inges idee at Telus Spark Brainasium

Inges_Idee_Anchor_at_Telus_Spark_2014_July_29 (1024x683)

Yesterday I spent a few hours at the new Telus Spark building. This is the new building that opened in late October 2011 after the formerly named Telus World of Science Centre vacated the former Planetarium.

It is a signature building that has enlivened the Nose Creek valley and is particularly noticeable at night as one drives into the city along the Deerfoot. It is in close proximity to the main Zoo parking lot. Both are in a long-neglected area, which was described in the announcement of the new location for the Science Centre in February 2010 as, “a former “Red Light” district in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The site also housed stockyards for various ranching and meat-packing companies. Up until the mid-twentieth century, the area was designated for urban and industrial waste management to incinerate garbage and dispose of waste.”

This is certainly not the case any longer.

There are a lot of things happening in the area surrounding Telus Spark. One of the big things is a new development called the Brainasium that according to the signage on site, it is scheduled to open in July 2014. As there is only one day left in the month and they are doing active construction, it would seem rather doubtful that this will happen. I guess it will just open when it is done.

I was talking to one of the ladies involved with Telus Spark last week while on a lunch break at their display tent along Stephen Avenue Mall where they were helping promote Beakerhead and the Mini Maker Faire. The Brainasium will be a big outdoor park, which will have a giant slide that is under construction right now; and a giant set of ears; and a teeter-totter designed for six, plus more. For anyone visiting with children (or if they are a child at heart) this will be a lot of fun. You can read more about it here.

One of the interesting things that I noticed in this space is a brand new sculpture. It is by the four member German artist team (comprised of Hans Hemmert, Axel Lieber, Thomas A. Schmidt and Georg Zey) who operate as an artist group called inges idee.

Observant readers may recall that inges idee was inadvertently involved in one of the biggest recent public art controversies in Calgary. This occurred when their sculpture colloquially known as the Blue Ring, or more formally as Travelling Light, was unveiled in the middle of the most recent civic election last fall. The timing was impeccably unfortunate. Last October, I wrote about this piece and the politics around this work at the time this situation occurred.

Personally, I suspect that the Travelling Light piece; and as it was with the previous controversial project Santiago Calatrava’s Peace Bridge over the Bow River; both have (or will) grow(n) on people over time once the immediate politics have diminished over time – which always happens.

In that respect both are like the highly controversial Mario H. Armengol [Spanish/British, 1909-1995] group of sculptures entitled Brotherhood of Mankind, circa 1966-67 (or more colloquially the Family of Man) which was removed from the United Kingdom Pavilion at Expo ’67 in Montreal and placed in Calgary shortly thereafter as a gift to the City by a former resident. It is my opinion that people will then be able see the Travelling Light piece for what it is and will become – a circular frame that shows the beauty of the city, along with the landscape and a view of mountains in the distance. Like all art, not all people will appreciate it (just as it is with any other style of work). As my mother would say when I was a child and trying out a new food, “you don’t have to like it, just try it and see whether you do.” But I digress.

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Back to this new work by inges idee.

The sculpture that has been installed in the Brainasium at Telus Spark is of a large anchor 25 foot (7 metre) high. It was installed in late 2013, probably shortly after Travelling Light was fully installed. However, with all the construction that is currently happening in the Brainasium area surrounding it, the appearance is that it is newly installed.

There was very little press about this work – unlike its kin Travelling Light (or the Blue Ring). In fact, Telus Spark did not even issue a press release about it as they did with the Request for Proposals (RFP) in July 2012. I suspect that they will once the first stage of the Brainasium is open. This illustrates how much politics surrounded the other work last October. It also illustrates why the artists from inges idee seemed genuinely surprised at the feedback in the press and popular opinion; and why they took the unusual step to issue a statement in response.

Enough of the politics, now let’s get back to talking about the work.

In the July 2012 press release, Telus Spark asked artist(s) to make proposals on the theme of water. They expand this by saying:

The following theme is to be followed in each pitch: a strong and highly visible linking of water as a force, resource, conduit, cycle and medium for expression. The art piece will provoke curiosity, evoke the power of the outdoors and connect people to the environment that TELUS Spark occupies.

The Anchor with the attached chain has a definite connection to water. Interestingly the links in the chain get progressively smaller as it gets closer to the top to accentuate the illusion of perspective and fading to infinity. For whatever strange reason, this makes me feel like one of the lobsters beating a clamshell in the song Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid (1989). You’re welcome!

As a piece of art in a creative environment it allows for imagination to take hold. As alluded to in my comment about the song Under the Sea, this work illustrates how an anchor is a fixed point of contact to land, while the boat or ship that the chain is connected to is allowed to ebb and flow with the natural rhythm of water. The rusted colour and appearance only further solidify this connection and dialogue.

For further discussion ,there are a couple other pieces that create a dialogue with this work.

