There really is no better way to spend a warm summer evening than under the stars enjoying some great live music.
MEET SOPHIA SUDERMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ABBOTSFORD ARTS COUNCIL.
Q: What is the Abbotsford Arts Council?
Established in 1971, the Abbotsford Arts Council (AAC) is a non-profit society, dedicated to developing and promoting the arts and culture scene in Abbotsford. We embrace accessibility. Essentially, the AAC is a grassroots approach to supporting the arts community in Abby, serving emerging and established artists from diverse backgrounds.
(Sophia at Kariton Art Gallery)
Q: Why do you feel that the AAC is important to Abbotsford?
The arts bring people together by fostering creativity, igniting ‘artist talks’, expanding networks, and creating community. For many artists, the AAC provides their first opportunity to showcase their work. We remove the barriers to entry for artists, frequently rotate exhibits, and offer free admission to Kariton Art Gallery, located at Mill Lake.
Cultural events are an important part of the fabric of our society and what it takes to build relationships. Different cultures are pulled together and engage in dialogue that may not have happened otherwise. For example, our last exhibit, Cultural Treasures, connected artists who shared stories about where they came from.
Another example is Atangard, a community project that emerged out of the transformation of the run-down Fraser Valley Inn into an intentional community for students between the ages of 19 and 35. Colourful artwork lines the walls of this communal living space.
(Atangard communal living space)
Q: What keeps you rooted in this community?
Like a lot of people, I grew up in Abby and have family here, but what I love most is the opportunity that is available. You could look at Abbotsford as missing a lot or seeing the opportunities to make things happen. The younger demographic has stayed here like I did, or moved back after spending time in more developed cities, recognizing that there are markets to serve. Jam in Jubilee is another example. It is successful because people wanted a music scene that highlighted different genres and supported local musical talent. They were receptive and this ‘derelict park’ became iconic for a positive reason.
Cultural consumers move to the city but the entrepreneur stays here. Together, we develop programs and create opportunities as opposed to competing to be a part of over-saturated markets.
Knowing that there are so many others who share my perspective, we work together to achieve our common goals.
(Sophia & Friends down by the river)
Q: What is your response to the opinion that there isn’t much to do in Abbotsford?
We have a lot to choose from actually, but we lack the networks to get the messaging out. See? Another opportunity for anyone who is in the media or communications industry. Personally, I like to spend time outdoors. Everything is easily accessible and close from the Abby Grind to the Discovery Trail. After a fresh snowfall, Ravine Park is perfectly silent and untouched. But, one of my favourite past-times is to sit by a fire down by the river. I need a break from screens and technology… to just spend time being relational again.
This belief that ‘everyone knows everyone’, often perceived as a negative, is a positive in my opinion. When you actually get to know someone, you will care about their success and have more shared experiences. We need people’s voices—their ideas and inspirations. It’s an exciting time to live in Abby.
The BC Summer Games are in Abbotsford from July 21 to 24th. We're excited to welcome all the participants, families and friends to our city. Find time in between competitions and take a few hours to explore these exciting ideas and adventures below. Go Abby Games!
1. Circle Farm Tour
While in Abbotsford, don’t miss our Circle Farm Tour. This self-guided tour takes you through our country side and will lead you to a variety of specialty farm gate vendors, charming eateries, a barn full of antiques and the best ice cream you will ever eat. Download Guide
Walk through the heart of Abbotsford and discover vintage stores, charming boutiques and delicious eateries while in Historic Downtown. It’s the perfect meld of past and present, where you will find unique restored heritage buildings and shopping.
3. Castle Fun Park
A free-admission, family amusement park offering year round excitement for everyone. From mini golf, go carts, batting cages and arcade games, Castle Fun Park is a great place to bring the kids for an afternoon in Abbotsford.
