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Charelle Evelyn

Charelle Evelyn

Reporter for the Prince George Citizen

Journalist, west coast native, music lover. Made in Canada.

Website URL: http://pgcitizen.ca

A Perfect Circle

The intricacies of Nicky Kumar’s work would suggest a meticulous level of planning and foresight before putting pen to paper.

But the mandala artist said she doesn’t know what the finished product will look like when she starts.

“I just put the pen down and begin,” Kumar said. “My mood and mental state shape the mandala.”

Kumar found herself drawn to the centuries-old art form heavy with symbolism for the Hindu and Buddhist religions, finding the circular, geometric drawings soothing at a time in her life when she needed emotional and physical relief.

What began as a personal outlet has turned into a commercial enterprise. After taking the leap and posting her work on social media Kumar now has a steady stream of commissions, print sales and even representation by an agent handling commercial art licensing.

Kumar spoke to The Scene about her mandala journey.

The Scene: How did you get your start in art?

Nicky Kumar: I have enjoyed creating art since I was a little girl. It was something that always came naturally to me but I didn’t think I was very good at it. I just knew I enjoyed it. I thought of it as a hobby and nothing more. … My mom, who passed away four years ago, thought I should choose a career in art. I thought she was crazy. I didn’t have the confidence in my talent and thought it would be impossible to earn a living making art.

TS: You left a career in vehicle sales and became more focused on art. What prompted that change?

NK: I enjoyed it for the most part but always felt I was trying to be something I’m not. This summer, I burnt out physically and mentally and had to take time off work. I was too stressed, and it manifested in a very painful physical way as bile gastritis, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and really painful esophageal spasms.

TS: How did you discover mandalas?

NK: As part of that healing process I started colouring in adult colouring books because I heard that they are good for relieving stress. The colouring book I was drawn to was a mandala colouring book. Within days, I began drawing my own mandalas. I began gaining patience that I didn’t have before. I inhabited a sense of calm. There is something about mandalas – they really are a magical thing. The more I researched mandalas the more I fell in love.

TS: How else did they help you?

NK: I liked being a manager and leading a team but part of that is negative – telling people they haven’t done a good job or didn’t meet their targets. That’s just not me. I don’t like making people feel bad. Mandalas help to bring spirituality, calmness, and tranquility to people’s lives. I think my mom was right. I’m here to share my art and help make a positive impact in people’s lives.

For more, visit facebook.com/NickysMandalas or follow @NickysMandalas on Instagram.

STEPPING INTO THE Spotlight

Like all great Romantics, Jack Van Somer is a one-man show who adores a love song.

Trained classically on piano from the age of seven, Van Somer was drawn early to the Romantic composers like Chopin, Debussy and Liszt. “Those love songs, they definitely had a strong impact on how I approach music now,” said Van Somer, the stage name of the life-long P.G. resident better known as Keith Poulin. As an early 19th century movement, Romanticism was about heightened emotions, but it was also about individualism. In that vein, Van Somer also sings, plays the drums, bass and guitar and writes his own songs. “I’m an only child. As much as I love people, I love my alone time,” he said. “I don’t mind being along with my thoughts and as a writer, you kind of hyper-analyze those moments to really bring them out in the song.” From the age of 14, Van Somer used those talents to back up other musicians, from his teenaged church band to playing in bar bands, including in support of his cousin, country artist Rick Stavely. About three years ago, Van Somer finally took the step forward into the spotlight. A career change into being a Class 1 truck driver meant he had to quit playing the bars and it left Van Somer hungry for a musical outlet. His downtime was spent making music on his own and eventually, the pressure to play in public was constant. Van Somer credits former College Heights Pub DJ Steve Smoch with forcing him to finally make the leap to the stage as a solo act. “He would berate me to come out (to the pub’s open mic night),” Van Somer recalled. “He pushed me, he dragged me, he pestered me. I was super uncomfortable and it wasn’t super enjoyable.” But the audience didn’t seem to mind his discomfort and clamored for more. He eventually continued to say ‘yes’ to gigs, and began playing open mics at Nancy O’s and taking the stage at Shiraz. Watching Van Somer on stage today, you’d never know he wasn’t keen on taking the stage with his guitar in those early days. Now, whether he’s playing alone or backed by a band of equally talented artists, Van Somer is making a name for himself at Prince George venues. This year alone (as in 2016), Van Somer and his band have played a pair of successful Coldsnap shows, entertained at AleFest and opened for Juno-awardwinning artists Stephen Fearing and George Canyon.

