Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bruno Arts Bank and All Citizens' Cafe, Jan 14, 2011

Text and photos (c) Robert Barry Francos, 2011
Photos can be made larger by clicking on them

I had passed the exit for the small town of Bruno, Saskatchewan, on the way to Muenster[en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno,_Saskatchewan] a few times over a year ago. The name of the town always intrigued me, but as last winter was upon us, my car was removed from my life, and so I never had the opportunity to get out that way since. All I knew about Bruno was that it was small, that there was a big religious institution (St. Therese Hailing and Growth Center), they had an annual Cherry Festival, and some amazing musicians played in a small artists-run cafe.

Recently, our friend and neighbor Susan Shantz, who is an artist that also teaches art at the University of Saskatchewan, invited me along on a class trip to Bruno, where the same person who runs the music cafe also has an artists' residency on his property, and he and one of the artists would be giving a 20-minute talk apiece to the class. Sure, why not; I had been curious about the place for the past year.

Susan did not have any room in her car for me, so I rode along with a couple from North Battleford (about an hour west from Saskatoon, while Bruno in 90K / 55 miles east of SToon. He is Marcus Miller, who runs a couple of galleries in NB, and she is Mindy Yan Miller, an artist who works in textiles. Also along was their son, Charly, a really nice and intelligent 11 year old. Fortunately, we all hit it off, and the drive felt even quicker, despite the blowing snow along Highway 5.

When we arrived in Bruno, we had no problem finding where we needed to be since the business district of town is essentially a street's length, with storefronts lining both sides. When we arrived, Tyler Brett, the owner of the arts establishments, was giving his talk about his paintings and installations, followed by Kerri Reid, who discussed her found-and-copied work, and how she distributes it post-showings.

When they finished, myself, Marcus and Mindy (in that order) were asked to speak about our own art processes for about 5 minutes each. During the break that followed, I walked around town and took photos (i.e., one of my arts). It was a bitterly cold day and the wind swept through the relatively level area.

Afterwards, we all met back at the Bruno Bank Arts building (which, until recently, was the RBC Bank), where we all were given a tour of the place. It is a two-storey brick building and musicians are anxious to play to the small and enthusiastic crowd that comes from as far as Saskatoon. It seats around 30. Then we all headed over to the All Citizens Cafe, which is a small coffee shop, where we saw where the music started; it seats around 20.

Below is a tour of Bruno, and some of the events I've described above:

Standing at Hoffman Avenue, at the head of the main street, not surprising called Main Street, facing south.

This is the west side of the street...

...and this is the east side.

Standing at the south / opposite end of the business district now, this is a view of the west side, from the middle of the street in front of the town's hotel.

At the far south end of the street is the Bruno Hotel. Behind it is the grain elevator. Most likely there was a train station for the town located right near here at some point in time. The door on the right is the lobby, and the one on the left is the town's provincial liquor distributor.

Directly across from the hotel are great old store buildings, obviously among the earliest built in town.

One of the stores in this building is the Lucky Dollar (which is also the bus depot; it has buses to and from Saskatoon once a day), but according to the sign in the window, perhaps "lucky" is a misnomer?

It seems even in most small towns, and Bruno has a population of 500, there is a Chinese restaurant to go with it. I wonder about all the 7-Up signs, though.

And you know you're in Saskatchewan, because in the window of this drug store, the handmade sign in the middle is sure to tell you they have CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders' merchandise. Based in Regina, the team's biggest fans seem to be further north.

There are a number of business on the street including the following:
A lumber supply shop...

...a library...

... a furniture and cabinet maker...

...a fitness establishment (I'm guessing gym and massages)...

...and one of the grocery stores is the 100+ year old Pulvermacher Bros, which are still run by two of the Pulvermacher brothers (no, I am not trying to imply it is the same "Bros." that started it). It is attached to a Sears outlet store (you place an order from a catalog, and the item is delivered here).

For all your insurance and licence needs, there's Dust Agencies, the local SGI (Saskatchewan Government Insurance). Next to it is Renee's Hair Design. I'm not sure if the sign in the window indicates that it is for sale, or they are also the local real estate agents. I do like the Hair Design's storefront.

Next to the SGI is a very cool looking fire department building, which I am sure is voluntary. Despite it's appearance, it is not made by Lego(c).

This is Tyler Brett's new Arts Building. The archival photos of the town pre-date his ownership. As I stated above, it used to be the RBC (Royal Bank of Canada), but when they closed down, they sold the building to Tyler for use as an arts and performance space. The upstairs is now an artists' residency, with room for two or three at a time. Next to the Arts Building is the small greenspace called Pioneer Park.

In Pioneer Park are some benches, old tractors, and a one-time jailhouse.

The logo for the Arts Building is a nod to the town's Cherry Festival, which is held every year. One can either buy locally grown cherries, or the actual cherry bush for one's own garden. The upper left window is the art studio for the residency, and on the right is one of two bedrooms.

After the artists' presentation, Susan Shantz (second from right) listens to her class's impressions about what they had heard, and if they are interested in an internship at the Arts Bank.

Tyler Brett (second from left) discusses the internship possibilities with four interested students.

Tyler Brett in front of some regional art work displayed in the lobby of the Arts Bank.

On the wall is a series of miniature buildings that represent the town of Bruno; the art is the work of Tyler Brett.

An old piano sits beneath the above miniatures, which is also now the stage for the musical acts.

The bathroom has flyers for future events.

The vault area is now also the green room.

Just a few doors down is the Senior Citizens centre, and the wisely and humorously named All Citizens Cafe.

Inside the cafe, the walls are filled with art, 'zines, and music for sale.

Also, some food and beverages are available, which is why they call it a cafe, of course.

Behind the counter is the kitchen.

Tyler Brett describes the building's history and how the stage used to be set up.

Susan Shantz gets a coffee before heading back to Saskatoon with the students.

Susan Shantz says farewell to Marcus Miller and Mindy Yan Miller, as the crowd begins to break up.

This is the space that used to be where the musicians performed. It is a very small area, and very intimate. Artists love to play here to the enthusiastic group, despite the audience size.

Charly Miller knows there will be no music on this day, so he works on the computer while his parents get ready to go.

I look forward to start seeing shows here, despite the 45-minute drive from home. This will hopefully be a very musical summer.

1 comment:

  1. hey Robert - great to see these pics - and your synopsis of the day. we had a terrific time with you and were quite inspired by all citizens