Results of the public art Notice of Motion

City_Council_Chamber_during_agenda_item_911_2015_Feb_23 (1024x768)

This morning City Council discussed Councillor Peter Demong’s notice of motion that I talked about over the weekend.

I try to back up my words with action if I am able. Yesterday I proposed a call to action and to attend the City Council meeting today.

As a result I attended the meeting in person. I was surprised at how quickly this meeting moved along. I was expecting substantially longer than what it actually took to get to the agenda item I was waiting for. As it turned out, the TV cameras and news reporters barely got there in time for the agenda item.

Councillor Demong placed a revised Notice of Motion onto the table when the agenda item was called.

The revised notice of motion, was for all intents and purposes the same as before. The major change was that the entire final paragraph was removed as seen in the before and after photos below.

DemongNoticeOfMotion2015Feb11

This REMOVED paragraph in the revision (see original above, and revision below), ORIGINALLY contained the following:

AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED; that the service provided by the Public Art Board be temporarily suspended until further notice.

Revised_Notice_of_Motion_2015-03 (1024x785)

Councillors that spoke to the revised motion (see photo above), included things like a bizarre story from Councillor Sean Chu who regaled those in attendance with a fabulous tale about his children, ATMs and Mercedes Benz vehicles.

However, relevant points to the topic at hand were brought forward by Councillors Andre Chabot, Dianne Colley-Urquhart and Evan Woolley.

Through the comments made by these three members it was disclosed that other attempts to find cost-cutting measures have been proposed, but not dealt with, at this stage.

Another relevant comment brought forward was a reminder that in 2008, during the last economic set-back, the federal government actually increased funding for infrastructure projects instead of cutting as expected.

The inference was that to debate cuts before the budgets from both provincial and federal governments is a premature action. Not to mention that this notice of motion also unfairly targets a small portion of the city budget and an entire program that has already been allocated during the budget process last November. Allowing this motion to move forward to debate, only opens the door to further cuts to/of other programs individually.

It was discussed that this type of discussion should take place as part of a larger discussion about budgetary cuts and/or increases. The idea that some programs might even need an increase such as was a topic of discussion in a previous agenda item with regards to the Family & Community Support Services (FCCS) Calgary.

This revised notice of motion needed a 2/3 majority to move forward to debate. It was defeated by a vote of 9-5 (those on the losing side being Councillors Demong, Chu, Magliocca, Keating and Stevenson) with Councillor Ward Sutherland being absent for the vote.

As a result the motion did not even make it to the floor for debate.

However, I would suggest that we must remain vigilant.

I leave the final word to former Director of MoCA-Calgary and more recently, the former Artistic Director of Contemporary Calgary, Jeffrey Spalding who earlier today stated the following:

It is just sad that an argument can be floated that suggests that the public needs to be appeased by a symbolic blood-letting: by cutting arts funding. This has never been the effective strategy anywhere in the face of financial downturns. Culture is an economic driver, you need arts to help spur a recovery. The solution during the Great Depression of the 1930s was the WPA (the Works Progress Administration program in the USA. Spending money via the arts was foreseen as a societal good and an aid to their recovery.

…and oh yes, arts jobs are ‘jobs’ too!

Gallery 505 – grand opening tonight

Marion_Nicoll_painting_One_Year_at_Gallery_505_on_2014_November_21 (1024x768)

Discretely placed into the lobby of a small, mid-century, low-rise brick office tower is a new public gallery.

The grand opening will take place this evening (January 22nd), between 5:00-7:00 pm in the lobby of 505 – 8 Avenue SW.

Having said that, this space has been used for this gallery purpose since mid-November 2014. I understand that the exhibitions will rotate on a three month cycle in the future like many public galleries. The location of this space is directly across the street from Holt Renfrew, between Eight Avenue Place and Barcelona Tavern (where the former restaurant Belgo used to be) which is right next door in the same building.

This is the first such “public” gallery that has opened in the city in a long time.

There is nothing to adequately compare this new space to. It does share some similarities to the most recent “public” gallery that has opened in the city – the Esker Foundation. However, on a different level the model between the two, is certainly much different.

Calgary Allied Arts Foundation

In this case the organization behind this new space is a local foundation that began in 1946 at the end of World War II, under a different but related name. It is now operating as it has since the summer of 1959 as the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation.

The Calgary Allied Arts Foundation’s influence in the city has been profound.

  • Full disclosure here: I have been a past board member of this organization. I also co-curated an exhibition held at the Art Gallery of Calgary (now known as Contemporary Calgary) in 2009 to celebrate the foundation’s 50th anniversary. In addition, I was the motivating factor for a new endowment created for the 50th anniversary (called the “Calgary Allied Arts Foundation Civic Art Collection Fund”) which is administered and can be funded through the Calgary Foundation using this page, searching the drop-down menu of all funds for the fund name mentioned above. As a result of the extensive original research I did for the 50th Anniversary show (which in hindsight, I now recognize as not being entirely correct), I saw the necessity of further research and reminded the board of this fact, at numerous times when deemed appropriate at subsequent board meetings. At these times I suggested that a history of this organization should be created. I probably did this often enough that they got tired of hearing that it needed to be done, but in the end it finally stuck. This little fact resulting from my initial research for the AGC show was not fully correct, which led me to personally engage in a significant never-ending rabbit hole of research on Calgary arts organizations that I began in 2011 after my gallery closed. This research is still ongoing on a nearly full-time basis, if and when my sporadic work commitments allow.
  • As a result and for obvious reasons, I am not going to talk much about the organization as a written history is currently being researched, produced and written and should be available near the end of this year.

Notwithstanding my previous comments, CAAF is a volunteer driven organization that I am a huge fan of.

