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Jaywalker free magazine of the arts was published monthly in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and is still available online at all times right here! We hope to get some version of it going again. For now, it is an archival site only.


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Front & Centre, September 2003

Sisterhood: The Women’s Art Festival


As visited by the Jaywalker Gadabout.


It’s practically impossible to be raised in Kingston without knowing a few of the basics: We are a city of the learning and the learned, the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the wise and the leaders.

We are diverse, but are often segregated by purpose, wealth, age or religion. We are one people. And we are every bit the mosaic that 

Canada is.

A mosaic is a work of art. This collection of varied pieces forming a greater image reminds us as much of our heritage as it does our aspirations. But as much as colourful clothes may eventually wash into a grey homogeny, we may feel that we risk a similar fate as technology promises to make spiritual bunkmates of us all.  

After all, affinity and harmony have such homogeny to look forward to; no less than anarchy and individuality have cacophony in their cards. Thus, one may expect that at an event with unique individuals expressing themselves at full voice, each to their own tune, one would arrive at such a cacophony. But on the 17th of August, these individuals instead formed a symphony, and called it the 22nd Women’s Art Festival.

The songs of protest stood in contrast to the songs of peace- forming a backdrop to the day itself. The canvas was textured with variety: the booth of bold acrylic colour beside that of calming pastels; the booth of youthful experimentation beside the tried-and-true; the sober beside the frivolous. And the artists – well, they took on every form and colour in the palette.

But as I wandered around the booths I could not focus on “covering” the festival at all. It was not the colours, the forms or the subjects. And the artists and music would fade in and out. I was overwhelmed, but by the deep sense of talent surrounding me. It reminded me of the Royal Ontario Museum. Like a kid in a candy shop, my artistic sweet tooth rang with delight. And why not?

For nearly a kazillion years, the Women’s Art Festival has been midwife to local talent, delivering and even raising many of Kingston’s finest female artists. The popularity rose from its early years, when, as my not-always-perfect memory recalls, there was a certain sense of tribalism reminiscent of the guilds. But as it grew deeper into fruition, this sense was not lost, but rather expanded.

I was at the festival to find some material to showcase in this issue. I left the house thinking that my day could be easily split between covering the artwork at the Women’s Art Festival, and heading over to the Kingston Jaycees “Over the Hill” Soapbox Derby to get a few shots of the homemade artwork on the racecars. It seemed so easy.

I think I knew I was done for when the first hour blew by me like a subway train. I just kept seeing talent…talent…talent…

Jaywalker Magazine is not a talent contest. It is a magazine of the arts, showcasing local talent, but it does not “judge” the submissions on the basis of what is comparably best. This altruistic policy was in for a real showdown that Sunday, when I was given the task of choosing among thousands of great pieces – all of them equal in their fitting nature.

I bumped into Lawrence, who was anticipating his hand-knit wool socks, then Karen, who was sighing with her love of a sculpture with the hare (of fable) riding atop the tortoise, (also of fable). A group of teddy-bear bearing cards went home with me, en route to Linda. If variety is the spice of life, we’re talking curry here.

Imagine having to choose only a few among thousands of beautiful and varied mosaic tiles to include in your representation of a greater mosaic. Not easy. In fact it was a fool’s fancy if ever there was one.

So I refined the terms a bit, and asked myself instead: Why am I here?

Well, aside from the philosophical stuff, the reason I was at that location at that exact time was because so many years before, a group of women had a dream of “promoting the work of women artists”. This helped me refine my terms quite well: I was searching for something that embodied the spirit of the Women’s Art Festival.

When I came to see their work, first one, followed by the other several minutes later, I saw the same talent level seen throughout the festival. I saw the colours, the lines, the subjects…you get the picture. But it was the realization that there was more to their conspicuously adjoining booths than just comfort with each other.

“Sisterhood” was born.

The Smith sisters had clearly arrived together, unpacked together and were obviously comfortable and supportive in each other’s presence. They had differences in style and form, in materials, and in character. However, no difference could hide their shared focus: the arts. Sisters in the arts: is that not the very essence of the Women’s Art Festival?

And so we, as a group, confirmed that this micro-mosaic of two tiles could speak of the arts, of women, of flowing colour, of dark lines, of aspiration, and of flirtation; but most of all, they could speak of the unifying force behind the Women’s Art Festival – the sisterhood – that has helped improve the entire face of Kingston in this great mosaic of Canada.

Jaywalker would like to extend its thanks to the many organizers, volunteers, sponsors and exhibitors for making this event possible.

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