Eugene Stickland’s

Eugene Stickland’s

Welcome to My Renaissance is an artist-in-residency taking place at cSPACE Eau Claire from March 2 to 18th, 2024.

Join Eugene Stickland on a reflective journey through the diverse art forms and genres that have shaped, and continue to influence, his creative endeavours.

About the Project

From playwriting and poetry to novel writing, screenwriting, painting, and music, this exploration encapsulates Stickland’s multifaceted artistic journey.

During his residency, Eugene will produce three paintings:

  • A horizontal line painting inspired by themes from Eugene’s latest book, A Trip to Saskatchewan.
  • A second line painting reflecting the essence of Lack of Rain, another literary work.
  • A portrayal of a mad piano player, complementing the cinematic interpretation of the author’s novel, The Piano Teacher.
  • All paintings will be 3′ x 3′, acrylic on canvas.

Anticipate exciting collaborations with poets, painters, and musicians throughout the project. Special guests: Morag Northey, Chris Cran, Terry Posyniak, Cindy Delpart, Stardale Group, Tom Phillips, Sheri-D Wilson.

Artist Statement

Behold, a mountain. The athlete sees it as something to climb. The entrepreneur looks upon it as a way to make money. The spiritual person finds god in it, or to create a temple to honour their god. The environmentalist sees in it a cause to preserve its natural beauty. The artist seeks to capture some or all of it as best as he or she can, be that in a painting, a photograph, or a symphony, a poem or a song. In my case, I see the mountain and the entire world and universe and transcribe my experience of it into words. That’s how I see it.

As I did with my Calgary Herald column years ago, my goal is to situate the artist and their process in the context of Calgary society. We are here, working away. Do you notice? Do you care? Do you celebrate? Do you support us?

About Eugene Stickland

Born and educated in Regina, after completing an MFA in Theatre at Toronto’s York University, Eugene arrived in Calgary in 1994 and began a ten year residency at Alberta Theatre Projects.  During this time he wrote and saw ten plays produced — 6 for ATP, 3 for Lunchbox Theatre and 1 for Theatre Network in Edmonton. In total, he has written 19 plays that have been produced in Calgary, Edmonton or Toronto and then throughout the world, from London to Istanbul. 

Following the residency at ATP, Eugene wrote a feature weekly column for the Calgary Herald for 6 years, a total of approximately 250,000 published words. In 2015 Eugene published his only novel (to date), The Piano Teacher, recipient of the W.O. Mitchell Award. 

Plans are being made to make a movie of The Piano Teacher, with Eugene writing the screenplay.  Eugene currently has several projects underway which he is excited to share over the course of his cSPACE residency. He lives in the Beltline area of Calgary with his wife Belina.

In His Own Words: 

We asked Eugene some questions about his work and process. As to be expected from a writer of Eugene’s calibre, his responses are insightful, measured, and meaningful, and presented in their entirety. 

What excites you about the opportunity that cSPACE has offered?

The day to day work of any artist can be lonely and isolating, even in a relatively social art form such as theatre. At a certain point one has to sit alone in one’s room and do the work, but to come out of that self-imposed isolation and share the work with other like-minded people is exciting. And it’s a reciprocal thing: I may inspire others, even as I will in turn be inspired by the energy and the ideas of those who come to share this experience with me.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of your residency?

As I have said above (somewhere) I have a lot of irons in the fire and one never knows how new work will be received so I hope to get some direction just from sharing the work. It will also be good to reconnect with the various artists I hope to work with during this period of time. Finally, I have been a bit of a recluse of late and it will be good to reconnect with the various audiences we attract to these events.

What does success look like for you?

I’m not always sure what it looks like, although the older I get I realize it has nothing to do with ego. I have always hoped that my writing strikes some kind of chord with my audience. That as difficult as human existence can be in times that always seem troubled in one way or another, we are not alone in our hope for better days to come. Even my bleaker writing I believe speaks to this. So maybe success involves fostering community at some level.

I have been fortunate throughout my career to have had meaningful collaborations with many artists from theatre, literature, painting and music. As I mentioned above perhaps the goal of all this work has been building of community. It’s so very important, otherwise we are all just working in isolation spinning off into space alone. As for change, it’s the only thing in the art world that can be said to be constant. 

When I was given the opportunity to write a weekly column in the Entertainment section of the Calgary Herald, the idea was to filter the experience of living in this city through the eyes of an artist. This was a 5 year awareness-building exercise — one might even say awareness and acceptance. 

Artists are among us, they live here too. They eat and sleep and work and shop for groceries like anyone else. Since then and ongoing, my aspiration is for Calgary to become a city that doesn’t merely tolerate art, and artists, but celebrates our presence here and our achievements.

What’s something that brings you joy? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

To create. To open the file of my new project on my computer and move it along a little further. To write about my hopes and aspirations and frustrations and dreams in my notebook with my fountain pen. To ride my bike along the Bow river and delight in the beautiful nature that exists in this city.

Read more about Eugene’s cSPACE Eau Claire residency in this March 3, 2024 article from Stephen Hunt and CTV.