At this time it is entirely funded by generous benefactors who over the past 50+ years have created endowments that allow the foundation to operate. These endowments allow the organization to create value in the community by encouraging those who work in the visual arts through various initiatives that they have undertaken over the years. These initiatives have included things such as funding purchases of public art; purchasing and donating artworks to the Civic Art Collection; establishing artist residencies; funding cultural initiatives such as ArtWeek and ArtWalk; engaging in advisory roles; and much more. As expected with a volunteer board, these initiatives reflect the interests of the board members who are predominately visual arts practitioners and reflect the political and artistic climate of the times.

Needless to say, the Foundation has been around for a very long time. However, for a number of reasons which I could go into at great length, in recent history, it generally keeps a very low profile. This is very unfortunate as it should be known much more than it currently is.

Gallery 505

There is an interesting dialogue at play with this newly formed gallery, that has some interesting roots. It is this, that I would prefer to talk about at this time.

As anyone in the city who has turned on the TV news lately, or talked to anyone working in the oil patch downtown, or read a news headline in the recent months would know, it is obvious that things could be economically better in the city. The headlines are stating things such as this one from the Calgary Herald “Oil services giant Baker Hughes to lay off 7000 workers“; this one from the Globe and Mail “Alberta’s oil woes: typical downturn or end of an era?“. Both of these headlines give a clue as to others.

So reading that a corporation (in Calgary) is willing to underwrite the long-term costs of a new public art gallery at this time is very, very encouraging indeed.

In the distant past, there is a bit of a tradition in Calgary that is being resurrected by this initiative. It is one that I am pleased to see.

Long ago, we had companies such as Shell Canada, Petro-Canada and Gulf Canada Resources, all of whom had dedicated art gallery spaces available to both employees and the public alike. These galleries were all housed within their corporate offices. Other companies such as Esso Resources or Norcen Energy Resources (a company which gifted the large Bill McElcheran sculpture of the standing businessmen standing on Stephen Avenue Mall outside of the Hudson’s Bay Company to the citizens of the City of Calgary in 1981) had full-time staff to manage their collections and produced catalogues of their collections. These gallery spaces were staffed with curators and other related professionals (if required), catalogues were produced, and exhibitions mounted.

Of course these days are long past.

The physical shells of these spaces often still are visible and unless one knows what to look for and has a long enough memory of where they were located, most would not even know what once was located in those spaces. These spaces that once were, have been converted to other uses like office space, etc. and more often than not the collections have been sold or substantially diminished. So seeing art in public spaces like what is found at the neighbouring building to the one that houses Gallery 505Eighth Avenue Place, warms my heart, just a wee little bit every time I wander through the lobby.

This leads me to the single work that is shown above – a large, mature-period, four panel painting by Marion Nicoll entitled One Year, 1971. This was a gift of the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation to the City of Calgary Civic Art Collection two years after it was created in 1973.

The selection of a major work by Marion Nicoll [1909-1985] is a very appropriate choice for the inaugural exhibition in this space.

Having this work and a gallery for CAAF located in the lobby of a mid-century office tower that probably dates to around the same time as the Foundation was formed, is only further icing on the cake.

The selection of this work recognizes her important contribution to the city of Calgary; the visual arts in the surrounding region; and her contributions in the field of education and arts development at the Alberta College of Art and Design and elsewhere in the city. It also recognizes the important financial contribution that both she and her husband Jim Nicoll (also an artist) made to the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation.

As mentioned above, the endowment as bequeathed by Jim and Marion Nicoll provides a significant portion of the operating income for the Foundation.

There is a lot of information about Marion Nicoll available. She stands tall in the art history in the province of Alberta. However, for brevity, I will just touch on a few highlights of her career:

  • She was one of the first students to study at what is now known as the Alberta College of Art and Design graduating in 1933;
  • One of her instructors was J.W.G. (Jock) Macdonald (a very influential artist and member of the Painters 11, who is usually connected to Toronto and occasionally Vancouver, and a recent subject of a recent solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery). Jock Macdonald during his one year head of ACAD (or whatever his position was called at the time) was instrumental in helping set a new course for Marion Nicoll. He did this through the introduction of “automatic drawing”. It is from that body of work which she continued throughout her life, usually on a small scale on paper, that her mature work found its voice;
  • Marion Nicoll also probably was the first female instructor at Alberta College of Art and Design. Certainly, without dispute she set the groundwork for future female instructors at the College. Her influence at ACAD where she taught for her entire career, cannot be understated; and,
  • Recognizing her contributions, the Alberta College of Art and Design named the student gallery at the school in her name and honour.

This work is a good example of her paintings that she was doing at the mature period after she had retired from active teaching in 1966. From sources that I believe dependable, it is my understanding that this work has been predominately in storage for the significant majority of the time that it has been housed in the Civic Art Collection. Surprisingly, it was not included in the major retrospective at the Nickle Arts Museum a year or two ago. No doubt this is partly due to its size and the difficulty in finding a space that can adequately display it to best advantage. Now that it has been put on display, I would think it will be more likely that it will now find itself a new home.

Personally, I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the donor of the space where we can see works that might otherwise be hidden from view. I look forward to seeing more in this space in the years to come.

Collaboration in Calgary arts community (with a potential new participant)

 

 

Ciara_Phillips_Haight_Gallery_WE_2013

Tomorrow, the trustees of the Tate Britain will announce the winner of the 2014 Turner Prize. One of the four nominees is Canadian-born printmaker – Ciara Phillips.

Normally, an event that is taking place half-way around the world would be a non-event for this blog. However, I believe it is timely for discussion in Calgary, regardless of whether she wins or not.

