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An exciting snapshot of our local creative zeitgeist, the winners of the annual Edmonton Arts Prize will be announced May 1.

Each award is for a specific creative work in one of four disciplines, with generous rewards.

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“The shortlists represent the diversity of the music, film, visual art and literary stars of our city,” explains the Edmonton Arts Council’s interim executive director Shirley Combden.

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“One of the ambitions of the EAC is to highlight the incredible talent and reputation of the artists in our city, and all of these artists are worthy of the spotlight — from internationally recognized filmmakers to musicians with followers from across the globe, powerful visual artists, and wordsmiths exploring universal themes.”

Rather than just talk about the four big winners next week — who take $15,000 home apiece — we thought it wouldn’t hurt to shine a little light on all 12 nominees, three a category, especially given that everyone’s a winner of at least a $5000 runner-up prize.

Here we go!

City of Edmonton Music Prize

Arlo Maverick for Blue Collar — Considering himself a public servant to the music sector, this hip-hop artist has long been message-driven, his latest album Blue Collar talking about the collision of labour and happiness with typical ingenuity and aplomb.

HAIDEE for This Shouldn’t Be Typical — This Philippines-raised pop artist keeps her family, including a mother she reunited with in her teens, close to her heart, and hopes to inspire others with a driving sense of identity on several levels.

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Home Front for Games of Power  — Local music scene legends Graeme MacKinnon and Clint Frazier are the hardworking core of this dazzling mix of punk and electro outfit that’s been making waves across the U.S. and Europe.

City of Edmonton Film Prize

Adam Scorgie for Thunder: The Life and Death of Arturo Gatti  — Prolific local documentary powerhouse Adam Scorgie takes on the story of a Montreal warrior boxer who suffered a mysterious and controversial death.

Cody Lightning for Hey Viktor! — This Marvel Echo actor stars and directs in this innovative and charmingly filthy mockumentary which sprang from chasing the dragon of his child star role in Indigenous teen classic, Smoke Signals. Tribeca premiere, no less!

Omar Mouallem for The Lebanese Burger Mafia — About way more than just the Burger Baron franchise spread across North America, Mouallem’s character-stuffed doc goes from personal to universal in this sizzling love letter.

Taiessa Edmonton visual arts prize
Taiessa is up for the Eldon + Anne Foote Visual Arts Prize. Photo by supplied photo /Manpreet Singh

The Eldon + Anne Foote Visual Arts Prize

Kelsey Stephenson for Currents — Focusing on human impact while immersing the viewer in the beauty and fragility of the North Saskatchewan River watershed, Stephenson used screen printing and cyanotype images to create a single constructed landscape at Art Gallery of St. Albert.

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Taiessa for variegate — Using rows of ghostly soft sculptures made in the likeness of desirable plan clippings, this mesmerizing Harcourt House show looked at the commercialization of plant collecting in the context of wider colonial extraction.

Tiffany Shaw for my children, my mother, her mother and their mother, and their mother, and their mother, and their mother….. nitawasimisak, nikawiy, okawiya ekwa okawiwawa, okawiyiwa, ekwa okawiyiwa ekwa okawiyiwa….. — A reflective mylar, knitted response to the death of her mother — she calls it “grief work” — by this Métis artist architect who showed it at The Works.

Recommended from Editorial

Robert Kroetsch — City of Edmonton Book Prize

Anna Marie Sewell for Urbane — Having survived a stint as a shapeshifter’s accomplice on a mission of vengeance and redemption, unlicensed detective and self-professed a-hole Hazel LeSage returns in the former Edmonton poet laureate’s second novel in the Amiskwaciy series.

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Jennifer Bowering Delise for Micrographia — This collection of lyrical essays are set between the author’s path through infertility into motherhood and the approaching, medically-assisted death of her mother. Ultimately, about sharing stories and connection.

Richard Van Camp for The Spirit of Denendeh: As I Enfold You in Petals — Genre-hopping while always celebrating Indigenous life, Van Camp’s nominee here is a graphic novel about a newly-sober protagonist searching for healing in ancient practices as he returns to his hometown Fort Smith.

Last year’s winners were ¿Qué pasará? — What will happen? by Cristian de la Luna for music; producer Katrina Beatty for Before I Change My Mind; Ghazal — Songs for Home by Riaz Mehmood for art; and Whitemud Walking by Matthew James Weigel for the book prize.

This culture-boosting annual prize program is coordinated by the Edmonton Arts Council, in partnership with the City of Edmonton and various involved community partners including Alberta Media Production Industries Association, Alberta Music, Audreys Books, CARFAC Alberta, Edmonton Community Foundation and Writers’ Guild of Alberta.

The free-of-charge award ceremony, which everyone is invited to attend, is at Varscona Theatre 6 p.m. Wednesday, free of charge — please just RSVP at edmontonarts.ca.

“By shining a light on these artists,” says Combden, “we hope that Edmontonians will be encouraged to check out their work, and maybe catch them at their favourite local venue or festival.”

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