Art Walk February 3
Fret not, for the Art Walk in Calgary is for you!
The Art Walk is a monthly event held in conjuction with First Thursdays, the Calgary art community open house. It will help you see and digest bite-sized portions of various art forms without leaving you feeling full. Participants walk from place to place sampling tasty morsels of what the city has to offer. Dishes can be as prosaic as a quick art gallery tour or be as unusual as backstage tours of Theatre Calgary’s set building and costume creation shops or as eclectic as a presentation on how Holt Renfrew envisions and makes manifest its Christmas window displays.
The Art Walk is a creation of Art Proctor who created it as a vehicle to expose people to the plethora or visual and performing arts installations in Calgary; a kind of a cultural smorgasbord. Once a person has sampled from a wide variety of cultural offerings, they are encouraged to go back and experience more deeply those events and installations that have struck their fancy.
Art Walk: February 3, 2011
This Art Walk was the first on that was scheduled and executed by me. While Art provided advice and encouragement, the February 3 Art Walk was very much my baby. And it went splendidly!
“It was fascinating to learn how technology, instruments and music have interacted and influenced each other in the past. Fascinating.”
All in all, it was quite awesome with approximately 25 people showing up. We started at the Municipal Building and did a tour of public art installations located throughout City Hall, the Municipal Building, the Calgary Center for the Performing Arts and Olympic Plaza. We were guided about by Anna, who was quite knowledgeable about public municipal artists and their benefactors. It is a policy in Calgary that any building project over $1 million must donate one percent of its building budget to the creation of public art. Sadly, there was virtually no information about any other art that we encountered during the tour that was not publicly owned by either the city or the province. Apparently, The Calgary Core Group is in the process of adding it into their tours and will be available soon.
It ended up that we picked up some other folks from this tour group who were pretty impressed about where we went from there!
From there, we had a tour of the Cantos Music Museum. The one-hour tour ran a little long, but participants were so taken by the deluge of interesting instruments and unusual tunes played upon them that we decided that we should stay until the very end. It was fascinating to learn how technology, instruments and music have interacted and influenced each other in the past. Fascinating.
The Cantos Music Museum, we found out, is in the process of morphing into the National Music Centre. It will take up residence in the East Village, approximately around the same site as the old King Edward Hotel, known by locals as simply ‘The King Eddy.’ In addition to stewarding their collection of pianos and other musical instruments, they will also be managing performance space. According to the mandate of the National Music Centre, it “will give Canada a place that amplifies the love, the sharing and the understanding of music through collections, programs, performance and collaboration.”
Amplify the Love, baby! YEAH!
We then crossed the street to Endeavor Art Gallery where a pair of musicians were performing music that was then translated digitally as visual art on the screen. It was hypnotizing to watch the play of image and melody combine. Thinking back to the dance of technology alluded to during the Cantos tour, I got a sense that our culture is blindly groping its way forward toward a great convergence of sensation — something that we of today will barely understand.
It was kind of like looking at those old black and white movies of the first airplane tests showing how the first models never got off the ground, but collapsed under their own weight, only we are attempting to invent the new music and these experiments are very much like those first airplanes. Sooner or later, however, I believe we will be creating a musical equivelent of a Lear Jet that will make us look back to a music that only appealed to one of our senses as appalingly Stone Aged.
Their primary focus of Endeavor Art Gallery is digtal arts; mainly art that has a digital component to it. It doesn’t necessarily mean art that appears on a video screen (although there usually are a couple of exhibits like that at any one time). The art can be digitally created, or have an interactive component incorporated into it. Their exhibits change monthly, so there’s always something new every month for Art Walkers. The always-friendly owners are always on hand to help answer any questions regarding their exhibits.
After Endeavor, we went to Fashion Central’s 2nd birthday party to engage in the first-ever Art Walk Hat Hunt. I distributed $40 gift cards to Artwalk participants and told them to go forth and secure the craziest looking hats they could find. As we had arrived 10 minutes before close, we had to do a lot of running around to secure our booty (hattie?) before the 20 or so shops closed for the night.
Located along Stephen Avenue and 1st Street SW, Fashion Central is an alluring mix of historic architecture and sartorial flair. The brain child of local entrepreneur and developer David Neill, Fashion Central is a collection of mostly high-end, international-flavoured boutiques that attempts to bring Calgary out of it’s anti-fashion bluejean wearing funk and into the light of runway fashion in the traditions of New York, Milan and Paris.
After Fashion Central, we spent an hour tooling around Art Central, the beating heart of every First Thursday Art Walk. Boasting 57 shops and galleries, we were constantly amazed by the sheer volume and diversity of the art that is offered for sale. We traipsed around wearing our unusual and somewhat ridiculous hats, but due to the eclectic nature of the people who go to Art Central, we did not receive slightest of strange looks.
Which leads me to ponder — just how nutty do you have to be to get some attention at Art Central during First Thursdays? I’m no expert, but I’m sure it would have to be illegal or immoral, or even both!
Art Central is located on the corner of First Street and Seventh Avenue SW.
Finally, we landed at a virtually empty Beatniq and listened to a jazz jam. It was a great way to unwind after an evening of frenetic running around. We hung out there for about an hour listening to songs entitled ‘Colleen’ and ‘Wendy’ and debated whether or not the music gave an insight into who these women were and what was there relationship was to the composer. One of the songs was definitely in the “she done me wrong” idiom.
Located downstairs from Piqnique on First Street and Ninth Avenue SW , the Beatnq is one cool, darkly lit Jazz club and one of the few downtown venues to offer access to live music.
Afterwards, a few of us went for Chinese food at Harbor City, toasted the evening with tea and fortune cookies and after hugs and hand shakings, we went our respective ways.
The Art Walk is fast becoming a great tradition for me. The ability to ‘check-in’ and see the latest projects of Calgary’s artists and designers is absolutely fantastic. It speaks to a Calgary of which many Calgarians are unaware; a virtual diamond in the rough.