A magical day
May 15, 2012

Artist for a Day, 2:06, by Ruby Boutilier (BFA 1999)

The success of Artist for a Day was reflected in the sparkling eyes of a little girl who was off like a rocket when told about everything that was going on under the tents along the path. Her mother headed out in pursuit, calling over her shoulder, “I’ve never seen her more excited.”

The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the vibes were positive for NSCAD’s Artist for a Day, an inaugural event on Saturday, May 12 that was conceived to show off everything that NSCAD’s about. There’s no telling how many people came by, but all the tents were swarmed from 10 in the morning to past 4 in the afternoon. NSCAD volunteers in brightly coloured T-shirts were kept hopping and everyone went home tired and happy.

“It was a super opportunity for people to see all that we do,” says Linda Hutchison, director of NSCAD’s 125th celebrations. Artist for a Day was organized by NSCAD’s Alumni Association and the Office of University Relations. “It was amazing to see so many people engaged with what NSCAD is and does.”

The percussion group Samba Nova (NSCAD professor Wilma Needham is a member) got things moving in the morning, leading a lively parade of revelers from the Sands at Salter to the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market and back again. Taking part in the parade were Michael Fernandes and his bucket brigade, who set to work soon afterwards in their quest move Halifax Harbour just a little bit over. Asked how he would know when they would be done, Michael responded with understated aplomb: “When I can walk to Dartmouth.”

Neil Thompson from NSCAD’s Art Supply Store cut a dashing figure, dressed as the King of Siam in a silk embroidered tunic and trousers to Delaine Tiniakou-Doran’s Anna Leonowens, who wore a fabulous red dress designed by NSCAD professor Gary Markle. They posed for pictures so much it hurt to smile. (NSCAD founder Anna Leonowens is renowned for working as the governess to the King of Siam’s 64 children.) Visitors could also take home a Polaroid of themselves in the 125 photo booth.

Steamroller printing got a lot of attention, with crowds forming every time the steamroller revved up and moved over another inked-up plate. Large-scale prints from four different, hand-carved wood plates were pulled off throughout the day in the parking lot, while small linocut prints were made under the tutelage of NSCAD alum Chris Joyce in one of the tents.

The less noisy, low-tech activities were just as busy—things like sitting down at a potter’s wheel or a sewing machine or a loom; making a drawing of the model frozen into position; adding a dab of paint to the giant canvas or a swoosh of spray paint to the mural, which changed continually throughout the day. Kids especially got a big kick out of the green screen, which could take them anywhere they wanted to go: whether swinging from the top of the Empire State Building or to one of the sidewalk cafes in Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting. Parents with smart phones were equally smitten by David Clark and Leola LeBlanc’s challenge to find the NSCAD lion, which was magically transported onsite using a little 3D trickery.

“The thing that really made this event was that it was so hands-on,” says Peter Wuensch, president of NSCAD’s Alumni Association. “The public really got into playing artist. People were taking the fun very seriously.”

The winner of the free class offered through the School of Extended Studies was Debbie Cross.

 A little girl adds to the mural started by NSCAD student Teto Elsiddique.