Fun With Photos!

As most of you know I love to surf through my photos almost everyday.  It is a fun way to relive your “everyday” experiences, as well as your travel adventures. 

Recently I discovered an app called “Union,” which allows me to combine photos to create interesting collages.  You can grab a public art photo from Chicago and combine it with one from Calgary.  You can overlay one iconic building with another or juxtapose an old building with a new one. 

It is “TOO MUCH FUN!”  

As a former public art gallery curator I thought it might be fun to curate an exhibition of the these artworks and share them with you.  

This piece combines a sunset over Grand Trunk Park across the street from my house with seating in a small plaza along Edmonton's Stoney Plain Road. 

This piece combines a sunset over Grand Trunk Park across the street from my house with seating in a small plaza along Edmonton's Stoney Plain Road. 

Over the years I have taken a number of photos based on the theme "best places to sit." This is a view of Calgary from the Foothills Medical Centre juxtaposed with a photo from a front garden that had a small figure sitting in a bird-bath. 

Over the years I have taken a number of photos based on the theme "best places to sit." This is a view of Calgary from the Foothills Medical Centre juxtaposed with a photo from a front garden that had a small figure sitting in a bird-bath. 

Calgary's St. Mary's Cathedral juxtaposed with couples sitting in the historic Memorial Park just a few blocks away, creates a lovely narrative. 

Calgary's St. Mary's Cathedral juxtaposed with couples sitting in the historic Memorial Park just a few blocks away, creates a lovely narrative. 

Jaume Plensa's "Crown Fountain" from Chicago's Millennium Park meets "Wonderland" his public artwork on the plaza in front of Calgary's Bow Tower. 

Jaume Plensa's "Crown Fountain" from Chicago's Millennium Park meets "Wonderland" his public artwork on the plaza in front of Calgary's Bow Tower. 

Calgary Tower, Stephen Avenue, the historic Hudson Bay department store and Wonderland all mesh together in this image. 

Calgary Tower, Stephen Avenue, the historic Hudson Bay department store and Wonderland all mesh together in this image. 

Let's Just Have Some Fun!

Enough of the explanations, I will just let you browse the images and let you have fun interpreting them for yourself. Hope you enjoy!

Mexico City 

Mexico City 

Sadko & Kabuki, Calgary 

Sadko & Kabuki, Calgary 

Shadow, Calgary

Shadow, Calgary

Under Crowchild Trail, Calgary

Under Crowchild Trail, Calgary

Skateboarding, Calgary  

Skateboarding, Calgary  

Old vs New, SAIT, Calgary

Old vs New, SAIT, Calgary

Florence

Florence

Florence

Florence

Calgary

Calgary

Winnipeg

Winnipeg

Calgary 

Calgary 

Chair Toss, Calgary

Chair Toss, Calgary

Hand-holding, Calgary

Hand-holding, Calgary

Overpasses, Calgary

Overpasses, Calgary

Sitting along the Bow, Calgary

Sitting along the Bow, Calgary

Calgary

Calgary

Chicago

Chicago

Chicago

Chicago

Calgary

Calgary

Eight Avenue Place raising the bar on Stampede decorations


Last year at Stampede time I wrote a blog titled “Stampede 2015: Have we lost that luv’n feeling?” in which I criticized downtown business for the lack of Stampede decorations.  This year we flanuered downtown on the first Saturday of Stampede and again found that once you get off Stephen Avenue, you’d be hard pressed tell that Stampede is happening.  However, there was one big (and nice!) exception - the lobby of Eighth Avenue Place (EAP).

The Highlander Wine Saloon looks ready for tenants to play some poker at lunch hour.

We had gone there to show our friends the iconic Canadian paintings that are perfectly displayed in the elevator lobbies at street level and beautiful Jack Shadbolt painting in the entrance off 8th Avenue SW.

However, not only did we enjoy the paintings but also the wonderful “western town” vignettes that would make Heritage Park and the Glenbow proud.  We were all amazed at the number of vignettes and their detail – clearly, careful thought and attention had gone into their creation.

