Creative Connections Issue Logo

May 2016

Chicken Ranch Sells Out

Ken Matthias - CCAB -

May 2, 2016


Records were set as The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas becomes Manluk Theatre’s first production to sell out before opening night and the first time an extra performance was added. The two and a half hour dramatic comedy musical was supported by a thirty five member cast and live orchestra.


Originating as a 1978 Broadway Musical, the story was popularized by the 1982 release of a film adaptation starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds, becoming the highest grossing musical film of the 1980’s. Since then, it has entertained audiences worldwide in local theatre, dance and musical numbers.


The story centres on Miss Mona’s ‘establishment’, nicknamed the Chicken Ranch when their specialized services were paid for with chickens during hard times. Miss Mona runs the Ranch with strict rules, but with compassion for her girls, providing a home and a family for the outcast and the drifter. The Ranch comes under scrutiny by a local puritan Watchdog who pressures officials and government to close the Ranch down.


Despite the seemingly light and comedic storyline, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas is skilfully woven with many interesting and era-appropriate sub-plots. In addition to challenging individuals to what determines the definition of home and family, it also addresses the rise of television and its influence on society, it epitomizes the conflict of morality (especially found in some of the southern states during this era), and it tugs at the underlying romantic ‘what-if’ relationship between Miss Mona and Sheriff Ed Earl.


Director Marlene Schoonmaker and Musical Director Barb Ganske did a masterful job of bringing together the elements of the production to deliver a satisfying and reflective story. Cast members did well at becoming believable adaptations of their characters, despite delivering significantly lengthy lines with Texan drawl accents and performing musical numbers involving choreographed dance and singing. The recent improvements to sound and lighting at Manluk Theatre were also noticeable under the capable hands of technicians, and the set was well thought out, constructed and utilized.


The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas is a clear example of ongoing efforts to bring Wetaskiwin’s theatre to the next level. The capacity, sold-out crowds are well-earned praise for the Theatre Society, the Waterworks Players and all the sponsors dedicated to making Manluk Theatre the best it can be.



Bill Tozer as Senator Wingwoah. Photo by Ken Matthias.
Carmen Rae Bruce as Miss Mona Stangley. Photo by Ken Matthias.
Ross MacGregor as Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd. Photo by Ken Matthias.
The Face of Disapproval (Maureen Pankiw). Photo by Ken Matthias.
Jewel (Karen Huntley) and Miss Mona (Carmen Rae Bruce). Photo by Ken Matthias.
A musical farewell. Photo by Ken Matthias.
One of Miss Mona's girls. Photo by Ken Matthias.

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My Life as a Painting

Ken Matthias - CCAB -

May 2, 2016


Acrylic by Rebekah Matthias.

A lot can be interpreted about a person simply by the art they create or choose. Whether deliberate or sub-consciously, taste generally reflects personality and character.


Start by considering selection of materials and medium. Often, an organic or earthy artist will prefer a handmade linen paper with unfinished edges over a manufactured product. Despite the inconsistencies of handmade, the 'earthy' artist simply writies off ensuing flaws as adding character and depth to the piece. A perfectionist focused on accurate detail would not be satisfied with less than uniform color or texture. Regarding mediums, watercolor artists generally are very different people than those who work with the harsh lines and contrast produced by pen and ink or charcoal. To generalize, watercolor artists want viewers to experience or be immersed by their work, while harsher mediums are meant to be felt (have impact) more than they are to be experienced.


Style is significant. Personally, I am most comfortable with impressionism... allowing the viewers eye to fill in the details as they choose, merging their will with the artist’s from their own life experience and interpretations. Not surprisingly, I have never been one to put pressure on anyone to see life exactly as I see it. Others prefer their audience to know exactly what they believe or have to say instead of leaving it up for interpretation.


Colour choice and placement determine emotions and character. Bright colour or subdued hues, gradual transition or harsh contrast often reflects personality, as does length of stroke... long, confident strokes of colour or short, careful strokes similar to watching a sculptor chip away at a piece of marble. The long brush stroke sometimes will define a more preconceived work, the artist envisioning the completed work before even starting. It often indicates art being used as a medium for a message. The short stroke often identifies an artist that allows a painting to ‘take on life’ as it goes, seeing a painting or story emerge in front of them.


Choices in finishing and framing reveal the nature of an artist. Some ‘frame’ the work to present a finished look, while others avoid a frame, feeling it becomes more of a focus than the message in the painting. Covering with glass speaks about conservation and protection of an idea or event, while an unhindered work is more raw, removing a barrier that distracts the connection between artist and viewer, even if it means for less time than a protected piece.


