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Artist Spotlight: Alexandra Gusse


Photo by Daria Nordell.

Edmonton artist Alexandra Gusse is in the final year of her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Alberta with a focus on painting. “Painting has always been a part of my life,” says Gusse, “I took private lessons when I was younger and fell in love with Van Gogh. He’s really influenced my work, especially his use of colours.”
Though a fairly young artist, Gusse has had work featured in multiple shows, including a solo show at the Sugarbowl recently. She also regularly does commissions of both human and animal subjects. “I do a lot of commissioned work, especially for weddings. Usually couples in romantic settings. I also have done pet memorial paintings. People choose subjects that are close to their heart.”
Her favourite subject matter is people, and she has gotten inspiration for her portraits in some interesting ways. “I usually base my paintings off of cell phone photos… Most of the paintings that were on display at the Sugarbowl were based on photos taken by my family, of my family. But, I also made a Kijiji ad asking strangers to send me photos and got a lot of interesting images that way.”
Alexandra-Gusse-PaintingHer work conveys a lot of emotion, something that she tries to use colour to accentuate. “People’s faces and the small differences within a face can affect the comfort of a piece so much. You can tell if they’re comfortable, or having a good time — what their emotions are. I can play with colour and manipulate colour to accentuate these emotions. I like to think about the intimacies between people and how to represent those best. “
You can purchase or commission the artist’s work through her website.

Our Local Gift Guide as Seen on Global Edmonton

Searching for that perfect gift for a special someone? Browse the list below for some of our unique finds from local retailers, which we showcased on Global Edmonton on December 2, 2016!


Photo by Lindsay Shapka.

Dragonfly NecklaceScottish Imports — $35
Outlander Tartan ShawlScottish Imports — $230
Stephanie Simpson Art PrintTIX on the Square — $20
Royal Canadian Mint Holiday Gift SetWest Edmonton Coin and Stamp — $22
Fenix PD35 FlashlightSupply Sergeant — $106.95 (Those in military and police service can receive 10% off)
Olive and Piper Necklace, Bracelet & EarringsMiss Boss — $79, $65, $48
Garlic VodkaBig Rig Distillery — $47.62
The Short Story Advent Calendar (This year’s edition is sold out, but watch for it to come back next year in October!)
Children’s Aviator JacketAlberta Aviation Museum — $52–$57
Watering Can/Water PitcherBling — $60


Photo by Lindsay Shapka.

Kobe E2 Hover BoardGateway Power Sports – $499
Scale Model of The Barris CoachDiecast Depot — $150
Rug Hooked Cushion by Edmonton artist Diane KrysAlberta Craft Council — $350
Wetterlings mini hatchet (Handmade at the oldest operating axe forge in Sweden) — Kent of Inglewood — $146
LVJ Haberdasher tweed bowtieKent of Inglewood — $95
Bird House (Made by local artist Monica Heutinck) — One Man’s Treasure (Shops of Stony Plain) — $40
TagineOil & Vinegar — $65.95
Tagine SpicesOil & Vinegar — $9.95
Tagine Sauce Spicy LemonOil & Vinegar — $14.95
Czech & Speake Vetiver CologneKent of Inglewood — $197
Yukiwa Chrome Shaker (Available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and finishes) — Kent of Inglewood — $46
Porters Cardamom and Rose Tonic Syrup (Alberta made!) — Kent of Inglewood — $26
Kent badger shaving brush, Edwin Jagger safety razor, Parker stand for razor and brushKent of Inglewood — $120, $60, $46
—Lindsay Shapka

Be the Bird at Angry Birds Universe

Angry-Birds---Meet-the-BirdsThe global phenomenon of Angry Birds — which has many kids and adults alike flicking fingers across smartphone screens for many hours of the day — is now an interactive science exhibit at TELUS World of Science—Edmonton! At Angry Birds Universe, you’ll begin by meeting the poor birds of Pig Island who had their eggs stolen by cruel pigs and discovering the flight dynamics of real birds that influenced their design. In other hands-on activities, you’ll learn the scientific principles behind the architecture of the game by building your own structures to knock down with a slingshot or creating your own animated cartoon. The most fun part? You can “be the bird” and propel down a zip line to knock over enormous foam blocks! —Matthew Stepanic

Angry Birds Universe | Through April 17, 2017
TELUS World of Science—Edmonton | 11211-142 St. | 780-451-3344

Talent Spotlight: Tom Wood


Photo courtesy Citadel Theatre

Playwright and actor Tom Wood went through his own Scrooge-like transformation when he was first approached to adapt A Christmas Carol for the Citadel Theatre. His husband and then Artistic Director (now emeritus) Bob Baker asked him to write a script for Charles Dickens’ holiday tale, but Wood wasn’t interested. “I thought it was campy,” he says, “and nobody takes it seriously. It’s just a Christmas treat.” However, Baker convinced him to read the novella, and Wood, who was turning 50, felt it spoke to him at that pivotal age. “I didn’t realize that Dickens had written such a great, dark story,” he explains. “It’s about hope: how can people change once they’ve gotten older and stuck in their ways?”