I quickly emailed Gord Menzies, General Manager of EAP to learn more.

The Jack Shadbolt painting in the EAP lobby is a perhaps the best place in downtown to meet friends or colleagues. 

In addition to the vignettes are two video projectors subtlety showing horses grazing in a pasture in the Foothills.  It is very surreal to have these movie-size images in the lobby of a skyscraper in the middle of downtown.  It creates the feeling you are in contemporary art gallery. 

Menzies says:

“The Stampede interactive sets have been an evolving element of EAP since we first launched them almost five years ago.  The designs have been a collaborative effort between myself, team members like my Assistant Property Manager Amanda Verge and Bill and Heather Tuffs of Alliance Entertainment who actually build, house and erect the structures. 

 The initial concept was simply to create a backdrop for the Stampede celebrations and transform our lobbies into the old west…but they rapidly adopted an interactive flavour, not just for tenants but also for visitors to the complex, who love to step into the sets for pictures and fun.  Alliance has done a great job bringing our visions to life.

We have created a sheriff’s office, hotel, saloon, photo studio, livery, stable and dance hall, barbershop, mine and - there are also plans for a theatre and stage for live entertainment. The idea is to create new vignettes each year so we can rotate them every year to keep the lobby feeling lively and new each Stampede. 

We thought wouldn't it be great to get a hair cut and shave for 10 cents. Turns out you can during Stampede at EAP.

It use to be called a "Kodak Moment" today it would be "A Smart Phone Moment." 

 I’d say we’ve raised the bar for the city…you won’t find any painted windows at Eighth Avenue Place.  We have also joined forces with some of our Platinum Partners - London Barber’s, Spindrift Photography and Health Span Corporate Massage - to bring them to life, offering free straight razor shaves, vintage photos and massages on certain days.”

Where did the idea come from?

 Menzies says, “Growing up, I remember some great western TV shows (Gunsmoke, Ponderosa) and films (Shane, True Grit, The Magnificent Seven) that seeded my ideas for the project. I expect them to continue to evolve and embody some further elements specific to Canadiana – perhaps a train station platform, a fur trader canoe or an RCMP post.  We need to get David Thompson and Alexander MacKenzie in there somewhere and perhaps something aboriginal to connect to the annual tipi display on the exterior.”

Everyone is encouraged to interact with the vignettes have fun and take photos. 

The Young Guns of EAP?

The ladies of EAP?

Last Word

Menzies is not one to rest on his laurels.  “I’m very big on props and have challenged Bill and Heather to get us things that can be touched, felt or worn.  I want people to be able to step into these snapshots of their heritage and feel it resonate.  As always, Eighth Avenue Place isn’t just a place of business; it’s an experience.”

I would have to agree with Menzies. There is no Calgary office building that is more dramatic in design and has more programming than EAP. 

Kudos to him and his team for daring to be different!

If you like this blog, you will like:

Stampede 2015: Have we lost that luv’n feeling?

Iconic Canadian art hidden in YYC office lobby!

Flaneuring Calgary's Stampede Poster Parade

One of the oldest Calgary Stampede traditions is the creation of the Stampede Poster.  It began with the very first Stampede in 1912 when Guy Wedick invited iconic Western artist Charlie Russell to provide the artwork for the first poster. Since then, the Stampede poster tradition has evolved significantly from one of advertising all of the Stampede events to becoming a collectors' item.

Calgary Stampede's first poster. Note the first Stampede took place in early September. 

Calgary Stampede's first poster. Note the first Stampede took place in early September. 

If you are interested in starting a collection, Aquila Books’ website lists a 1945 poster for sale at $650 US and a 1961 poster for $525 US.   In addition, they have a large selection of Stampede posters from the ‘70s to the present.

If you are interested, you can see all of the posters on the Calgary Stampede website, or see them paraded in the +15 concourse connecting the BMO Centre to the Saddledome – expect for 1922, 1926 and 1930 which they have been unable to find for their collection. 

