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Galt Museum examines Chinese art techniques in new exhibit

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It’s a happy coincidence that within a few weeks of each other, there was a big fundraiser to help save the remaining buildings in Lethbridge’s Chinatown and The Galt Museum opened an exhibit exploring the art of China.
“It’s a combination of a traveling exhibit from the Royal Ontario Museum and a few objects from our own Galt Museum collection,” said curator Wendy Aitkens.


 The exhibit includes intricately carved Wendy Aitkens examines an intricately carved table. Photo by Richard Ameryfurniture from the Galt Museum Collection and bronze, jade and ceramics , some of them dating back to 11,000 B.C..
“ But we talk about the symbolism and what skills were used to create the pieces,” Aitkens continued.


“Some of them (the symbols) offered protection or a healthy life or many babies,” she said adding she was interested in where these pieces originate and especially some of the pottery an the skills used to create it.


“I‘ve made pottery for 25 years,” she said adding the exhibit’s examination of pottery techniques intrigued her.
There are selections of earthenware, created in a low fire as well as porcelain developed in high fire.
“They kept that secret until the 1700s,” she described.


“Bronze is very hard and strong. But they had a technique for bronze casting where they could create very intricate and complex pieces,” she said.


“Some of these pieces are very old, from 11,000-13,000 B.C, but they are very durable so they can be part of the Royal Ontario Museum’s traveling exhibit. So that shows their durability,” she said.
 The Galt Museum pieces chosen include gifts made brought over to mayor Carpenter in the 1990s from Lethbridge’s sister city in China including a tapestry.


 Plus there is furniture donated by local Chinese families.
 And as a nod to Lethbridge’s Chinatown, there are three bowls rescued from the Chinese National Building before it was closed and torn down after being damaged by wind last summer.


There are also school books used in the ’50s  and ’60s to teach Chinese children about their culture and language during special Saturday classes.
“They are very fragile, but they are wonderful,” Aitkens gushed.

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Galt Museum explore the arts of China in new exhibit

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The Galt Museum explores China with a new exhibit opening today, Jan. 31.Wendy Aitkens examines three pots from the Chinese National Museum. photo by Richard Amery
“It’s a combination of a traveling exhibit from the Royal Ontario Museum and a few objects from our own Galt Museum collection,” said curator Wendy Aitkens of the exhibit  Arts of China.


 The exhibit  features intricately carved furniture from the Galt Museum collection and bronze, jade and ceramics which date back to 11,000 B.C..
The Galt Museum opened the new exhibit just in time to celebrate the Chinese new year, the Year of the horse, Jan. 31.


While Arts of China is open to the public today, the official opening is Feb. 9 from 2-3 p.m. when the Galt Museum welcomes special guest Lisa Claypool, University of Alberta associate professor of history, art, design and visual culture. She will discuss the meaning of jades, bronzes and porcelain in the culture of the Quing Dynasty (1644-1911), the last dynasty in China.

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Mitch Miyagawa film explores government apologies in ‘A Sorry Sate’

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Mitch Miyagawa’s family has probably been on the receiving end of the most government apologies on record.
So he decided to explore the issues ralating to  the apologies by making a documentary, “A Sorry State,” which will be screened at the Galt Museum, at 7 p.m., Nov. 14. He will also be speaking at the University of Lethbridge  on Friday at noon for their Art Now program.


2013 marks the 25th Anniversary of Japanese-Canadian Redress: in 1988, Mitch Miyagawa’s Japanese-Canadian family received an apology from Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for the internment of Japanese CanadiaMitch Miyagawa screens his film “A Sorry State”  at the Galt Museum tonight. Photo by Cathie Archbouldns during the Second World War. Miyagawa’s stepmother Etheline was a young victim of residential schools for Aboriginal children. His stepfather, Harvey, is the son of Chinese immigrants who were burdened with a racist head tax. Both also received official apologies from the Canadian government.


“It’s about my family’s experience with government apologies,” he summarized from Vancouver on his way out east. The film has screened on CTV 2 as well as TVO.


“It hasn’t done very well at festivals, probably because it has been on TV. But I’m doing a lot of community screenings like this one,” he said.


 It took about four years to complete the film from the original idea to it’s completion. A lot of that time was spent getting funding for it.
“It took about a year to edit and my dad died during the completion of the film,” he said adding  the story of his dad being detained in an Japanese internment camp during the Second World War,”  and receiving an official apology from Brian Mulroney in 1988 sparked his interest in the issues.


“He remarried an aboriginal woman who raised in a residential school and she got an apology from Stephen Harper. And she remarried a Chinese man, who was subjected to the Chinese Head tax. So there are a lot of apologies,” he said.
 So he decided to explore some of these sites and research the history of these events.
“I wanted to find out what does it all mean,” he said.


 He noted some apologies are merely lip service. Others have a more symbolic value
“I think it really does depend on the apology.  There are bad and good apologies,” he said.
The best ones are a really unique way to tell the story of these events,” he continued.
Then there are the others.

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Galt Museum celebrates Fall with second annual harvest festival

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The Galt Museum is getting excited for  the second annual harvest Festival, Oct. 5.Karen Romanchuk plays  The Galt Museum Harvest Festival. Photo by Richard Amery
 There will be a variety of activities happening at the free family event from 5-9 p.m. live music from Karen Romanchuk and Pete Watson.

There will also be activities like last year’s favourite — line dancing lessons with the Windy Rafters Barn Dance.
 There will also be new activities including sugar beet carving as opposed to pumpkin carving.


“It’s interesting to see  where sugar comes from. It’s a big industry here,” said special programs co-ordinator Leslie Hall, who is excited to learn how to carve a sugar beet.
“The younger kids can just draw on them, ” she said.
“There will also be hay rides and we’ll be making stone soup,” she continued adding stone soup is when everybody in a community would gather and bring one item, all of which they would combine to make a gigantic pot of soup.


“It should be a lot of fun. There will be wagon rides with horses. It’s our second year, so we‘re bringing back some of  our old favourites form last year. We’ll be making mini-caramel apples. They’re bite sized so they’re easier to eat,” she enthused.
“ The best part of this is I get to put on events I think are really cool,” she said.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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Galt Museum explores how religion affects communities in the Bible Belt

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There is an old adage that goes If you want to start an argument, either talk about politics or religion. Well instead of an Austin Fennel talks to Wendy Aitkens about one of the pieces in the exhibit. Photo by Richard Ameryargument, the Galt Museum hopes to  start a discussion about religion and its contribution to the community in their new exhibit Religion in the Bible Belt, which officially opens, Sept. 22.
 As soon as Galt Museum patrons enter the exhibit, they are greeted by a scale model of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, which was built for Lethbridge’s centennial in 1985.


 Looking around, there are special panels about each religious denomination in the community and their contributions. There are information panels about the contributions of Niitsitapii (Blackfoot), Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church, Mormon, Buddhism, Hutterites and Mennonites. She noted others are not mentioned but that does not mean their successes and influence are any less important.

“They provided a social welfare network, started schools, established medical care, became politically involved, built impressive buildings, organized social groups for all ages and offered musical and theatrical entertainment for the whole community,”  she summarized in a press release.


“ We‘re doing this exhibit because the community asked us to,” said curator Wendy Aitkens adding the museum had previously done a survey in the city about what exhibits people would like to see. Religion was one of them.


It is a monumental subject to tackle, so Aitkens narrowed the focus down to religion in Lethbridge between the late 1800s and 1930.
There are panels about the impact of religion on southern Alberta in a variety of ways as well as displays of religious items like chairs, crosses and communion paraphernalia.


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