Year of the Rabbit is off and running!

It is hard to believe that it is already the end of January.  Opening a space for people to work and play in at the busiest time of year (Christmas and New Years) was not something we had planned…yet it was what we had to work with!  The subtle beginnings in November tapered off in late December after some fantastic children’s concerts and when the doors reopened after the holidays on January 4th the Habitat was very much like a rabbit (2011) leaping forward!

Municipality Of Jasper officials, Town Manager George Krefting – Mayor Richard Ireland – Councilor Mike Day,  do the honours and open the Habitat!  In tribute to the space and its potential for our community one of Jasper’s young thespians sang of the things she hopes to do at Habitat.  ‘One day we wished upon a star and now look at where we are…look around me!’  (lyrics sang to the tune of Somewhere over the Rainbow)  Some of our images from the opening will be added to this posting as we access them…

The classroom was then transformed, along with the rest of the studios, into the stage for the Grand Opening of the Habitat.   The evening opened with Jasper High School Jazz Band, followed by appetizers by John Riedler of Fiddle River Restaurant.  The pottery studio was in full swing with Jamie and Lily on the wheels, the video studio was setup and several people took a chance to engage in the edit suite.  Further down the hall was a mock artist in residence demonstration by Jasper photographer Ron Brown.  The private studio was setup with his vintage cameras and new technology.  Two doors down from there the prop and costume room for ACT (A Community Theatre) was setup and reminiscent of a childhood dream…dressup clothes and masks that reminded many of a tickle trunk!

The circle continued down to the final classroom where Ursula had designed a printmaking workshop that captured innocent passers by for time well spent.  Marie-Helene shared the painting venue with her puppetry.

A picture speaks a thousand words…so this little slide show should sum it up!

Last week we realized that Habitat is now being used daily!!  Mondays Brown Bag Lunch program, Tuesdays Theatre practises, Wednesdays ACT classes, Ursula’s Creative Arts workshops, Folk n Blues meetings, ToastMasters, IMPROV on Sundays at 8 (only $5 for actors or audience!), Library Film Nights, Arts and Culture meetings, Video, Fabric Arts and Pottery classes.

Drawing with Deke’s first Saturday was a little slow with a small group of future cartoonists…followed the next week with barely enough chairs in the room.  It was great to see all ages in the classroom – supporting our belief that you are never too young or too old to learn new things.

The Fitzhugh ( did a great story on Deke that I am sure was responsible for such a great turnout.
January 13, 2011
The wildly popular Fitzhugh cartoonist, Deke Hammel, is sharing his knowledge with Jasper youngsters.Beginning on Jan. 8, Deke shared his knowledge at the Habitat for the Arts and will continue to do so throughout the month, Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m.

Deke was the first person to host an interactive program at the Habitat, when he ran the lunch-time “drawing with Deke” sessions in November, 2010. The sessions had a “reasonable” turnout and at the end, he was approached by Director Marianne Garrah to participate in the Jasper in January festivities by holding more drawing classes.

“I told them that I’d be willing to do a course for kids,” said Deke. “I did one for the Summer Fun program a few years back and it was a lot of fun.”

Deke insists that anybody can cartoon, but that younger audiences seem to really enjoy his approach to teaching cartooning.

“I wanted to try it [teaching a course] again with children,” he said. “I prefer a kids audience to an adult audience.”

When queried as to how he got started, Deke said he never learned how to cartoon in a classroom sense, he just picked it up as he went along.

“So I will be teaching Deke cartooning,” he said of his teaching methods.

Deke created his very first cartoon in partnership with a former park warden. He explained that he worked with the talented artist, creating the punch-lines for the cartoons they came up with. Deke would envision the drawing, his partner would draw and then Deke would come up with the captions. One of his first cartoons poked fun at the “turkeys” on the ski hill.

Eventually, Deke’s drawing partner moved away.

“And I couldn’t draw, but I had [so] many ideas. I learned with patience. I wear out my eraser faster than my pencil,” he joked.

Deke said he planned to start his lessons by having the kids doodling right away and then go from there.

“I will start with the basics,” he said, adding that he would begin with stick figures, adding faces then expressions and eventually movement to the drawings.

Deke said that for him, teaching the classes are a way to give back to the community.

“If you claim to be a part of the community then you shouldn’t be afraid to give something back.”

He hopes that he will generate enough cartoons to fill a page in the Fitzhugh, dedicated to local up-and-coming cartoonists.

Deke has been drawing cartoons since the mid-90s starting with the Jasper Booster and moving on to the Fitzhugh.

“I started drawing a few years before, creating my own Christmas cards because I was too cheap to buy them,” he said.

Be sure to stop by and catch one of Deke’s drawing sessions throughout the month at the Habitat for the Arts

To register for use of the Classroom or Peoples Gallery…contact, for the first three months of 2011 we have great deals on the cost recovery fees!


FEBRUARY Happenings

Feb 7 – 7pm, free film, DAREK DAWDA

Come out and check out Canada’s foremost SLAM POET… get inspired for Jasper’s Slam in March!


February 14th



Fabric Arts workshops

Bored? Board…a painting workshop, grab your board – skate or snow and change it up a bit!

TOASTMASTERS –  Feb 21 at 7pm

and more….postings soon.

Jasper Habitat for the Arts is on Facebook

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