(Backstory: The Stampede didn’t develop an archive until 1999 which meant they had to source all of the posters from other collectors.  If you have one of the missing posters or know someone who might, the Stampede would love to talk to you.)

Link: Stampede Parade of Posters

Calgary Stampede Poster 1913
Calgary Stampede Poster 1914
Starting in 1923 the poster format became long and narrow - almost ticket-like.

Starting in 1923 the poster format became long and narrow - almost ticket-like.

Flanuering Fun 

For something different to do at Stampede this year, why not flaneur the posters with family and friends. It is sure to bring back memories.  You will discover lots of fun facts, like what years the 3 Stooges or Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were the feature entertainment.  It is fun to see how the admission to the Stampede has changed and discover some intriguing statements like “ Wheat And Meat Will Help Win The War.”

It is also enlightening to see how graphic design has changed over the past 100+ years in typography, colour, paper and printing quality.  The early posters are very busy, full of information with a matte finish, while the modern posters feature a large glossy image with just the name and dates.  It is also interesting to see how the people of the First Nations were featured on many of the early posters, while modern posters focus on the cowboy and his horse.  

In 2007, the Calgary Stampede began commissioning an original artwork for the poster as a means of supporting Western artists and elevated the status of the posters as a work of art in its own right.

Calgary Stampede Poster 1954

Often the Calgary Stampede posters included images and information about other things for tourists to see and do.

Poster History 101

The history of posters, which begins with the invention of lithography in 1798, is a very interesting one. It wasn’t until 1891, that Toulouse-Lautrec’s extraordinary Moulin Rouge posters elevated the status of the poster to fine art and started a poster craze.  The early Stampede posters have much in common with the late 19th early 20th century European Poster culture. At that time, French posters focused on the café and cabaret culture, Italian ones on opera and fashion and Spanish ones on bullfight and festivals, so it is not surprising Calgary’s early poster culture reflects its largest festival and Western heritage and hospitality.

Link: A Brief History of the Poster

Last Word

The concourse area where the posters are displayed is available to visit free anytime of the year, (many of us have passed by rushing too and from the LRT Station to the Saddledome). Bonus: At Stampede time the concourse provides panoramic views of the Stampede grounds with all its colour and pageantry. 

Calgary Stampede Parade of Posters

View of Calgary Stampede from the +15 Concourse.

ADAC Calgary: Gallery Hop!

What is ADAC you ask? NOT to be confused with AADAC (Alberta Alcohol & Drug Abuse Commission) it stands for Art Dealers Association of Canada.

This national self-governing, not-for-profit organization founded in 1966 gives accreditation to private art gallery owners who meet set standards for experience, knowledge, scholarship and professionalism in the same manner as other professionals have their respective accreditation associations.  

Masters Gallery's  feature exhibition for Gallery Hop is "Algonquin" by Amy Dryer. 

Masters Gallery's feature exhibition for Gallery Hop is "Algonquin" by Amy Dryer. 

Jarvis Hall Gallery's  feature exhibition for Gallery Hop is "FROM THE PAGE," artworks from the sketchbooks and notebooks of Bill Rodgers. 

Jarvis Hall Gallery's feature exhibition for Gallery Hop is "FROM THE PAGE," artworks from the sketchbooks and notebooks of Bill Rodgers. 

Lets all go to the Hop!

On May 28th from 11 am to 5 pm Calgary's eight ADAC-accredited galleries invite Calgarians to visit. Local artists and gallery owners will answer questions and share information on the artists that exhibit at the gallery, history of the gallery, what kind of art it specializes in and talk about the importance of supporting local professional artists.   In addition, each gallery is offering artist-led tours of the current exhibitions.  

Did you know?

Most ADAC galleries offer a “no-interest payment over time” option to help make your art purchase fit with your budget.  Some galleries will also offer to buy back your artwork years later, or you can trade in your piece for a credit on a different work, recognizing tastes often evolve or you might want a piece that better fits that special place in your new home. 