The Drop

inges_idee_The_Drop_from_View_on_Canadian_Art

In this way it creates an association with another work created by inges idee, a 65 foot (20 metre) high blue sculpture entitled The Drop, 2009. It was sited prior to the Olympics at Coal Harbour near the Vancouver Convention Centre at the end of Burrard Street. This work is popular with the locals and tourists alike, reflecting the large amount of rain that falls in Vancouver. These two works create an interesting conversation with each other. One of the artists (Axel Lieber) is quoted in the Vancouver Sun with regards to this piece as saying:

“(The Drop) balances delicately on the round base, while its end points into the open sky. This sculpture comments on the diagonal shape of the architecture and the columns and stands almost like a figure head on a sailing ship on the location.”
It also creates a strong, dynamic diagonal between the seawall and the overhanging roof of the Convention Centre.

Infinite Tire

Douglas_Coupland_Infinite_Tires_sculpture_from_Georgia_Straight

Interestingly, the Anchor also holds an interesting discourse with a Douglas Coupland sculpture entitled Infinite Tire, 2012 as well. Coupland’s piece was commissioned by Canadian Tire. It, like The Drop, is also located in Vancouver in the lot of a shopping centre at the corner of SW Marine Drive and Ontario Street. This work has a similarity based on the progressively smaller tires that act in a similar manner as the chain in the ingres idee Anchor at Telus Spark. Like the Anchor, the Coupland sculpture Infinite Tire is described in a similar way from a 2012 article in the Georgia Straight which states:

The 18-metre-tall sculpture, titled “Infinite Tire”, is a tower made from 18 whitewall tires stacked on top of each other. The tires—created from a fibreglass product specifically for the installation—become progressively smaller in diameter as the tower rises, from 163 centimetres at the bottom to 36 cm at the top.

When looking up at the sculpture from near its base, the decreasing size of the tires makes the stack appear to be stretching off toward a distant vanishing point in the sky.

All told this Calgary piece seems interesting. I look forward to being able to see it closer than I was able to do yesterday, from the outside of the construction site. I suspect it will be complete sometime during the next month or two.

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Calgary’s WWI memorial

Coeur_de-Lion_MacCarthy_WWI_memorial_Calgary_2014_July_28 (1024x683)

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first assassination attempt of throwing a bomb into the back of their open car was unsuccessful, but did succeed in killing another officer instead. A few hours later the Archduke and his wife were shot at point blank range.

The great Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck, was quoted as saying near the end of his life that “One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.”

Sure enough, within the week the “Great War” had begun.

* * *

Today I want to recognize this historical fact by talking about the WWI memorial sculpted by Coeur de Lion MacCarthy [British/Canadian, 1881-1979] located in Calgary. It is currently located on a plinth placed directly in front of the Memorial Park Library (a.k.a. Carnegie Library) in Central Memorial Park. It has resided there since it was placed in the summer of 1924.

Sadly, I had a lot of information about this work as a result of my research on the Amazon sculpture, but unfortunately much of this information disappeared in a data loss about a year and a half ago. So some of this information is from memory, but most of it is fact.

Coeur de Lion MacCarthy [British/Canadian, 1881-1979] was one of 13 children of the British/Canadian sculptor Hamilton Thomas Carlton Plantagenet MacCarthy [1846-1931]. Since Hamilton MacCarthy, Sr. was sculptor of note, it is fair to say that the younger Coeur de Lion came by his skills honestly.

Couer de Lion is often remembered for his commemorative sculptures, especially of those from WWI. He did a number of variations on the theme of a single soldier with a rifle are also found in places such as Lethbridge, Alberta; Verdun, Québec; and Niagara Falls, Ontario.

A much more dramatic pose of a soldier with bayonet drawn and attacking is found in Trois-Rivières, Québec.

In addition to this the Canadian Pacific Railway also commissioned Coeur de Lion to produce a monumental allegorical sculpture of an angel carrying a soldier in an edition of three as a memorial to its 1115 employees who fell in active service during the war. These CPR commissioned sculptures were installed in Vancouver, BC (1921); Winnipeg, Manitoba (1922); and in Montréal’s Windsor Station (1923).

Another allegorical sculpture is also found in Knowlton (Lac Brome), Québec where the angel is standing behind the standing soldier with a rifle resting on his soldier as if it is protecting the soldier.

The Calgary sculpture was commissioned by the Col. Macleod Chapter of the I.O.D.E. (Independent Order of the Daughters of the Empire) and cast by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Co. of Mt. Vernon, NY. The plaque below the sculpture states the following:

To the imperishable glory / Of / The men of this province / Who fought and died / For / Their King and Country / In the Great War / 1914-1918 / Erected by Col. Macleod Chapter, / I.O.D.E.

