Rumble House new location

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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.

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Gorilla House Live Art

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.