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Mayor's Celebration of the Arts returns with in-person ceremony

Twenty-six local nominees

Pop-country singer Hailey Benedict, dancer Paige Tirs, and the horn-based Brasstastics are slated to perform at the 11th annual St. Albert Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Awards next week. 

But the big draw is five categories of stellar nominees who will be recognized for their artistic prowess on Thursday, April 7 at the New City Arts Space in Campbell Business Park. 

The sixth category and the most prestigious is the Lifetime Achievement Award winner. It has already been announced and this year’s honoured recipient is Carol Watamaniuk — jewelry artist, businesswoman, politician, and arts advocate. 

“Carol has been a driving force for St. Albert’s cultural sector. She’s doggedly determined to put culture on the map. In fact, she was instrumental in bringing one the first culture departments in Canada to St. Albert,” said Tamsin Brooks, City of St. Albert community cultural co-ordinator.  

This group of nominees is identical to the one chosen for the 2020 arts awards. Due to COVID, the 2020 award ceremony was postponed. Fast-forward two years and the organizing committee opted to keep the previous jury-nominated selection to stand. 

“It’s a very strong group of people. Just because COVID happened doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be recognized. I didn’t want to overlook them. I felt it was unfair,” Brooks said. 

Paul Woida, a singer-songwriter-master looper, and his sister, CTV news anchor Carmen Leibel, will fill the hosting role. Known as a “one-man band,” Woida will also perform some of his catchy hooks. 

“Carmen is poised and elegant and brings a wealth of experience as an anchor. And Paul is very charismatic, and he makes any show fun and exceptional,” said Brooks. 

Kyle Walton, artist, blacksmith, and owner of Hammer and Forge, has created a decorative and functional art piece that will be presented to Watamaniuk. And Diane Gwilliam of Pottery by Diane has produced a series of striking, one-of-kind pottery art for winners in other categories. 

Throughout the event, 42 visual arts works will be on display for sale. The pieces come from Visual Arts Studio Association, St. Albert Place Visual Arts Council, Art Gallery of St. Albert, and St. Albert Photography Club. 

Reception starts at 6:30 p.m. with presentations at 7:30 p.m. City Arts Space is at 125 Carleton Drive, Unit 105. Tickets are $20 plus service fees at 780-459-1542 or online at www. stalbert.ca/exp/arden/. 

Lifetime Achievement Award 

Carol Watamaniuk 

artist, politician 

From politics to personal artistic accomplishments, Carol Watamaniuk has made large strides in St. Albert’s cultural landscape for more than five decades.

Established Artist Award nominees

Ryan Arcand 

musician, arts leader 

A nêhiýaw nâpêw from St. Albert, Ryan Arcand is an accomplished singer, drummer, dancer, teacher, Cree speaker, drum/rattle maker, emcee, and cultural event organizer. 

David Scott 

visual artist 

David Scott works primarily with mixed media applications on birch panels. His rural paintings explore the interaction between human-made structures and their slow decay due to the forces of nature. In 2019, Scott’s work was exhibited across Alberta. 

Emerging Artist Award nominees

Céline Caruso Dixon 

poetry and performance art curator 

Céline Caruso Dixon is a third-year political science student at the University of Alberta. Last year her poetry was recognized for a Canadian Literature Centre Student Poetry Prize in May 2021 for her poem When Honey Drips.

Thomas Fenton 

visual artist 

Thomas Fenton is a sculpture and painting student who focuses on communicative and emotional pieces. He has exhibited work in his hometown of St. Albert, as well as the United States. 

Jacob Kryger 

musician 

A St. Albert percussionist, Jacob Kryger completed a bachelor of music degree at the University of Alberta. He was a member of Edmonton Youth Orchestra and has appeared as a soloist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Heather Shepherd 

pottery 

Heather Shepherd is a potter and community program instructor from St Albert. She holds a diploma in ceramics from British Columbia’s Selkirk College and has spent much of her early adulthood exploring various craft mediums. 

Kateryna Young 

visual artist 

Kateryna Young paints and creates art in many forms. Through abstract concepts, she lets colour inspire and lead her in new directions. She combines acrylic and mixed media on large canvases and uses glitter or gloss for special effects and shine. 