Owners will also be on hand to share information about the various services the gallery offers. Many people don’t realize many galleries offer trial periods where you can take the art home with you, live with it for a period of time and then return it if it doesn’t quite work for you or make arrangements to try something else. 

In a nutshell, ADAC galleries want to work with collectors –whether new or seasoned - to help them develop their appreciation for art and build an art collection unique for their tastes. 

Herringer Kiss Gallery offers two solo exhibitions for Gallery Hop. 

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     In the context of collecting significant historical Canadian artwork, Ian Loch will discuss some special historical works including pieces from the Loch family private collection - from Krieghoff to Kurelek at  Loch Gallery . 

In the context of collecting significant historical Canadian artwork, Ian Loch will discuss some special historical works including pieces from the Loch family private collection - from Krieghoff to Kurelek at Loch Gallery

Trepanier Baer Gallery's  feature exhibition is Marcel Barbeau: Amour champagne et autre choses. 

Trepanier Baer Gallery's feature exhibition is Marcel Barbeau: Amour champagne et autre choses. 

Wallace Gallery will feature "Spring Group Show II, 2016" including: David Alexander, William Duma, Peter Krausz, Gregory Hardy, Linda Nardelli, Harold Barling Town, David Newkirk, Erika Olson, and more.  Gregory Hardy's "Slew by the house" is just one of the paintings that will be featured in the exhibition.  

Facing Reality!

In the late 80s, I used to give a talk to Alberta College of Art and Design students titled “Facing Reality!” I spoke of the need for them to produce and sell 100 artworks (two per week) at $1,000 each per year to make about $30,000 per annum salary.

How could that be? Simple. If an artist sells $100,000 worth of art a year, they will share 50% of that with the gallery in commissions, so they are down to $50,000. And out of that $50,000 they have to pay cost of materials and studio rental, making them lucky if they clear $30,000.  I then asked them, “how many of your parents, family or friends of their parents had ever spent $1,000 on a work of art?”  The silence was deafening. It was a rude awakening.

From a gallery perspective, they to have to sell a lot of art every month of the year at $1,000/artwork to pay for salaries, rent, operating, framing and marketing costs. So when you see a price tag of $1,000+ in an ADAC gallery, don’t be shocked. This is real art by professionals - not some mass-produced artworks from a factory

The art has been produced by a professional artists, who have spent years developing their techniques and imagery, who have probably thrown away more artworks than they have exhibited and who get only one or two exhibitions a year if they lucky.  It is a struggle to make a living as a visual artist given limited selling opportunities and the need to sell your work for thousands not hundreds of dollars.

Joshua Jensen-Nagle and Newzones Gallery present "Endless Summer" a culmination of 12 years of working with the beach as a subject, inspiration by his childhood summers for Gallery Hop visitors.  Image: Joshua Jensen-Nagle: “An Expression”, 2015 ed./7, Photo Face Mounted to Plexi, 43”x88”

If you like it buy it!

I also use to say, “Too often people who wouldn’t think twice about spending $30,000 on a car that depreciates by $15,000 in 5 years, wouldn’t even consider investing $3,000 on an artwork. Or, many Calgarians who willingly spend $1,000+ on a new bike every few years or a weekend getaway every year, wouldn’t dream of spending $1,000 on an artwork they might have for the rest of their lives.” People don’t think twice about spending $2,000+ on a sofa or a new computer that they will keep for maybe 5 years or less.

Back in the ‘80s, when I was the Director/Curator at the Muttart Art Gallery (now Contemporary Calgary), I often advised people to set aside $1,000+ per year to buy one major artwork a year.  In so doing, after ten years, one would have a very nice art collection that reflects personal tastes, and can be enjoyed every day for the rest of your life.  

Too often people say, “I need to save up before I can buy art.” To which I would respond, if you see something you like, ask the gallery if they will talk instalment payments so you can enjoy the art while you pay it off (we do that with cars all the time).

