The Works Art & Design Day: Gallery Tour 2013

Posted by Sarah Flowers, Volunteer Assistant

As interns at The Works, we are focused on the mission of bringing art into the public.  We strive to encourage everyone to engage with art, whether it be by attending a performance in the Big Tent during the Festival, talking to one of our volunteers about an exhibit on the square, or perhaps visiting an exhibit that remains long after other festivals have taken our place during Edmonton’s busy summer festival season.  On a summer day after the last of The Works posters had been removed from Winston Churchill Square, the Enbridge Arts interns assumed a role that was both new and familiar at the same time – that of a gallery patron.  We were given the day to explore several of Edmonton’s art institutions, including the Nina Haggerty Center for the Arts, LightForm Edmonton Inc, Art Hab, and several members of the city’s Gallery Walk association including the Bearclaw Gallery, Scott Gallery, and several others that dot the landscape of 124 Street. 

Each gallery was arguably unique with an independent mission statement and sense of purpose.  From Nina Haggerty’s belief that everyone who enters should be treated as an artist to SNAP’s focus on providing established artists and novices alike with a space dedicated to print making, each of the different galleries displayed a strong sense of individualism alongside the art on their walls.  As interns, we were encouraged to not only engage with the art, but also with the various spaces we were in.  We were given thought provoking questions to ponder on our tours such as: How do you feel in this space?  What is the layout like?  What kind of energy exists in a specific gallery?  

As interns with The Works, we have learned about so much more than art over the course of the past few months.  We have learned about people and their feelings about art.  We have developed our own understandings about how those feelings influence interactions with art.  During our time visiting various galleries, we interns allowed ourselves to slip into the role of patrons, developing new feelings – or perhaps rekindling old feelings – about art through our interactions with the numerous types of art and design that we encountered that day on our gallery tour.

Gallery Tour Itinerary:

-Nina Haggerty Arts Centre (9225 118 Ave)

-LightForm (10545 124 St)

-Society of Northern Alberta Print-artists (SNAP) (10123 – 121 Street)

-Alberta Craft Council (10186 106 St)

-Gallery Walk on 124 st and Jasper Ave, including: Bearclaw Gallery, Douglas Udell, Peter Robertson, Scott Gallery, Front Gallery, West End Gallery

-Latitude 53 (10242 106 St)

-Harcourt House ( 10215 112 St)

-ArtsHab (10217 - 106 St)

What a Thrill It Is: BGL's Carrousel

Posted by Alyssa Ellis, Production Assistant

If I asked you to run in a circle for a designated period of time would you gladly say yes? If I asked you to run in said circle while pushing suspended shopping carts, would you change your mind? If I told you those shopping carts where to be filled with smiling visitors of the Works Art and Design Festival would your whole perception of my questions change? In the middle of this year’s 2013 Works Art and Design Festival a jaw dropping, eye popping, heart pounding installation and performance piece by Montreal based group BGL stands waiting to be brought to life by human energy. In simple terms this work of art is a carousel constructed of crowd barriers and shopping carts. It contains no motors or fancy contraptions to run, only the strength and stamina of a couple individuals willing to give up their time for the pleasure of others. What a thrill it is. As soon as the crowd lines up, the barrier chain comes down, and the carts are filled and then balanced with excited patrons, you can’t help but smile and partake in their anticipation. The moment your hands connect with the back of the shopping cart and your legs begin to push forward to embark on the first rotation, your heart begins to pound faster and faster. And as you pick up speed and let go you ask yourself, “why did I sign up for this?” as my muscles ache, my breath becomes uneven and my throat quenches with thirst. But as I step back and look at the joy I’ve created on blurred faces, I remember precisely in that moment why I am here.    

