This was a heady year for Calgary. The Cultural Capital mantle not only infused extra funding into the city, but gave Calgarians the chance to be loud and proud about our energetic arts scene. Some of the undisputed highlights of the year include such lasting legacies as the opening of the Esker Foundation and the new Nickle Galleries, and the inaugural run of Calgary’s first all-night downtown street festival, Nuit Blanche.
Happy New Year, everyone. There’s a lot to look forward to in 2013.
My favourite show of the year was probably SUPERCUTE by the Bee Kingdom collective. Their beautiful glasswork is just so varied and wonderful — it’s really inspiring. Definitely one of the raddest shows of the year.
— Derek Bisbing, owner, House Gallery
[The year] 2012, for me, was not about the specifics. It was about the shifting attitude towards the arts. It was about maintaining a collaborative, community-based art scene and dreaming the impossible dream. While we may be small, our art scene is open, accepting and super strong. [The city is] still shape-shifting, but 2012 saw a huge shift in the speed of our trajectory towards a more defined Calgary, where we aren’t trying to mimic bigger epicentres like Toronto and Vancouver, but where we embrace the amazing things happening in our own backyard.
— Caitlind Brown, visual artist
In short, there are too many amazing visual attractions this year to comment on all. I was heavily impressed by Kent Merriman Jr.’s show, Painting 101, at the Haight Gallery, and also by the work of Daniel Kirk — the paint installations throughout the city and his performance art work.
— David Brunning (a.k.a. TheKidBelo), visual artist
A highlight for me was certainly what all Calgarians are hoping was the first of many annual Nuit Blanche celebrations. That was such an unqualified success! And, I was very happy that Calgary 2012 was able to facilitate the placing of dozens of visual artists, working in myriad media, to create and exhibit in unusual venues of all descriptions. Artists included Stan Phelps, Linda Hawke and Cat Schick, Dean Stanton, Noel Bégin, Dick Averns, Sean Dennie, Jack Rigaux, Daniel J. Kirk and the Ladies Invitational Deadbeat Society, just to name a few.
— Michael Green, creative director, Calgary 2012
Visual arts highlights are more numerous this past year than any other year I can remember. Calgary’s first Nuit Blanche saw the production and installation of one of my favourite works, titled “Cloud,” by Caitlind R.C. Brown and Wayne Garrett. The work of Lane Shordee caused much conversation with pieces such as “Hello Neighbour” and “The Space Bunker.” The Esker Foundation opened its doors as a new, privately funded and beautifully curated visual arts hub. Haight Gallery also captures a place on my highlights list with a consistently sophisticated roster of art and artists being showcased throughout 2012.
— Daniel J. Kirk, visual artist
Having Calgary declared a cultural capital of Canada was a great coup for the arts community and sparked some exciting new partnerships. The 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede was another catalyst — we had thousands of people visiting our Charlie Russell exhibition. When the arts community pulls together, the results are pretty spectacular. Nuit Blanche was amazing. The new Wild West Word Fest was a quirky mix of words, art and performance that made us rethink our western roots, and events like the multi-venue Exposure photography festival extended our reach to Banff and Canmore.
— Donna Livingstone, interim president and CEO, Glenbow Museum
I thought Larissa Tigglers show at UAS Satellite Gallery, and the first-ever Calgary Biennial curated by Steven Cottingham were fantastic additions to visual art in Calgary.
— Matthew Mark, director/owner, Haight Gallery
The Watershed + Residency program at Ralph Klein Park is so rad! With so many residencies happening this year because of Calgary 2012, this program hasn’t been given the attention it deserves. A lot of credit needs to be given to the Water Department and Tristan Surtees and Charles Blanc for creating a committed vision for this program and developing a sustainable approach to its operation. These residencies will have a substantial impact on the visual arts in Calgary in the years to come.
– Eric Moschopedis, artist and community builder
Although I have not been in Calgary for all of 2012, there were three projects that stood out for me. The first was Rachael Wong’s “Flat Depth,” an installation in the Project Room at Stride Gallery — wonderful material sense to this work. The second was Nuit Blanche Calgary 2012: five fabulous projects that got people into the street for an all-night evening of magic and fun. The final would be Ron Moppett’s mosaic “THESAMEWAYBETTER/READER” installed down by the river in the East Village; the colour is so incredible, and it adds yet another interesting element to this part of town.
— Naomi Potter, artistic director, Esker Foundation
Incredible richness and variety this year in Calgary: Laurie Anderson, Edward Burtynsky and IAIN BAXTER& at the Glenbow; the opening of two new striking art spaces, at Esker Foundation and Nickle Galleries at the U of C; the unveiling of Ron Moppett’s stunning new East Village mosaic mural; watching Mayor Nenshi and Premier Redford work alongside visitors building their portraits in gumballs; a museum-worthy Riopelle exhibition at Trépanier Baer; the inauguration of two new art festivals — ContainR and Nuit Blanche, featuring the funky carousel by BGL. So if anyone brings up Edmonton again, I’ll deck them.
— Jeffrey Spalding, artistic director, Museum of Contemporary Art Calgary (MOCA)
I think that the wonderful title that we received as Cultural Capital of Canada, Calgary 2012, really helped fund, encourage and acknowledge multiple artists who are, and have been doing, incredible things in their own mediums. Caitlind Brown’s “Cloud” for Nuit Blanche was internationally acknowledged. Market Collective has been a huge influence in bringing arts to Calgary in a very viable and profitable way. But the greatest thing in the arts in 2012 has been the people in this city. We are somehow in the position to be able to define ourselves for the first time in this area, and the people are coming out of the woodwork and creating a beautiful face for Calgary.
— Mandy Stobo, visual artist