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.

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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.

Glenbow Museum and patriotic Canadian art

Glenbow-Change-Is-In-The-Air-Logo

Tonight one of the local commercial galleries (Roberto Ostberg Gallery) opened a show called Oh Canada.  It was a group show of about 30 Calgary artists who were invited by the director of the gallery to submit. Most of the artists invited, did submit and are being shown. In talking to the gallery director last night and a couple artists involved, it features a wide selection of art ranging from photos of the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France which is located on Canadian soil; to an installation of a Canadian living room with Canadian items such as toboggans, toques, flags and a TV hooked up to live coverage of the Olympics; to a painting of a sultry Rob Ford wearing his crown of office, white boxer shorts and black socks posing on a chaise lounge looking like a sexy seductress and everything else in between. This last piece just sounds wrong, and it may very well be. It also hearkens to the Stephen Harper nude portrait that was in the news a few times last year. Because of the notoriety which has recently surrounded Rob Ford right now and the Harper piece I want to see it, just for that experience alone. Having said that, it is quite possible that I may have to wash my eyes out with bleach afterwards – but that is the risk I must take.

Opening at the same time as the Oh Canada show, the Glenbow Museum and the new Contemporary Calgary (located at the former Art Gallery of Calgary location) both unveiled their multi-venue Made in Calgary: The 1990s show curated by Nancy Tousley which I have mentioned a couple times this past week or two.

I attended the Glenbow and Contemporary Calgary shows tonight. It was interesting to revisit some of the approximately 100 pieces that I have not seen since the 1990s when they were originally shown. As expected with Nancy Tousley who was the long-time arts writer for the Herald covering that decade and more, it was a well-curated show. It contained well-selected and representational pieces from artists who made a significant impact in the city during that time.

This all brings me to the Glenbow.

Two days ago, Donna Livingstone the current president of the Glenbow announced that changes are coming to the Glenbow. One of the comments in the press release was that “moving forward Glenbow will position itself as a “new kind of art museum”.” It also made the observation that the Glenbow will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016.

In the lobby at the Glenbow today, I noticed that all four floors in the architectural drawings on display contained images of art on the wall – and no visible museum artefacts.  This will be a significant change if this is the case.

For much of the past decade (or more), especially prior to Jeff Spalding’s approximately one-year tenure as president of the Glenbow – art was rarely seen – especially from the permanent collection. This, even though the press release astutely states that the Glenbow has the largest art collection in terms of numbers west of Toronto (approximately 33,000 items). The foresight of Glenbow founder, Eric Harvie and his enthusiastic exhortation “to collect like drunken sailors” probably had a lot to do with this fact.

It is interesting in this context to note that the Luxton Museum in Banff which was at one time connected to the Glenbow (and may still be affiliated, even if loosely) had a fire yesterday. To what extent the fire affected the collection is currently unknown. The Luxton houses a large collection of First Nations artefacts. During the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics a major exhibition of First Nations art in a show called The Spirit Sings with many important pieces originating from the Glenbow. Some of those pieces may have been relocated in the past 26 years to the Luxton.  No doubt more information on the fire will be forthcoming in the near future as press reports start appearing, probably on Monday or Tuesday.

This little diversion brings me back to the Oh Canada show

Of course I am now talking about the other Oh Canada show. This one recently ended at Mass MOCA.  It was the largest Canadian group art show of contemporary art held outside of the country’s borders in recent memory. It featured mostly artists that are not well-recognized internationally, but should be. Included in the show was the recently announced representatives for Canada to the Venice Biennale – the artist group BGL (Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère and Nicolas Laverdière) who ironically also showed at Calgary’s Nuit Blanche in September 2012.

Curiously, the other big Canadian contemporary art exhibition with a big, thick catalogue, that was shown in an international setting in little more distant memory was held at the Akademie der Künste, Berlin during 1982/83 and ironically was also called O’Kanada. For some reason I sense a trend here.  Maybe the next one will be a variation on the theme as well – but I digress.

What does this have to do with the Glenbow?

About ten days ago, the Globe and Mail announced that the Mass MOCA show Oh Canada will be coming to Canada.  It would seem that arts writers in Toronto are the only ones on the ball, because one of the venues is going to be the Glenbow. For some reason, this story has not been picked up locally, which is kind of odd as it is a pretty big deal and the news has been out for at least a week. The dates have even been set. It will be opening at the Glenbow about a year from now on January 31, 2015 as reported from Toronto.

The other big related story is that the Glenbow will be partnering with the Illingworth Kerr Gallery at the Alberta College of Art and Design; the Nickle Galleries at the University of Calgary; and the Esker Foundation to present this very ambitious and large show.

