Nanoose Bay artist Kelly Corbett’s Extent exhibition at the Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach was the most read arts and entertainment story of 2021. (Photo courtesy Don Denton/Boulevard)

Nanoose Bay artist Kelly Corbett’s Extent exhibition at the Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach was the most read arts and entertainment story of 2021. (Photo courtesy Don Denton/Boulevard)

Nanaimo News Bulletin’s top 10 most-read arts and entertainment stories of 2021

Local artists, singers, dancers, comedians and public art pieces make yearly list

1. Nanoose Bay artists brings B.C. landscapes to new gallery show in Qualicum Beach, Jan. 2

The News Bulletin’s first arts story of 2021 is also its most read.

From Jan. 6 to Feb. 27, Nanoose Bay artist Kelly Corbett presented an exhibition of her work at the Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach. The exhibition featured large landscape paintings mostly depicting places from across Vancouver Island and the show’s title, Extent, alluded to the vast wilderness seen in her art.

Corbett is an explorer of the outdoors and through her art she invites others to join her as she hikes, kayaks and snowshoes across B.C.

“I’m always outside adventuring and I see all these really beautiful, amazing scenes that I think, ‘Well, why isn’t everybody doing what I’m doing because this is just so amazing,’” she said. “So what I like to do is I capture the scenes with my camera and then I make paintings from them to share with the public.”

Corbett brings her camera along on all her excursions and said her hiking companions are “very patient” to allow her to take pictures along the way. She said she’s accumulated “millions and millions” of photos.

“There’s tons of potential paintings in there so it is sometimes hard to pick out exactly which one is going to become a painting but I never run out of inspiration,” Corbett said. “I have a huge list of paintings I still need to create.”

2. City of Nanaimo to paint over Maffeo Sutton Park bathroom mural, Sept. 23

This year it was announced that a mural that has stood in Maffeo Sutton Park for 16 years will be taken down due to wear and tear.

At its regular council meeting Sept. 21, Nanaimo city councillors voted to “de-accession” Underwater Fantasy, a mural by artist Dan Richey that decorated the exterior of the Maffeo Sutton Park washrooms since 2005.

“The de-accessioning of public art is a formal process that we put in a number of years ago to make sure art was protected and made sure it was valued. But when a piece gets to a point where it needs to formally be de-accessed, we come to council…” said parks, recreation and culture general manager Richard Harding in his address to council. “[The mural] is way past its lifespan and we want to be able to remove it.”

According to a staff report, Underwater Fantasy was expected to last only five to seven years. The report said the mural has suffered “considerable, though anticipated, material degradation, detracting from its overall appearance and enhancement of public space.” The artist was informed of the decision to take it down.

The report said “a fresh design treatment can be undertaken using existing funds to support the renewal of this public space.” It also mentioned the cost of removing the mural, repairing the building’s surface and preparing a new paint job was covered in the city’s 2021 financial plan.

3. Popular art piece will crab-walk off Nanaimo’s waterfront, March 23

The City of Nanaimo also decided to get rid of three other long-standing outdoor public art installations with “significant” wear and tear.

At their March 22 governance and priorities committee meeting, city councillors voted to remove from the city’s public art collection Dan Richey’s Dungeness Crab sculpture, which stood in Maffeo Sutton Park since 2013, as well as The Hummingbird Project, created in 2013 by artist Yvonne Vander Kooi and Bayview Elementary students and Vander Kooi’s 2007 work At Play, both of which were painted panel displays in Deverill Square Park.

“The reason for de-accession of each of these relates to their life cycle and the fact that over the years since they were first installed significant weathering has caused material degradation,” said city events and culture manager Julie Bevan, in her presentation to councillors.

Bevan added that the works were all designed to be temporary. A report to council noted that the crab’s popularity prompted the city to buy the piece, but “after seven further years of display its surface treatment has eroded significantly.”

The report described both The Hummingbird Project and At Play as having “reached the end of their lifespan.”

“Certainly in all three instances these were thoughtful and skillful contributions to the public sphere by Nanaimo artists and works that have been well-loved in the places that they’ve occupied,” Bevan said. “We know that they’ll be missed.”