Inscription_on_plinth_of_Couer_de_Lion_MacCarthy_WWI_memorial_Calgary_2014_June_28 (1024x683)

The placement of this sculpture is interesting to me as I wrote a previous article and couple postings on the Amazon sculpture (which I believe was the first situated piece of public art) placed in the city during 1912. I am sure this fact will disappoint others who might suggest otherwise assuming that it would be the other sculpture located in the same park. This viewpoint is a fair assumption, even though it is not true. It is a moot point, for various reasons, namely because it was possibly proposed before the Amazon piece. However because of the commissioning process and funding it probably took longer to install, whereas the Amazon piece was most likely already cast at the time it was proposed. But this position would seem to exist because it is the only remaining public sculpture from that vintage on public display in Calgary and hence the phrase “out of sight, out of mind.” The work usually referenced this way (case in point) is the Boer War Memorial by Louis-Philipe Hébert (1850–1917) of an equestrian rider which I have discussed previously, both here and in print.

In a 1922 letter to a member of the I.O.D.E. from the long-term Superintendent of Parks, William Reader which states (in part):

Since attending the meeting of your committee in Friday, I have examined the proposed site for the War memorial in front of the Public Library, and would suggest that, instead of placing this in the position now occupied by the small statue, it be placed in the centre of the plot midway between the library entrance and the street, as I believe it would have a better appearance in that position.

I would suggest that this letter shows the future direction of the Amazon sculpture which was produced after a work by August Kiss [German, 1802-1865]. I will continue to argue that the original selection was a very good choice as a war memorial, and its location was very thoughtfully placed.

Unfortunately there were other circumstances at play. This Amazon sculpture most likely was damaged and disposed of at some unknown time, probably in the 1940s or 1950s, if I was to speculate. If you want to read more about this Amazon sculpture read my previous blog posting here.

I expect that we will be hearing more about the 100th anniversary in the weeks to come. One of the more interesting things that will take place in Calgary is the opening of a new thematic show Wild Rose Overseas: Albertans in the Great War which opens at The Military Museums this afternoon and will continue until December 15.

 

Update on the Jordi Bonet sculpture The Others, 1967

 

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Back in February, I wrote something about a Jordi Bonet aluminium mural that was not recorded in the 1992 Barbara Kwasney & Elaine Peake’s 1992 book entitled A Second Look at Calgary’s Public Art. This is the most recent book that attempts to catalogue public art in Calgary. It is certainly not complete, and it has some significant oversights which were pointed out at the time of publication. However, it is the closest thing to a standard reference book available on the topic at this time.

Background

Earlier today I received notification of a comment which drew attention to an error I made in my previous post from February. For that I am very thankful. I appreciate anyone that takes the time to let me know if I made an error. The error was in regards to a Jordi Bonet sculpture that I mentioned in passing at the end of the post. In that post I stated the following:

The 1967 Freestanding Sculpture

According to Kwasny and Peake, the Calgary and District Dental Association gifted a sculpture called The Others as a Centennial gift to the City. I could not find any images of it online, or in my own image library, so here is the image from the book. . .

Jordi-Bonet-Sculpture-The-Others-circa-1967-from-Krasny-and-Peake-book (1024x683)

With the construction of the west leg of the C-Train . . . the platform surrounding the Planetarium had to be partially destroyed to accommodate the right-of-way for the train tracks. Presumably as a precautionary measure it appears if this work was removed off that platform at some unknown time.

This is a City owned asset and catalogued as part of the Civic Art Collection. As a result, I suspect it has either been re-situated elsewhere in the city or alternatively is currently in storage waiting to be re-situated.

Those were my comments dating from February.

The comment I received today, states the following:

The Jordi Bonet sculpture “The Others” is still at the Planetarium; I saw it on an upper deck as I cruised past on the West LRT a couple of days ago (July 25, 2014). I was watching for it because I had recently read this blog entry 🙂

Now, the correction part.

Since it was a beautiful evening tonight, this prompted me to hop on the bicycle with the camera to document this sculpture. Afterwards I took in a bit of music from the Folk Fest as well since it was nearby and such a beautiful evening for this type of activity. I travelled along the river to get there and when I approached the planetarium, I saw the sculpture well hidden amongst the mature trees standing close to the exposed concrete walls typical of Brutalist architecture.

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Assumption one:

Originally, I stated that it was on the large platform which was demolished to make way for the West leg of the C-Train expansion.

Fact:

The platform was in fact demolished along with the open air parking garage underneath. As seen in the historical photo of this beautiful Brutalist building as shown below, there is a different sculpture visibly situated on this site – a Bob Oldrich sculpture entitled Sundial, 1967. Just like the Jordi Bonet sculpture, the Bob Oldrich sculpture also was a centennial gift to the City of Calgary and is a city owned asset. According to Kwasny & Peake, the Oldrich donation was made under the auspices of the Calgary Labour Council on behalf of the Calgary labour movement in general.

Calgary_Plantetarium_historical_photo_ file_calacr-92-029-061_141

I don’t know where this Bob Oldrich sculpture currently resides, but if I was to make a rank speculation, I would think that the zoo would seem like a logical place where it would go for a couple reasons. Whether this is true, I cannot state with any certainty at this time.

Bob Oldrich is an interesting guy. I want to talk about him at a later stage. If and when I do, I will probably have a better answer at that time as well.

