The Forks is a meeting place, at the intersection of the Red & Assiniboine, of rural & urban, of past, present & future, of Indigenous and Settler communities. Commissioned by The Forks Benchmark is an art installation curated by Fête Jockey, manifesting new intersections between art, poetry & people who meander along the pathways. Benchmark invites the viewer to experience what happens in great meeting places: when things intersect, they change. It may be slight, it may be passing or permanent, it may be for better or worse, but one thing will leave its mark on the other.
Fête Jockey commissioned top Winnipeg poets and painters, and community members to contribute their expressions of these intersections for Benchmark.
The Visual Artists
Storm is a young, emerging visual artist from Lac Suel, First Nation. Since being introduced to the Graffiti Art Program in 2014, Storm has had many opportunities to create and display her art around the city. She has participated in murals and mural mentorship programs, learning to adapt her skills to paint in diverse mediums on a range of surfaces from walls to light boxes. Birds often reoccur as a common motif in her work, symbolically representing herself in her art. Many of her pieces also reflect her First Nations background and the influences of her daily life in the city.
Founded by Internationally renowned Artist Wanda Koop, Art City is a not-for-profit community art centre in Winnipeg dedicated to providing people of all ages with high-quality art programming, free-of-charge. Art City’s primary goal is to provide the opportunity and a safe environment for anyone who wishes to express him or herself creatively.
GMB Chomichuk is an award-winning graphic novelist and visual artist whose work has appeared in magazines, comics, film, video games and TV. His newest work is collaboration with writer David Alexander Robertson and singer songwriter Iskwe - Will I See? Takes a spiritual journey through the very real issue of missing and murdered indigenous women.
Gabrielle Funk is a Winnipeg based visual artist, muralist and community art facilitator.
She works primarily in two-dimensional format, using combinations of ink and acrylics to render densely detailed characters embedded in sparse, abstract environments. Gabrielle creates realist portraits that walk the line between the awkward and graceful, the familiar and foreign. Through her work she grapples with the complex subtleties of both human and animal nature, comparing, contrasting or combining the two. Her current series of paintings and drawings depict a range of compromised and revealing self portraits, representing various stages of personal exploration and her struggle as a woman to uncover a genuine sense of self despite the complex pressure of cultural and religious expectations placed upon her. She invites viewers into a world laced with quiet tension and subtle admission, seeking to find and represent the face of vulnerability and the essence of authenticity using subject matter and symbolism that is as hostile and wild as it is familiar.
1982: born in Hokkaido, Japan. Iwasaki moved to Winnipeg to study fine arts at the University of Manitoba in 2002, where he earned Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Attracted to the Winnipeg's vibrant and supportive arts community, he gained the permanent resident status in Canada and now lives and works in Winnipeg and calls it his new hometown.
Iwasaki's art practice diverges into many mediums from embroidery, paintings, collages, to sculptures; inspired by things and events, which surround his daily life as sources of his creation.
Most of his recent works are either visual recording of his daily life or visualization of his imaginary worlds or landscapes that no one would see unless otherwise depicted. Most shapes and colors have meanings and origins that are very significant to him in the way he feels them, therefore they represent and reflect his state of mind.
In his words “things that I feel are never the same in the next moment because I keep changing. Capturing moments and sharing my visions with others have been my recent obsession and pleasure.”
Chris Pancoe is a multi-media Winnipeg-based artist. Pancoe received his Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Manitoba and his Masters of Fine Art at the University of Minnesota. He attended a year-long residency at Pueblo Espanol in Barcelona Spain and has taught ceramics and sculpture in Winnipeg, Minneapolis, MN and Inverhills, MN. Currently, he is the technician for the Ceramics and Sculpture area at the University of Manitoba, and is a private specialty builder and contractor. Pancoe paints, draws and makes ceramic sculptures and pottery in his studio powered by waste vegetable oil.
The Traveling Sign Painters
The Traveling Sign Painters started out as an idea in the early spring of 2015. Bridget Ellen said to Joseph Pilapil, "Hey we should do this thing". Joseph excitedly agreed. The following summer, Using reclaimed wood and a frame from a bike trailer; they built a cart with a detachable sandwich board. You can catch them from time to time on the streets of Winnipeg taking your requests signs to be painted. The Traveling Sign Painters' goals are to inform the public of this dying craft and create signs for everyone, showing that the sign is not just a sign, but a piece of well crafted art.