Wood played the humbug-uttering Ebenezer Scrooge for the first 10 years, and is excited to return to the challenge of the role this year. “You have to go on every night and calcify all of your feelings and have them chipped away throughout the course of the play.” Though the story occurs at Christmas, the heart of it can appeal to anyone. “Dickens really found a great way to express a real human story,” says Wood. “It’s the death of the old year and the beginning of the new year.”

A Christmas Carol is now going into its 17th consecutive season. “A couple of years ago we thought, I guess it’s going to wind down,” Wood says, “but last year was the best box office yet… It’s a great gift.” If you’ve been on the fence about catching this magical production, Wood recommends you dive in. “It’s a wonderful way to initiate yourself because it has all the best things about theatre: it’s completely accessible, it’s funny, and it’s uplifting. It’s a great family experience.” —Matthew Stepanic

A Christmas Carol | November 26 – December 23 
A favourite holiday tradition, this Dickens’ classic is sure to delight audiences young and old. Now on its 17th consecutive year of performance and with the return of its first Scrooge, Tom Wood, this show provides exceptional entertainment with its unforgettable story, rich characters, and dazzling special effects.
Citadel Theatre | 9828-101A Ave. | 780-425-1820

7 Gift-Worthy Reads from Edmonton Authors

1. For the Surprise Lover
Unwrap a new short story from some of North America’s best writers every day in this beautiful advent calendar curated by writer Michael Hingston and designed by Natalie Olsen. Order a copy off the website.

2. For the Epicure
Tour the best tastes in the Okanagan with connoisseur Jennifer Cockrall-King, who profiles the chefs, bakers, orchardists, coffee roasters, cheesemakers, and more behind the edible delights in her essential guidebook.

3. For the Activist
Editor Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail has gathered together 15 essays from Indigenous and non-Indigenous journalists, academics, visual artists, and lawyers who lead readers into a healing conversation about reconciliation.

4. For the Amateur Sleuth
Journalist Pamela Roth explores some of the more disturbing homicide cases — both solved and cold — of Edmonton, which earned the nickname “Canada’s murder capital” in 2011.

5. For Kids
Young Anya learns to accept her unique differences when she wakes up with a striped tail on the first day of school in this quirky picture book from beloved author-illustrator Mike Boldt.

6. For Those Who Like to Laugh
Chuckle over comic Chad Huculak’s classic in-jokes about the colourful characters and moments from Alberta’s capital city.

7. For Young Adults
Teenager Isabelle is ready to break under the stress of caring for her siblings and alcoholic mother while also working at the mini-mart, but after a violent incident at school, she begins to find relief in a group writing project.

Find a copy of these local books at Audreys Books. —Matthew Stepanic

Get Outfitted for Your Warm-Weather Escape at Bikini Village!

IMG_7057 (1)

Are you shopping for someone going on a warm-weather trip this Christmas? Do you need to get a new bathing suit of your own for an overseas adventure? Or, do you need a new suit to wear to your daily workout at the local pool?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to check out one the newest stores added to West Edmonton Mall — Bikini Village!

Bathing suit shopping can often be daunting, but this shop is bright and full of lots of variety in sizes, bright colours, and trendy patterns for both men and women. The staff is helpful, and the best part is that the fitting rooms have huge mirrors and great lighting. (Both very important factors when trying on bathing suits.)

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The shop also sells coverups and shoes, as well as other fun beach accessories.

For more great gift ideas for travellers, check out our Holiday Gift Guide in the November/December issue of WHERE Edmonton Magazine.

Happy shopping!

—Lindsay Shapka



Artist Spotlight: Sarah Bowker


Sarah Bowker. Courtesy of the artist.

The designer behind the local jewellery brand Shakti (meaning liberation), Sarah Bowker’s work is inspired by wisdom traditions, yoga wisdom, and the meanings of gemstones.

Her favourite part of her business is the bespoke side that allows her to meet her clients in person (or through social media if they don’t live in the city). “I like to meet my clients one-on-one so they can have an actual experience,” says Bowker. “You can get jewellery anywhere now, there is such an excess of jewellery, and I just want the wearer to have an experience, to feel empowered by their pieces.”

Bowker draws every design herself and then the elements for each piece are hand faceted by her suppliers, which include the hill tribes in Thailand who do metalwork using ancient techniques. The gemstones she uses are sourced from all over the world.


Photo courtesy Sarah Bowker.