Also visible on the grass in the right foreground of the historical photograph is a large sculpture by John Massey Rhind [British, 1860-1936] of General James Wolfe, 1898. This sculpture which was purchased by Eric Harvie through the Riveredge Foundation. It was in turn gifted to the City in the 1980s and currently resides in a different location.

There is an interesting story here, and at some point I would like to write about it.

Assumption two:

Originally, I stated that due to the platform demolition, the Jordi Bonet sculpture location was unknown.

Fact:

When I visited the site earlier this evening, I took a photo which was taken from almost exactly the same vantage point as was the case in the Kwasny and Peake book. The peaks of the roof align, the only thing different is that there are no flags on the rooftop peaks now. It is not a very good photo as the sun was directly behind the sculpture when I took it, and as a result it is not included.

In the historical photo, the sculpture location is currently out of view to the right. Barely. Maybe around a corner, in a building that is mostly round.

Because of that it would seem as if this sculpture has never moved. The only thing that has changed since it was placed, would seem to be the trees. They have grown and as a result they now obliterate the sculpture somewhat and make it easy to miss.

* * *

There you have it. It would appear as if it was placed above one of the heating or exhaust vents when first installed. Now there is a current photo of it and new corrected information.

Now for the side note. I just hope that I did not crack a rib getting this information. I lost my balance and fell when I was taking photos at the planetarium. I went down pretty hard and it is not a pleasant feeling in my chest right now.

Situations are changing, but we still need the cash

AndyWarhol1962DollarBillSeries

 

Within this past week a number of news stories have crossed my desk which show that all is not well in the arts and culture area (oops, I mean cultural sector – no forget that, let`s call it cultural industries).

Regardless, it is something that is certainly not new by any stretch of the imagination for those involved actively, but at least there seems to be some awareness of it on a larger scale – or maybe that is just wishful thinking.

I don`t have much time today so will only touch on a few things, more in passing.

 

1. The issue of corporate culture and economics with the arts world.

This morning in the Globe and Mail there is an article written by Thomas Hodd which talks about the corporatization of the arts world. The author teaches literature at the university level and also sits on various arts organizational boards – so as one would expect, he talks about language. He also brings up this “situation whereby artists and cultural organizations are now being forced by governments to conform to the language and approach of corporatism if they want to get funding.”

This appears to be a continuation of comments made in mid-October 2012 in the (St. John, NB) Telegraph-Journal where Hodd stated in an editorial, that “Economics should not be a driving force in decisions regarding matters of culture. Economics serves to provide us with the means by which to live while culture gives us a reason to live in the first place.”

2. The issue of social media

A British organization called One Further just published a study last week entitled “Facebook Survey for Arts and Culture Organisations” which can be accessed here. It is a 16-page document that as a result of a statement issued by Facebook in 2013 which “lead to some consternation among arts and culture organisations. . . (namely) If fewer people are reading their updates then are they worth posting? Should they pay Facebook to push their updates into more News Feeds via the Promoted Posts feature? Can nonprofit organisations afford to do that? Is it worth continuing with Facebook at all?”

This led One Further to conduct a survey of 48 organizations in Europe and North America during a two-week period in June 2014. The results are found in the report linked above. It is well worth the read for any arts administrator whose duties involve social media.

3. The issue of public art.

This past May, City Council bowed to public pressure to a point, resulting from the Blue Ring controversy which with terrible timing was installed right in the middle of the last city election campaign. I am quite certain that this probably of little help to the whole issue of developing a new YYC Arts Plan that was already well underway by that time. The end result was rejigging the formulas for the 1% for art program and a few other tweaks. As explained above, this issue was scheduled before the election, for discussion this year on the 10-year anniversary of the Public Art Program. Notwithstanding this situation, public art is something that must be considered.

I see that the Vancouver City Council will be discussing at their City Council meeting today, some significant changes to their public art program in its first significant overhaul in 30 years. As quoted in the Vancouver Sun story that ran a few days ago, “the changes, proposed in a report going to council on Wednesday, come as the publicly funded side of the city’s program is faltering under a lack of capital and an aging body of works in need of maintenance. The city’s cultural spaces management is eyeing taking more from developers to help grow the existing program and to also create a superfund for a new class of projects on city land.”

Of course this issue of an “aging body of works in need of maintenance” speaks to the issue of the original 98-year old lions that once stood on the Centre Street Bridge; and what to do with them now.

One may recall, a few years back the lions were a front page story in the Calgary Herald (February 21, 2012) and created quite a stir when they were observed in a warehouse yard covered by a tarp (ironically across the street from the Calgary Herald offices). At the time of the 2012 story, they were exposed to the elements after being removed from the bridge in 1999 and replaced with replica copies a year or two later.

Once again, the lions are back in the news again along with a series of subsequent letters to the editor. The verdict in the most recent news is that their future is now uncertain once again and that they may be too fragile to move – which more or less repeats what was originally stated in February 2012. However it has been floated as a potential addition to public art located the West LRT line a few times – so one never really knows for sure until a final decision has been made on that, probably sometime next year (2015).