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   The  Paul Kuhn Gallery  is pleased to present “crank that”, a group show of gallery artists, notably, Ashleigh Bartlett, Robin Deyo, John Eisler, Geoffrey Hunter and Mark Mullin.     The title of the exhibition borrows its’ name from a hip hop dance move primarily performed to hip hop music as part of hip culture. This exhibition is loosely associated with hip hop in its capacity to shock and inspire. The so called “free style’ of this art is a misnomer as both the dance and the paintings often are carefully developed in the studio by classically trained artists.     While both seem to work intuitively, there is a level of sophistication and refinement in their art.  Like hip hop, the paintings are part of a post modern genre defined by real time practice rather than any sense of a unified theory or movement. It is an art made in a time when there is no acknowledged period identity for contemporary art and no consensus on the role of the avant garde.

The Paul Kuhn Gallery is pleased to present “crank that”, a group show of gallery artists, notably, Ashleigh Bartlett, Robin Deyo, John Eisler, Geoffrey Hunter and Mark Mullin.

 The title of the exhibition borrows its’ name from a hip hop dance move primarily performed to hip hop music as part of hip culture. This exhibition is loosely associated with hip hop in its capacity to shock and inspire. The so called “free style’ of this art is a misnomer as both the dance and the paintings often are carefully developed in the studio by classically trained artists.

 While both seem to work intuitively, there is a level of sophistication and refinement in their art.  Like hip hop, the paintings are part of a post modern genre defined by real time practice rather than any sense of a unified theory or movement. It is an art made in a time when there is no acknowledged period identity for contemporary art and no consensus on the role of the avant garde.

True Confession

As an undergraduate at McMaster University in Hamilton, I used my one and only student loan to buy five limited edition prints from ADAC Galleries in Toronto and Hamilton (Toni Only, Gordon Smith, David Blackwood, Karl Appel and Pierre Alechinsky) all of which I still have today. Not only has each appreciated in value, but I have appreciated looking at them for over 40 years.

Last Word

And while talking art at Gallery Hop, enjoy a wine and art pairing by Metrovino at the galleries.  You can even stop by Metrovino (right on the hop behind NewZones and Paul Kuhn galleries) and pick up a bottle or two of your favourite grape art.

It doesn’t get much better than that! 

Glenbow: Strokes of Genius?

Everyday Tourist, challenges Calgary's major tourist attractions to have one free admission day per month. 

Posted: February 11, 2016, by Richard White, Everyday Tourist blogger

For several years, I have been advocating the Glenbow should have at least one “free admission” day a month (as do most major museums and art galleries). Kudos to Servus Credit Union for stepping up to sponsor a free “First Thursday Night” program for 2016.

I did not see the cat in this painting until I over heard a young male asking his friends "do you see the cat?" These were young street kids hanging out at the Glenbow, enjoying the art! How great is that?

Yes, the Glenbow is now free from 5 to 9 pm the first Thursday of every month.  From a marketing and branding perspective, this could be a stroke of genius for both Servus and the Glenbow.

Though I missed January’s event, I attended February’s and couldn’t believe my eyes. The Glenbow was packed (people were lined up out the door) with Calgarians of all ages and all walks of life.  It was great. The place was abuzz with a festival atmosphere, very different from the typical, rather subdued vibe at major exhibition openings.

Over 3,500 people visited during that four-hour period (while 3,000 took in January’s First Thursday event). And they weren’t just all there to see Paul Hardy’s blockbuster exhibition “Kaleidoscopic Animalia.” People flocked to exhibitions on all floors.

Glenbow Groupies 

I am also betting these new Glenbow groupies will bring visiting family and friends to the Glenbow in the future, which they didn't do before.  

Visiting "Family and Friends" represent 80% of Calgary's annual tourist market.

Hardy gives a passionate tour to group of very attentive Glenbow visitors on "Free First Thursday" night. 

A Second Stroke of Genius

Whoever came up with the idea of having Calgary fashion designer Paul Hardy be the Glenbow’s artist-in-residence and curate an exhibition using the Glenbow collection should get a big fat bonus check.

