Saturday, May 2, 2009

New Works and New Workers Welcomed in Calgary

Vincenzo Calli, an Italian painter, has brought a collection of his latest work to the Art Gallery of Calgary, where the work and the artist were celebrated on Wednesday April 22. The paintings depict moments between dreaming and awake, and the suspension between heaven and earth. Some of them portray figures in shadow with placid expressions, while those in the sunlight stare forward anxiously. Others feature tarot cards, clouds, wolves on the hunt, and tiny brushstrokes to simulate watery ripples. The exhibit is on display until Saturday, June 27.

The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada (ICCC) co-hosted the event, attracting a large contingent of guests from the local Italian community. Remarks from the artist, and Marina Mason, vice president of the ICCC, were made in Italian and translated.

Guests included Jean Merriman, executive vice president of White Iron Productions, Omar Channan, founding world president of the World Organization of Building Officials and the president of United Nations Association in Canada-Calgary, Dr. John Lacey, honorary consul-general of Thailand, Jennifer Hames, of CTV Television, Lorenzo Lecce of A Touch of Italy, and Jessica MacLeod of Vendemmia International Wines.

Viable Calgary, a workforce program designed to connect employers and persons with disabilities, launched on Thursday, April 23 with a cocktail reception in Teatro’s Opera Room. A keynote speech was delivered by Elsbeth Mehrer, manager of workforce development at Calgary Economic Development. Other speakers included Lisa Thompson of Bank of Montreal, and Peter Pilarski of the Retail Council of Canada.

“When I went to job interviews,” Thompson recounted, “A lot of people thought I had a cognitive impairment, just because I’m in a wheelchair. I had to fight to show them there’s nothing wrong with my brain. It was very discouraging. Luckily BMO was more than open-minded during the hiring process.”

Viable Calgary offers “integration studies” upon request, showing local business how easy - or how difficult - it would be to welcome an employee with a disability. Other services include staffing support, research, and best practices workshops on hiring disabled workers. Funded by local industry, the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada, these services are provided free of charge.

Guests of the event included Pat and Sherrold Moore, Bryce Roblin of Placement Group, Jim McLaughlin of Alberta Employment and Immigration, Robert Hansen of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Jenny Cruickshank of The Home Depot, and Linna Morgan of Calgary Counselling Centre.

Wallace Galleries welcomed the work of two new artists this week, Camrose Ducote and Rachel Ovadia. At the opening on Saturday, April 25, guests wandered in for a sip of wine and a look at the fresh pieces. Abstract, eggshell-coloured mixed media make up Ducote’s work. Ovadia on the other hand, with bold colours on giant canvas, lights up the room. Ode to Mozart is made up of deep, grandiose swirls of red overlaid with broad strokes of orange, pulsing from the centre of an electric blue and green border.

The joint display lasts until May 10.

Published in National Post, May 2 2009

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