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Retail Spotlight: Bang Bang Bijoux

Whether she’s strolling through local galleries or travelling to old factories to treasure hunt, Rachel Bingham has jewellery on the mind. Luckily for Edmontonians, those travels are the inspiration behind Bang Bang Bijoux—a jewellery collection inspired by inspiration. Meet Rachel Bingham…

You incorporate vintage materials in your designs. Where have your treasure hunts taken you?
I used to typically take one fantastic trip a year to Europe and wander through the markets and auctions. It was so fun and easy to incorporate into my holiday. Now I prefer a more targeted approach. The East Coast of the U.S. has a wealth of vintage jewellery factories that I visit. That area was the jewellery capital of the world before production moved to China, and you can still visit these factories and buy the old materials.

What led you to jewellery design?
I remember feeling pretty lost after graduating from the U of A. I knew I’d like to live a creative life, but I wasn’t confident I could make a living at it. When I ended up at a job that was a terrible fit, I decided to make my business a priority for one year to see if I could make a go of it. There were some really tense moments, but it was the best decision I could have made. No regrets.

Is there a particular era or style that inspires your work?
My influences are always shifting. I used to be heavily influenced by the 20s, but now I take my influences more from colour schemes, art, and different architecture. I really enjoy looking at abstract paintings to see how different artists combine colours in unusual ways.

Where can people find your jewellery?
The Makers Keep, TIX on the Square, Majesty & Friends, the City Market Downtown, Shop Chop, and the Bang Bang Bijoux website.

People often give your jewellery as gifts. What’s your favourite piece of jewellery, and who gave it to you?
I absolutely love my wedding ring! It was made by (former) local designer Andronyk Jewellery. It’s beyond beautiful.

Alberta Ballet’s All of Us

Photo courtesy Alberta Ballet

This remarkable show melds together the talents of the Tragically Hip, artistic director Jean Grand-Maître, and the dancers of the Alberta Ballet to tell the story of the last humans left to survive in a scorched and desolate world. Drawing inspiration from Mad Max, Burning Man, and Blade Runner, the surreal All of Us is unlike anything previously created by the dance company. Witness the best and worst of human desires captured on the stage as these classically trained dancers celebrate the iconic Canadian rockers.

All of Us | May 10–12 | $46–$145
Jubilee Auditorium | 11455-87 Ave. | 780-428-6839

Chef Spotlight: Sean O’Connor

Even though it involves hard work and long hours, there is an upside to working with two restaurants. As the Executive Chef of both the Red Ox Inn and Canteen, Sean O’Connor explains, “I work on the menus at each place independently, but sometimes I’ll be working on a dish for one restaurant and it turns out to work better for the concept of the other.”

The Red Ox Inn is older, smaller, and more refined than its casual sister restaurant, Canteen, and both allow for more opportunities to experiment. O’Connor reads cookbooks from chefs from all over the world and experiments with different concepts and ingredients. “You have to challenge yourself and do things that make you feel uncomfortable,” he says. “I love how a new dish can start from a single ingredient or idea and, through trial and error, it eventually becomes something we can be proud to serve.”

Both restaurants will roll out new menu items when the season changes, as the change of weather usually means an influx of local crops. “The hardest part is being patient,” says O’Connor. “I’ll always choose the best quality products, and when it’s in season that’s usually the local product.” This spring also brings their annual fundraiser dinner for the Edmonton Humane Society, where guests get to enjoy a set menu with several courses and wine pairings, with all the proceeds going towards the non-profit organization.

While he enjoys the work and projects, it’s essential to try to maintain a work-life balance, which is not easy in this industry. O’Connor credits American chef Jeremy Fox as an inspiration. “Fox is making great food while his staff work a regular 40-hour week,” he explains. “Too many restaurants require you to spend every waking moment at work, which just isn’t healthy.” The Edmonton chef thus tries to get outdoors when he can, whether it’s walking his dog, canoeing down the North Saskatchewan, or travelling to try new things.