The Jack Van Somer Band consists of Bradley Brekkaas (lead guitar/ vocals), Curtis Abriel (keyboard/ vocals), Terrence Moonie (bass) and Benjamin Primus (drums). An only child who was fully content to listen to his family’s old records as a kid, Van Somer now has a band of brothers.

“They’re a fine group of mature musicians with excellent taste,” Van Somer said, praising his band mates’ lack of ego and work ethic. The group is working up new songs and aiming for a full concert’s worth of material. “I’m very grateful that people are willing to take a listen,” Van Somer said. “For me, as a songwriter, stepping out on his own at this time in his life is still nerve-wracking.”

Keep up with Jack Van Somer and his band on Facebook.

INDEPENDENTS’ DAY

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The reluctant genius Chad Magnant never intended to get behind the camera. But after years of prodding from high-school friends who wanted him involved in projects, he finally gave in about four years ago.

The Prince-George raised Magnant always had a creative streak.

“I was always into music and I was doing music,” said Magnant, whose industrial Scorpion Frequency work can be found online and in film.

The availability of technology made it harder for Magnant to resist film.

“Everything’s so cheap now – like cameras – it was almost stupid not to do it at this point. I think more back in the day, in the 90s, it was so expensive even to do a low-budget movie. Now everyone’s shooting with offthe- shelf cameras and it looks good,” he said.

The writer-director’s credits include Defenseless, Through Blood Like Ice, Stalking and Pigboy and a variety of other short films. He also worked on the music video for Jeremy Breaks’ Come Down (shot in Barkerville) and directed William Kuklis’ Save Me (shot in P.G.). He has regular collaborators, such as Norm Coyne and Michael Kroestch, but said the writing is his gig.

“I’ve been doing the writing out of necessity – because no one else will,” he laughed. “But when we get down to actually doing it, it’s definitely collaborative.” It’s a bit of a thrill seeing his work on a big screen, Magnant said, when festivals around the country pick up the films. His latest flick Pigboy – a found footage-style short – was selected for the Fright Night Theatre Film Festival in Hamilton, Ont.

“It’s kind of cool to see people watching something you made,” he said.

The unlikely duo Technically, it actually makes perfect sense that Daniel Stark and John Chuby ended up working together.

A University of Northern B.C. basketball player with a dislocated shoulder and a physiotherapist were probably fated to meet and start talking about film. Luckily for Stark and Chuby, that destiny was theirs to discover about two years ago.

In his senior year as a Timberwolf, Stark had plans for getting together with some Vancouver friends to shoot a swampmonster movie. He was finishing up his marketing degree and would have the time to finally do a big film project.

Chuby had already been testing the film waters and when colleagues heard about Stark’s plans, encouraged the two of them to put their movie minds together.

“Meeting Dan and actually finding someone that was actually into the same stuff and had the same kind of drive that I did with it was a huge asset because film’s not something you can do by yourself,” said Chuby. “There’s certain things you can do, but with productions at the level we’re trying to do you need a creative team to pull things off.”

“It was love at first sight,” said Stark.

Chuby helped out with Stark’s Summit Lake shot horror film but the next collaboration was what really set them on their path. Along with Chuby’s high school friend Jeremy Abbott, the trio put together a CBC ComedyCoup sit-com pitch Geoff and the Ninja, which made it just shy of the competition’s top five.

“Geoff and the Ninja opened up a new door for us. We decided that we have to keep riding this wave and put our smaller projects on hold for a while,” said Stark. The duo wants to take advantage of connections made through the process that have put eyes on their work.

They’ve spent the summer fleshing out the most-Canadian of feature film ideas: a hockeythemed horror comedy called Penalty Kill.

With the writing process wrapping up, Chuby and Stark are hoping to shoot a trailer and start finding financing over the next couple of months.

A little about me

ncoyne3Norm Coyne has been active in local arts, entertainment and promotions for 15 years. He developed the Scene PG to provide local artists and musicians with exposure as well as connect a broader audience to the events and talent Prince George has to offer.

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