Third Shift Did Not Disappoint

Category: community 299

Saint John’s night of contemporary art attracted large crowds for the third annual event.

Matt Carter
Brandon Vickerd’s ‘Challenger’.Photo: PJ Waterhouse

I finally made it to Third Shift. It only took me two years to get there.

I’ve been wanting to experience Saint John’s ‘Art Works After Dark’ festival (?) since the day after the inaugural event in 2015 when photos began to circulate online showing the city’s Uptown quarter in ways I’ve never seen it before. A pop-up lawn running down Grannan Street, huge projections transforming dark alleyways into active art exhibits and unique art installations everywhere. What’s not to love?

Crowds gathered for the second screening of ‘Homeless’.

If you’re not familiar with the event, Third Shift is an annual single-evening art experience organized by Third Space, the city’s artist run centre, with the aim to “re-imagine their city, activate vacant and under-utilized areas and engage with the surroundings of the Uptown environment”. Each year the event attracts contemporary and experimental artists from throughout the region and across the continent curating their contributions into an evening of family friendly exploration.  Using a map, visitors can walk the city streets and enjoy an experience unlike anything they’ve seen.

This year did not disappoint and thankfully the rain didn’t keep people away. The streets and sidewalks were crammed with people, everyone buzzing with excitement. And rightfully so. While I have nothing to compare my experience to, Third Shift, for me, created an entire world of curiosities that kept my excitement level running on high the entire time.

Some of my personal highlights include the outdoor screening of Homeless, a film project documenting the city’s landscape complete with live instrumentation and a surprise ending; the peculiar creatures of Monster Mass; Jud Crandall’s audio experiments blasting from Jardine’s Alley; Brandon Vickerd’s Challenger – a Canada Post mailbox struck by space junk; the Morse Code billboards from Melissa Wakefield and Alana O’Halloran’s If These Walls Could Talk, and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head. I also enjoyed Phil Clark’s light, sound and video installation piece – Activation and Open Arts’ Charade Parade – a collection of skilled musicians droning their way through streets and alleys. In total there were more than a dozen exhibits to experience. Too much fun!

Jud Crandall in his nest.

Uptown Saint John has always been a favourite place of mine and Third Shift is just another reason, stacked in a mountainous heap of reasons, why I love that city and the art scene that exists there.  Not only can the city claim an impressive cast of creative characters hungry to make things happen (also see Quality Block Party, Fundy Fringe Fest, Best of Saint John Music Awards, Saint John Contemporary Dance Festival,etc) but also, and possibly more importantly, people come out of their homes to take part. Community participation is a key factor in any art scene and from what can see, Saint John’s got it. #holyfrig


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