For those who do not know, I am a former gallerist that operated a member gallery of the Art Dealers Association of Canada which dealt primarily with printmaking and prints. As a result, I have a very deep appreciation and understanding of the printmaking process, even though I am not a printmaker myself. For whatever reason, the printmaking medium, gets very little respect and appreciation in the city. It has been that way for a very long time, which is surprising given the strong printmaking tradition in the city and that there is an amazing collection of block prints (in particular) which is housed at the Glenbow. This all is quite unfortunate situation that I can only hope will change in time.

Secretly, (well maybe not so secretly anymore) I am pulling for her to win. I do see that she probably is somewhat of a longshot, although definitely in the running. In the UK, there is an interesting phenomenon in that people make wagers, and bookies make books on the outcomes of major cultural prizes, along with the usual horse races, football games and boxing matches. The Turner Prize is no exception.

When I checked a few minutes ago the average odds at the time of retrieval, the consensus order of payout (or from most-likely to least-likely) as determined by a survey of various bookies, is as follows:

  • Duncan Campbell is the favourite, a win would payout £7 for every £4 bet (1.75x);
  • A Ciara Phillips win would payout £11 for every £4 bet (2.75x);
  • A James Richards win would payout £3 for every £1 bet (3.0x);
  • A Tris Vonna-Mitchell win would payout £7 for every £2 bet (3.5x).

If only people cared that much on the visual arts in this city that they would bet on and for artists. If we did, we would probably have a civic art gallery and actually support the visual arts and its artists – but I digress.

Getting back to business.

Ciara Phillips was nominated for an exhibition that she held during 2013 at The Showroom, London that ended one year ago today (November 30). The exhibition was described as follows, and I will quote at length (there is substantially more, if you feel so inclined) to help put this posting into context for those in Calgary who may not click on the hotlink and to understand the timeliness. Here is what The Showroom had to say about this exhibition:

Workshop (2010–ongoing) is a new installation made up of multiple screenprints on newsprint and large-scale works on cotton. This new work sets an attitude for a two-month temporary print studio that will take place in the gallery over the course of the exhibition.

Throughout October and November (2013) Phillips will be collaborating with invited artists, designers, and local women’s groups (many of whom have ongoing relationships with The Showroom) to produce new screenprints. Guests will bring their different knowledge and experiences of working collectively to the Workshop, whose structure is open for development as the project progresses. These new collaborations will initiate conversations and actions that aren’t contained within specific disciplines of art, community action, design or activism. By making prints in these new collaborative groupings, Phillips will explore the potential of ‘making together’ as a way of negotiating ideas and generating discussions around experimental and wider uses of print.

We know that Ciara Phillips showed in Calgary previously and I was fortunate enough to have seen the group show which she was included in, during the summer of 2013 at the short-lived Haight Gallery (which has subsequently closed, probably right after the group show ended). The photo above was from that show, and the same exhibition was also shown in January 2014 at Edmonton’s Latitude 53 – an artist run centre.

Now to get to the core of the matter.

Why is this relevant to Calgary?

As seen above, we know that Ciara Phillips has shown in Calgary. We also know that there is a significant artistic exchange that occurs between Glasgow (where she currently lives) and Calgary. I could easily rattle off a good sampling of names without too much difficulty.

We also have seen a significant increase in collaboration in the city’s institutional culture. Here are some examples:

  • Earlier this year it was announced that Calgary will host the MassMOCA produced Oh, Canada show which will open in January 2015. This will be a collaborative exhibition spread between Glenbow, Esker, Nickle, and the Illingworth Kerr galleries.
  • Not so long ago Contemporary Calgary co-hosted a portion of the Made in Calgary: The 1990s show and the Nickle currently is co-hosting the Glenbow’s Made in Calgary: The 2000s show.
  • We can also reference the initial Nuit Blanche show in 2012 where they informally collaborated with MOCA Calgary (now Contemporary Calgary).
  • Then there was the partnership between the Calgary Stampede and MOCA Calgary for a 1912/2012 focused show during the summer of 2012.
  • We can also talk about the long-standing (maybe 15-20 year long) relationship between the Centre for Performing Arts and mostly artist run centres in the six +15 window spaces which has recently been expanded to also include the Alberta Craft Council, Tiny Gallery and the University of Calgary. There may be more in the works as I see construction happening in the same general area.

Even other organizations outside of the visual arts like the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra is getting in on the act with a performance which involved students in the MADT program at the Alberta College of Art and Design in their performance last night of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalila.

Beakerhead is yet another fine example where it was set up to explore where collaboration can exist between the engineering and science communities with the visual arts.

I know that I have only touched upon a few partnerships, but as seen above it is an increasingly important part of the cultural landscape that is developing in the city for various reasons. It is probably a good thing.

In a recent interview in the Ottawa Citizen where she is quoted as saying, “I think it (the Turner Prize) has drawn a lot more attention to my work, and there have been some really nice outcomes of that, especially invitations to make future exhibitions in Sweden and Canada.” This was also repeated a few days later (earlier this week) in a recent interview with Canadian Art magazine.

Alberta Printmakers Society is one such organization that could potentially host this show in their new facility. Although, having said that, I would think the gallery space might be a bit on the small side.

From a personal observation, A/P has become much more active recently and has shown a willingness to program potentially controversial exhibitions such as the recent Joscelyn Gardner show which ended yesterday, entitled bringing down the flowers. . . I attended the opening of Gardner’s show this past October 24th and had a good discussion with her while I was there. It was my intention to write something about it, but due to other more pressing circumstances, I was unable to find the time to do so. It was a very strong show and it dealt with issues that should have a higher visibility and dialogue in this country. Certainly, more so than what is currently the case. I may still, even though it is too late to see the show at the Artist Proof Gallery.

Given this as background, and understand that this is complete and unsubstantiated speculation as an outsider, does that mean we may potentially see Caira Phillip’s Workshop (2010 – ongoing) make an appearance in Calgary in the near future?