Along with various international restaurants, O’Connor enjoys the diverse dining scene in Edmonton. A few of his favourites include OTTO Food & Drink, Izakaya Tomo, and Baijiu.

Artist Spotlight: Gloria Mok

What made you want to be an artist?
I wanted to create something that surprises me and leads me to an imaginary world that is meaningful and gives me satisfaction.

What mediums do you prefer to work in?
For my show at the Art Gallery of Alberta, I am using gouache, which is an opaque watercolour. I have also used collage, digital manipulation, oil, acrylic, and mixed media.

What themes or issues do you explore in your art?
Science and medicine, which are my areas of interest and expertise. I am a family physician, so my training and work involves understanding how the body functions. My work involves creation of a singular cosmos. I suppose one can use the analogy of myself as Miss Frankenstein (not in a malevolent way), making up my own world.

What artists or works inspire your own?
There have been a number of artists over the years, depending on the project. My current inspirations are Cy Twombly, who used calligraphic marks to create poetic paintings, and Marcel Duchamp, who was an original thinker and made the world look at art in a totally new way. His work is always challenging and unpredictable.

What do you hope people take away from your art?
I would like it to have an immediate impact. The work is mysterious and allows the viewer to interpret what they see. On seeing the artwork again, I hope some further details, interest, or interpretation will emerge.

Where can readers view and/or purchase your work?
I have selected works at the Scott Gallery, and an exhibition—Metamorphosis—at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Retail Spotlight: Shop Chop

Photo courtesy Shop Chop

1) What inspired you to open shop?
We (Prudie and RJ) first opened our hair studio in 2004 and always had the intention of turning the space into a retail store. We eventually reworked the existing space to include a full salon in the back and enough space in the front for the shop.

2) How do you choose what products to stock?
We bought stuff that we liked, thinking it was the best way to express who we were as a store. We both are always hunting for new brands, go to a lot of craft sales, and get cold-call offers from people wanting to sell here. We like to keep new stuff coming in, but there are some essential items we keep in stock all the time.

3) How much of your stock comes from local artisans, and why is it important to support them?
We stock as much local stuff as we can, especially when it comes to handmade items. It’s about 25% local, 50% Canadian, and 25% global. The Shop Local movement has created a new intimacy between shoppers and makers. When people walk in and see local brands that they recognize—like Justine Ma, Bang Bang Bijoux, Pura Botanicals, and Beton Brut—you can see a connection when they buy it. There are also a lot of creative people out there who can’t imagine an outlet for their products. When they come in and see a local artist prominently displayed in a shop, it’s encouraging.

4) What is surprising about downtown Edmonton?
That people make the trek downtown just to come to our store. We’re a stand-alone destination and a surprising number of people say they drove 30–40 minutes just for us. It makes us feel great, but also makes us hopeful that further development in the core will help close the gap between the destination shops.

5) Is there anything in particular that you feel people should know?
Shopping in local boutiques really does improve your city and your neighbourhood. Independent shop owners take a huge risk to do something they feel passionate about. And when we see someone buy anything, no matter how big or small or expensive it is, it feels like a win, because we liked the same thing.

Follow them on Instagram to stay up to date on their inventory!

Alberta Ballet’s Cinderella

Photo by Paul McGrath

Relive this childhood classic with the Alberta Ballet’s production of Cinderella! Adapted from the original 1697 Charles Perrault version, this romance follows the hopes, dreams, and wishes of a servant girl and her adventures with wicked stepsisters, a magical godmother, and a handsome prince. Get swept up in the captivating magic with vibrant sets and costumes—and a search for true love.

Cinderella | March 22–24 | $55–$145
Jubilee Auditorium |  11455-87 Ave. | 780-428-6839

Ask the Expert: Les Clefs d’Or Corner (March/April 2018)


Photo by Jamie Tweedy of Tweedy Studios.

