Galleries are great and everything, but for a chance to get your hands on original art — literally — the Hot One Inch Action button exchange might be right up your alley. The buy-and-barter art event was created by Chris Bentzen and Jim Hoehnle in Vancouver in 2004, and is coming to Calgary for the first time this Saturday at a new pop-up furniture store on 11th Avenue S.W. called Sit.
The premise is this: art submitted to Hot One Inch Action is reproduced on round, one-inch buttons, which are displayed around the room. Visitors can buy a bag of five random pins for $5, and then the fun begins. Rather than investing another fiver if you didn’t happen to get the pins you wanted, you’re encouraged to interact and exchange buttons until everyone goes home happy.
Maddy Kelly, president of Domicile Interiors Ltd., spearheaded bringing the event to Calgary, specifically to Sit, a store promising to pop up plenty of surprises over the next six months. “We want the new space to be interactive and engaging,” she says. “We’d like to open people up to design in every way possible — to be inclusive, not exclusive.”
With the work of 50 artists in bite-sized (well, one-inch) chunks, there’s plenty to choose from and bound to be at least one button to get excited about — not to mention the chance to chat with the artists themselves, many of whom will attend, or with other people eager to haggle. After all, Hot One Inch Action is not only about accessible, unpretentious art, but also about breaking down barriers and starting a conversation.
“[Visitors] will have a chance to interact with each other,” says Kelly. “Usually art events happen to you: you look at it, and that’s that.”
Besides fostering communication, the free-for-all button exchange promises to be a hoot.
“We want to have some fun. This is play,” says Kelly. “I think that play is another way that we engage with each other in a positive way, and we don’t need to stop playing just because we’re not children anymore.
“So this is what this is all about — activating that creative side of the brain, having some fun while doing it, and meeting some new people.”