Artists in the Community

  • Gary Garrison performing poetry during the Edmonton Poetry Festival. Paula E. Kirman

  • Candas Jane Dorsey. Hugh A. D. Spencer

  • Timothy J. Anderson starring in The Singing Blade at Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, 2005. Supplied

  • Steven Johnson in performance. Supplied

Boyle Street and McCauley are filled with talented individuals. This is a look at just a few of them.

The people featured here answered a call to submit their profiles for this issue. We would like to profile other artists in the area in future issues. If you are a visual artist, writer, musician, or performer who would like to be featured, please send your profile and a photo to editor@bmcnews.org.

Gary Garrison
In February of 2006, I checked in for the Writers Guild of Alberta two-week retreat at the Banff Centre and got my photo ID. Right across the top of it in bold letters was the word: “Artist.”

I had worked 20 years at the Alberta Legislature editing Hansard, fine-tuning and publishing other people’s words. I’d also worked as a writer for a trade newspaper for a couple of years, and published a few articles connected to my work at the Legislature. But that was all reporting other people’s words too, and it didn’t feel all that creative. “Artist” was more of aspiration than reality at the time.

Since then, I’ve published a number of poems, including five that were professionally performed on CBC radio; written a few songs and even performed some in public; and read and performed quite a few poems at Stroll of Poets and Poetry Festival events. In addition to articles I’ve written for BMC News, I’ve published one personal essay. Recently, I completed a book-length nonfiction manuscript based on the nine years I spent working with prisoners.

My favourite gig, though is as an Artist on the Wards at the U of A hospital. I go there every week, drop in on patients, and write poetry for them. I get energy from patient contact; they get a personal poem from me. The pay? I get a can of orange juice each week. I love the work, but it won’t pay the rent.

Candas Jane Dorsey
Candas Jane Dorsey is an internationally-known writer and editor. Born in Edmonton, she, with her partner, fellow artist Timothy J. Anderson, has made Boyle Street her home for the last ten years.

A full-time professional writer/editor, she has two novels, three short stories collections, four collections of poetry professionally published, co-edited several anthologies, and has many stories, poems, reviews, critical essays, and rants in anthologies and magazines. Eclectic in output and style, she has just completed a mystery novel, a young adult novel, and has even been working on children’s picture book scripts. Editor/publisher for nine years of Canadian independent science fiction publisher Tesseract Books and for fourteen years of literary press The Books Collective, she now teaches writing and speaks internationally on science fiction and other topics. She was founding president of SF Canada, the only Canadian professional writers’ organization operating in both official languages.

In addition to her literary honours she is the recipient of the Alberta Centennial Gold Medal, a City of Edmonton Achievement Award, the Todd Janes Pride Award, an Edmonton Police Service Human Rights Citation, and the YWCA Woman of the Year award. She works as a freelance writer, editor, and communications consultant, and is an active arts and community advocate. She is vice-president of Boyle Street Community League.

Timothy Anderson
Performer, writer, director and educator Timothy Anderson came through Edmonton on tour in 1986 and liked it so much he moved here. Then he and partner Candas Dorsey bought an artsy house in Boyle Street.

A vibrant 35 year career spans children’s theatre to grand opera, working for international producers, regional theatres, local companies, orchestras, and choral societies. He currently sings at McDougall United Church.

Timothy’s creative writing output includes more than a dozen produced stage works, a novel, a poetry collection, and short fiction and non-fiction works. Former writer-in-residence with the Canadian Opera Company, Timothy has written texts for several composers. As a composer himself (works for choir, incidental music/soundscapes, and songs for theatre) he understands the challenges of finding a good text.

In 2007 he won the BookTelevision reality TV show based on the 3-Day Novel contest. Community work is high on his list. He has served on the boards of Alberta Playwrights Network, Pro Coro Canada, Cantilena Consort, The Books Collective, and now on the boards of the Boyle Street Community League and the Alberta Music Education Foundation. He teaches writing at MacEwan and U of A, and continues to freelance.

Steven Johnson
Steven moved to McCauley in 2000 with his wife Jody. Steven and Jody welcomed their daughter Stella in 2003. Steven started to teach guitar out of his home and became the McCauley Community League’s guitar teacher in 2004. Some of Steven’s students have been attending community lessons since its inception.

Steven has been teaching guitar for over 25 years. Many of his students enjoy successful careers in music, some starting as beginner musicians. Steven is thankful for the friendships he’s made through music.

Steven is also himself a practicing, professional musician. Steven has studied with world renowned composers Dr. Gordon Nicholson and Dr. David Duke. He holds diplomas in Music Performance, Music Composition, and Recording Arts. Steven has performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and played at B.C. Place. As well, Steven has impressed audiences with his 12 string guitar at numerous festivals and venues: North Country Fair, The Sasquatch Gathering, McCauley’s own Heart of the City Festival, and the Kaleido Festival, to name a few. Steven also plays for gallery shows at The Nina Haggerty Centre.

Steven has been pleasantly surprised by the increased arts community in McCauley and looks forward to meeting more interested students and collaborations with other artists. Videos of Steven’s music are on YouTube. Email stevenrayjohnson@gmail.com if you are interested in private guitar lessons. Community guitar lessons take place every Monday evening 8-9:30 p.m. at The Boys & Girls Club. All ages and levels are welcome.

More in this issue

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We are always looking for new writers and photographers, as well as ideas for future stories. We also regularly need block carriers to help with the delivery and distribution of the paper. Email Paula with your submissions, feedback, ideas, and availability. We also ask that contributors read our Editorial Guidelines and that all volunteers read and agree to our Code of Conduct.

Next Issue . . .

Our next issue is October. Articles and photos concerning community news, events, and opinions are welcome. We also encourage submissions of poetry, and cartoons (in JPG or PDF format). Deadline: September 12. Send submissions to: editor@bmcnews.org. Articles should be 400 words or less and accompanied by photographs (JPG, in high resolution) when possible.