This is one of several works still on display after The Works festival this year, part of the Downtown Banners Project. We spoke to artist and Latitude 53 board member Anya Tonkonogy about the Jasper Avenue banners she created along with Tim Rechner, Nickelas Johnson, Pearl Rachinsky. She was recruited to the project by our good friend Carolyn Jervis on behalf of The Works and then-Poet-Laureate Roland Pemberton, whose verse appears on the banners and who was “instrumental” in finding artists “who he thought would compliment his poetic vision”.
Tonkonogy says her greatest challenge was working within the terms of an unfinished poem:
“I had a few brief chats with Rollie about where he was going with his poems, but ultimately it was an abstract idea of a theme of ‘The city vs. the city’ that I had to work with, which was a bit of a blessing and a curse!
“Over the past few years I have been busy painting commissioned portraits in Edmonton. So, this idea of ‘publicly displayed work’ is slightly foreign territory for me, and was a challenge to visualize.
“We were asked to submit a minimum of 20 images, …[that] fit the theme of ‘The City vs the city’. I did create 8 or so new pieces for the Banner Project specifically, but some of the Banner images displayed around Edmonton are actually from work I’ve completed in the past. The work for this project was very individual, as each artist worked independently on their pieces. It was not until the banners were hung that I got to see [the other artists’] work for this!”
Anya had a little more to say about those other artists:
“I only know of Tim Rechner’s abstract painting work through visiting ArtsHab galleries, and attending an artist talk at the AGA a year or so ago (where Tim discussed the paintings that came out of his collaboration at the zoo with Lucy the Elephant). I find his paintings command attention. The scale he works with, and the rhythmic/geometric qualities of his mark making are very compelling.
“I am more familiar with the work of both Pearl Rachinsky and Nickelas Johnson, as we have been rolling in the same social and artistic circles in Edmonton for quite some time. I think they are both incredibly talented, and have a unique voice in the Edmonton Arts scene… I actually own a few pieces by Pearl, and look at them fondly every day! Nick and I had both had the pleasure of being involved in the National Portrait Gallery project” .
Anya says she is “endlessly proud to be in such good company with these artists”. You can go to see the Banners themselves on Jasper Avenue between 97 Street and 109 Street—a perfect stroll on the way to see the latest nearby at Latitude 53.