Inspire & ignite

Artignite is showcasing Kingston’s vibrant culture with Studio22’s concert series

Amidst the slush and the cold, the gloomy weather does little to offer students inspiration. As we get stuck in the January slump, the only light is the slow approach of reading week.

However, upon entering Studio22 I felt my creative spirit alight as I watched Ally Jacob, co-owner of the gallery, lug art pieces around the studio in preparation for the gallery’s participation in Kingston’s artignite.

Artignite is a Kingston festival in its second year that aims to bring the Kingston community together to celebrate art in all its forms and to appreciate those artists who bring culture and inspiration into our community.

Jacob’s Studio22 is just one of the many exhibitions in this festival, but Jacob aims to bring a multi-faceted art experience to viewers. She calls her gallery an “idea manufactory,” welcoming different and experimental ideas that elevate the art experience. Her upcoming four performances in artignite have musicians performing amongst an array of art pieces.

“I’m interested in how the artwork can potentially enhance the experience sitting in the room. A small room—the room is black—it’s essentially very theatre like,” Jacob said. “I just feel like there is some greater potential for an audience member [to have] a bit of reverie, whether it’s a colour or shape, as these notes fly by them.”

“It has to do with atmosphere, the kind of environment you create effects how you take in artwork and music,” she said. “The combination of them is the way to go even further with thoughts, having [that] pause. We need to stop running from here to there and breathe. Artwork has the ability to do that for us, it connects us, but it’s that pause that’s important.”

Jacob is a Renaissance woman of sorts and comes from a diverse arts background, which helped her create this new show for the gallery. It features a unique mix of art from around Canada.

“My husband and I used to run a theatre many years ago, it’s sort of our foray back into performance, back into production in that way,” she said. “It is an interesting thing to play with, when you’ve got a small room, a small audience, you can play with them a bit more, but you have to feel out what they’re willing to play with. It’s quite fun.”

Coming from a broad background in the arts and through many years of experimentation, Jacob has found that such unique performances not only offer the audience a new perspective, but allow for the growth of a community of artists.

“I want to work with other artists, I believe in collaboration,” Jacob said. “We can do quite amazing things when creators team up and allow themselves to work collaboratively. There is great potential there. It’s a great endeavour to pursue an unknown like that; I don’t have a fear of failing because how can you fail when you try something so interesting.”

Jacob is using her fearless attitude to not only incorporate artwork into performance, but also to pair new and upcoming musicians with established performers in the community for the first three performances.

On Jan. 28, Janica Rayne, a singer-songwriter, will have her show opened by Avi Jacob, her student and Jacob’s daughter and Mari Hanson. On Jan. 29 Mauricio Montecinos brings his unique blend of Latin rhythms and world music to the gallery with his students from St. Lawrence College and Renaissance Music.

“Musicians are very generous in general to young performers … they are incredibly supportive, helping and in several of these cases they are instructors,” Jacob explained.

Part of the goal of the show is to give young talent the opportunity to perform, a privilege that is no longer as common as it once was. Jacobs discussed how her husband pointed out that when they use to have dances at school they always had a live band perform, now there is just pre-recorded music, removing the opportunity for young talent to shine.

Through putting together this show and of course being the mother of one of the performers, Jacob is revelling in the chance to see young talent blossom.

“It’s fun to see young guys that are really in command of their music … a young guy just belting out the blues,” she said.

Jacob feels that Kingston is a great place for artists, young and old, especially in recent years as more attention is being given to the cultivation of the arts.

“There was always a sense that there was a really strong talent base in all the arts in this community,” she said. “But we are seeing many more official capacities taking notice of this … Money from the city supporting things is a huge help and that further cultivates it. We have a lot of great schools in this community. There is a lot of great support with senior artists imparting information and inspiration to youth, who are soaking it up.”

It’s clear that Jacob is continually inspired as the studio also prints and binds books and magazines for the local community. Plus, Jacob personally moves all the large pieces around the gallery, placing them on panels she made herself. She notes that it has not been an easy ride to get to this point, but it’s her love of bringing new ideas to the art world that keeps her trucking through.

“It’s not easy simple living … it’s very unpredictable, we don’t have salaries, we don’t have guarantees, so we better love what we do … this is how we like to live, creating, looking and challenging the experience of living,” she said with a smile.

For more information on the performances at Studio22 please see s22.ca/gallery/index.html

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