As a former art curator, I think this was a stroke of genius. The exhibition is both visually and intellectually stunning. (And having Hardy give a spirited tour himself on First Thursday was icing on the cake.)

This figure from one of Hardy's installations comes straight out of a modern haute couture runway. 

Microscopic Messaging?

It makes connections with everything from Warhol’s Soup Can to the Hudson Bay Company blanket; from nursery rhymes to beastly fetishes. There is surrealism to the exhibition that captured and held everyone’s imagination.  

Hardy's microscopic examination of the Glenbow's collection has indeed resulted in a wonder kaleidoscope of past and present images and relationships. 

Close up of one of Hardy's installations that combines hundreds of art and artifacts from the Glenbow's massive collection into a themed installation.

Armoured Horse, Carousel Horse, Horse Painting, Kaleidoscopic Animalia, Glenbow 

Department Stores Windows & Modern Art

Divided into a series of what looks like early 20th century department store windows (appropriate, given Hardy is a fashion designer), it resonated with me. I have been advocating for years that Calgary’s downtown stores should make better use of their storefront windows as a marketing tool.

Read: Christmas Shopping: The Thrill Is Gone

Look no further than the television series Mr. Selfridge, based on the life of Harry Selfridge, who in 1909 founded the London luxury department store Selfridges that still exists today.  The importance placed on the window displays plays prominently in almost every episode.  I believe early 20th Century department store windows were the precursor to contemporary installation art. 

You gotta love it when there is a synergy in one’s everyday experiences – like when television watching, museum/gallery visits and my interest in contemporary art and artifacts all connect. Bam!

An example of one of the massive department store-like window exhibitions. 

New Kind of Museum

Back in June 2014, I wrote about Glenbow President/CEO Donna Livingstone’s plans to re-imagine the Glenbow with more flexible programming and a greater diversity of perspectives. By God, I think she has done it!

Read: Glenbow: A New KInd of Art Museum

I also enjoyed the “Recent Acquisitions” exhibition, hung quasi-salon style - not quite floor to ceiling, but with several groupings. There was so much to see.  Gone was the “one artwork per wall” approach where there is more blank space than art. And there were some fun surprises - like an early Ron Moppett painting that looked remarkably like a Maxwell Bates.  I love it when I make new discoveries.

Ronald Moppett, "Father Thames II (study), 1983, oil on panel.  Does anybody else see the bird-like figure in the painting that looks strangely similar to the one Hardy created in his exhibition (see photo above).  

Pop Art meets Folk Art, New Acquisitions, Glenbow Museum

A Sense of Place

The “Historical Art from the Glenbow Collection” exhibition was also a treat, reminding me of Calgary’s historic sense of place – something only art can do (for me, anyway).  The same can be said for “Niitsitapiisinni: Our Way of Life, The Blackfoot Gallery.” Both exhibitions were very relevant and timely given the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report.

And for me personally, having recently worked with two guest bloggers on how Calgary might better celebrate its history through better street and place names using First Nations’ language, these exhibitions struck a chord.

Read : Calgary: Mewata Village, Siksika Trail, Makhaban River

You gotta go!

If you haven’t been to the Glenbow recently, you simply gotta go. There is no excuse.  Mark the next Servus Credit Union’s Free Thursday Night (March 3) on your calendar.  

You will not only get to enjoy Hardy’s exhibition, but the new “Embracing Canada: Landscapes from Krieghoff to the Group of Seven” (opening February 20) that promises to be very enlightening. 

Last Word

Livingstone is ecstatic by the response to the Free Thursday night program, saying that many people were returning again to see the exhibitions when it wasn’t so busy.

I put out a challenge to TELUS Spark, Fort Calgary, Heritage Park and the Calgary Tower – how about designating a free day once a month. If not free, how about Toonie Thursdays or Tuesdays.

If you like this blog you might like:

Telus Spark Sparks Reflection

Denver: Office Tower as Art Gallery

Iconic Canadian art in lobby of Calgary office building