One of the most interesting things about Shakti is that the brand is constantly evolving. “I rarely re-make designs. I am constantly doing new collections every few months, and things are rarely repeated. My spirit is in what I do, and I [find myself] working with different stones at different points in my life, which is really interesting. So people who like Shakti are getting a little of my life experience too.”

Up next for this local designer is a month-long pop-up shop, which she is hoping to launch this fall or spring 2017 — stay tuned to her website for more information. You can also shop her pre-made pieces on her website or contact her to create your own custom design. —Lindsay Shapka

Chef Spotlight: Daniel Costa


Photo by Adrien Guyot.

Thanks to Chef Daniel Costa, Edmontonians don’t have to leave the city, much less travel overseas, to enjoy authentic Italian cuisine. And this year, joining the popular Corso 32 and Bar Bricco, is Costa’s third Italian restaurant, Uccellino.

Costa’s love for cooking arose early in his life, alongside a strong appreciation for his Italian heritage. Costa says that centring his restaurants on Italian cuisine “keeps us focused on a very direct vision, and that really showcases our passion.” Patrons of his restaurants will see immediately that the staff at all three are nearly as enthusiastic about Italian culture and cuisine as he is himself. “They’re truly investing in something they believe in every time that they do it,” Costa says of his staff. “I think that when people come into our restaurants, they can really feel our love for what we do.”

Costa notes that though he doesn’t branch out much from Italian cuisine, he doesn’t feel limited thanks to Italy’s diverse regions. “Each region is kind of like its own little country,” Costa says. Drawing on this diversity, each of his restaurants focuses on different regions and styles. Uccellino spotlights the lighter, everyday fare of southern and central Italy, while Corso 32 features richer, artisanal food typically found in northern Italy. Costa has a soft spot for spuntini-style Bar Bricco, the more laid-back of his three establishments.

While his inspiration is international, Costa himself was born in Edmonton. Between running three businesses and spending time in the kitchens, he sources seasonal and prime ingredients from local farms. From there, he and his teams transform local produce into mouth-watering international dishes worthy of a true Italian eatery. —Danielle Mohr

Visit Costa’s website for menus and more information on his restaurants.

LitFest Celebrates Its 10-Year Nonfictionversary

In_This_Together_Danielle_Metcalfe-ChenailReading may start as a solitary act, but you can experience much more after you’ve finished a book — or before you’ve even cracked the spine! LitFest: Edmonton’s Nonfiction Festival welcomes the best names in nonfiction to the city every October for events featuring food, music, art, discussion, and more! From October 13 to 23, the festival will ignite many great conversations and experiences surrounding topics affecting Canadians. “What excites me most about the festival every year,” says Fawnda Mithrush, LitFest’s Executive Director, “are the conversations generated between authors and audiences. It’s always amazing to see how people continue the discussion from an event after it’s over.”

Though every event is tied to a book, the festival focuses on more than what’s between the covers, and programs its events around the topic of the book. “Not everyone considers him or herself a book person, but everyone is interested in something,” says Mithrush. “Nonfiction covers a huge array of interests: we’ve got books about comedy, food, hockey, memoir, science, feminism, social inclusion, and Alberta politics.”

This year, LitFest is celebrating its “Nonfictionversary”, as it adopted its nonfiction mandate 10 years ago. The Canadian Literature Centre — which promotes the diversity of the country’s literature — is also celebrating its 10th year, so they’ve teamed up for a special soirée at the innovative arts hub Latitude 53 on October 22. The cultured night will feature five writers paired with five artists who will re-imagine their works. Expect the who’s who of the literary scene in the city to join in and mingle over craft cocktails and tasty appetizers.

The popular Food Matters event returns this year bigger than before on October 22. Ten local food writers will assemble at the new Duchess Atelier to discuss local food issues, including Edmonton’s real signature dish and the culinary talents’ vision for the city. This salon-style event will celebrate the launch of some local cookbooks, including Edmonton Cooks: Signature Recipes from the City’s Best Chefs, and attendees will sample light nibbles and wine as they learn from the food experts.

In-Between_Days_TevaAnother must-catch event features Lindy West, whose uproarious memoir, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, has become a rallying cry for feminists, as it touches on everything from body positivity to problems women face in the workplace. She’ll share her entertaining and blunt opinions on October 17, and this humourous talk should hopefully end the debate once and for all about whether women can be funny.

Want to welcome more joy into your life? Consider attending Neil Pasricha’s talk on October 18. He is the author of bestsellers The Happiness Equation and The Book of Awesome, both of which celebrate the good things in life, delving into simple ways to be happy. Mithrush hopes the book will bring a “boost of positivity, particularly to the many Albertans who have faced a very challenging year.”

Also in the lineup this year: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose report was published as a book last year. “It’s arguably one of the country’s most important nonfiction publications,” says Mithrush, so LitFest is honouring it with multiple events including a panel with several indigenous writers. The panel will explore the many issues First Nations peoples still face and the important work Canadians need to do to ensure reconciliation occurs in the country.