The city actively solicited an opportunity to provide feedback about the lions. For these comments to be included in the written feedback for the Request for Proposals (RFP) relating to public art projects involving the West LRT and the lions, the form had to be filled out by July 21 (two days ago). That webpage is still active – for how long I don’t know and cannot predict. However, if you want to provide your feedback and have not done so already follow this link.

4. The issue of declining revenues for artists

This one is more about music than fine art although a case can be certainly made for the transference between the two. In a recent story in salon.com the issue is brought up about how streaming music is adding to the frustration from musicians outside of the mainstream. Specifically mentioned are the two genres, classical and jazz. This article sites ” low royalties, opaque payout rates, declining record sales and suspicion that the major labels have cut deals with the streamers that leave musicians out of the equation, anger from the music business’s artier edges is slowing growing.”

Added to this could be a discussion about changes at the CBC, where it is becoming more like every other top 40 (or top 100) radio stations on the dial (notwithstanding their on-air advertisements which would seem to indicate otherwise), and becoming less easily distinguishable as a unique view on Canadian culture and content. That discussion however is for another day. To be frank, it will probably will never be covered by me, however I am sure it has been well covered by others.

 

This all plays back to the first comment about corporatization and how funding (however it comes) is affecting arts organizations and changing the cultural landscape.

If anything, I would propose that this is more of an entry point for further discussion and dialogue.

 

Garage Sale at the Firefighter’s Museum this weekend

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Last week during Stampede I happened upon the temporary Firefighter’s Museum display near the newly opened Agricultural Building (or whatever it is now called).

If it wasn’t for a conversation that I had with one of the ladies connected to the Chinook Guild of Fibre Artists earlier in the day, and a couple percheron horses that were enjoying the sunshine, which distracted me (apparently ADHD was a factor that day as I had somewhere else to go that afternoon). I probably would have walked on by and not even known that the museum was temporarily located there, for ten days, between the two buildings (see photo above).

I am glad that I did.

I had a very nice visit with one of the staff members and I am sure that I will be back once they have settled into their new home. Like lots of new developments in Calgary the new site for the museum is currently under construction. They are scheduled to open their doors to a new museum in 2015.

Where?

I am not 100% sure.

On Edit, I received an email response from Shannon at the Firefighters Museum on July 18. She stated the following:

In your post you asked where the museum will be set up in 2015. The gallery spaces at 4124 – 11 Street SE are under construction, and when construction is finished we’ll be right back at that same location. The archives are currently open by appointment for researchers – any questions can be forwarded to (info @ firefightersmuseum.org)

 

The reason for this post is to let people know that the Firefighter’s Museum is hosting a garage sale – tomorrow (Saturday, July 19). Notable amongst these items are a fire truck, a fire hose and a fire hydrant as disclosed in the photo below.

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The boy that is still very much alive in me thinks that it would be amazing to own any of these items.

I am sure I am not alone.

Could you image how awesome it would be to cruise the streets in a vintage fire truck, pull up at a red light beside a Ferrari, Maserati or a Lotus and gun the engine with the racing face on!!

That would be fantastic!!!

Even if we got left in the dust.

Unfortunately, there is no indication where the garage sale is to take place on the Firefighter’s Museum website.

However, it would appear that the folks at the Museum were actually on the ball about this.

They let the people know at Swerve (the magazine included in today’s Calgary Herald) know. As seen here on the Swerve site, there is even a handy-dandy map to show you how to get there. Or you can take my general directions, which is to say it is somewhere in the area around the Silver Dollar Action Centre, between Blackfoot and Ogden Road around 42 Avenue.

The funds raised will help the Museum in its operations, so I am sure they would also be happy to accept a straight donation as well. If you want to read more about what the museum does, read their blog here.

 

The hours for the sale are 10:00am-3:00pm

At 4124 – 11 Street SE

 

My craft-based art proposal for the Western Showcase

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Yesterday, I talked about Yvonne Mullock’s hooked rug and its unveiling at the Esker Foundation.

In that post I indicated that I wanted to continue this discussion as it relates to the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase. This also is a continuation of my previous post from about a week ago that relates to the Artist Ranch Project.

As any reader of this blog can easily figure out I have shown my current minor obsession on craft as art. I am interested (and have been for quite some time) in the dialogue between, at what point does craft end and fine art begin.

* * *

There are all sorts of issues surrounding this dialogue such as, but not limited to:

  1. the necessity of artists to perfect their craft;
  2. craft as a viable medium for artists to explore;
  3. what role art can have in craft production;
  4. the role of language and the use of the term “craft” in art; and
  5. does the term “craft” actually inhibit growth and dialogue in art production and collections.

With this out of the way and as background to this discussion, I can now move forward.

* * *

In my blog post from last Friday (see link provided above), I proposed that the Stampede seriously consider working collaboratively with the Alberta Craft Council in Edmonton in the Western Showcase.

