frederick Kroetsch spent a decade working as a TV journalist, covering local stories and learning about what makes Albertans tick. And, before that — before film school, before he ever even picked up a camera — Kroetsch connected with film and storytelling in a long-since-lost locale: the neighbourhood video store.
“Video stores are a part of cinema history. For me, that’s where my film education started—I mean yes, I went to film school—but before that, there was the video store,” he says.
Today, Kroetsch is paying homage to the foundations of his film career with a creative documentary about The Lobby, Edmonton’s last remaining video store. While streaming services have taken off in the past two decades, thanks to a loyal cinephile base in the Edmonton area, the store has managed to keep its doors open. The film will be an against-the-odds story that showcases the behind-the-scenes efforts taken to keep this cultural hub afloat.
“The story is amazing and inspirational, but it’s also potentially the world’s worst business move. So it’s kind of an against-the-odds kind of story showing that if you stick to your guns, you can achieve great things,” he says. “It’s not just a nostalgic place, and it’s not just a video store. It’s a major nexus for people who love cinema in Northern Alberta. It’s just so cool that it exists.”
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Emily Chu wears many hats. She works in illustration for both commercial clients and community-based projects. She’s also taught art at a post-secondary level. She’s illustrated books, drawn community murals, encouraged the next generation and is mother to a two-year-old boy.
“I’m experimenting and walking a fine line between commercial and visual arts (projects). I’m also hopeful that I can break down these barriers that define our work,” says Chu, who is a former artist in residence at Edmonton’s Yorath House.
“I think this [EATF] grant really helps break down some barriers in terms of getting into new projects or into new fields. It allows me to network with galleries and other artists outside of the commercial world.”
Chu has two passion projects that she’s working on at the moment. “I’m in the process of completing a children’s book about voting. It’s my first published children’s book, so I find that to be really exciting,” she says.
The other is a personal project born out of two years of isolation since the start of the pandemic. “I’m working on capturing portraits over the summer that connects people across race, religion and genders. The overarching theme is shared human experiences of grief,” she says.
Multi-Faceted Artist and Designer
Over the past 15 years, Steven Teeuwsen has built a reputation within the Edmonton arts scene as a talented and multi-faceted artist and designer who has explored everything from graphic design to murals for commercial buildings to sculpture installations for art festivals. However, it’s his work as a curator — giving space to emerging artists, especially during the pandemic, when he launched the Lowlands Project Space in the Highlands area of Edmonton — that gives him the greatest joy.
“I’m primarily being recognized (for the EATF) for my work as a curator. That’s the work that I’ve been doing most consistently for the past 15 years.”
Creating mostly installation art in his own work, Teeuwsen is cognizant of the temporary nature of his projects, but sees it as liberating more than a hindrance. “I just completed two fire sculptures for the Silver Skate festival. That was really fun because we build on-site in one day. And once the sculpture is done, we burn it for a cheering crowd. It’s a great exercise in impermanence, but it’s also very stress-free because you know that whatever you’re doing is only going to last for a few hours, and then it’s gone.
“This (impermanence) kind of ties into what I’m doing here with Lowlands, as well. We saw an opportunity with these two houses during the pandemic to show art outdoors. It’s been very gratifying to be able to give emerging artists a venue to show their art and give the public an opportunity to experience artwork outdoors in a safe way during a pandemic. But, you know, we don’t own these houses. So, who knows how long this project will last? Still, as a whole, Lowlands has been really great. Outdoor art shows re-contextualize the work in an interesting way and the venue is very unassuming. It drops a lot of barriers for people who might not go to a gallery, to wander in and see contemporary artwork that they might not normally interact with.”
Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund Supports More Artists