4. Beer & Wine Tour
Sip, Savour and Share on the Abbotsford Beer & Wine Tour! Download the map to start your self-guided tour of our local craft breweries and wineries. While tasting, take time to discover the unique flavours of our valley. Download Map
5. Walks, Trails & Mountain Biking
Enjoy the great outdoors with the whole family in Abbotsford's 157 parks consisting of over 2,584 acres of parkland and 98 kilometers of urban trails. From Mill Lake Park to Sumas Mountain, there is so much terrain to be discovered by you. More info here. Photo Credit: Mona Lucas
6. Comedy Show
Enjoy a laugh at Canada’s national stand-up comedy club, Yuk Yuk’s. Shows run nightly Wednesday to Saturday. Check out their website to see who's in town while you're here.
7. Visit a Museum
Abbotsford is a city rich in talent, culture and history. While you check out all the museums, galleries, & artisans, don't forget to tour all the public art that can be found throughout Abbotsford. More info here.
Let us be your guide as you hunt for those one-of-a-kind items during your stay. Sevenoaks Shopping Centre is centrally located and likely has all that you need. If you’re looking for an outdoor shopping centre, check out Highstreet – a new, open-air shopping centre located at Mt.Lehman interchange.
The lush greenery of Abbotsford is home to a variety of courses that are open year-round! Regardless of your swing, there is a tee waiting for you. During your next stay, take a visit to Fraserglen or Ledgeview Golf Course. More info here.
Seeking thrill & adventure? Why not book a trip with Vancouver Skydive and experience the Drop Zone which is located in scenic Abbotsford. All of their Tandem Skydives are done with an experienced and qualified Tandem Instructors!
More from #ExploreAbbotsford:
On January 22 I attended my first opening reception at The Reach Gallery Museum (32388 Veterans Way).
The team at The Reach let me see the bones of the exhibition before the unveiling, which helped me figure out what to expect at an opening reception.
First of all, it’s not as scary as I imagined. The staff and volunteers are warm and friendly. Special Events and Marketing Co-ordinator Cherlandra Estrada even took the time to show me around and explain the difference between gallery and museum exhibits.
If you have the chance to attend an opening reception, you should! The museum gallery was packed and there were appetizers, drinks, speeches and live music. It was an enjoyable way to spend a Thursday evening. The current exhibits run until the spring so there’s still plenty of time to view them.
Upon entering the lobby and turning right you’ll find yourself in the Great Hall, where both gallery exhibits Decolonize Me and Ancestry and Artistry: Maya Textiles from Guatemala are housed. The exhibits explore ideas of identity, value and tradition.
Decolonize Me features six contemporary Aboriginal artists and explores our country’s history of colonization and individuality. The interactive displays are filled with self-expression yet the pieces are cohesive. Parts of the exhibit were uncomfortable as the study brings to the surface years of conflict and suffering I’d rather ignore. I appreciated how the artists didn’t shy away from confronting the tough stuff and were able to find beauty.
The Ancestry and Artistry exhibit highlights the vibrant resilience of the Mayan culture through textiles from Guatemala. Traditional clothing is an important aspect of Mayan identity and the distinct colourful patterns allow for creative expression and celebration. I enjoyed watching people exclaim over the lovely pieces. Even if you’re not of Mayan heritage it’s easy to relate to the exhibit and appreciate the Mayan people’s desire to cultivate a strong cultural identity in the midst of political, social and religious change.
Museum exhibit 100 Years of Loss: The Residential School System in Canada stretches through the centre of the Great Hall into the hallway. Until May 3 you can wander through the winding columns, viewing photos and reading stories outlining the legacy and impact of residential schools, which operated from the mid-1800s till the mid-1900s.I learned about residential schools as a child but have never considered the lingering consequences to the extent 100 Years of Loss presents. It’s a powerful display.
The Reach Gallery Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday. Their mission is to be the centre of cultural and creative innovation in the Fraser Valley. Visit their website for more about their current exhibits and for the other events and programs available to the public.
Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.
Sovereignty Performance | Cérémonie de la souveraineté, 2009
recycled paper, burnt trees, regalia | papier recyclé, arbres brûlés, costume traditionne
courtesy of the artist | avec la permission de l’artiste
Huipil, San Mateo Ixtatán, late 20th century, Chuj Maya
From the Collection of Donna E. Stewart, MD
Textile Museum of Canada T2012.23.176
Photo by Maciek Linowski