Maybe there is a partnership with A/P and another organization such as the Esker, Illingworth Kerr Gallery, the Banff Centre or potentially Contemporary Calgary or the Glenbow in the works?

Let’s hope so.

*  *  *

December 1, 2014 edit

I checked the news to find out who won the Turner Prize this year. The winner was Duncan Campbell. It is not surprising given that the film he was nominated for was previously shown at the most recent Venice Biennale.

It doesn’t change anything about collaboration, which was the primary focus of this posting. Of course that possibility of a Canadian show for Ciara Phillips is still out there and I think that it would be awesome if it took place in Calgary.

The House Coffee Sanctuary and artist groups

The_House_Coffee_Sanctuary_Calgary_2014_Oct_11 (1024x683)

Earlier today I was in the community of Kensington. I stopped in to attend an exhibition opening at The House Coffee Sanctuary.

I periodically stop in at The House for a coffee and pastry as I like to support small independent businesses if I am able. As a previous small business owner, I find that they are the lifeblood of our communities and that they usually reinvest into the communities where they are based, more than do most of the larger multi-national companies. Whenever I do stop in for a coffee, I have always noticed art on the wall. Like many other independent coffee shops and restaurants they feature art to decorate the space and “provide publicity” to artists.

As a former gallerist, I am of two minds about this practice. Others are as well I am very certain, probably for other reasons. I have provided art to these type of places (coffee shops, restaurants, etc.) and have had the art stolen off the wall. As a result, I have had to purchase the stolen art using funds out of my own pocket. Let’s just say that, “once burned, twice shy” would help explain my feelings toward these type of venues as an art exhibition space. It is hard enough to make a living in the arts as it is, I don’t need the additional stresses of financial success (or failure) that comes as a result of someone else’s whims or desires. I am not a big fan as a result. But that is my own personal experience and not everyone else’s. If it works for others – that is great.

* * *

This is something that I have wanted to write about for some time. The whole concept of small artist groups who rarely, if ever, get any mention.

The exhibition I attended today featured members of one of these groups, The Emmaus Fine Art Group.

Chances are most readers of my blog will not know who these members are. That is understandable as there are many societies or artist groups such as this in the city. There is a long tradition of arts organizations such as this which pre-date the first museum that showed art in the city. As a result, these type of groups are part of my research focus.

Some groups are more well- known than others – groups such as the Alberta Society of Artists, the Canadian Federation of Artists, Burns Visual Arts Society, Untitled Art Society, Alberta Printmakers Society, Bee Kingdom . . . the list goes on, and on. Other groups slip under the radar screen for most that are interested in the visual arts, for various reasons. It is certainly not because they are any less worthy.

What are artist societies?

  • These groups can be a very small group of artists or they can be quite large;
  • They can offer free membership or paid;
  • They may provide studio space – or not;
  • A group could be as simple as a few retirees or stay at home moms who paint. They may form a group out of a need, or an excuse to get out of the house, meet their friends for coffee or a glass of wine, and talk about their work, or paint en plain air as a group;
  • They may meet once a week, once a month, once a year or not at all except for board elections;
  • Alternatively, a group could be a formalized society with its own bylaws, non-profit status and space;
  • The group can take whatever form that they choose, and for whatever reason that makes sense to its members.

Regardless of how they are formed or operate, they are all community-building initiatives. They also serve a number of positive purposes such as:

  • Providing a support mechanism for what is usually a solitary pursuit (producing visual art and/or craft-based work);
  • Provide exhibition opportunities that may not otherwise occur;
  • Provide a reason to produce work;
  • Provide a social network with like-minded individuals.

Locally there has been a strong tradition of artist groups, as seen in the example of both the Calgary Allied Arts Centre and the Muttart Public Art Gallery. Unfortunately both of these organizations are no longer with us, but their legacy does continue in the form of the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation and the Art Gallery of Calgary (now Contemporary Calgary) even that history is no longer relevant to current operations.

Emmaus_Fine_Art_Group_installation_at_The_House_2014_Oct_11 (1024x683)

Getting back to the Emmaus Fine Art Group (see photo above). I had the opportunity to find out more about this group with one of the longest standing members of the group, this afternoon – Sharon Graham. She probably has the highest artistic profile of all the members that were included in the current exhibition. Many of her drawings of suspects in court proceedings have been reproduced in newspapers over the years. If memory serves me correct, she also previously exhibited at Art is Vital when they were once located on the second floor of Eau Claire Market, quite a number of years ago.

She helped me with a bit of the history of this group. The House Coffee Sanctuary is where they most frequently exhibit. They have had a loose association with the coffee shop since shortly after it opened for business.

The thing that ties this group together is that members of the group have religious beliefs. All members (from what I understand) self-identify as being Christian.

I have often wondered why this coffee shop is considered a non-profit. So tonight I investigated this claim. From their website, I read that the coffee shop, “was opened by First Alliance Church in November, 2001.”

Knowing this, it then makes sense why the Emmaus group would show in this venue. There is a mutual support network (or a natural synergy) occurring between the two groups – the church/coffee shop; the artists; and/or the artist society or group.

The church (speaking broadly as a much larger institution of individual localized churches, groups, educational institutions and other related religious communities) has long been associated with visual artists and the arts. This is particularly true for the Roman Catholic Church and one has to only think of the Sistine Chapel and the masterworks found there and elsewhere in their churches to understand how true this statement is. However, to my mind, the Protestant faiths as a general rule, tend not to be as supportive of the visual arts. Rarely does one see much religious art in Protestant churches, except for some sects as seen in their stained glass windows. This is particularly true, especially as it relates to religious art.

Why is this?

If I was to speculate, this probably has something to do with Martin Luther, John Calvin (especially) and the Protestant Reformation; and how religious thought and practice has developed over the subsequent 600 years.