4. Nanaimo comedian releases COVID-19-themed parody song ‘Plexiglass,’ March 20

This year Nanaimo comedian Peter Hudson released his first single.

In February Hudson debuted Plexiglass, a parody of Justin Timberlake’s 2006 song SexyBack all about COVID-19 masks and barriers. After living through “a hell of a year,” Hudson said humour and comedy were needed more than ever.

“It’s been the hardest year of my life,” he said. “I lost a couple jobs and of course not promoting and doing comedy and I’m just like, ‘You know what? We need to laugh about crappy situations and make light of them because that’s part of the healing.’”

Hudson said he’s always been a fan of music parodies and with COVID-19 restrictions inhibiting his performing career he took the opportunity to finally explore music. He said, “when those road blocks are in front of you, you keep on smashing them.”

“Now’s the time more than ever to try new things, you know what I mean? Try and be uncomfortable as an artist a bit and do things that we normally wouldn’t do because of COVID-19,” Hudson said.

In the video, Hudson dons a plastic helmet and enters a grocer’s before breaking into song. The video was shot at Superette Foods and the box-like helmet was custom-made at Industrial Plastics and Paints.

“We went and actually sized it out and then they made one out of cardboard,” Hudson said. “They’re like, ‘This is the craziest thing we’ve ever done.’”

5. 50 Gabriola women over 50 pose nude for ‘Faerie Goddess Mothers’ calendar, Aug. 21

A group of Gabriola women bared all this year in a charity calendar that embraced aging and challenged notions of beauty.

More than 50 women age 50 and up participated in the Faerie Goddess Mothers of Gabriola 2022 calendar, with proceeds supporting 12 Gabriola and Nanaimo charities.

The project was led by Dorothy Engst, who died in September from complications related to a rare disease she was living with. She came up with the idea for the calendar while at a small outdoor women’s gathering. Although she was weakened by her condition, she said being among friends gave her strength.

“As we were sitting there I just felt so uplifted that I just felt like ripping my clothes off and saying, ‘You know what? Here I am just as I am. I am powerful,’” Engst said.

The photos were all taken in the Gabriola wilderness and being in nature inspired the faerie motif, as a graphic designer added faerie wings to the models in the photographs. Each month’s photo was taken during that month. Engst said she enjoyed the experience because it gave her a year of “amazing” photo shoots.

“When I was at an all-time low it was like a photo day was coming and I would just get myself rested in preparation and it was awesome every time,” she said. “It would lift me up. It’s like there was a glow around everybody.”

6. Vancouver Island singer introduces her alternate identity on debut album, Feb. 10

This year, on her birthday, Nanaimo singer Taylor Manns released her debut album, Tiki Way.

The record discusses her struggles with mental health and is named after her onstage persona.

“I have a lot of depression and mental health issues that I have normally that I’ve had to conquer to create this album,” Manns said. “All my mental blocks, my anxieties, the things that hold me back.”

Manns said mental health is an issue she felt she had to write about, and by sharing what she’s been through she hopes others will re-evaluate their own situations. She said the project brought her out of her comfort zone, and adopting her Tiki Way persona helped her through it.

“I see her as this, like, space-witch thing I created in my head,” Manns said. “Just a very different type of character that I can be, that I can be out-there and push my boundaries.”

Manns said the “Tiki” part of her alias comes from her own name, Taylor Kate, and the rest came to her while driving down a street in the Hammond Bay area.

“I was like, ‘OK, I need a sign, I need something,’ and I literally saw the street name was Tiki Way and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s my name,’” she said. “It’s pretty funny. It was a literal sign. The universe was slapping me in the face with that one.”

7. Nanaimo’s new welcoming totem pole to cost $50,000 more than expected, July 22

A new 50-foot totem pole was installed in Maffeo Sutton Park this year, but in the summer it was revealed it would cost twice as much as expected.

City councillors initially voted unanimously to spend $50,000 for a totem pole by carver Noel Brown of Snuneymuxw and Kwagulth First Nations, and at a summer finance and audit committee meeting councillors agreed to double that contribution. The Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre also provided $51,000 from Canadian Heritage, Mosaic Forest Management and Herold Engineering.