In my opinion, this could be a very good collaboration as the Alberta Craft Council has connections to a significant number of professional craftspersons active in Alberta (and being a provincial organization would be involved in networks nationally and internationally); has a large exhibition space with active programming in Edmonton; and has explored possibilities over the past number of years with intent to set up a separate location in Calgary as well. For whatever reason none of those attempts to set up a space in Calgary has come to fruition. Things now seem to be moving forward as they have a soft agreement in place that they will occupy a space of some sort in the new King Edward School arts incubator that cSPACE Projects is moving forward on. It will probably be ready for occupancy barring any delays sometime in 2016.

Overview of the two organizations:

From its website Alberta Craft Council is described as follows:

The Alberta Craft Council is the Provincial Arts Service Organization that develops, promotes and advocates for fine craft in Alberta. Since 1980, the ACC has promoted craft in Alberta through exhibitions, publications, marketing ventures, education, awareness projects and information services to its membership and to the general public. The ACC has a dual role: to support contemporary and heritage crafts as significant art forms that contribute to Alberta’s culture; and to develop a craft sector of creative, skilled, viable and sustainable craftspeople, studio, businesses and networks.

Now the Stampede. The Western Showcase component has been described on their website as follows:

Western Showcase is recognized as one of the major destination areas of the Stampede. We are a vibrant group of nearly 200 volunteers showcasing our Western Heritage and Values. Western Showcase, located in Halls D and E of the BMO Centre at Stampede Park, showcases art, entertainment, presentations and exhibitions that depict our Western Lifestyle.

It would appear that this is how the two organizations envision themselves and what they do.

Now to expand my argument for this proposal:

In a previous post, I indicated in passing that that there is a Western Lifestyles Creative Arts & Crafts Competition. I didn’t call it by that name at that time, but this is what it actually is called. They have 14 categories in which competitions are held.

They are listed below, and I have only included the open division, which most adults would compete in. They are: 1.) knitting; 2.) crocheting & tatting; 3.) needlework & stitchery; 4.) quilting; 5.) paper crafts & calligraphy; 6.) assorted handicrafts; 7.) ceramics & decorative painting; 8.) rugs & weaving; 9.) wood working; 10.) dolls & toys; 11.) framed paintings; 12.) framed drawings; 13.) sugar art & cake decorating; and 14.) eco art.

As one can see from the list above many of these categories lie parallel to many professional artist’s practice. With blurring of boundaries in contemporary visual art practice and production, it is a fair assumption to say that all of the categories above are fair game for most artists to explore.

With that in mind, I thought it is worth investigating the rules for the competition. In the 2014 booklet containing the rules & regulations of this competition, I could only find one section (the last one) which addresses the inclusion of a professional artist or artisan from participating. It is as follows:

19. Participants in the Western Art Show will not be allowed to enter pieces for competition in the Creative Arts and Crafts Competition. . .

In my eyes, this would seem to be a fair rule. Here are some photo selections from the competition that are relevant:

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Calgary_Stampede_Eco_Art_Window_Display_July_2014 (1024x683)

Calgary_Stampede_Eco_Art_Winner_2014_July (1024x683)

Moving on to the Sales Salons

As I was wandering through the sales salon I very surprised to see some large ceramic vessels in one of the booths. I have included a photo of the booth and it shows work by Robert Behr from Montana who from his website, appears to travel the circuit of other festival events similar to the Western Showcase in California, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

From this it would appear as if craft is not an issue in the Sales Salon and as a comment made by Sherri Zickefoose yesterday on a previous post (see link above) she indicated that this may be due to no other artists applying. This is a reasonable assumption to make.

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Moving on to the Art Auction

I have attended many of these sales over the years. Although I don’t have the catalogues close at hand to reference, however I do have them available should I need to. I do not recall seeing any craft included into the sale. Having said that there is this interesting thing that sometimes happens prior to the sale where they have a Quickdraw event. I can`t remember what it is called. As part of that in the past I recall seeing a sculptor on more than one year working with clay to create a sculpture. I can’t remember what they do with it, but I suspect it is either sold or cast at a later date.

Unfortunately I am unable to attend tonight as the job that I once was working full-time at has now cut my hours to only six hours a week over two days. As a result I am looking for new work. However, the hours that I must work this week are the exact same hours as the auction, tonight. I can`t even get a photo if they do something like this tonight.

Further to this, some time ago (I could be corrected, but I believe it was held between 2007-2010) there was an auction called Pavilion: Contemporary Art Auction. I attended all the sales and have the catalogues somewhere. It was held in September in the Victoria Pavilion in the old Agricultural Building. It was held in cooperation with Christie’s (the auction house) and eight commercial galleries – Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Masters Gallery Ltd., Newzones, Paul Kuhn Gallery, Skew Gallery, Susan Whitney Gallery, TrépanierBaer Contemporary Art and Virginia Christopher Fine Art.