Festival Nostalgia

Posted by Melissa Cayford, Production Assistant

Being part of a festival begins as a nostalgic affair.  It starts off with a small spark in the air as we began talking about it at orientation. Then, as all romances you fall in a sort of lull.  There are daily duties to be done, from scrubbing banners to painting walls.  Trading designer jeans for grubby t-shirts and old sweatpants.  Just when you begin to think,  “ will we ever get there? ”, and “how is this festival even going to take shape with a few walls?”. Then, the moment you step foot on Churchill Square, you know for a fact that this festival is gonna happen! Suddenly tents are popping up all over the place and you get that nostalgic feeling back.  The excitement begins to build up all over the square.  Even the people of the square know it.  They feel it in their bones, as we scurry over the square like mice on a mission, determined to get all those walls up in order to install art.  Our grand finale is opening for the first day.  Hearing the words, “what is this?”, then seeing the people interact and react to the art.  Two fun exhibits are the Carrousel, of course, which although powered only by human energy, still gets laughs, excitement and amusement from all ages as they ride over and over again.  The second one, is the Criptease tent.  Definitely an exhibit I would check out, it appears to be scandalous at first site, the prints give the illusion of an obese woman being photographed nude. However, the delightful twist is that they are pictures of a woman’s hand close up.  I can’t say anymore, you have to come down and check it out yourself! See you on the square!

Victoria Stanton's Group Listening Session

And here it is: The Listening Sessions Group Session Playlist! Thanks to all who participated in the group session. And a huge shout out to all the amazing volunteers and staff at the Works in Edmonton, and of course the No Rhyme or Reason curator Terrance Kindofabigdeal Houle - you guys are awesome! 

1. Oasis – Let There Be Love
2. Hauschka – Blue Bicycle
3. Xavier Rudd – Creating a Dream
4. Can – I Want More
5. Bobby C Sound TV – Too Funky in Here
6. Noel Gallagher – Everybody’s On the Run
7. Kansas – Carry On My Wayward Son
8.Kaney West – Heartless
9. Childish Gambino – Freaks And Geeks
10. AC/DC – Shoot to Thrill
11. Edvard Grieg – In the Hall of the Mountain King
12. Poe – Haunted
13. St. John’s Cathedral Choir and Orchestra – I Will Arise
14. Milli Vanilli – Girl You Know It’s True
15. Grimes – Devon
16. Charlie Parker – Dancing in the Dark

Discovery at The Works!

Posted by Vanessa Mastronardi, Curatorial Assistant

The Works Art and Design Festival is nine days into its thirteen days of awesome. As an intern working every day, the festival has turned into something so precious and personal. I feel especially lucky because I have the privilege to lead walking tours every day. Despite how tired I may feel at the beginning of these tours, I walk away from them feeling rejuvenated and excited every single time. There is something wild about engaging with strangers about art to find a commonality between us that we hadn’t expected to find. Most of the people on these tours aren’t artists or people who engage with art often. They are people who feel unsure about art and want to be told what the work means. It’s so funny though, because on each tour someone interprets the art in such a way that rings so true to the concept behind the work but with a personal twist. I find this to be so exciting! I never need to explain the artist’s intention, people are so intuitive; they come expecting to have everything explained to them, but they already have the tools they need to create meaning in the work, all they needed was a venue to realize this potential. There is curiosity, followed by discovery at The Works. I think people should always look at art in large groups and have loud, free flowing discussions together. I’ve learned so much about the art at The Works from the people who have signed up for these tours. You should definitely sign up for one soon.

Volunteering: Yang Lim and His Dedication to The Works

Posted by Sarah Flowers, Volunteer Assistant

For the past twenty-eight years, The Works Art & Design Festival has been put on by a dedicated group of individuals who share a passion for making art accessible to the public.  An integral part of The Works is the team of devoted volunteers who put countless amounts of both time and energy into helping each year’s Festival be bigger and better than the previous year.  Yang Lim is one such volunteer.  To commemorate his tenth year of volunteering with The Works, I had the privilege of sitting down with Yang and talking about his time with the Festival.  Read on to find out why Yang first got involved with The Works, what he’s looking forward to this Festival, and what makes him keep coming back.

Sarah Flowers: What initially attracted you to volunteering for The Works?

Yang Lim: I don’t know…I like art, for one.  It’s a personal interest.  It was the initial reason.  It seemed like a good way to get involved.  Plus it seemed like a good way to learn something new.  I first started volunteering with the volunteer department and then moved into other areas.  I’ve had experiences with some different things.

SF: What is it about The Works that makes you want to come back every year?

YL: Well, now it’s actually year round.

SF: Now it is year round, but what makes you stick around?

YL: Well there’s the personal interest side of it and now there’s also the picking up of new knowledge and skills.  It’s professional development that might be useful down the road.  The people keep me coming back now, although initially I didn’t know anyone.

