Arts Seen – week of Oct. 3 2013

The newest art gallery in the city isn’t really a gallery at all. The goal of Art Forum Gallery (AFG) according to chief curator Jacek Malec (formerly of Triangle Gallery and MOCA) is to create an alternative public art gallery focused on 21st century art by animating existing spaces in the city and elsewhere.

“What we are planning to do is mainly to bring the art to the public and not the public to the gallery” says Malec. “Generally we are going outside the white cube of the gallery.”

He adds that the concept isn’t entirely new pointing to Wreck City and Phantom Wing as great examples of spontaneous grassroots arts initiatives taking place outside gallery walls but in this case the exhibitions will be more streamlined and controlled with detailed description and scholarly researched catalogues.

Of course some of that will come with time as AFG is starting from “ground zero.” Malec says they would like to establish relationships with community partners and businesses with an eye to building and sustaining new audiences. For example businesses can provide exhibition space for free which provides a service to their employees as well as to the community.

AFG launched on October 2 with the opening of its first exhibition Dave Casey: Metaphoric Landscapes at Eighth Avenue Place (525 8 Ave. S.W.) in the Winter Garden on the Plus-15 level. The exhibition which highlights the artist’s accomplishments and contributions to the tradition of abstract/metaphoric landscape in Western Canada and celebrates his 40-year career at the Alberta College of Art and Design is presented in collaboration with Eighth Avenue Place SQ Commons and SUM Canada Enterprises Ltd. — and those are the kinds of partnerships Malec is talking about.

A gallery without walls isn’t the only unconventional art space opening this week — the other one is a box. A vacant 4900 square-foot-building on 17th Avenue S.E. (or 17E as it is now dubbed) has been transformed into artBOX a new multipurpose arts space that will provide studios for established and emerging artists as well as performance workshop and exhibition space.

The project is the result of an 18-month partnership between the International Avenue BRZ and Calgary Arts Development to invest in arts activity in Greater Forest Lawn and east Calgary which is part of the larger effort to drive the area’s revitalization process. artBox is located at 1807 42 St. S.E.

The much-anticipated Barbara Edwards Contemporary (1114 11 St. S.W.) is celebrating the grand opening of its Calgary gallery on Friday October 4 with an inaugural exhibition of new works by renowned artist Eric Fischl. Known for his “psychologically charged often visceral figures” the exhibition will feature his recent sculptural editions of figures cast in bronze and glass. Fischl will be in attendance at the opening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on the following day the gallery will host a lecture in the space featuring the artist in conversation with Border Crossings magazine editor-at-large Robert Enright followed by a book signing for the artist’s recently published memoir Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas . Barbara Edwards Contemporary which has its original location in Vancouver is focused on exhibiting contemporary art of high calibre featuring Canadian and international artists.