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Arts & Culture(Archives)


Midnight With Warhol - A Showcase of Wood Buffalo Talent:The 2018 Buffy Awards a Colourful Success!

Paul Jen and Christina Rolufs
BY Paul Jen and Christina Rolufs
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“Art’s what you can get away with.” — Andy Warhol

October 20, 2018, saw the return of the Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards presented by Arts Council Wood Buffalo; a colourful evening that celebrates local artists and showcases the diversity of the arts community in our region. Artists, art groups, supporters and – of course – those nominated for a Buffy gathered at the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts, which had been transformed into the colourful pop art era of Andy Warhol’s New York City.

The 2018 Buffys were bigger than ever before, taking place in two locations within SECPA. The black box theatre had been renamed “The Studio” and decorated to be more intimate, hosting the pre- and post-show performances and festivities, while the gymnasium was transformed into Andy Warhol’s breathtaking Silver Factory.  The host of the evening, theatre artist Justin Shaw, took the stage bursting with energy wearing his event persona: Andy Warhol himself. Fully decked out in a Warhol-esque look, complete with wig and sunglasses, Shaw guided the audience through the awards ceremony and the performances, entertaining and enthralling the audience as the evening went on.

“We are so pleased with this year’s awards! The Buffys are an awareness program as much as they recognize the incredible impact the arts have in our community, and we’re proud to have showcased the variety of artists and creative professionals that live and work right here,” says Arts Council Wood Buffalo Executive Director Liana Wheeldon.

Throughout the evening, guests were treated to the abundance of talent present in our community. The diverse performances included dance, stand-up comedy, flow arts, various musical performances and a drag show number. A sizzle reel highlighted Wood Buffalo media arts, and locally produced poetry was featured throughout the program.

The awards themselves were beautifully handcrafted drums, created by local artists Claire Antoine and Sonia Burke-Smith. The concept was based on the Buffalo and Drum Teachings of Indigenous culture. The Buffalo represents respect in the Seven Sacred teachings while the Drum represents the first sound we ever hear - our mother’s heartbeat. The heart is what connects audiences to an artist’s work - it’s the vulnerability, the honesty, and the statements made from the heart that truly touch people. There were fourteen awards handed out altogether, including the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to David Ball and the Arts Champion Award presented to Mike Moore.

Everywhere you looked, the space was alive and buzzing with new things to see. Guests dressed in the bold patterns of the 1960s-70s era, local artwork in the style of pop art was on display, and multiple musical performances made the spaces come alive as guests mingled. Even the extremely popular candy bar from previous Buffys made an appreciated re-appearance. Altogether, the event was a sizzling success!

“It’s so inspiring to organize the Buffys each year. Learning about all the nominees, seeing the artists showcase their talents, and watching the delighted reactions of the audience makes the long hours of preparations all worthwhile,”  says Diana Moser, the ACWB Programs & Partnerships Manager.


2018 Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Buffy Award Recipients


Arts Administration: Theresa Buller

Theresa is a Recreation and Culture Coordinator with the Department of Public Works for the RMWB and the municipal liaison for the Public Art Committee. She has worked on the development of the Municipal Public Art Program, the first large-scale permanent public art piece, as well as the igNIGHT temporary public art exhibitions 2014, 2015 and 2017.


Arts Champion: Mike Moore

Mike is a lawyer and founding partner of the law firm Flett Manning Moore. He has worked with local visual artists to display their work in various galleries over the last several years, supported local theatre artists in creating original pieces and producing Canadian works, and partnered with various organizations to ensure that local youth have access to arts programming.


Arts Education: Jennifer Barr

Jennifer is an art teacher at Thickwood Heights Public School, member of Fort McMurray Potters’ Guild and one of the initiators of Fort McMurray ROCKS.


Creative Collaboration: Forever Forest

Forever Forest is an Elder and Artist based project focusing on recovery and resiliency in children, using Indigenous Teachings and Ceremony.


Dance: Shweta Suthar

Shewta is a dancer, choreographer and founder of dance group Divine Group of India.


Fine Craft: Ekaterina Petukhova

Ekaterina works primarily in theatre, creating design, costumes, props and puppets. She runs her own puppet theatre company Pink Whale Theatre.


Indigenous Arts: Shawn McClure

Shawn specializes in soap stone carving and sculptures. He owns and operates Custom Carvings Corporation.


Lifetime Achievement: David Ball

David has lived in Fort McMurray since 1981, and is a visual artist working primarily with pastels, but he has experience with most mediums. He focuses on a wide variety of subjects including landscape, marine, wildlife, city-scape and portraits. Since retiring, his art focuses more on the local landscapes featuring the river and river valleys in Wood Buffalo, as well as the mountain parks near Banff. He has been featured in local and provincial exhibitions and galleries, and his work is in several private collections.


Literary Arts: Dawn Booth

Dawn is a freelance writer and journalist, editor and poet. She is the Editor in Chief for YMM Parent Magazine, and the Managing Director for her own company Media Booth.


Media Arts: Tito Guillen

Tito is a filmmaker specializing in directing and producing short films. He is part of the Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association and was one of the founders of the Fort McMurray International Film Festival.


Music: Jay Chinn

Jay is the sound technician and DJ for Boomtown Casino. He plays the violin, drums and guitar among other instruments, and has performed with several different bands and groups.


Rising Star: Cash Finch

Cash is an actor and a playwright. He participated in the Theatre; Just Because Youth Play Productions and the Keyano Theatre Company Drama Force Youth Intensive, and has appeared on the Keyano Theatre stage.


Theatre: Justin Shaw

Justin is an actor, playwright, comedian, director and the Artistic Director of Theatre; Just Because.


Visual Arts: Liam Renner

Liam is a graffiti artist. His work includes large-scale murals, mixed-media prints, hard edge painting, gestural mark making, and textiles.