We know that at the time of the Reformation, a new Northern Renaissance in painting took root in what was predominately Protestant countries or areas such as Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Great Britain. This resulted in a demand for paintings that tended more to the secular, taking the form of portraits; history painting; still lifes; and genre paintings. This work from that period, celebrated the agenda of the Protestant movement. Over time, this presumably developed into a fear of idolatry and as interpreted in Protestant faiths that fine art generally is a distraction to religious devotion.

I have attempted to simplify a very complex relationship in religious thought. I have tried to be as respectful of those with different religious belief systems in my simplified interpretation. For those that might feel it is not correct, as the reader interprets it, I apologize in advance.

Nevertheless, given the framework of this exhibition, and the concept of community development in the arts, it is an interesting question and interpretation to ponder.

Regardless of this, I think that this is a good example of how one develops community in the visual arts. It also shows how multiple groups can facilitate artistic growth and career development. This is a necessary ingredient in achieving success as an artist. Generally, an artist’s career does not develop in isolation, even though their practice usually is a solitary pursuit.

Rumble House new location

Rumble_House_Calgary_new_location_2014_Sept_ 23 (1024x683)

Earlier this month I posted some erroneous news about the Gorilla House and Rumble House in amongst some factually correct information.

In my previous post, I was upfront about my speculation regarding their new location. Today I received confirmation that my source was wrong.

This post is therefore to correct that erroneous information.

I don’t feel particularly bad about the fact that I was wrong. Maybe I should, but I don’t given the circumstances. In it inevitable that things like this will happen for time to time. It is obvious now, that I was not alone in being mistaken.

In the Fall 2014 edition of Stephen magazine (the one that is currently available) there is a double page spread on pages 32-33, showing photos of members of the Gorilla House/Rumble House team in the “5,500 square feet of unused space in front of the Day’s Inn on Macleod Trail.” The remainder of the article leaves an impression that this was going to be their new home.

I understand the nature of lease negotiations all too well. From recent personal experience, I had an extended conversation for over a month with a landlord about occupying and leasing a vacant commercial space for the entire two summer months. The day before I was prepared to move and a couple days before I had targeted as the first date of active operations from our very first conversation in May, the deal fell apart – suddenly.

I have previously written for different publications. From that experience, I know that glossy magazines usually require a longer and sometimes significant lead time prior to publication. Glossy magazines don’t have the quick turn-around that a blog or newspaper has.

I read news from yesterday that Rumble House has signed a lease for a space on 8th Avenue SW, near Mewata Armories, Millennium Park, Kerby Centre and the old Science Centre/Planetarium. Ironically I passed their new location last week (before they put up the current for lease sign). I was thinking to myself as I did that, that the space Rumble House has leased looked vacant and I was also thinking that it potentially could be a good space for a gallery.

The new location will be at 1136 – 8 Avenue SW.

It most recently was used as a retail space for a store that sold classical music recordings, called Classics Plus. Prior to that if memory serves me correct, it was an English Fish and Chips shop for quite some time. Classics Plus has been located there or next door in the building to the east (a two story, plus basement mid-century building) that once housed Virginia Christopher Gallery, three or four moves before the gallery closed a few years ago. That building next door also housed artist studios, the short-lived Deacon-Ulrich Gallery and long-term tenant Fine Art Framers. As seen from the tenants it once housed, the building next door was definitely an arts friendly building at one point in time and from what I understand it has subsequently been sold.

From the news that was released from Rumble House yesterday, it appears as if they intend to open during October. No date has been set.

It is my opinion that this will be a much better location for Rumble House than the Day’s Inn location.

I wish them success here. I will definitely stop in and visit, once they are up and running.

Gorilla House Live Art

Gorilla_House_original_location_corner_14_Street_and_15_Avenue_SW_2014_August_26 (1024x683)

Originally, I planned to make this more of a housekeeping post more than anything else. Then I heard some news (in a gossipy sort of way) from one of my sources, which has yet to be confirmed. However, I feel confident enough in my source, that I will take a big leap of faith that this news is correct.

In my last post celebrating the one year anniversary of this blog, I made a short mention of the Gorilla House.

Near the beginning of the week, I happened to be going past the space that was occupied by the Gorilla House Live Art. I happened to have my camera with me, so I took advantage and took a photo of the space before the building exterior materially changed.

As you can see here, the building is surrounded by metal fencing. The signage that used to be there, has come down. Otherwise, for the most part, the exterior appears to be similar to what it has been since it was still a used bookstore (which if memory serves me correct from the occasional visits I made when it was operational, smelled like cat pee).

The interior is currently undergoing significant renovations.

Gorilla_House_interior_during_renovations_2014_August_26 (1024x683)

As you can see in the photo above there is a large stack of drywall ready to be installed and a large counter of some sort, is currently under construction.

In my last post, I indicated that the building is planned to be a sushi bar. Shortly after I took this photo, I asked an older Oriental man who poked his head out the door what the plans were for this site. He corroborated the information that I heard, which is that it will be a restaurant, although he did not state what type.

So there you have it. The far too common end to a short-lived art space in the city.

* * *

However, all is not lost.

Soon you will be hearing of a new organization called Rumble House.

This is the same organization, except that instead of conducting “art battles” as they have done in the past, the new organization will conduct “art rumbles”. I guess they wanted to use a less combative terminology.

The concept is still the same.

I have attended a few of the weekly events over the past year. I had intended to go previously, but always remembered too late in the evening or after the fact.

It is a very interesting concept.

From a professional practice perspective, it serves to encourages practice which is a positive. Depending on the artist, for some the work produced is not consistent with the remainder of their practice which could be considered a detriment to their professional practice.

