What special bottle is PARK co-founder Kara Chomistek saving for a special occasion?

“I always felt because I’d spent money on education, all I could do was be an engineer,” Kara Chomistek, president of PARK (Promoting Artists, Redefining Kulture), explained. “Through PARK, I discovered that I really love making a difference in my community.”

PARK is a local arts initiative held in Calgary and Edmonton every year that helps support emerging artists and designers. Spring 2017 will see PARK’s most ambitious project to date, a fashion trade show tying in all creative industries under one roof, including culinary and arts components.

Before PARK started, Chomistek embarked on the medical engineering program at the University of Calgary, but said she had a really difficult time with it. Graduating in 2010 with biomedical specialization, Chomistek took a position designing medical devices for joint surgery – everything from ankles and knees to hips and shoulders.

But Chomistek had always felt a creative void.

“All my friends had gone to ACAD, and I was a little left out,” she said. “My peers were talking about how awful Calgary was for creative arts, and how they wanted to leave and go to bigger city centres. It really broke my heart as I was born and raised here. I really wanted to try to change people’s opinions internally of Calgary.”

So in 2008, Chomistek created PARK, a free market sale on campus for student artists. The following year they ran a fashion show fundraiser, which sold out and had a line-up round the block. Over the years PARK fashion shows became so popular that Chomistek decided to co-found it as a non-profit in 2011.

So what bottle is Chomistek saving for a special occasion?

While at university, 40 students went on an exchange program to Crete to take a technical course at the university.

“To this day, the most memorable part of that degree was that trip,” Chomistek said.

A Calgary professor from the region introduced them to the culture, which included vineyard visits. The favourite there was Manousakis Winery.

“The people were so proud of their craft, and the things they made,” she recalled. “At the end we had a big pig roast, it was one of those magical moments that you’ll remember forever.”

They all brought back bottles from the trip.

And when is she planning to open the wine?

“I opened one of the bottles right away, and shared it with my family,” Chomistek said. “I saved the Nostos Syrah 2007. In 2017 we’re planning on having a reunion, so I’ve been saving it for the 10 year anniversary of that trip.”

Visit ourparkonline.com/parkshowcalgary for details of the upcoming Parkshow in Calgary, May 27 and 28.


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