We asked Edmonton expert and Les Clefs d’Or Nella Mirante at The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald for her advice about spring in the city!

1. What is your favourite thing about spring in Edmonton?
My favourite thing about spring in Edmonton is patio season! I can’t wait to enjoy the views of the river valley and admire the manicured gardens of the Fairmont Macdonald.

2. Can you recommend the best spot in the city to enjoy a pint on St. Patrick’s Day?
The best spot to celebrate would be an authentic Irish pub in the heart of Old Strathcona, such as O’Byrnes, where you can enjoy snug rooms, a friendly ambience, Irish dancing, live music, and perfect pints of Guinness.

3. Where can visitors find special treats for Easter?
My fave treats for Easter are hand-crafted artisan chocolates from Jacek. The best part of shopping there is you may get to sample a few pieces!

4. What is your favourite upcoming event?
I am so excited to have the Red Bull Crashed Ice event back in Edmonton!

5. What would you recommend for visitors who want to get outdoors for Earth Day on April 22?
Unplug from your electronic devices and head to our beautiful river valley! With the new funicular in place, it’s easier than ever to access, so anyone can explore the great outdoors. And the Fairmont will celebrate Earth Hour on March 24 with beverages in our Confederation Lounge by candlelight!

Les Clefs d’Or Concierges have been opening doors for hotel guests in Canada since 1976, and today there are more than 150 members from coast to coast and more than 3,500 members worldwide! You can find Nella at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald.

For the Love of Arts in Edmonton

In the ever-growing Edmonton arts scene, there’s no shortage of exciting festivals, events, and more to experience year-round! Check out these amazing upcoming events in March and April.

Betroffenheit at the Citadel Theatre. Photo by Michael Slobodian

From ballet to interpretive dance, movement aficionados are sure to find a show to take in. Don’t miss the Citie Ballet’s production of Ignite (April 20–22), which pays homage to the return of spring and celebrates change and rebirth. Or head over to the Citadel Theatre to catch Betroffenheit (March 30–April 1). Fusing poetry and dance, this performance is a portrayal of survival after trauma.

Definitely check out the SkirtsAFire Festival, an empowering event that celebrates the local female arts community. From March 8–11, listen to some spoken word, attend a literary event or workshop (or two or three!), catch a short film, check out the visual arts exhibit at the Nina Haggerty gallery, or enjoy some live theatre like The Romeo Initiative (a comedic spy thriller). And don’t miss Northern Light Theatre’s current season, which explores women’s complex relationship between their identities and the religious society in which they live during Do This In Memory of Me (March 12–25) and SLUT (April 6–14).

Have you always wanted to check out improv? Take in an experimental long-form improv show at Rapid Fire Theatre’s Bonfire Festival! Every show is a new experience for both performers and audience members alike. Never boring and always engaging, this festival runs April 12–14 and April 19–21 at the Citadel Theatre. And whether you’re a fan of Shakespeare’s sonnets or enjoy a dirty limerick or two, the Edmonton Poetry Festival from April 22–29 promises to awaken the vibrant poets in all of us! Sample the varieties at one of the many events—including live lunch-hour readings, workshops, and more—around the city.

If it’s live music you want, attend the Now Hear This Festival from March 22–25. A showcase of new music, the festival’s eclectic sounds range from string quartets to experimental jazz. You’ll be sure to find a new favourite! Or check out the Northern Lights Music Festival from March 30–31 for a decidedly bumping weekend of dancing and hot beats.

— Marcela Garcia

2017 Silver Service Award: Rostizado

Photo by WHERE Edmonton

Les Clefs d’Or Canada and WHERE Edmonton Magazine would like to congratulate the Edmonton winner of the 2017 Silver Service Award, Rostizado! Clefs d’Or Nella Mirante of the Fairmont Macdonald chose this Mexican hotspot as she’s had only the best experiences there and all of the guests she’s sent return raving about their excellent service.