NeilPasrichaBookIf the thought of a long reading list before the festival is daunting, don’t worry — LitFest isn’t like a college class where you have to read the book beforehand. Books are on sale at every event where, after your interest is piqued, you can purchase a copy to take home with you. “You definitely don’t need to read the book before an event,” says Mithrush, “but I promise you’ll want to read it afterward.”

Most events are free. Visit the website to purchase tickets for some events and learn more. —Matthew Stepanic

WHERE Edmonton is giving away a pair of tickets to Neil Pasricha’s event, The Happiness Equation, on October 18! To enter to win, follow us on Twitter (@whereedmonton) and watch for tweets about the contest. Contest ends on Friday, October 7.

On the Big Screen at Edmonton International Film Fest

Film-EIFFThe cinematic feast that is the Edmonton International Film Festival is now one of five Oscar-qualifying film festivals in Canada for shorts! Chances are good that one of the short films you see at the festival may be nominated for an Academy Award. And this year, the festival had a record-breaking number of submissions: 3,000 from 65 countries — a 50% increase over last year. With so many entries, the festival promises to have a diverse selection of some of the best films.

More than an opportunity for someone to win a gold statue, this friendly festival gives a voice to indie filmmakers and can please any film fan as it covers all genres, including contemporary independents, world cinema, documentary, and Canadian films. Beyond watching movies, you can attend fun after-parties or Q&A’s with the filmmakers. The main screen at Landmark City Centre 9 is a great spot to spend your lunch break, as most weekdays feature Lunchbox Shorts where you can enjoy a sandwich and some great short films! Visit the website to find showtimes and buy tickets today.

Edmonton International Film Fest | September 29 – October 8
Landmark Cinemas 9 | City Centre Mall | 780-423-0844

Talent Spotlight: Stewart Lemoine


Photo by Andrew MacDonald-Smith.

From a young age, Edmonton playwright Stewart Lemoine has been an avid viewer of plays. “I started as a theatre-goer in high school,” says Lemoine. “As a teenager I always loved going to things.” He earned an English degree in university, and was later encouraged to write plays for his actor friends. “Around the time I was trying to figure out what to do,” explains Lemoine, “the Fringe started, and suddenly it became possible to put on theatre all on your own… It was really a fortuitous thing that happened when I needed it to.”

He started Teatro La Quindicina with another friend in the early 80s, and has built up a strong repertoire of plays and regular actors, including Leona Brausen, Davina Stewart, and Jeff Haslam. All of Lemoine’s plays are comedies on some level because, he says, “comedies can have very serious and sad moments, but there’s always a comic twist because I think that reflects life.” More than a laugh, people who see a Teatro production can expect to expand their vocabulary. Lemoine says, “Our language is a good one; I like to use all of it.”

Teatro’s home, the Varscona Theatre, recently re-opened after a major rebuild. “It’s now a purpose-built theatre,” says Lemoine (who’s also general manager for the building), “as opposed to a converted building, as it was previously a fire hall.” Though everything is new except three brick walls, the theatre has a familiar feel because they built it from a similar floor plan. The auditorium seats more people in much comfier chairs, according to Lemoine, and the sightlines make more sense. He’s looking forward to how the new theatre will improve Die-Nasty’s annual Soap-A-Thon. He says, “It always tested the limits of the building before to have people there for that long.”

On top of the upcoming shows and rebuilt Varscona, the playwright’s excited for the future of theatre in this city. Lemoine says, “We’re constantly being fed new great young actors, and that’s endlessly stimulating.”

Visit Varscona Theatre’s website to learn more about the theatre and upcoming shows. —Matthew Stepanic

Don’t miss Lemoine’s upcoming play:

Witness to a Conga | September 29 – October 15 
When a bride-to-be asks, “Should we have a conga line at our wedding?” she accidentally unearths her fiancé’s family secrets. A Fringe hit from 2010, this darkly funny play will connect with anyone who’s experienced a bit of family drama while planning a wedding.
Varscona Theatre | 10329-83 Ave. | 780-433-3399

Dreamspeakers Film Festival


Image courtesy of Dreamspeakers Film Festival.

A Dene elder once said that when you make films, “you are speaking your dreams”. Since then, Indigenous filmmakers have referred to their craft as “Dreamtalking”. This festival has become an annual international gathering of Dreamtalkers — filmmakers, performers, and artists — from around the globe who gather to share this common bond and link with the natural world through film. All film screenings or only $12, and their are a variety of panels and workshops where you can learn more about Indigenous cultures and filmmaking. Visit the website for a full program and to buy tickets. —Lindsay Shapka

Dreamspeakers Film Festival | September 23 – 28
Metro Cinema at the Garneau | 8712-109 St. | 780-378-9609