Afterglow – A Bridgewater Art Experience

Next Saturday evening (September 27), there is a festival going on that you won’t want to miss. The 3rd annual Afterglow Art Festival in Bridgewater, NS takes place from 6 to 11pm, featuring 35 or more artists, performances and installations along King Street.
To whet your aesthetic appetite, we caught up with Ashton Rodenhiser, Afterglow’s founder.

Ashton, tell us a little bit about your own artistic background?
AR: I'm a dabbler. I play many instruments, like bass and acoustic guitar, piano, mandolin, autoharp and as well I sing. I paint with acrylics as well as do some mixed media are and love to needle felt and make things out of wool. My life is a canvas and I try to incorporate creativity into my life on a daily basis. I'm also a graphic facilitator. 

What inspired you to found the Afterglow Festival in Bridgewater?
AR: I founded this event in 2012. After living in Dartmouth for a few years and attending the Nocturne event in Halifax I was really inspired when I moved back home to the Bridgewater area to bring the streets of Bridgewater to life with creativity. Neighbouring communities or Mahone Bay and Lunenburg are bursting with art and culture but Bridgewater hasn't embraced this as much and I wanted to showcase the beauty of the town with the artists who surround it. 

How has Afterglow been received in past years?
AR: This is the 3rd annual event and it's just built every year. The first year we had about 20 projects, last year about 30 and this year we are  expecting 40+. The crowd last year was larger than the first but the first year did bring out several hundred people to King street. Last year we estimated 1500+ and anticipate a much larger audience this year with how the event is growing.  

“They can expect to see things and experience things a bit 'out of the ordinary'. There will be some great cultural projects, some opportunities for people to be creative themselves and experience Bridgewater in a whole new light.”

What can people attending this year's Afterglow expect?
AR: We like to keep the program a bit secret to build anticipation and excitement but I'm really happy with how the event is shaping up this year.  They can expect to see things and experience things a bit 'out of the ordinary'. There will be some great cultural projects, some opportunities for people to be creative themselves and experience Bridgewater in a whole new light. 

How would you describe Bridgewater's (and surrounding communities) artistic scene?
AR: Bridgewater houses many artists (some who are world famous) but the surrounding communities are especially full or art. The Petite Riviere and LaHave River areas in particular has many artists. We have an abundance of musicians as well throughout the South Shore. Like I said above, Lunenburg and Mahone Bay have embraced their art scene but Bridgewater is falling behind, which is why an event like this in Bridgewater is quite exciting. 

What was a highlight for you from last year's event?
AR: Many highlights but I would say the biggest highlight for me was the amount of people on the street that evening! It was buzzing with excitement and wonder. I had people tell me that they had lived in the area for many years but had never even walked in the downtown core of Bridgewater let alone experience it in that way. I was happy to see how open minded people were about such a diverse art experience. 

What are you most excited about for this year's event?
AR: I have lots of things I'm excited about this year but I'm happy about using this event as a launch pad of another project that I'm apart of called "Art Happening Bridgewater” where a group of us are wanting to start a non-profit art space where people can come and create art and chat on a daily basis. We are inspired by the Art Hive movement in Montreal and are modelling ourselves loosely on how they are building community and individuals through the use of art. 

Why are events like the Afterglow Festival important?
You can't appreciate the art and culture in your community if you don't see it or experience it. To me this event goes beyond just seeing art but really building the sense of community at the same time. It provides the opportunity for artists to come together and be a part of something for the greater community that everyone can take away, learn and teach together. 

Afterglow Art Festival

Bridgewater, NS
September 27: 6-11pm

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