While artistic practices have been central to political movements throughout the 20th century, much analysis treats these modes of expression as distinct or separate from more traditional forms of civic practices and everyday political participation. Building on discussions of the cultural turn in civic agency and the shortcoming of cultural citizenship, the authors of this article interrogate the relationship between affect, artistic practices and participatory politics. We discuss the findings from a research project [Creative Publics, a field study in the ASC! Project] in which the researchers worked with artist-facilitators involved in a community engagement initiative around the 2015 Canadian Federal Election. The investigation made use of an innovative combination of qualitative methods including probe-based research methods to better understand how participatory artistic practices can play a role in the election cycle. Through an account of our investigation conducted with these artists, we explore the role of artistic practices and emotion in navigating the distinctions between politics and the political in everyday life.