Norman MacKenzie had always been a lover of art. Throughout his adult life he collected art and overtime he had generated one of the finest collections in all of Saskatchewan. All that changed on June 30, 1912, when his collection was scattered to the wind by the ruthless Regina Cyclone. With only one piece of his once vast collection remaining, he began a lifelong campaign to rebuild his collection and ultimately accumulated some of the finest art in the world. Between 1912 and 1936, he collected everything from paintings of the Italian Renaissance, antiquities of Asia and the Middle East, and works by contemporary artists of his day.
When he died in 1936 he donated his art, and his fortune, to the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus. Just under two decades later, in 1953, the MacKenzie Art Gallery was born.
As the years passed, the art gallery continued to meet and surpass the needs of the community. This was especially true in the early 1970s when a pottery boom began in Saskatchewan, rapidly changing the landscape of the local art scene. At one point over 300 people were enrolled in non-credit pottery classes at the University, many of which wanted to promote and sell their new clay creations. With no festivals or markets available, The MacKenzie Art Gallery recognized a void in the local art scene and rose to the occasion. In 1973 the art gallery organized Bazaart, and with it, transformed the art scene in the province forever.
Forty-five years later, Bazaart has not only bridged the gap between local artisans and the public but has become the largest outdoor art festival in the province. Their festival marks the beginning of summer in Regina, sitting on the tails of the Cathedral Village Arts Festival just a month earlier. Every year Bazaart brings in between 5,000 to 6,000 people and showcases over 150 local artists. It’s a one-of-a-kind outdoor shopping experience, all within the grounds of the magnificent MacKenzie Art Gallery.
The art available at Bazaart ranges as much as the people who are selling it. You’ll find everything from classic pottery to modern jewelry, paintings, photography, music, and glassware. The festival attracts people of all ages, with young entrepreneurs mixed between seasoned veterans that have been at the festival since its conception.
Although the art varies from each vendor, there is one major similarity: everything at Bazaart is handmade. In a time where machines are mass producing art, and automated templates are replacing personal care and detail, this gives people a chance to intimately interact with local artists. In fact, Bazaart prides itself on how close artists and art lovers can get at the festival, with many guests returning year after year to add pieces to their collections.
The festival also has almost a dozen food trucks and food vendors available, with companies ranging from Queen City Footlongs to Susie's Cinns to Absolute Zero.
As with past years, the MacKenzie Art Gallery has teamed up with the Regina Folk Festival to showcase local musical talent. This year there will be performances from Ellen Froese and Suncliffs, with a collaboration at 12:45 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. as they present Chasing Daisies, Dairy and Summer Days: Folk Charm.
There is a lot happening at Bazaart on June 16th, but none of it would be possible without the army of over 100 volunteers. Many of these volunteers have been with the festival for decades, returning each year to see friends and familiar faces. It is the selfless act of these people – and their excitement to be part of something this incredible – that make the festival such an unforgettable experience.
Bazaart is also excited to be offering online tickets to the festival, which are a dollar less than the regular $7 adult tickets available at the gate. Children 12 and under are also welcome at the festival, and their entrance is free. All money brought in via the festival helps keep the art gallery in operation, which has operated as a non-profit for almost thirty years.
This year the festival’s official sponsor is SaskTel, and they will operate the SaskTel Family Fun Zone, which features free activities for children and families on the grounds of Bazaart. Much like the volunteers and donations, its sponsorships like this that make the festival continue to thrive after all these years.
With 45 years under the belt, Bazaart promises to connect with local artists, showcase amazing artwork, inspire a new generation of artists and reignite your creativity.
Which is exactly how Norman MacKenzie would have wanted it.
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