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4 must-see art exhibits in Calgary


May 18, 2018 

Alma Duncan, Self-Portrait With Braids, 1940, Library and Archives Canada.


For those who deride the “selfie” as an obsession of the iPhone-toting, avocado-obsessed millennial, don’t forget that people have been making self-portraits since early homo sapiens carved sketches of themselves into cave walls.

The exhibit Artist’s Mirror: Self Portraits at Glenbow features works from the collections of the museum and Library and Archives Canada, showcasing the rich history of artists creating self-portraits in a variety of mediums, styles and time periods.

Take a look at self-portraits from extraordinary artists to see how they chose to depict themselves, whether for self-expression, political commentary or other purposes.

Some works include pieces from Group of Seven painter Emily Carr, and photographer Yousuf Karsh, who snapped iconic portraits of many notable individuals including Albert Einstein, Helen Keller and Martin Luther King Jr.


Courtesy Glenbow.

From June 16 – September 19 at GlenbowAlex Janvier: Modern Indigenous Master provides a retrospective of the Alberta-based artist’s career, which spans several decades and features more than 100 paintings.

Janvier’s colourful, evocative and abstract work is often inspired by his life experiences.

The artist was uprooted from his family and forced to attend a residential school in Alberta when he was only eight years old, where he found an escape from his surroundings in artwork.

He later attended the Alberta College of Art and graduated with honours in 1960, and in the 1970s was part of a collective of renowned Indigenous artists, including Norval Morrisseau.


Courtesy Fleurs de Villes.

Running in its third year across Canada, Fleurs de Villes participants create stunning floral “garments” on mannequins. This year, 15 mannequins will be displayed at CrossIron Mills. Admire the artwork, snap a picture and vote for your favourite design. Browse the pop-up markets at CrossIron from June 1-4 to bring home a piece of bloom.


 Mobile Home. Courtesy Alberta Craft Council.

This collaboration by Calgary-based artists Dena Seiferling and Stefanie Staples at the Alberta Craft Council’s Calgary gallery, showing until June 2, is inspired by old, used and worn objects such as wooden pull toys, evoking nostalgia in the viewer while also inviting reflection on the value of bird biodiversity and the preservation of at-risk bird species.

In the Mobile Home piece, Stefanie Staples creates an imaginary future where some birds can no longer fly and live in mobile nests, allowing them to continue living in their home even with the demolition of their natural environment.

“I hope a parallel theme is at play, and through these pieces we can see aspects of our own lives — enclosed, imbalanced, unable to function in our natural state without the help of technology,” Staples says. “I hope the viewers can also see elements of beauty in these pieces through the use of the materials and the simple shapes I utilized, and their own connection to childhood imagination and play.”

Preserved Cerulean Warbler. Courtesy Alberta Craft Council.

For the Preserved Cerulean Warbler music box piece, Dena Seiferling repurposed an antique bell box, which was used as a telephone signalling device.

“The specialized function of the bell box is now obsolete technology, which conceptually echoes the predicament of the at-risk Cerulean Warbler, being a species of bird who requires a very specialized environment for it’s survival,” Seiferling says. “One could view my sculptures as uncomfortable, representing a sadly unsustainable and artificial attempt at bird conservation. It is my hope that this feeling triggers questions around what is actually required to help preserve these bird species.”

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