Whiskey Around The WorldApril 21, 2023
Dinner in The KilnMay 5, 2023
Hi Medalta Community & Friends,
It’s springtime and we’re pumped for what’s in store! Our calendar is full of exciting events and workshops, like Salsa Night, Market @ Medalta, Whiskey Tasting in the Kiln, Artist Summer Workshops, and Kids Camp. Trust us, there’s something for everyone!
This newsletter is packed with fun stuff too. We have an interview with Laurie, our awesome team member who’s been with us for over 20 years, and a recap of the Thawed Out Music Festival. Plus, our beloved studio cat, Oscar, has an update on what he’s been up to. Thanks for your support and keep reading to find out more. Hope to see you at Medalta soon!
Salsa Night May 6th & June 17
Our Salsa Nights will feature the incredible dance instructor Becky Klaiber, who has over 10 years of experience teaching dance to students of all levels. She will be there to teach a beginner lesson at the start of the evening, so even if you’re new to salsa, you’ll be able to join in on the fun.
In addition to Becky’s instruction, we’ll have the amazing DJ Joey Miller on hand spinning Latin-Inspired tunes to keep the party going all night long. So put on your dancing shoes, bring your friends, and get ready for a night of spicy salsa music and dancing. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable evening!
Learn more here.
Shop Local at the Market @ Medalta! First Thursday of the month from May to September
The Market @ Medalta is a unique event that should not be missed. As a heritage site with a rich tradition of pottery production, Medalta provides the perfect backdrop for local artisans and vendors to showcase their work. From handmade ceramics to locally made home products and more. Visitors can explore a diverse range of handmade crafts and unique gifts. The markets are a great opportunity for locals and tourists to support the local community while also enjoying the atmosphere of Medalta. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the markets at Medalta and discover the talent of our community.
Learn more here.
Whiskey Around The World: Tasting in the Kiln – May 12, 2023
The whiskey tasting in the Kiln is a unique experience that combines the magical setting of the historic beehive kilns with the enjoyment of premium whiskeys. This event offers participants the opportunity to sample different whiskeys from 8 countries in a truly unique setting. Held in the heart of the kiln, guests can sip on their drinks while surrounded by the brick-lined kilns. This unforgettable experience is perfect for those looking to indulge in a selection of premium whiskeys in a one-of-a-kind setting.
Learn more here.
Get ready to unleash your creativity and dive into the world of ceramics at Medalta’s summer 2023 workshops, led by talented ceramic artists. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, these workshops offer a unique opportunity to learn new techniques and refine your skills in a welcoming and inspiring environment. From hand-building, surface decoration, wheel-throwing and mould-making, each workshop is designed to help you bring your creative vision to life. Come join us for a summer of ceramic art and self-discovery!
Find dates & detailed workshop information here.
Each of our summer program weeks has a unique theme for inspiring and motivating the children who participate, but every week includes similar adventures such as scavenger hunts, trail walks, active games, art projects, science experiments, and of course clay projects. Register your children for a summer of fun in the historic “play” district!
Find dates & descriptions of each of our camps here.
Interview With Laurie Switzer
In this interview, Laurie, a long-time employee of Medalta, shares her journey at the museum from a casual temporary worker to a full-time permanent staff member. When she started, there were only three full-time permanent employees, and everyone wore multiple hats.
Laurie worked at Medalta for over 20 years and had many interesting experiences, such as the Alberta Centennial Event. She also shares a story about when she attended a Black Sabbath concert in 1971, which she remembers fondly.
What year did you start @ Medalta?
I think it was September of 2000 when I was asked to help out on a temporary casual basis, working Saturdays until the museum and gift shop closed for the winter in October. I was supposed to be just looking after the gift shop and opening and closing the museum exhibits for self-guided tours. At the time I had my own business and several other clients to look after. One Saturday Jack Forbes asked me to help him find a document, which turned into helping to reorganize his files, and then assisting in the office on a contract basis. Eventually, the hours at Medalta overtook the time I had to work on my own business, and in September 2002 I accepted a full-time permanent staff position as Jack Forbes’ assistant. I have been working for Medalta ever since and it has been well over 20 years
What was it like when you first started working here?
When I first started there were only 3 full-time permanent employees. Darcey Howells, Annette Unger, and myself. The Executive Director was a contract position at that time. Darcey had a crew of maintenance and construction workers that varied according to the current construction project, (current Site Superintendent Cody Weiss was frequently part of that team). Basil Leistmester did most of the jiggering on a volunteer/commission basis. Basil jiggered in the factory when it was still operational and we were very lucky that he was willing to share his expertise with our production staff. He loved to tease and was amazing at entertaining tourists.
Annette managed the production studio and watched over the gift shop when visitors came in. This was possible at Hycroft as the studio walls were glass so she could see if anyone came into the gift shop. Annette enjoyed greeting the visitors, and,having been trained by Basil, she had lots of knowledge to share with other staff and visitors alike.
It was a small operation and everyone wore multiple hats. I would come in at 6 am to wash the floors before starting my work day which included everything from customer relations and marketing to finance and janitorial. Basically if you wanted something clean you cleaned it yourself. This was before the Board of Directors became a Governance Board, and the Board members volunteered hundreds of hours helping with everything on site. We also had an amazing group of volunteers who virtually ran the gift shop, the artists in residence program was run as a volunteer committee as were many other projects. The volunteers were the ones who taught me the ropes when I first started.
I was always amazed when we sent out a call for help how quickly the volunteer positions for an event would be filled, and many boxes and tins of baked goods would magically arrive so that we were always able to lay out free homemade treats for the attendees at Heritage Christmas and other public events.
