From a house slated for destruction to furnishings of reconstituted fabric, this year, our critics favoured art that explored the 3-Rs — renewal, redemption, and reinvention.
THE HOUSE PROJECT and THE LOWBROW ART SHOW
With so much diversity among this year’s exhibitions and artists, picking favourites was a little tricky. One definite standout: The House Project, wherein a home in Kensington slated for demolition was turned into an innovative, collaborative effort between curator Caitlind Brown, and artists John Frosst, Andrew Frosst, Wayne Garrett, Daniel J. Kirk, Lane Shordee, Lauren Simms and Ian Ward. Intended as a wedding gift for the new owners of the property, the project was an interactive exhibition that not only featured the unique spins of the individual artists involved, but which also saw neighbourhood kids get in on the action. With discarded materials and walls acting as a giant canvas, the project revealed endless artistic opportunities.
Hopefully the idea catches on.
Another departure from the realm of conventional exhibitions: The Lowbrow Art Show at Resolution Gallery. Show mastermind Lizzie Carr, a 19-year-old Alberta College of Art and Design student, deserves kudos for fighting to have her art, as well as the works of other local “lowbrow” artists, noticed. This eye-catching form stems from graffiti, street art, tattooing, animation and illustration. As a genre it hasn’t always been showcased in conventional galleries, but Carr wanted to show that lowbrow isn’t synonymous with low quality. While it may not encompass the traditional ideas of “highbrow” art, it still requires a great deal of skill and technique.
Exhibitions like these two are examples of how art continues to develop in the city and set the bar for the class of 2012 to push the boundaries even further.
RISEN — CALGARY’S QUEER YOUTH ART AND THEATRE SHOW
Presented by The Miscellaneous Group Network with support from Fairy Tales, Risen, a mixed art and theatre project, showcased a variety of thoughtful and powerful artworks and brought forth a crucial message to the Calgary community, dealing with themes of despair and growth, hope and love. In its exploration of LGBTQ identities, Risen put a fun, all-for-one-one-for-all spin on the queer-positive revolution. Packing in everything from moving monologues to sassy drag king performances to “dirty art queer” paintings, the event encompassed as much as it could of the full spectrum of the queer community into one jam-packed evening at the Arrata Opera Centre.
LOST AND FOUND: AN ECO ART EXHIBIT
The image of a person kicking off their shoes and slouching down in a comfy chair after a long, hard day of work doesn’t exactly paint an extraordinary picture in the average person’s mind; one Calgary-based artist, however, managed to spice it up.
Tommy Fleger not only reupholsters old chairs, he gives them personalities of their own. Inspired by everything from The Sex Pistols (“Sit Vicious” was my personal favourite) to The Calgary Stampede, the chairs that Fleger fashions are designed entirely out of thrift store clothing. Not only is each chair unique, but also eco-friendly — made entirely out of recycled materials.
In November, Fleger showcased his fanciful chairs at Resolution Gallery along with two fellow artists, all of whom had the common goal of creating beauty from what many consider garbage.
Leaving you second-guessing everything you’d tossed in your trash that week, Lost and Found was a great example of one person’s junk inspiring another’s creation.