Here is how it works, as best that I can determine from the few times I have attended as an observer (not a participant), and I should also state that I have never attended a full event from start to finish:

  • The beginning of the night, random descriptive words or phrases are written on a piece of paper and placed into a container (or attached to a spinning wheel);
  • The theme is selected;
  • During the next two or three hours, participants are expected to produce a new work(s) based on the descriptors selected;
  • At the end of the evening, the work(s) is(are) auctioned off, with the artist receiving a portion of proceeds, and the Gorilla House also receiving a smaller portion;
  • They then meet the following week and do it all over again.

In this respect it is a lot like the national Art Battle that was held recently at C2 (the old Museum of Contemporary Art – Calgary) a few months ago.

Now for the news.

As mentioned above, the same people behind the Gorilla House are now behind what will be called Rumble House.

I hear that right now as I write this, after being homeless for a number of months, a new space is under development. It is my understanding that it will soon be open.

Day's_Inn_Macleod_Trail_2014_August_29 (1024x683)

It is an interesting space that they will be moving into. The windows to this space connected to the Day’s Inn Macleod Trail location have been covered up for quite a few years, in fact I don’t recall this space being occupied – ever. That says a lot, as the building has been around for quite a while (maybe 10-20 years, maybe longer).

For a number of reasons, this could be a very challenging location from a real-estate perspective to successfully lease out. Here is why:

  • It is geographically isolated in a little one block wide island separated by the C-Train and Macleod Trail, both of which act as significant barriers to access from the residential on the one side and commercial on the other;
  • It is surrounded by car dealerships, fast food restaurants and a graveyard;
  • It is a residential wasteland within the block-wide strip between Macleod and the C-Train (outside of a small residential pocket near Chinook Mall) for a significant distance either way (from downtown all the way to Heritage);
  • It’s immediate neighbours are a destination pub and a budget conscious hotel;
  • The parking can only be accessed from one side of the street at a point where traffic speed increases significantly;
  • There is no parking in front, the building frontage goes right to the sidewalk, and parking is hidden from view.

However, these are the same factors which potentially might make it suitable for this type of facility.

As this facility is currently used mostly in the evenings there will be people in the immediate area. It is possible depending on the nights that the Rumble House is operational, that there might be some spillover patrons stop in from the neighbouring Atlantic Trap and Gill and the hotel above.

It is centrally located, with easy access by train and car which is ideal for a destination facility that is active outside of regular business hours. These are the same factors which made the Trap and Gill successful. It could potentially be a win-win for everyone.

I wish them success in their new venture.

One year anniversary of this blog, with review

Surprises_found_when_digging_in_the_garden_18_August_2013 (1024x683)

Today is the blog’s one year anniversary.

In my original post the discussion centred on digging out rocks from what was to become a new garden. I talked about hard work and finding interesting things amongst the rubble. So it seems appropriate that I revisit the same image from a year ago.

I closed out my first post with this:

That is one of the things I want to do with this blog – search amongst the rocky ground of our cultural landscape and find interesting things.

I think I have done that.

Now, a bit of history

The primary reason why I created this blog back then was that I had just applied for a job. In my mind, it had my name all over it. The only weakness that I perceived was that depending on who interviewed me, there possibly could be an assumption that my skill sets were focussed on the commercial gallery world only and not enough knowledge outside of that small word – whether this was correct or not.

However, I knew this assumption was wrong, as would anyone else who had dealt with, or talked with me previously to any extent. Those people would know that my interests are actually quite broad and encompassing.

Regardless, the end result was that I did not even receive acknowledgement of my application – much less an interview. Stuff happens and I am not complaining. However, my interest the subject carried the blog forward nevertheless and it still does.

I still don’t have that job in the arts community, but as seen here my interest still remains. Sometimes being an informed outsider is more interesting, because one can reflect my interests and as a result there is no axe to grind.

I will however continue to carry on with my blog when time allows, as I have done since that time.

* * *

As I look back on this past year there have been some very interesting developments in the cultural landscape in Calgary, not to mention exciting programming which various places have done that I am not even going to talk about.

Some of these things I talked about during the past year. Others I did not.

In some cases I now wish that I did.

Either way, I mention the interesting developments below, and depending on how things go for the upcoming year I may even talk about them this time around.

We have seen the following cultural items between August 2013 and August 2014 (and I am sure that I am missing something – probably significant. So forgive me in advance:

