Calgary art exported to Kentucky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Solar Flare now installed on Stephen Avenue Mall

Solar-Flare-Calgary-Tower-Snow-and-Moon-Dec-12-2013 (683x1024)

Two nights ago (on December 10th) I posted about Solar Flare and the installation process.  Once again tonight I walked past the Solar Flare installation and it is now fully installed and complete.

As suspected it is quite beautiful, especially in the night sky, as expected.

I have one criticism.

It is not about the work itself, nor is it about the location.  Rather my criticism is that the sculpture is suspended quite a bit above the roadway.  I understand the rationale for why it suspended where it is and I have no issue with it.  So in the grand scheme of things it is a very minor criticism.  It is placed probably about five or six metres above street level so that emergency vehicles can pass below without obstacle.

However, because of this, and from my observation in the few minutes I was there earlier tonight, most people who walk or drive under it will probably be completely oblivious and not even aware that it is there unless someone mentions it.  However, they should be aware as there are motion sensors attached to the sculpture which facilitate movement in the work itself.  Pay attention to this next time you see it.

This post is yet another public service to make a reminder to visit it.

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.