Read more…

Talent Spotlight: Sheldon Elter

Photo by Kevin Clark Studios

Actor, writer, comedian, musician, Canadian Idol contestant—Sheldon Elter has worn many hats over the course of his career. His true love, though, is the stage. “That’s where my heart and soul are at,” explains Elter. “Your art lives and dies in one performance. It feels more magical to me to be a part of that.”

One of Elter’s upcoming shows, Métis Mutt, began as a classroom project in 2001 and has been workshopped and performed across the country. The multi-layered theatrical version of Elter’s life story discusses his family and racial issues. “I’ve learned that the more you try to tell the truth, the more human you become,” he says. “[The play] transcends race and gender and just becomes a human experience.”

Writing such works is particularly important to Elter, and he’s thankful for the supportive and welcoming artistic community in Edmonton. “It’s really cool to be a part of contemporary Canadian work. I’ve been very lucky to have my own work produced, and patrons will actually go and see independent work,” he says. Elter avidly recommends that visitors venture out of their comfort zone and watch a play from the numerous independent companies in the city. “There’s always a chance to see a great show.”

If you can’t see him live, watch out for the fourth season of CAUTION: May Contain Nuts. The award-winning sketch-comedy series is due back on Canadian airwaves in the spring after being cancelled for several years. “When the network asked to bring it back, it was a bit of a shock,” says Elter, who both writes and stars in the show. “What’s so cool is that you’re working with your pals, and it’s all shot here so it’s all local talent. I think it’s some of our best writing.”

RAAS Market

Photo courtesy Publicity Room

If you’re looking for a new local shopping experience, you may be surprised to find it in a mall as large and internationally recognized as West Edmonton Mall. But thanks to the new RAAS Market, Edmonton-based retailers have a unique way of sharing their products with a new audience. RAAS offers turnkey retail space for local makers who want a low-risk opportunity to sell in a larger mall space but can’t afford the larger leases.

Mark Ghermezian, who helped develop the concept, says, “The mall has done a great job of bringing in retailers from around the world that normally wouldn’t come to Edmonton, and we have the latest attractions and everything here.” But the desire was there to support the local makers, as he explains, “We noticed there was so much great entrepreneurship and a community [in the city], and if we can unleash them in some way, it’d be a great thing to do.”

The feel of the space is different from the rest of the mall. Each retailer has their own white rectangle, cube, or triangle, which they can customize with their products, and RAAS provides them with a branded sign and all other shelving and sales equipment they need. Ghermezian says some shoppers feel that entering RAAS is like stepping outside of the mall and perhaps into a European alleyway.

Popular retailers who’ve tried out the experiment and expanded their business into the mall include Pura Botanicals, which sells natural skincare and beauty products; Adesso, a men’s accessories line; and Apollo Originals, stylish streetwear fashions. Shoppers will certainly be surprised by the incredible range of products made right here in Edmonton. “We’re trying to create a place where we can unleash this creative community of locals in a really exciting way,” says Ghermezian. “It’s a unique shopping experience to meet the founders and the makers of these products.”

Visit their website to learn more about the RAAS shopping experience.

Undaunted at the AGA

Photo by Laura Muntz Lyall, “Mother and Child,” c. 1895.

Many of the greatest artists of the 19th century were women and they still lack their much-deserved recognition, especially as they had to overcome incredible barriers to share their work. This new exhibition, Undaunted: Canadian Women Painters of the 19th Century, turns the spotlight onto some of the lesser-known female artists from this period. Viewers can experience work from Charlotte Schreiber, the first woman to be elected into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts; Mary Ella Dignam, the founder of the Women’s Art Association of Canada; and Laura Muntz Lyall (pictured), who was the first female artist to receive recognition outside of Canada.

Undaunted: Canadian Women Painters of the 19th Century | Through March 25
Art Gallery of Alberta | 2 Sir Winston Churchill Sq. | 99 St. & 102A Ave. | 780-422-6223