The Literary Artists
Dina Alexandrea is a Winnipeg-based fiction and poetry writer who appreciates the texture and beauty of ordinary moments. She views each day as a gift and looks forward to whatever life brings next. Her children are her greatest inspiration and she feels blessed to be called “Mom.”
Dina is currently working on her debut novel as well as a collection of poetry. She is a member of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild and welcomes any opportunity to collaborate on mixed media projects.
Dina is the winner of the Benchmark Community Poetry Competition.
Katrine Deniset is a Franco-Manitoban writer, journalist and actress. While poetry and short stories have been at the core of her work, Katrine is currently writing her first novel. She is deeply passionate about languages and loves to play around with them to brighten up her writing.
Patrick Friesen lives in Victoria. He has published more than a dozen books of poetry, a book of essays and, with P. K. Brask, co-translations of several Danish poets, including Ulrikka Gernes. Friesen has also written stage and radio plays, text for dance, and has recorded two CDs of spoken word and improv music with Marilyn Lerner. His play, The Shunning, first produced by Prairie Theatre Exchange, was staged by the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in 2011. His upcoming play, also called a short history of crazy bone, will be produced by Theatre Projects Manitoba in 2018.
Scott Nolan is a songwriter, poet, multi-instrumentalist from Winnipeg, Manitoba Treaty One Territory. His songs have been recorded by, Hayes Carll, Mary Gauthier, Watermelon Slim, and Corin Raymond among others. He has recently produced albums for William Prince, Lynne Hanson, and Watermelon Slim.
In January 2015 he started writing poetry, approximately three weeks after his 40th birthday. The plan was to replace smoking cigarettes with walking eight to ten kilometers a day. He is a songwriter by trade and often discovered melodies and rhythms in the shuffling of his feet. He spends most of his time thinking about words, music, and language. Nolan found myself writing short poems based on people and places in his neighbourhood, trying to capture a bit of what was happening around him.
An older cousin of his discovered a gift and passion for poetry while serving time in Folsom State Prison. He was an early influence on him, sending books and letters from prison and encouraging the younger Nolan to read and write as often as possible. This relationship was the subject of a documentary last year called Visiting Day, produced for the CBC by filmmaker Charles Konowal. He was invited to perform and host writing workshops in the very same prison library his cousin wrote to him from all those years ago.
The late Winnipeg poet Patrick O’Connell was also a dear friend and mentor. Patrick is one of his favourite contemporary Canadian poets. His was a lyrical style that had a strong impact on his early songwriting. One of the many benefits of working in the arts community in Winnipeg is the quality of work of his peers. It’s consistently encouraging and inspiring. After more than a decade of relentless touring, he decided to take a year or so away from the road to collaborate, produce records, and enjoy his life in Winnipeg. A play was produced through Manitoba Theatre Projects based on the nine albums he has released since 2003. The play, I Dream of Diesel, enjoyed a two-week run of sold-out shows and critical praise from both the community and critics.
Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer from Treaty One territory, the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses Company) won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her NFB short documentary, this river, won the Coup de Coeur at the Montreal First Peoples Festival, and has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award. Her first novel, The Break was shortlisted for a Governor General Literary Award, the Rogers Trust Fiction Prize and is now a long list finalist for Canada Reads.
Shaun de Rooy
Shaun de Rooy is a Winnipeg-based artist and an Instructor at the University of Manitoba, School of Art. His most recent work, which was featured at Nuit Blanche Winnipeg, was a series of interactive sculptures, which focused on establishing a tactile relationship between viewer and art.
Fête Jockey is Winnipeg's production company for kick ass events. Founded in 2016 by visual artist Jennie O (O'Keefe) and theatre entrepreneur Andraea Sartison, Fête Jockey specializes in uniquely crafted cultural events that expertly intertwine the best of Winnipeg artists, with high profile public occasions. Together, Sartison & O'Keefe boast years of experience as event planners, theatre producers, art curators/consultants/teachers, producers and promoters- working with a multitude of organizations including University of Winnipeg, The Forks, Bike Week Winnipeg, One Trunk Theatre, Martha Street Studio, Art City, MAWA and Theatre Projects Manitoba. Fête Jockey uses events to highlight local products, organizations and initiatives while directly engaging the diverse artistic community of Winnipeg. The company is dedicated to hiring artists and investing 3% of their annual profit back into grassroots arts initiatives in our one great city.