Arts Seen – week of Dec 19 2013

The Winter Solstice arrives on Saturday December 21 bringing the longest and darkest night of the year (16 hours five minutes and 43 seconds to be precise).

But the party is starting two days earlier with a special public event on Thursday December 19 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. to shed some light on Stephen Avenue with the help of a bright and shiny new object. Suspended 18 feet in the air among the historic buildings between Centre Street and First Street S.W. SOLAR FLARE is the third in a series of light installations by Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett the creative masterminds behind CLOUD which debuted at Calgary’s Nuit Blanche in 2012. (Subsequent editions of CLOUD which is created from burnt-out light bulbs have been shown in the U.S. Russia Czech Republic and Netherlands and will head to Singapore this spring.) According to the duo’s website ( incandescentcloud.com ) “SOLAR FLARE is a sun sculpture designed to artificially prolong ‘golden hour’ into the longest and coldest nights of the year…. A temporary interjection into the early darkness of the Canadian winter SOLAR FLARE explores the social elements of light — particularly warm light — and its power to draw people together to bask in its glow.” The light sculpture is activated by passersby causing a metal rod inside the piece to spin which makes it shimmer. The artists and the Calgary Downtown Association which commissioned the artwork are inviting the public to take part in an all-ages collaborative light performance described as “a playful solstice ritual” in which 1000 lights will be ignited to summon the sun. “Collaborative beautiful and ultimately futile the SOLAR FLARE Light Performance is an exploration of brightness movement and the mysterious ability of light to draw strangers together if only for a moment in the darkness of winter.” Sounds like a good way to start off a long night. The installation will remain on view until February 1.

Looking for something a little darker? If you’re a fan of Bad Santa this is for you. The White Lodge Gallery located in the former second-floor Elevation Gallery space in Kensington (233 10 St N.W.) has an alternative to the overabundance of holiday cheer being spread this time of year. Dedicated to lowbrow art the gallery’s Black Xmas: Horror 4 exhibition is its fourth annual miniature horror art show with works by more than 80 artists — you’ll find plenty of dark humour here. The show runs until the end of January but details are scarce so visit the Facebook page or phone the gallery at 403-815-4267 for more information.

A member of Calgary’s theatre community will give the city’s cultural presence a boost this month. Theatre Encounter co-artistic director Mike Unrau is heading to Amsterdam for the holidays after being invited to lead pre-event workshops and participate in a lecture series at AIR9 the international Art In Redlight festival ( artinredlight.com ). The local non-profit theatre company performs research-driven and alternative versions of classic dramatic texts from a Canadian perspective — past productions include Heart of Darkness Waiting for Godot and Medea among others. The festival attracts experimental and socially conscious artists across Europe lecturers in art theory technology and social justice and hosts up to 15000 visitors each year during the holidays. In March Theatre Encounter will be back on a local stage for a multidisciplinary live art performance of How to Win Friends and Influence People .