Three-dimensional objects as sculpture

Suncor-Building-Norseman-Plane-With-Scaffolding-Jan-13-2014 (1024x683)

Today I want to talk about something that shares a lot of attributes with sculpture, three-dimensional art-making and public sculpture.

But it is none of the above.

Tonight I was walking through the +15 of the old Petro-Canada Centre (now Suncor Plaza).  I had not been that way for quite some time and because I was not in a rush to get home tonight, I went a different way.  I was glad that I did and that I had my camera with me too.

It was dark already.  As I entered the building, all I could see was scaffolding with darkness behind.  When I got closer I was surprised at how beautiful the large atrium was with all the scaffolding stacked from floor to ceiling filling the space to capacity.  I also looked at the illuminated airplane differently, as it was the only object lit and the focal point of the entire lobby.  It was almost surreal in its orientation.  This plane (a Noorduyn Norseman V) which is on loan from the Aerospace Museum of Calgary, has hung in the atrium for as long as I can remember.  It was in its present location when I used to work in the East Tower on the 29th floor, back when I did a year-long contract for TransCanada PipeLines, before they built the new tower across the street.

Under this plane I remember purchasing a small Norfolk pine from a Junior Achievement group, one lunch hour in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  I was with my most favourite administrative assistant that I had the pleasure of working with, Ramona.  She was awesome.  We spent our lunches together almost every day, until she left.  She helped me decide on the name for the plant – Elvis, in the hopes that optimistically, it, like The King himself, would live forever.  Alas, it was not be.  However, the plant lady who used to water all the plants for the executive team on my floor, heard that my plant was called Elvis.  That was all it took to hear new stories from the plant lady about her groupie experiences attending concerts following The King around North America.  It was the best $3 or $5 investment I ever made.  If she saw me in the years after I left the company, she would always ask how Elvis was doing and tell me a new story.  I never got tired of hearing them.  They always made me laugh.

Normally I don’t give the airplane much thought.  Tonight as I got closer, the light was quite striking as it cast itself upon the airplane as if it was an object in space – which I suppose it is.  Today, however, it took on a different hue.  This time it was different.  Very different.  It was almost as if I was doing a studio visit to a sculptor’s studio.  It was as if I was seeing an unfinished work in progress that is being held in place by the framework, with all the sprues still attached to the sculptural object, and lit for maximum effect to discuss which direction the work should go.

After taking a few photos, I talked to one of the workers who was wearing a safety harness and getting ready to climb the scaffolding.  I asked him what is happening with the plane.  In his pleasant Newfoundlander accent he told it is not going anywhere and that they are starting to take down the scaffolding.  They painted the interior of the building, cleaned from top to bottom and will leave a reduced scaffold so they can clean the airplane once they are done.  They have been working on it for the past month or so and will be finishing up soon.

It looked so beautiful tonight.  I am glad I saw it while the lobby was in a transitional state.

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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.