When all is said and done, approximately 120 Nelson artists will participate in the upcoming 12th Blue Night culture crawl organized by Brian Kalbfleisch. The inter-disciplinary, multi-venue event will feature work from poets, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, visual artists and others working in a myriad of art forms.
And it’s continuing to evolve.
“We’re getting rid of perceived barriers,” Kalbfleisch told the Star. “The idea is that Blue Night is the flagship of a few days or even a week of art that can happen anywhere.”
For branding purposes, the Friday, Nov. 27 crawl that will occur at 24 venues around town, is the “official” Blue Night. Attendees are free to attend any venue where art is being displayed or performed, and the night will culminate with a 10 p.m. reception and dance showcase at Bloom Nightclub.
“This is so refreshing for the Nelson arts and culture scene,” said Zan Comerford, the social media manager for Blue Night. “We’re giving a whole other group this dynamic and engaging platform to be witnessed. And now it’s starting to spill over into workshops and classes and dance showcases, our innovative space. This is the next generation of Blue Night.”
Comerford, though she’s not an artist herself, likes to pour her energy into “lifting up other people’s art and drawing attention to their work.”
And the work she appreciates embraces the “renegade spirit” of the Kootenays.
“We have this unstoppable scene that isn’t dependent on trends going on in the larger world. You can make a name for yourself here in Nelson really easily and I think that’s beautiful.”
Kalbfleisch has also orchestrated a number of spin-off events, including a Neil Young tribute concert, a collaboration with Art Party and a series of talks on the Saturday afternoon following Blue Night. It’s this openness to new ideas that he wants to cultivate in the community.
“For instance, I was contacted by Thompson’s Funeral Home and they said ‘we have this great space no one uses, and we want to get involved.’ I went over there and sure enough it’s an awesome space, but it’s well off the beaten path.”
And as if he wasn’t already dealing with enough, Kalbfleisch is looking to expand his efforts even further.
“I want to get into the healing arts. A lot of the venues we have, like yoga studios, have played an important role in Blue Night and I think the healing arts are an important art form. There there’s the culinary arts, permaculture, gardening … In May I really want to have the artist talk thing take off more.”
Cheryl Thornton, the Art Walk 2015 coordinator, is collaborating with Blue Night this year because she believes in the work Kalbfleisch is doing.
“I think it’s remarkable how much money Brian is putting back into artists’ hands. In my role as arts administrator, that’s something I feel really strongly about. Brian has been successful at making the Nelson arts scene more inclusive and expanding it, so we’re rolling more forms and disciplines under the umbrella of what we’re talking about when we say art.”
Kalbfleisch is stoked so many unorthodox venues are getting involved.
“This time around we’ve got some exciting new venues, like Finley’s, where there will be live painting from Rhandi Sandford and Sharon Epic. And this time around the West Kootenay Teacher Education Program has offered up their beautiful space too [in the former Nelson Daily News building].”
Kalbfleisch said Blue Night has “evolved to the point it’s hard to define,” and he’s okay with that because he wants to “blow up the idea of where and what art should be.”