What was the most interesting experience you had at Medalta?
There were so many it is hard to pick just one. Certainly, the Alberta Centennial Event stands out. It was such a great experience to work with so many different people and to be a part of an event that literally spanned the province. There were jazz festivals and art shows, Altaglass auctions, and fundraising events. Then all the different construction and restoration projects each with their own memory. The bridge took visitors safely across the excavation of building 13, with the opening lined in large crocks to guide them in the right direction. Painting the Shaw Centre days before the opening with the entire staff pitching in to ensure it was completed on time. Oh, yes the kiln-shaped stage that Darcey and crew built in Building 13, I don’t even remember the event but I do remember painting the ‘bricks’ on the plywood surface, and teaching some of the maintenance staff how to paint a realistic-looking brick. And the ‘after after party’ from the first Black & White gala, and staying almost all night chatting and reminiscing with Joyce as we filled, emptied, and filled the dishwasher again and again.
What were the various job titles you’ve had at Medalta?
Until 2014 I basically had one job and that was to do whatever needed to be done. We have always had more work than people to do it, so every day was different. When I officially took a permanent position my title was Executive Assistant to Jack Forbes who was our first Executive Director. I was called the Administrative Officer for a while, followed by Administrative Officer and Comptroller, then Finance Director, then Administrative Officer & Human Resources again and now I am back to Executive Assistant, and Recording Secretary to the Board. Still it seems I do what needs to be done and don’t really have a comprehensive job description.
One might not suspect that you are a rocker. Can you tell us about the Black Sabbath concert you attended in 1971?
Oh my, that event happened over 50 years ago, so my memory is a little sketchy. It was at the Winnipeg Centennial Concert Hall in 1971, I was just 17. It was my first time at the concert hall and I remember being awed by the building and wanting to just walk around admiring the art work. My friends were all excited to get into our seats and watch as they finished setting up the stage, a couple of them were musicians and very much impressed by all the equipment. I just remember the amplifiers Black Sabbath required were HUGE, and the sound level was just incredible. Even today, when I hear Iron Man, I can still feel the sound vibrating in my chest. I guess we had pretty good seats, as the tickets were only $3, $4, $5 or $6 back then, and ours were $5.
A message from Laurie
It’s been great to work with all the amazing people here. It’s great to see all the amazing changes that have happened over the years. I have been fortunate to be a small part of it all, and cannot wait to see what happens next. Thank you.
Thawed Out Music Festival : A Celebration of Music and Community
The Thawed Out Country Music Festival was the talk of the town from March 24-26, 2023. The three-day event was for families & country music fans, featuring some of the best artists from the region, including Kalsey Kulyk, Duane Steele, Ryan Lindsay, Noeline Hofmann, Mariel Buckley, Jake Vaadeland and The Sturgeon River Boys, Derek Hintz, and Tim Herman.
But that’s not all! Attendees were treated to an array of entertainment and activities, including pottery demonstrations, Kids Clay Projects, and the chance to shop at the Market @ Medalta, where local artisans and vendors showcased their unique and creative products. For the little ones, there was the Kids Play Factory, while foodies savored the delights of local food trucks serving up delicious treats.
And let’s not forget about the highlight of the festival: the Dinner in the Kiln, sponsored by Tourism Medicine Hat. Imagine enjoying a delicious meal in a unique setting, surrounded by the warmth of the kiln’s fire. And for bourbon enthusiasts, there was the Bourbon Tasting in The Kiln, where they could savor different types of bourbon and enjoy the festival’s atmosphere.
Overall, the Thawed Out Country Music Festival at Medalta was a spectacular event that showcased the best of Medicine Hat’s local talent and culture. It was an experience that brought people together, where they could immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of country music and indulge in a weekend of fun.
Update from Oscar the Medalta Studio Cat
Meow there, humans! It’s your favorite feline friend, Oscar the Medalta Studio Cat. I hope you’re all doing well and keeping your whiskers clean.
Things have been pretty exciting around here lately. The weather’s warming up, the sun is shining, and the mice are out in full force. Don’t worry, though – I’ve got everything under control. As the official mouse hunter of Medalta, it’s my job to keep those pesky rodents out of the studio and away from all the beautiful art. I take my job very seriously, and I’m happy to report that the mouse population is under control.
But that’s not all I do around here. As the resident therapy cat, I’m always here to lend an ear (or a paw) to anyone who needs it. Whether you’re feeling stressed about a project, missing your own furry friend at home, or just in need of some cuddles, I’m here for you. Just come find me lounging in the sun or snoozing on a stack of clay, and I’ll be happy to provide some feline comfort.
Of course, it’s not all work and no play for me. I’ve been busy exploring the studio and making new friends. I’ve even been known to take the occasional nap on a potter’s wheel – it’s just so cozy! And let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of fresh clay between your paws.
All in all, life as the Medalta Studio Cat is pretty sweet. I get to spend my days surrounded by beautiful art, helpful humans, and plenty of mice to keep me on my toes. What more could a cat ask for?
That’s all for now, folks. I’m off to take a quick catnap before my next mouse patrol. Until next time, keep purring along!
Oh, I almost forgot to mention – I’ve been dabbling in the world of online dating lately. That’s right, your favorite studio cat is on Tinder! I figured it was time to put myself out there and see what kind of feline companionship I can find. So far, I’ve matched with a few cute kitties from the neighborhood, and I’m excited to see where things go. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find my purr-fect match. Keep your paws crossed for me!