“What we’ve seen through the first half of 2021 is the design process, the discussions, the realization (of) what the welcome pole encompasses in regard to height, diameter and then location,” said Art Groot, director of facilities and parks operations, in his presentation to councillors. “And so as a result of those details being somewhat finalized, the realization is that there’s a bit of a funding shortfall.”

According to a city report, the additional $50,000 was needed to cover the custom construction of the pole’s base, the raising and installation of the pole and “contingency items.”

“Fifty thousand dollars to any individual in Nanaimo is a lot of money. It’s not a lot of money, however, in the context of our total budget,” Mayor Leonard Krog said. “But the value we receive from this in terms of the necessary goodwill and the work towards reconciliation, I think, far outweighs any monetary cost.”

8. Nanaimo man’s 60-second stop-motion ‘Big Lebowski’ remake wins fans’ choice award, Feb. 16

Nanaimo man Todd Cameron won a $1,000 prize for a minute-long stop-motion film adaptation of his favourite movie, The Big Lebowski.

On. Feb. 16 Vancouver radio station CFOX 99.3 FM revealed the winners of its one-minute movie contest and Cameron was announced the recipient of the Fan Favourite award.

“It was really cool to get a vote of confidence and a little bit of prize money,” Cameron said of the win.

The award was determined based on fan votes and Cameron said his family, friends and people from the community were voting for him every day.

“The main thing this has shown me is just how much support I have,” he said.

In Cameron’s film, The Short Lebowski, figurines recreate scenes from the movie on handmade sets. Cameron said he suspects his entry was popular among viewers because The Big Lebowski is a well-liked film, people appreciate stop-motion animation and “there’s just something neat about watching toys in adult situations.”

“It’s quite a challenge to tell a movie in one minute but I tried to do an even mix of storyline and just some of the more comedic lines … and that combination seemed to pay off for me,” Cameron said. “Most of the main characters got a little scene at least and you only have two seconds for each scene so you have to really hit it hard with each one.”

9. Vancouver Island hip hop dance duo Funkanometry promotes ice cream dream in Parksville, July 24

Dance duo Funkanometry – Nanaimo’s Jacksun Fryer and Carlow Rush of Duncan – were in Parksville this summer to create a promotional video with Mid-Island Co-op for the grand opening of its new ice cream counter.

The pair said they were both excited to work with the company and were open to ideas on what the promotional video might look like.

“It was kind of cool – we got to do something with some sick old Mercedes. We didn’t really plan that. Some lady just asked us if we wanted to use it, which was pretty cool,” said Rush.

Promotional content isn’t new for Funkanometry, who have worked with the likes of Tim Hortons and The Da Vinci Experience in the past. But if it is for a Vancouver Island or Lower Mainland business they support, they are likely to participate.

“And the thing is, we don’t do them much different than a regular video, right? We’ve talked about it, and we don’t want it to look like we’re doing it for something – obviously those will have to happen because you got to do that sometimes,” said Fryer.

“But when it’s, like, natural or at a cool location, we’d probably film there anyways,” said Rush.

Funkanometry boasts more than 500,000 followers on the social media platform TikTok and in 2019 they performed during season three of the television series World of Dance.

10. Demi Lovato loves Lantzville singer’s cover of one of her songs, March 13

A local singer’s cover of a Demi Lovato song was so good, the pop star heard it and loved it, too.

In March Raymond Salgado of Lantzville was featured in a Glamour Magazine video segment called You Sang My Song.

Producers came across Salgado’s cover of Lovato’s song Sober and asked him if he’d like to be part of the segment. He replied very quickly and got the opportunity to watch Lovato react to his cover and hear their feedback.

“He did a really good job of making it feel heartfelt and bring me back into that emotion and that’s what music is about, is about feeling, so he did exactly that,” Lovato told Glamour. “Raymond, that was so beautiful. I’m just so blown away by the soul in your voice, too. I could really tell that you were feeling it, and I loved it.”

Salgado has been a fan of Lovato’s since he was 11 or 12 years old. Lovato told Glamour that Sober is a “heavy” song that represented a dark time and Salgado said some of the lyrics hit home for him, too.

“[They’re] such a huge advocate for mental health and addiction and it’s so hard, as an artist, sharing your feelings and I just love how vulnerable and how honest [they] can be,” he said.

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