  • Of course it is necessary to mention (as it was the big story locally for the year) that during June 2013, many artists and arts organizations were affected by the flooding in the city. This time last year (two months after the fact) things were starting to get back to normal. I probably mentioned it before, I spent the month of July 2013 for the most part in High River helping those who live there, to get back on their feet again. This is something that is quite close to my heart as a result.
  • Calgary Opera started its initial summer outdoor opera festival in conjunction with East Village. It is called Opera in the Village.
  • A new arts facility opened in Forest Lawn last August. It is a partnership between Calgary Arts Development Authority and the International Avenue BRZ, which is called Art Box on 17E.
  • Beakerhead, after a soft opening and trial-run in 2012 and held its first full-scale event last September.
  • Nuit Blanche had its initial and highly successful iteration in September 2012. It was originally envisioned to be an annual event. However, for reasons unknown, this was changed to become a biennial event at some point during the spring or summer of 2013. To meet programming obligations that a few public galleries and organizations had made for the Nuit Blanche weekend in September 2013, a new festival was formed to fulfill these commitments called Intersite Visual Arts Festival.
  • In September to kick off Beakerhead, Calgary Mini Maker Faire had its first event
  • ArtWalk limped along to celebrate its 30th year. In this city that is quite an achievement. I made a post about it, but for whatever reason it was never published and has been saved as a draft only. I only realized this fact much after the fact. Maybe if and when my blog gets published, I will include it.
  • Also in September, the folks at cSpace Projects initiated a similar type of follow-on event to the highly successful Wreck City event held in the spring of 2013, calling upon many of the same people involved. This project they called Phantom Wing.
  • The New Gallery moved from its location in Art Central to its new location in the heart of Chinatown.
  • The old Seafood Market building which was a vacant building since 2004 was used as artist spaces for a two-year period between 2010 -2012. In the summer/fall of 2013 it was finally demolished at some unknown point. Although it was already scheduled for demolition, it probably was affected by the flood as many buildings in the area were. The demolition occurred to make way for a new condo development in the East Village.
  • A new public art gallery using a different model was introduced called the Art Forum Gallery Association. The two key personnel were previously closely affiliated with the Triangle Gallery of Visual Art and are doing what made that organization successful, keeping its costs down and its options open. One was a former president of the board, Michael Rae and the other was a former director, Jacek Malec.
  • The Blue Ring sculpture by inges idee was unveiled in the midst of the city election. Remarkably, it has remained a topic of discussion and occasional subject of a letter to the editor since that time. I guess in a way it will most likely bear a striking resemblance to the Peace Bridge situation. If I was to speculate, I would expect to soon see it in use in tourist advertising for the city, just like the Peace Bridge now is. Maybe that will be what it takes for it to grow on people, hearing how wonderful it is from people in other parts of the world.
  • Demolition began on the King Edward School to make way for the new arts incubator that cSpace is developing in the community of South Calgary.
  • The chapter at the Art Gallery of Calgary which involved the Valerie Cooper fiasco finally came to a close in November, when she was sentenced to a year in jail for her actions. What that means is with good behavior, she should be released at any time now, if not already.
  • Calgary Arts Development Authority and Studio C both move out of the lower floor of Art Central. Both organizations now occupy separate spaces on the same floor of the Burns Building connected to the Calgary Centre for Performing Arts.
  • The Firefighters Museum of Calgary put its collection into storage in late 2013 and is available by appointment only until it reopens sometime in the next year or so in renovated premises.
  • For the second time in approximately a decade, the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Art (IMCA); the Triangle Gallery of Visual Arts (aka MOCA-Calgary); and the Art Gallery of Calgary (AGC) all tried to hookup and jump into bed with each other. This was something that they originally tried to do when I was sitting on the board of the Triangle. This time, unlike the previous occasion the result was a successful consummation and marriage. The new organization is now called Contemporary Calgary.
  • The former vacant building which at one time housed the former Calgary Planetarium; Calgary Science Centre; The Children’s Museum; and TELUS World of Science was put up out to tender by the City which owns it (or owned it), for use as a cultural or heritage space. The successful applicant was Creative Calgary.
  • The amazing sculpture by Dennis Oppenheim’s Device to Root Out Evil was quietly removed after the end of its five-year lease in January 2014. It was situated on the Dominion Bridge Building grounds with much fanfare during Jeff Spalding’s tenure as head of the Glenbow Museum during June 2008. This relocation to Calgary, was partly a direct result of NIMBYism and the surrounding controversy that occurred during its two and a half year residency near Coal Harbour in Vancouver. Of course this whole situation is highly ironic. I have confidence in how smart my readers are, so I don’t need to fully explain where the irony originates, however I find it peculiar that inges idee was commissioned and created a popular new sculpture in the general vicinity of Coal Harbour. It was installed about a year after the Oppenheim piece left for Calgary. This only further illustrates how fickle tastes can be when it comes to public art and how these tastes can vary widely from city to city.
  • In the absence of the Oppenheim piece at the Dominion Bridge compound, a new programming space called Passage was developed and has shown a rotating schedule of exhibitions, usually video, installation or sculpture. Having heard quite a bit about it before it was operational, I believe that it is exposed somewhat to the elements which limits the type of work that can be shown.
  • Stride Gallery which was deeply affected by the flood, spent most of the fall and winter temporarily sharing space with Truck Gallery. In the early part of 2014, they moved back to the space next door to where they used to be, on the other side of the railway tracks two blocks away from City Hall, on Macleod Trail.
  • Back in the summer of 2012 a new organization called Gorilla House Live Art held its first art battle. It continued hosting weekly art battles until around January when they were informed by their landlord that the building they occupied was destined to be converted into a sushi restaurant. Recently, the building was surrounded by metal protective fencing. Presumably this means some sort of development will be taking place soon. Whether the Gorilla House will be resurrected remains to be seen. If it does, I am sure I will write about it.
  • A small and ambitious pop-up gallery space was introduced into the community of Bridgeland called the Tiny Gallery in early 2014. It is unique for its use of a stand-alone gallery space that occupies the footprint of a postal box.
  • After years of uncertainty, the former York Hotel which was originally intended to be incorporated into a purpose-built cultural space, the façade of which was put into storage in 2008, was finally put on indefinite hold. In that news story, the space it was to occupy will now be used as an open plaza instead. Various anchor tenants were proposed for this space from the time it was originally proposed as part of The Bow development, most notably the Portrait Gallery of Canada. The Portrait Gallery, like the York Hotel, also was put into abeyance by the Federal Government which made the announcement via a news release issued late on Friday, Nov. 7, 2008.
  • The old King Edward Hotel (aka the King Eddie) had the sign and bricks removed from its site. Presumably, and it is my understanding that they will become part of the architectural design, once the exciting new National Music Centre building is built on its site and the site across the street. Both sides are doing structural work above grade.
  • Alberta College of Art and Design, after years of trying, finally received approval to offer its first graduate degree program, a Master of Fine Arts in Craft Media beginning in 2015.
  • After a couple years of consultation the #YYCArtPlan came to fruition which resulted in a new Public Art Policy and a document called Leading a Creative Life
  • The last tenant at Art Central finally left at the end of June. The building was closed probably around the time Stampede happened, which corresponds to the time when the announcement that the space would be redeveloped as the new Telus Sky building which was made during Stampede 2013.
  • The Calgary Centre for Performing Arts expanded the amount of display windows for the visual arts, creating new display windows for both the Alberta Craft Council and the University of Calgary. I hear a rumour from a usually reliable source that there might be another new window on the way. From past experience with all rumours, it usually best to wait until the announcement is made to know with certainty if the rumour is actually either truth or fabrication. If it is true, I am sure I will write about it.
  • Alberta Printmakers Society moved to a new location about a week ago. I plan to write something about this in the near future.