This, in itself shows that the Glenbow is quite serious about raising its art profile. As a friend and appreciator of the visual arts, it is definitely welcome.  This is also evident with the next big travelling exhibition and summer blockbuster Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery which will be opening around the May long-weekend.

Interestingly, the partnership with ACAD et al, combined with Glenbow’s recent partnership with Contemporary Calgary (which also was formed through the merger of the Art Gallery of Calgary; the Museum of Contemporary Art – Calgary; and the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Art) to present Made in Calgary: The 1990s shows a change at the Glenbow in terms of relationships with other local institutions. This has been happening elsewhere in the visual arts locally for the past couple of years, so it is nice to see more of it.

It will be interesting to see where this new direction may end up and what changes may come as a result.

Calgary art exported to Kentucky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solar Flare Installation Stephen Avenue Walk

Solar-Flare-Installation-Stephen-Avenue-Walk-Dec-10-2013 (683x1024) Tonight I was walking downtown along Stephen Avenue Mall in front of the Art Gallery of Calgary quite late. It was fortuitous timing as three artists (Caitlind r.c. Brown, Lane Shordee and Ivan Ostapenko) were in the midst of installing the new Solar Flare light installation, which was commissioned by the Calgary Downtown BRZ.  Moments after I arrived, they wheeled away the lift.  Fortunately, I was able to get in a few pictures of the installation when the new installation was not fully installed and before they moved the lift to park it one of which I used above. The Roots The roots of this solar-powered installation were formed during the first Calgary Nuit Blanche which occurred during Calgary 2012 and was originally proposed as an annual event.  Now it appears to be a biannual event as it did not happen this past year and was replaced the newly formed Intersite Visual Arts Festival that occurred on the same weekend as Nuit Blanche should have happened.  All this contains some speculation on my part, so here goes.  No doubt this happened (in part) so that public institutions which must plan their programming far in advance could fulfill their obligations to the contracted artists during what they previously expected would be the weekend of Nuit Blanche .  But I digress. During the 2012 Nuit Blanche event one of the most interesting events was an installation that contained both burnt-out and live incandescent light bulbs.  These bulbs were all connected to hanging pulls that turned the lights on and off.  It was in the form of a large cloud and it magical.  People loved it and it became an internet sensation – and rightfully so.  From my recollection when I attended the night of Nuit Blanche, it could best be described as enchanting. The images spread quickly.  In fact, months later there was a show at an art gallery in Moscow of a new version of this cloud that no doubt came partly as a result of images that were picked up off the internet.  This new work was constructed in Russia.  A number of months later a smaller commission was completed at what I believe is a gay bar or club in Chicago.  As was the case in Russia and Calgary, this newly formed cloud (truth be told – clouds, as there were more than one cloud installed in this club) also met with success. Phantom Wing Fast forward to the recent Phantom Wing project at cSPACE King Edward School.  The artists involved with the Nuit Blanche Cloud also formed the Phantom Wing signage for that event as well.  The signage subsequently also was modified somewhat and used for the Phantom Wing website. Once the Phantom Wing project had barely wrapped up, they were off to recover the Russian cloud and then re-install it in the heart of Prague, Czech Republic alongside the Vlatava river.  This was for an event similar to Nuit Blanche and probably was as captivating as it was at each other location it has been shown at. Sometimes the history behind something is important.  This is one of those cases.  It is very interesting seeing where this light installation by Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett came from as it might otherwise be easily missed due to the location and the temporary nature of its installation during the next few months. Events There also will be an artist talk with Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett which will take place at the Art Gallery of Calgary on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 6:00pm. Smart move on the part of the Calgary Downtown BRZ on commissioning this work.  If you are downtown at some point between now and early February check it out.

Get ready for Beakernight

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Beakernight is tonight.

I was out this afternoon as the robots were getting set up for the music concert in East Village.  The kids will love it and so will the adults.  It all starts at 8pm and will cover the area around Olympic Plaza, East Village, the RiverWalk and Victoria Park.

What you will see tonight:

Come for the fun.  Stay for the dancing and party!!!

It will be a plethora of sensory overload!!!  How awesome is that!!

Remember also that tomorrow is the final day of Maker Faire YYC at Alberta College of Art and Design from 10:00am – 5:00pm (see http://www.makerfaireyyc.ca/)

Oh, oh, OH, Oh!!!

And the Catharsis Catapult is happening to see how far you can toss your crap (or your ex’s crap) using a catapult on the grounds of Fort Calgary between 1:00-3:00pm.

How much more awesome is when you put it all together!!!!  It might almost be as awesome as Nuit Blanche was last year!