Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 16th Day Two: Travelling Through Charlottetown!!

Hurricane Alley
The night was peaceful but the wind she howled and the rain it fell in torrents! The day began cloudy and rainy as the Hurricane that was heading towards Newfoundland gave a swipe at the island. We were right on the shore so we felt more of the effects. Morning was peaceful enough and Roy and I prepared to meet Tara Jackson.
Charlottetown was a lovely little city with a plethora 0f unique and older buildings depicting the architecture of a gone by era. The city seemed a monument to the history of Prince Edward Island and Canada and it seemed very apropos that the Canadian story began here.
The Confederation Centre Of The Arts
Our first stop was at the Confederation Centre Of The Arts which was built in 1964. It of course was a tribute to the "Founding Fathers Of Confederation" but it also was a tribute to all that is cultural, intelligent and precious to Canadian ideals, social endeavours and the human saga!
The "Centre" was erected on the location where the old Charlottetown Market was and consisted of several lovely theatres, art gallery, Mavor's restaurant and a gift shop.
A superb courtyard, in the middle of the building housed a large Magnolia tree and two Hawthorne trees. Not far, near the gift shop stood a complete copy of the "Anne of Green Gables" house made entirely from sugar and donated by a fan club in Japan.
Art Gallery
The exhibits at this gallery were amazing and done in great themes. The one thing that really caught my interest was a huge painting done in three parts and exhibited midway to the second floor at the steps leading to the Art Gallery. The painting done by Native artist Jane Ash Poitras, is powerful, inspiring and emotional. It tells the story of Native People in Canada in art form.
Jane Ash Poitras was raised by an adoptive mother after her mother passed. She attended university obtaining a BSC degree and later obtained degrees in fine arts. A talented artist, she reconnected with her native culture and began painting symbolic art such as the one that I was looking at.
The piece that affected me so was or seemed to be a depiction of historic events combining both native and non native events and the effect that they had on both. To say that this magnificent piece was an important work to all Canadians is not doing it justice. It was and is a piece that the whole world and human society in general can learn from----very powerful and moving!
However, the Art Gallery at the Centre had more than native art. There were exhibits from famous Canadian Artists such as Robert Harris known best for his painting "Fathers of Confederation" but his other works such as "Local Heroes" and "The Studio Boy's Private View" have impact on a part of Canadiana gone by---but in many cases a part of human emotion and interaction that is common to all us now. Other art in this exhibit included self portaits by native and non native artists, art depicting community life in northern communities and photographs of such.
The above art was part of a thematic presentation called "Depictions" which looked at Canadian artwork from various artists linked in a common thread of the diversity yet commonality of all peoples within this great country. It showed that the representation of ideas of/about culture had many forms of expressions but always reflected towards one very human goal or attribute.
Throughout the Confederation Centre included many abstract items such as a question to "what is or what is not art?!" Example: A ceramic engine of a vehicle in an exhibition called "Rural Readymade". Could everyday objects have a place in the world of art? Could they be classed as artistic? My take on this was that art is in the eye of the beholder. I have seen many things that are of everyday use which I could call artistic. For me the arrangement of produce in a grocery store in many cases was a work of art. Could a comb, a pop bottle or similar piece be "art".
I can only draw your attention to the many museum pieces of everyday life exhibited world wide and their classification of "ancient art" to help answer the question.
Other interesting exhibits featured at the Centre Gallery were "Guestworks" by Aganetha Dyck and featured a live beehive and works of art featuring bees.
What did all this have to do with wine and what "Two In A Vineyard" was filming within PEI or anywhere for that matter. The expression of wine as art in both the abstract sense and the organoleptic sense has been part of reason for this series from day one. At the Confederation Centre Of The Arts relationships and themes have shown the importance of art as part of contemporary everyday life. Wine, with its far reaching effects on civilization from the agricultural aspects in the vineyard to the blending of grapes by the winemaker to the depiction of the wine in a bottle and finally to the enjoyment of wine by the uses has been and will always be a form of art. Thus the comparison and inclusion of all the above in the series.
The Confederation Centre For The Arts had more than just the Art Gallery. Theatre in the form of plays and education in acting, singing, dancing, sculpting is dedicated to the next generation through camps and school programs. There are performance areas in several theatres such as the Homburg Theatre, The Mack, Studio One and Two and the Aphitheatre with many theatrical and musical events.
After our visit to "Confederation Centre For The Arts" we went to the "Shellfish Festival" where famous chef Curtis Stone was giving a demonstration in cooking shellfish and shucking oysters. It was a fun time and one that was particularly enjoyed by the female sector of the audience both for the cooking and-----Curtis Stone. On hand to help out was Durham celebrity Christian Pritchard who is a chef in his own right and host of the popular Rogers television program "Daytime".
We then had lunch with Sebastian Manago and Jan Holmes of the Prince Edward Island Tourist
Board/Culinary Alliance at a restaurant called the "Gahan House" which was an 1880's home of John Gahan. We then visited "Province House" and took many pictures of the place where the "Fathers of Confederation" met in 1864 to hash out the Articles of Confederation. We saw the exact room and chairs that they used.
We also saw the area where the Legislative Assembly meet and where they sit. One interesting fact came out was that the ruling party was supposed to sit to the right of the speaker but in this case the ruling party traditionally sits to the left. Why? Because when they first met in 19th century, the stove was on the left hand side of the room and that is where heat was. Winner's prerogative eh!!???
By the time we finished our tour of "Province House" we were off back to Platterhouse and made ready for the next day to come.
End Of Day Two