During the 2008 sale one of the pieces was a work by Shary Boyle. She is kind of a big deal as she the following year won the Gershon Iskowitz Prize in 2009 and later went on to represent Canada in the Venice Biennale in 2013. The piece which was specifically commissioned for this sale was described by Nancy Tousley in the Calgary Herald as follows:

(Shary Boyle`s work) is represented in the Pavilion catalogue by a lace-draped porcelain figurine of a woman, with a bloody stump of a neck. She daintily holds her severed head in her lady-figurine hands.

It sold for $12,000.

Unfortunately the Pavilion sale was not to be, and only three sales were conducted. It was subsequently cancelled on the eve of the fourth annual sale. In this sale there was a definite interest in exploring contemporary art and new media, including craft-based work.

Moving on the Artist Ranch Project

Instead of repeating myself I would suggest that if the reader is interested in reading more, to visit my previous post (see link provided at the top).

However to add to this discussion I have included an image of a work by Wanda Ellerback from this year`s iteration of the Artist Ranch Project for reference. Here she is creating a work that uses craft, while creating a fine art object.

Wanda_Ellerback_sculpture_for_Stampede_Artist_Ranch_Project_2014 (1024x683)

 

The Guilds and Cabins

In the Western Showcase is a cabin which is daily staffed with volunteer members of various guilds. One of the guilds is the Chinook Guild of Fibre Arts. Here they show how the crafts that they work with are done. Sometimes, depending on the guild, they will show children and other interested parties how to do these crafts. This is part of an educational initiative to keep these skills from becoming obsolete. It also harkens back to pioneer culture and especially as it relates to women as many of these activities are of a domestic nature or things that have relevance inside the home.

Calgary_Stampede_Western_Lifestyles_List_of_Participating_Guilds_2014_July (1024x683)

In my most recent post from yesterday, I mentioned work by Yvonne Mullock and the Chinook Guild of Fibre Arts (see link provided at the top of this post). It will become readily obvious why I wanted to include them in this dialogue.

They produced a large hooked rug for the Esker Foundation. It is now currently being shown in the gallery as art.

As an aside the current exhibition at the Esker is very interesting and in the context of this discussion should be seen by all members of the Western Showcase Committee. Two artists, Beth Stuart and Cynthia Girard (who worked in collaboration with artists David Altmejd, Julie Doucet, Groupe d`action en cinéma Épopée, Henry Kleine and Noémi McComber) who produced work that uses a number of craft-based media in the work that is on display (I think immediately of quilts, needlework and eco art). Not only that it is presented in such a way that it could almost be dropped right into the middle of the Western Showcase and look like it was intended to be there. If it was to be included, it would certainly create an active discussion. But I digress.

Yesterday, I walked past The Women’s Centre. As I passed, I was invited in to enjoy a Stampede Lunch and BBQ by a lady standing on the step outside the main doors. Once I was in the space I noticed a number of quilts hanging on the walls surrounding the office. This then gave me the opportunity to talk to one of the staff members and inquire if these were any connection to the quilts that I had seen in a window display at the Epcor Centre for Performing Arts a couple months earlier. It was not the case, but it was an enlightening conversation nevertheless.

The quilts I referenced were made as a collaboration with some women that took part in a workshop connected to The Women’s Centre in cooperation with two artists (Cat Schick and Linda Hawke) connected to This is My City Art Society.

This project was a very fascinating collaboration. With the assistance of a Calgary 2012 grant the two artists led a workshop at The Women’s Centre, which answers calls to approximately 60,000 calls annually for basic needs from clients, the vast majority who are dealing with issues of poverty. This workshop was based on the theme of sleep and dreams and it is possible to read more about it here. Much of the work that was included was very powerful. I have included two small details from two separate quilts included in this art exhibition for reference below. Like the other collaboration that I have mentioned above (the Esker collaboration) The Women`s Centre collaboration, likewise crossed boundaries between untrained people and professional artists.

This_is_My_City_Womens_Centre_Dream_Quilt_Detail_one_January_2014 (1024x683)

For reference, the detail text from the above quilt states the following:

Sometimes when I should / be asleep, my mind is wide awake. Things I / need to do tomorrow nag at me, great / burdensome lists of thing, each with its own / list of associated details. On really bad nights / the shadowy corners of my life come into sharp / focus. I think about how I would relive / regrettable moments, fix mistakes. I replay / words I have said and haven’t said to people / alive and dead. My internal temperature / is thrown out of whack and I have too many / covers – then too few. I consider getting up but / usually don’t, afraid I’ll disturb some else’s / sleep.

This_is_My_City_Womens_Centre_Dream_Quilt_Detail_two_January_2014 (1024x683)

The detail from the second states the following:

A hawk flew into my dream,

down into my ruined house,

right through walls that weren’t there

and grazed my head.

The bird had a message for me,

but I was protected from

hearing it,

by the orange sunhat,

I wore in those days.

Synopsis and Conclusion

As we can see from the example of The Women’s Centre + This is My City collaboration craft engages viewers and practitioners on a very fundamental and structural level. When one looks at our Western ancestors we know that craft in some cases for survival, comfort or luxury. At some point in each of our family’s existence someone had to know how to darn a pair of socks, make and bead a pair of moccasins, knit a draft snake, hammer out a horseshoe, create a wedding band and set the stone, and make a ceramic plate – or be able to pay someone to do it for them.

