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art exhibits Calgary

4 art exhibits to check out in Calgary

By Silvia Pikal

Check out an exhibition dedicated to one of the world’s top fashion houses at Glenbow. Christian Dior is a retrospective of the fashion legend’s haute couture from 1947-1957. In 1946, Dior set up his own couture house in Paris and presented his first collection the following year, featuring voluptuous silhouettes that were a departure from women’s fashions before the Second World War. Browse a selection of Dior’s designs that transformed the French fashion industry; the exhibit runs until June 2.


A statue of Kent Monkman’s glamorous alter-ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle stands on a rock-face buffalo jump in a room-filling installation at Glenbow. She’s overlooking the sculptural bison that roam throughout the room, while one sculpture is in shambles on the ground and surrounded by broken china. Kent Monkman: The Rise and Fall of Civilization is a poignant reminder that the North American bison, a source of sustenance for Indigenous people for thousands of years, was nearly hunted to extinction by European settlers in the 1800s. They hunted the bison for their pelts and left the meat to rot, then harvested the bones for fine bone china. The exhibit will be available for viewing throughout 2019.


Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre (NMC), is showcasing Alberta’s musical groundbreakers in a new exhibit. Trailblazers: Alberta makes use of video interviews, concert footage and more to showcase big names hailing from Alberta, including Tegan and Sara, Feist and Chad Kroeger. Emerging artists and their accomplishments are also featured, from country singer Lindsay Ell to The Static Shift, a trio of Calgary-based blues-rockers. The exhibit is located on the second floor of the NMC, and there will be a rotating cast of Alberta trailblazers over the next few years.

Photo by Brandon Wallis.

On June 16, 1904, “Eureka We Have Found It!” was printed on the front page of the Medicine Hat News. A large natural gas well had been discovered, which led to a boom in Medicine Hat’s economy. Clay quickly became a shining star thanks to the availability of cheap natural gas to fire the kilns, as well as the abundance of the material in the area and neighbouring province Saskatchewan. At one point Medicine Hat supplied Canada with more than 75 per cent of its ceramics. A lasting reminder of the boom is the Medalta potteries site — the former massive industrial operation was transformed into a museum, ceramic art gallery and event space. Artists come from all over the world to work in the studios, or complete an artist-in-residence program. Home at the Alberta Craft Gallery brings Medalta art to Calgary. View everything from delicate, hand-built porcelain plates to impressive sculptures from artists who stayed in Medicine Hat after completing their residency; the exhibit runs until March 30.

Artist: Noriko Masuda, Reach Yunomi, 2016. Bone china, slip cast, underglaze.

5 Must-see art exhibits in Calgary

By Silvia Pikal and Shauna McGinn

November doesn’t have to be all about gearing up for the holidays. It can be a great time to find a moment to yourself to enjoy things that peak your interest, especially before your schedule becomes jam-packed with events and obligations. For seasoned art lovers and newcomers alike, these five exhibits are a great way to spend a peaceful afternoon.

Buy local
On November 10, The Group Art Society of Calgary, which celebrated the big 5-0 in 2018, is having a fall show and sale. Browse artwork in different sizes, mediums and prices, chat with the people behind the pieces and snag an original from a local artist.

Courtesy Esker Foundation.

An artist’s homage
For seven years, artist Tammi Campbell started nearly each day by drawing a grid on fine Japanese rag paper and writing “Dear Agnes” in the top left corner. She’d then fold it twice like a letter and store it before continuing with her other work. Letters from the final three months of that practice — 85 of them in total — are on display now until December 21 at Esker Foundation. At its core, the work is a tribute to the late Agnes Martin, a renowned visual artist born in Campbell’s home province of Saskatchewan.

Campbell kept up the letter-writing practice for seven years as an intentional homage to an absence that Martin took from painting midway through her career, from 1967-1974. Paintings from Campbell’s Monochrome series — stark canvasses displaying paint manipulated to look like everyday materials such as cardboard and packing tape in a minimalist style — are also on display as part of the installation. Opposite those hang a collection of Martin’s, meant to reflect, according to the Esker Foundation, “the two artists’ mutual meditation on silence, ritual, and repetition within artistic practice.”

Courtesy Kathy Aldous-Schleindl.

Artist spotlight at Loft 112
Loft 112, Calgary’s creative hub, is hosting a show and sale from November 19 – December 14. These show features local artist Kathy Aldous-Schleindl,  whose paintings are mainly figurative and express movement and emotion. The exhibit includes work in acrylic, oil, watercolour and fabric. “Some of the work focuses on the simple pleasures in life that we can find when we take time to get off the ride and look closely at the beauty in nature that surrounds us,” she says.

Courtesy Newzones Gallery.

Deck the walls
From November 29 – January 12, an entire wall at Newzones gallery will be adorned with unique art in different sizes and styles, just in time for the gift-giving season. The Deck the Walls! annual exhibition at Newzones is your chance to gift or own artwork from renowned artists, including Bradley Harms, Colleen Philippi and Dianne Bos.

Photo by Ron Janert.

What is life?
Until November 30, explore Victoria Park to view a magnificent piece of public art before it’s gone. Fireflies at Twilight is painted across two 40-foot shipping containers and honours Siksika First Nation’s Chief Crowfoot, who played a key role in the Treaty 7 negotiations. On one side, a stunning landscape is painted next to fireflies moving skyward. On the other, Chief Crowfoot is gazing towards the distance, with a bison in the background. At the centre is a portrait of him and one of his memorable quotes, believed to be his last words. Adrian Stimson, a Governor General Award-winning Siksika artist, collaborated with Springboard Performance on this piece, which is part of containR — pop-up mural installations and art parks made out of recycled shipping containers. The works are temporary, feature local artists and aim to connect communities through art.