MANITOWANING – The sultry sounds of the Sonny O Trio plus one (so the Sonny O Quatro?) provided a soundtrack replete with the sounds of laughing children as Anishnaabe artist Mike Cywink created a stunning mural loosely based on the bee theme of the 4elements Living Arts 2020 Bee Mobile Studio Tour. The exhibition at the welcome centre in Manitowaning capped the events centred on the arts organization’s new bee-themed mobile studio.
“This is the final in our series,” said 4elements Living Arts chair Susan Snelling, as she explained the plans behind the mobile studio. “The intent of the mobile studio is to do this kind of event, but also to provide a space for artists to work out on the land.” To that end the studio will be equipped with a composting toilet, a sink, a fold down bed and a work area as well. “It will be finished in gold-coloured siding with black trim, so it will be the 4e beehive, a hive of activity.”
“This is our final weekend, sadly,” said co-ordinator Lou Hayden. “This week we have artist Michael Cywink and his apprentice Gerry (Ranger) painting a lovely six-foot mural for us and Sonny Bear (Osawabine) and his friends are playing some wonderful music for us.”
There was a steady stream of traffic stopping by to view and listen to the proceedings, while 4e board member Samantha Ramage did volunteer duty, helping children create their own bees out of pipe cleaners and other yellow and black materials.
“This has been lovely,” said Jeannette Corbiere-Lavell, who stopped in with her grandchild.
Masks were the order of the day and hand sanitizer (along with spare masks) were available and encouraged for those in attendance.
“Everyone has been very good about the masks and hand sanitizer,” said Ms. Hayden. “We are very encouraged by how everyone is maintaining a respectful distance and taking precautions.”
Mr. Cywink’s creation, while loosely allied to the general “bee” theme, followed its own path. The theme meshed well with traditional Anishnaabe floral patterns and Mr. Cywink and his apprentice could be seen conversing and collaborating throughout the day.
On the musical side of things, Mr. Osawabine was joined by pianist Joahnna Berti, guitarist Brian Fox and Marsha Coffey, who played a variety of esoteric instruments including an utu drum, a vase-like instrument inspired by the jugs carried by African women on their heads.