We have determined that ALL sections of the Western Showcase have expressed some interest in showing craft as art up to a certain threshold. However there appears to be only very little of it shown at any one time.

There are probably reasons for this. From the vantage point of an interested observer and non-active participant, I would assume that the largest reason for this is a general lack of awareness that craft is a possibility to be shown in the Western Showcase. In other words, for whatever reason, the committee has not connected on some level with this specific audience.

For this reason I proposed that some initiative be created to allow craftspersons to participate in the Western Showcase. The province (and by extension, the larger region of Western Canada and the Northwestern USA) have some significant and important centres of craft production. This is a perfect venue to showcase this important cultural legacy.

The Stampede as a larger entity, has also shown that they are open to cooperative initiatives. I think of the partnerships that they have formed with corporate entities in terms of naming rights and funding for things such as the SAM Centre, the Youth Campus and its partnership with the Calgary Arts Academy along with the new Enmax partnership to relocate the Indian Village.

The Alberta Craft Council has also shown the same. About a month ago the ACC followed the lead of other organizations such as Stride, Truck, The New Gallery, Marion Nicoll Gallery, Untitled Art Society and the Alberta Printmakers Society in having a window in the Epcor Centre for Performing Arts. This is a new, purpose-built space that was constructed in the +15 corridor along with another newly built space for the University of Calgary Department of Art students between Jack Singer Concert Hall and the Martha Cohen Theatre. In this space the ACC, like the others, have begun regular programming of craft-based, fine art or installation-based artwork rotating on a monthly schedule.

In the local area there are isolated pockets of support for craft-based artwork. Unfortunately much of these opportunities are geared more to selling of pots and functional craft, with occasional art-based opportunities available outside of this narrow focus.

What I would like to propose is something like the Artist Ranch Project which I think is an amazing project. Like this, I would propose a thematic residency of some sort. The Western Showcase I propose to work in collaboration with the Alberta Craft Council to develop a new concept that will benefit artists and artisans who are interested in exploring craft-based opportunities further with a show at the end during the ten-days of Stampede.

I have no idea how this should unfold, but I would be very interested in seeing something like this happen. I am also very excited about what it could look like.

I have done my part, now I am passing off the baton to someone else, whoever that may be.

Hooked rug unveiling at the Esker

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Earlier today (July 08) I attended an event at the Esker Foundation. It was a processional where Yvonne Mullock’s hooked rug that she created with the assistance of the women from the Chinook Guild of Fibre Arts was moved from the Project Space through shops and up three flights of stairs to the main entrance of the Esker Foundation. It was installed there and will reside as a welcome mat just inside the front door until the show that is currently on display ends in September. Where it goes afterwards I am unsure.

I have followed the adventures of this project since early-May when it was started. Here it is finished and leaving the Project Room.

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I mentioned this hooked rug in passing about a month ago in another blog post. That blog post was one where I talked mostly about historical places and spaces that showed craft as fine art, along with a few shows that were currently on display at that time. Since then I have noticed I overlooked a number of other places and spaces. I am not even going to attempt to rectify that today.

I have been fascinated by hooked rugs for a number of years now. My first exposure was a small exhibition that included some old Grenfell Mission rugs into a larger exhibition on Folk Art from the Maritimes where there is a great and long-standing tradition of both craft and art, and the intersection of the two.

This was followed by a short while later when a gallery I used to work at handled some  of the few hooked rugs created by Alberta artist John Snow that from my memory I am assuming that he probably created in the 1960s or 1970s. He has passed away, but it makes me wonder as he was predominately a printmaker/painter and sculptor if he like Yvonne may have worked with a fibre art group that quite possibly was connected in some way to the Calgary Allied Arts Centre. Of course this is rank speculation on my part. So when I heard about this partnership Yvonne was working on at the Esker Foundation with the Chinook Guild, I was quite excited.

It was a wonderful procession, where we visited a number of shops on the main floor and it was very nice that the group stopped by in the grocery and deli on the main floor, Bite to show the pastry chef Laurie who decorated the lovely cake that was made for the small reception (see below).

 Hit_&_Miss_Cake_for_Yvonne_Mullock_Rug_Unveiling_2014_July_08 (1024x679)

It was also nice that a number of the women from the Chinook Guild of Fibre Art were able to attend and assist in the procession as well even though they had to staff volunteers for two places on the Stampede Grounds at the same time.

I have included a couple photos from the unveiling and installation in the gallery below.

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Hit_&_Miss_hooked_rug_In-Situ_at_Esker_ribbon_cutting_2014_July-08 (1024x683)

In addition, I want to continue this discussion as it relates to the Western Showcase at the Stampede Grounds. I think this is an important and timely discussion to have. Although it relates to this project at the Esker, I will do it in a separate post, possibly even later today.