As can be seen above, this was an exciting year for the arts in Calgary.

Palais_Idéal_May_2014_from_Wikipedia

To return to the concept of building a rocky environment – just as I dicussed a year ago.

In that regard, I am reminded of the French postman, Ferdinand Cheval [1836-1924] who spent thirty-three years building Le Palais idéal in Hauterives.

He is someone I feel a special affinity to in this regard. His work was championed by the Surrealists more or less after he had died. I hope that is not the case with me. I hope that my passion and building in the arts community will be recognized while I can feel appreciated and that my work was worth all the trouble.

Cheval built a beautiful naïve palace one stone at a time. Every day for thirty-three years, he brought home at least one stone that he found in his day to day work.

In time his pockets were not enough to carry what he found. So he brought a basket to carry the stones.

When that was not enough, he used a wheelbarrow.

It is my hope that this blog will be like that beautiful structure Le Palais idéal.

The Alison Redford gumball mosaic

Allison_Redford_gumball_portrait_by_Franz_Spohn_ as_installed_on_site_at_Bow_Valley_College_2013_October_10 (1024x683)

Top news story today is Alison Redford.

The story today relates to a report issued by the Provincial Auditor-General earlier this morning. It is a difficult job being a politician. As a result, I will try to remain as objective as I am able.

However, as seen in this article from yesterday’s Globe and Mail, it would seem as if there are some issues that still linger from her time as premier. That story ran on the same day (yesterday) that the embattled Redford resigned as an MLA and from politics.  Concurrent with her resignation, she took the opportunity to pen an op-ed article in both the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald.

I thought today would be an opportune time to visit Bow Valley College and view some artwork.

The specific work I was looking for was created by the American artist Franz Spohn in conjunction with a residency he had at the Museum of Contemporary Art – Calgary in 2012 (now rebranded and known as Contemporary Calgary or more specifically the MOCA location which is known as C2). This residency corresponded with the annual Children’s Festival held every year during May. If I was to make a reasonable speculation, it probably had something to do with Calgary 2012 as well.

It was prominently displayed near the food court, at the top of the main stairwell, on the +15 level at Bow Valley College. Sadly when I got there, all I could find was a plain blank, white wall that contained no evidence of what once hung there instead. As a result, I had to search for a photograph I took of it last October, which is illustrated above.

Two large gumball portrait mosaics were created as a result of the MOCA-Calgary residency. The first of the two portraits completed was of Calgary Mayor, Naheed Nenshi which was followed up probably the following weekend with a portrait of Premier Redford. Each portrait contained 18,225 coloured gumballs and both politicians assisted in the creation of their respective portraits, with a surprise visit by Nenshi to assist on Redford’s portrait. At Bow Valley College the two portraits faced each other. Both were located at the top of the main stairwell one on each side.

These two artworks are an excellent example of a community building exercise  creating partnerships with other organizations; coordinating a collaborative engagement between artists and community members; engaging those in the community who might not otherwise visit a gallery; and developing new audiences. This is what galleries must do regularly as part of their programming and in terms of developing creative places and spaces.

These artworks came to be as a participatory project whereby individuals helped build the artwork. I attended both events and I was pleased to see how many children participated, often with their parent’s or grandparent’s assistance. It was a fantastic thing to see.

Because the two portraits were not on display when I visited Bow Valley College today, I stopped to ask a lady who was entering a nearby office at the same time as me, “what happened to the Nenshi and Redford portraits?”

After a bit of thinking on her part, she said that she though that the Redford portrait might have got damaged and had to be removed. She assumed that maybe the Nenshi work must have been removed at the same time, before it got damaged as well. I have no idea whether the information that she gave me is correct. I am just relaying comments that I received from a random stranger who works in the building. When I asked about timing, she guessed that this probably happened sometime before or during the summer.

I have reason to doubt the veracity of her comments.

Lenin_sculpture_toppling_Kiev_AP_photo_and_caption_2013_Dec_08

Given this context, the parallels between this situation and a recent news story from December 2013 strikes me as interesting. They are definitely NOT related and are on a completely different level in terms of issues surrounding each other. Regardless, the two events have an interesting dialogue with each other nevertheless.

As one would know, if they follow the news even remotely, there have been some recent troubles in the Ukraine. The news story I am talking about pre-dated the Crimean Peninsula Crisis that started in late-February of this year, and relates specifically to a sculpture of Vladimir Lenin that once stood in the central square of Kiev which was toppled in early-December 2013. This was long after the breakup of the former USSR, into independent states, when most of this type of action of toppling Lenin sculptures occurred. Here is an AP photo and a caption that I copied from one of the news journals or papers that used it, for reference more than anything else.

As I said before, politics is not easy business and can be very messy when things go sideways.

I suspect that at some point in the future it will be on display once again. Where and when is the big question.

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.

inges_idee-Anchor_at_Telus_Spark_with_workers_2014_July_29 (1024x683)

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.

Update on the Jordi Bonet sculpture The Others, 1967

 

Jordi_Bonet_The_Others_1967_looking_toward_downtown_2014_July_27 (1024x683)

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.

Jordi_Bonet_The_Others_with_Planetarium_behind_2014_July_27 (1024x683)

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.