Though many, if not most, fail to accurately interpret an artist’s true intention, taking the time to consider a piece gives one a sense of familiarity with the artist (accurate or not), making the piece become more personal and alive. In doing so, art provides a medium for both artist and viewer to meet in an intimate way that often words or actions fail to accomplish.


Dalcon Visual Arts Opens

Ken Matthias - CCAB -

May 2, 2016


Wetaskiwin has a new showcase for local artisans to display and consign their work. Dalcon Visual Arts has opened its doors to the public with a Grand Opening held on April 29, 2016. The new addition to Wetaskiwin’s downtown core boasts a classy, gallery style display room exhibiting original watercolors, acrylics, pen and ink, prints, ceramics, metalwork and woodwork.


Located on 50th Avenue in Wetaskiwin, one block south of the TD Bank, the studio is owned and operated by Dale and Connie Aitchison and their two daughters, Courtney and Samantha. Dale and Courtney are also known as lead vocalist and musicians in the popular, local classic rock band, Dead End Drive.


The goal of the Aitchison family is to provide a stage for local artists to have a central place to display and receive fair compensation their work. Dale Aitchison remarked that galleries in the city demand a ridiculous commission from artists, some wanting artists to provide works simply for the reward of exposure. Wanting to partner with local artisans, Dalcon Visual Arts takes only a moderate commission from the sale of a piece, working to cover their operational costs by also providing printing, framing and glass cutting services. They also have a back area set up as a photography studio which can be rented out, or Dale can be hired to take pictures.


With consistent, accessible business hours, a steady supply of new and local art, and professional services available, Dalcon Visual Arts is a welcome addition to the growing arts community of the region.

Dalcon Visual Arts Opens their door to the region. Photo by Ken Matthias.
Courtney Aitchison. Photo by Ken Matthias.
Grand Opening of Dalcon Visual Arts. Photo by Ken Matthias.


Michelangelo Pieta. Photo supplied.
Airsoft Battles. Photo courtesy of Youth Unlimited Wetaskiwin.
Friendship. Photo courtesy of Youth Unlimited Wetaskiwin.

Creative Expressions of Faith

Youth Unlimited Wetaskiwin

Ken Matthias - CCAB -

May 2, 2016


Throughout the centuries, art has been one of the most enduring expressions of faith known to man. Scriptures have pointed the way to God and guided societies with truth and wisdom, but the arts have provided effective conduits to receive that truth and crack open the heart to the ways of God.


How many have been confronted with heavenly things as they gazed on Michelangelo’s Pieta sculpture depicting the ‘pity’ or ‘compassion’ of Mary as she gazed on the body of her son Jesus after His suffering? How many have tried to find familiarity with the faces of the disciples at the table in Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, wondering who they resemble, as they are impacted by the theme of the painting; the response of the disciples after Jesus declares that one of them would betray him?


Art and creativity have opened the hearts and minds of millions of people to issues of faith. The transformational power and relevance of the message has never changed, but the effectiveness of its presentation by faith communities has been seen as at the least diminished, if not irrelevant and antiquated by those the message is intended to reach. There is no better time than now to engage the creative, not to entertain, but to express faith in such a way to capture the heart and point us towards things beyond death and this sometimes stressful life... eternal things.


One such organization engaging creative ways to offer these eternal truths is Youth Unlimited Wetaskiwin, a faith-based youth outreach program with stated goals of impacting today’s culture, training tomorrow’s leaders and caring for Canada’s youth.


The ‘canvas’ for Youth Unlimited comes in the form of skateboard parks, Brazilian Jujitsu, Airsoft (like paintball) battles and attending the programs at the drop-in centre at Wetaskiwin Mall which offers kids a safe and caring place to hang-out. Not your typical idea of what church looks like. Though it may not be paint or bronze or marble, Youth Unlimited is using creativity to reach as many segments of young people as possible. Where Da Vinci or Michelangelo may not be able to reach them, Sony Playstation, Plan B (skateboard), and hot dogs might.


Youth Unlimited Wetaskiwin is constantly dreaming up new and creative ways to help and build young people, and bring messages of hope and faith in forms that relate to them. Director, Terence Hoffarth, explained that while they work closely with the local church, Youth unlimited has the advantage of being like a speedboat that can make sudden and radical course adjustments (changes) as needed, while churches can be more like big ocean vessels that require a lot more time and space to turn.


As with the programs of Youth Unlimited, faith based art and creativity is not intended to be about entertainment, but it is about expression. Whether an airsoft rifle or a paintbrush, it is about sharing a potentially life-transforming message in a way that relates to and is heard by the intended audience.


For more information on the Youth Unlimited Wetaskiwin programs, have a look at or email Terence at


Paul Sweet directs Dolce Canto adult choir. Photo by Ken Matthias.
Music Director Paul Sweet adds a simple sound. Photo by Ken Matthias.

