Calgary art exported to Kentucky

New-Moon-Installation-Jan-2014-from-Lexington-Herald-Leader
There seems to be a story that has gone largely unreported in the city.  Maybe more correctly – not at all.  This is entirely understandable, as this did not happen in the city.

Lucky for you dear reader (I don’t know why, but I feel like Miss Manners saying this).  You get to find out about this project through me.

That being said, it does fall within my research scope and does very much interest me.  A few of the more obtuse things that I am interested in – Nuit Blanche, The House Project, Arbour Lake Sghool, Wreck City, Phantom Wing, Solar Flare, do-it-yourself projects, public art and building of community through art.  This is a continuation and morphing of these stories.

Recently, I wrote about the Solar Flare installation which was sponsored by Downtown Calgary and is currently installed along Stephen Avenue Mall.  It should be up for another month or so.  This Kentucky installation involves the same two artists – Caitlin r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett.

They have just installed another project which was unveiled at a Ball, about ten days ago.  This time in Lexington, Kentucky.  It, like other similar projects, is a short-term installation that will be installed outdoors during the Lexington Art League’s light-based festival Luminosity during February 21 through March 31.

Those who look at this picture will recognize how a very well-received installation during Nuit Blanche’s initial iteration entitled Cloud, has morphed into new directions over time, while still retaining a certain element of the original conception.  This work is also interesting for a different reason as it appears as if this involves much more collaborative efforts than any of their previous efforts.

When I think of large scale collaborative efforts to produce installations, I cannot help but think of some major installations that Calgary artist Shelley Ouellet undertook during the 1990s and into the 2000s and still informs a certain amount of her art-making practice.  Specifically, I think of the large Mount Rundle work which I believe was shown at the Whyte Museum in Banff and/or the Entomology piece (I can’t remember exact titles, even though I helped collaborate on both pieces) that was shown at the old Nickle Arts Museum.  If I recall correctly, either one or both pieces are now in the collection of either the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton or alternatively acquired by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.  I would expect to see one of these pieces (or at the very minimum a smaller-scale installation-based work of some sort by Shelley Ouellet) in the Glenbow 199os show that Nancy Tousley is curating and will be opening in the next week or two.

This Kentucky work would seem to be following in the tradition of installation-based and collaborative space that Shelley works in.  This is evident through the collection of large quantities of burned out and live incandescent light bulbs required for the installation(s) to be built, which has always been there.  In this case, based on what little information I could deduce, I suspect the Lexington Art League was helpful in directing (or encouraging) the installation and fabrication part of the project towards this direction as well.  Based on my interest in economic development and history, it is quite possible that this may be a community characteristic of Lexington.  This could potentially be rationalized by the long agricultural history in the area which dates to pre-industrial and slave-trade times (with the largest concentration of slaves per capita AND free blacks) combined with its long cultural legacy as well.  If so, these factors would necessitate that the community would need to work collaboratively for a common purpose.  It will be interesting to see if this continues in further iterations as the type of work lends itself to a collaborative effort and a larger community buy-in.

This is more of a footnote for me, but an interesting one nevertheless.  My congratulations go out to both artists.

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