July 19th, 2024

Eye on the Esplanade: Get lost… in Medicine Hat

By Lauren Thomas on October 20, 2023.

Catherine Blackburn exhibition New Age Warriors is open until Dec. 30 at the Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre.--PHOTO COURTESY ESPLANADE ARTS & HERITAGE CENTRE

When I arrive in a new community, the first thing I like to do is jump in my car and “get lost” in all the different neighbourhoods. It gives me a chance to slow down from the craziness of moving, take in the nuances, and see things from a point of view that falls somewhere between being a tourist, and that of an emerging local.

My “get lost” days in Medicine Hat were quite different from what I initially expected – I was pleasantly surprised at the unique cultural vitality of our community and all the hidden gems there were to discover!

One of my favourite things to do when on holidays overseas is to book a mural tour. While venturing through the blocks of our downtown, my excursion was full of visual stimulation with all the brightly painted surfaces. I quickly found a parking stall, picked up a coffee and strolled from avenue to avenue to take in the interesting imagery, displaying elements of Medicine Hat’s rich history and abstract creativity.

After a relaxing trip through town on a Sunshine Trolley Tour, I took to my car again to search out the unique works of Marina Cole and James Marshall sprinkled throughout the parks and neighbourhood properties. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such creative mediums used in public art. I was fascinated at how old growth trees that had stood tall for generations could be granted a second life, to continue to witness change in our community for years to come. I was also struck at the intricate beauty of brick mosaics which are so intrinsic to Medicine Hat’s history.

And then of course, there is my work home, the Esplanade. There is a wealth of talent and creativity to be found amongst my colleagues. If you haven’t been by lately, I highly recommend stopping in. There is lots to discover when strolling through the galleries. I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of a brief tour in the collections, and wow, there are so many artifacts and unique stories to be found in Medicine Hat’s past. In one of the galleries is the stunning exhibition by Catherine Blackburn. Her beadwork is full of colour and strength, and the thought-provoking imagery displays the diversity of female prowess. And of course, there is so much more to discover!

But how do I fit in? And how does this relate to getting lost in my community?

I have been granted the wonderful task of programming entertainment for the Esplanade. I am a lover of the arts. It’s important for me to explore my community and experience what cultural offerings can be found. Creating this familiarity with the community enables me to understand the cultural appetite of Medicine Hat and how to incorporate its diversity into offerings that I endeavour to source for the stage at the Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre.

I still have a few places to get lost inside Medicine Hat, so if you see me out and about, feel free to introduce yourself. I’d love to chat about what kind of programming might entice you to “get lost” one night at the Esplanade.

Lauren Thomas is the co-ordinator of events and entertainment for the Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre

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