Dolce Canto Choir Performs

Ken Matthias - CCAB -


May 11, 2016 - Dressed in classic black, the over thirty member Dolce Canto Choir performed their Turn The World Around spring concert before a capacity crowd from the platform of Wetaskiwin's United Church.


Under the skillful direction of Paul Sweet, the evening oscillated between the musical selections of the Choir and special music provided by the Wetaskiwin String Ensemble, solo vocal artists, piano, clarinet and violin. Music ranged from Lennon and McCartney's song, The Long and Winding Road, to Run, Mary, Run, a black spiritual that included a powerful solo by Holly Dumont.


Each number was preceded by an interesting and often amusing background of the song from various choir members, all hailing from various backgrounds and experience. According to director Paul Sweet, the only requirements for joining Dolce Canto is that, “You have to love to sing, and you have to have a sense of humour.” Both of these qualities are exhibited by Paul Sweet who in addition to directing the choir and evening’s events, performed alongside some of his former music students and choir members, and even got to play a ‘jingle ball’ for one number (editor’s note: I am sure there is a more accurate description for this acoustical, unplugged instrument).


Special acknowledgement has to be given to the talented musicians who provided live music for the choir; The Wetaskiwin String Ensemble, Pianists Gayle Anderson and Arlene Krentz, Double Bass player Jurs Elloran, and Drums Matt Kaiser. Solo performances (some stand-alone, some part of a Dolce Canto number) were given by Saida Leclercq (Violin – Shule Aroon), Holly Dumont (vocals - Sebben Crudele (sung in Italian) – and Run, Mary, Run), Deanna Didrikson (vocals – Say A Little Prayer and I Can See Clearly Now), Arlene Krentz and Eldon Langerud (duet – Say A Little Prayer), Don Powell (Piano – Bridge Over Troubled Waters), and Ruth Lumax and Arlene Krentz (Clarinet and Piano – Rhapsody In Blue).


It was a pleasant evening for all, one of various concerts the choir performs annually. Creative Connections AB will post upcoming concerts on the Events Page as the date approaches. For more information about Dolce Canto, please contact Paul or Bev Sweet.

Deanna Didrikson performs I Can See Clearly Know. Photo by Ken Matthias.
Dolce Canto Choir Men's Section. Photo by Ken Matthias.
Holly Dumont performs Sebben Crudele and Run, Mary, Run. Photo by Ken Matthias.

Creative Connections AB Editors Desk March

Editor's Desk

Ken Matthias - CCAB -


Good Intentions Not Rewarded?

Music Concert, Wetaskiwin, CreativeAB
Empty seats do not always mean a fail. Photo by Ken Matthias.

Good intentions are not always rewarded. Take for instance the ongoing efforts towards fundraising for Fort Mac residents who have lost their homes or been displaced. The most recent being the Wetaskiwin Musicians For Fort Mac event held at the local recreation centre.


I do not know if it was due to the sunshine, the time of day, the cost, or lack of time to organize, but the astonishing lack of attendance of the concert was nothing short of shocking. Stage and sound were set up, six local bands had come together and were ready to play, hot dogs and burgers were set up outside… and come show time, no one was there. I repeat myself again for emphasis… no one! I honestly can say that I never have seen this before. I had bought my ticket and showed up an hour early to ensure getting a good seat. When show time arrived, the only ones in the crowd were me and one other guy (who turned out to be a part of a band). 

I do not know how that is even possible. And more importantly, I could not even begin to know how disappointing that must be for the many people who were willing to give of their time and talent.


Add to this the (calloused) questions being posed (mostly by non-Albertans) about the necessity of aid being sent to Fort Mac. I even heard one conversation that compared Trudeau’s promise of aid to Fort Mac being like Donald Trump breaking his three iron while golfing, and hoping his caddy would buy him a new one. It is no secret that while Albertans see an outpouring of compassion and aid for their fellow provincials, it is painfully aware that other parts of the nation do not feel the same way.


While it is true that  telling the sad story of Alberta’s economy and job loss to a British Columbian falls on deaf ears to a Province who has suffered massive layoffs in the forestry, mining and fishing industries for years, it does not help when our good intentions are sometimes criticized or misunderstood.


I titled this editorial to intentionally end with a question mark. There are times when our efforts and good intentions seem to go unrewarded. If you are one of the people who feel this way, I encourage you to challenge that thought. The reward comes from having people like you in our community; people who care and want to make a difference. We are the richer for it. The moment you give up and decide the lack of response to your efforts or the babbling of opinionated people is not worth it, we are made poorer. In the opinion of this editor, what makes Alberta Strong has less to do with Fort Mac, and more to do with the heart of caring, compassionate people and their dedication to help a neighbour in need… regardless.  Thank you for your efforts… don’t ever stop.