Youth Artist nominees

Jillian Aisenstat 

actor 

A natural musical theatre talent, Jillian Aisenstat has performed since she was seven years old. She has appeared in more than 25 stage productions as well as three television series. 

Elena Mercuri 

visual artist 

Elena Mercuri is an active St. Albert community artist. She has displayed her work in various spaces throughout the province, and her studies at MacEwan University have strengthened her commitment to the visual arts. 

Cyra Paddon 

singer, musician 

Cyra Paddon has showcased her powerful vocals since she was eight years old. As a junior winner at Alberta’s Big Valley Jamboree main stage competition, she continues to be met with standing ovations. 

Amanda Penner 

singer, songwriter 

Often described as an “old soul,” Amanda Penner is an aspiring folk singer-songwriter. Performing everywhere from small coffee shops to big festival stages, her melancholy melodies and thought-provoking lyrics tell powerful stories. 

Redacted 

musicians 

Redacted is a six-piece band formed from Paul Kane's rock and pop program. Armed with a multi-genre repertoire and high-energy stage presence, the group developed a buzz in the local scene performing at numerous events in the region. 

Andrea Shipka

singer, songwriter 

Charismatic and optimistic, Andrea Shipka blends roots, folk, and pop into a hypnotic combo. She finds fulfillment through community work, musical performances, and volunteerism. 

Excellence in Arts Teaching nominees

Fred Curatolo 

cartoonist 

A leading Alberta cartoonist, Fred Curatolo has sketched editorial cartoons for nearly 40 years. As a recipient of many cartooning awards, his work appears in daily and weekly newspapers across Canada. 

Tyler Dianocky 

musician, visual artist 

A musician, fine artist, and illustrator, Tyler Dianocky is an original member of the award-winning Canadian rock band Tupelo Honey. The fivesome played numerous gigs with headliners such as Bon Jovi, Theory of a Deadman, Bif Naked, Three Days Grace, and Sam Roberts. Currently, Dianocky devotes himself to the visual arts. 

Meridith Gagnon 

educator 

Meridith Gagnon was instrumental in implementing Leo Nickerson school’s bilingual drama program. Driven by passion for the arts, she focuses on her love of the process, where everyone takes part and feels successful. 

Gary Glewinski 

educator, musician 

A veteran musician, Gary Glewinski has taught music in schools and colleges for decades. The recording artist also performed world-wide playing ukulele, guitar, bass guitar, and mandolin in many musical styles.

Heather Johnson 

educator, musician 

Heather Johnson is the founder and artistic director of the Cantilon Choral program, recognized across Canada and internationally for its outstanding choral contributions. In its 20th season, Johnson shares her passion with more than 200 singers. 

Janice Manderson 

educator 

Janice Manderson is a passionate supporter of the arts and encourages success in her students. In addition to teaching music, she also volunteers her time to run various drama clubs, handbell choirs, and ukulele clubs. 

Karen May Healey 

educator 

For 30 years, Karen May Healey has empowered students to explore creativity through many art forms, including dance, visual and performing arts, as well as spoken word poetry.   

Ralph Pretz 

educator, musician 

Ralph Pretz is a performer and music educator who has taught in St. Albert for nearly 40 years. His principal instrument is the guitar for which he has also authored a method book. 

Arts Champion Award nominees

Deirdre Allen 

visual artist 

Deirdre Allen has spent 33 years as an artist, leader, volunteer, and patron of the arts. She takes pride in her role celebrating the achievements of St. Albert artists and arts organizations. 

Bernadette Buyse 

arts supporter, artist         

While her artwork has been displayed around the world, Bernadette Buyse's true passion is encouraging and supporting local artists and organizations. She currently serves as past-president of the St. Albert Painters Guild. 

Kevin Jones 

arts supporter, educator 

An avid builder and supporter of arts programming, Kevin Jones works tirelessly to create school cultures that reflect this value. He has taught with St. Albert Public Schools for 25 years. 

St. Albert Chamber Music Society 

The St. Albert Chamber Music Society fosters an appreciation for chamber music by offering high-quality performances from distinguished artists and nurturing the talents of emerging chamber musicians. 

United in Bronze Handbell Choir 

United in Bronze is a volunteer St. Albert ensemble linked by a love for the distinct beauty of English handbells. The group performs an unexpectedly wide range of musical genres. 


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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