SF: I was going to say, you’ve seen so many different people and gotten to know so many people, especially because of the Works to Work program. There’s been almost two hundred people come through these doors since you started!  So, do you have a favorite Festival moment?  A certain Festival year that stands out or Festival moment that stands out as your ultimate Works moment?

YL: That’s a tough question.  I think I’m going to have to think on that one.

SF: We’ll come back to this one.  With this being your tenth year, what are you most looking forward to with this Festival?

YL: I’m looking forward to working with curatorial a little bit more in the sense that it’s an area I’m not as familiar with.  I straddled that and the volunteer department last year.  I’ve also done the tracking of hours for the last few years.

SF: I’ve definitely heard that you’re pretty involved in both departments.  So, have you thought your favourite Festival moment yet?

YL: I can mention something I can remember from an exhibit.  One year, we had this gun sculpture. That’s part of why I volunteer – to see something interesting.  One year, there was a room in the public library simulating a highway.

SF: A highway?

YL: Yes, as if you were crossing a highway.  So it made it look like you were walking across a highway with cars.  It was a sensory experience.  I’m also looking forward to more and different art in this year’s Festival.  With the music, there might be an interesting artist.  That’s more by chance.  I say sometimes that that’s a highlight too – the performances and the art.  Generally speaking, Canada Day is the busiest day and often the most interesting day.

SF: That’s a favourite day for you?

YL: In the sense that a lot is happening all at once.  Sometimes there are problems, but you handle it.  You pretty much have to deal with things as they come up.  It’s worth it when you see people enjoying the Festival.

SF: We have a lot of new volunteers this year and I think it’s great for them to hear about someone who’s been around for a while.  Maybe it’ll make them think that it could be them in ten years.  Do you have any advice for the new volunteers?

YL: With the nature of the Festival, they need to be aware that sometimes they’ll be shifted around.  Like with exhibits, there’s something that might need to be covered. 

SF: Especially with new volunteers, they might not know what to expect in terms of volunteering.  Do you think they should pretty much expect the unexpected?

YL: Within reason, yes.  You do a little bit of everything.

SF: Thanks so much for sitting down to talk to me about your volunteer experience with The Works.  It was wonderful getting to know more about you!

BGL's Carrousel

Every time I hear the word ‘carousel’, the words to my favourite Joni Mitchell song come floating to the surface of my mind…

And the seasons, they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down.
We’re captive on the carousel of time.
We can’t return, we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.

Quoting these lyrics makes this post suddenly seem rather deep and philosophical, but there’s been good reason for the song to be going 'round and round and round’ in my head for the last week or so. Every day as a Production Assistant at The Works International Art Festival in Edmonton, Alberta, I’ve been passing Carrousel, the creation of a Quebec-based trio of artists known as BGL. Made of shopping trolleys and crowd barriers, Carrousel is a fully-functioning carousel available for the public to ride for free. After days of watching it being set up and then having to walk around it, curiosity finally got the better of me and I found myself lining up with a gaggle of excited children to try Carrousel for myself.

The ride on Carrousel, however simple the concept might seem, was rather magical in its own way. Carrousel touches upon one of the things I engage with most as both an art lover and as an artist: taking the everyday or the mundane and transforming it into something beautiful.

I think that there really is loveliness to be found in everything, even in a shopping trolley spinning round in circles.

Reblogged from:

Production at The Works: Long Days with Loverboy

Posted by Alison Prsa, Production Assistant

Being a production assistant for The Works leading up to the festival is a unique experience. The production team consists of ten people in total. We complete a variety of tasks that involve muscles, creativity, brainpower, and Loverboy. When we first received our Loverboy CD, it was a blessing as our radio was beginning to fail us. The music of the eighties flooded the bunker and helped our steel toes and gloved hands move a little faster. As Loverboy became a permanent fixture in our workdays, everyone but Betty-Jo started to have mixed feelings for the CD. I’m sure that we all have a secret appreciation for Loverboy’s contagious energy but the music never fails to follow us home. And as our brain replays these songs repeatedly at all hours of the day, we can only think of plinths, power tools, grubby clothes, the bunker, and our production team. What this must mean is that Loverboy has provided the theme songs for our team, to be overplayed and sung along to as we get closer to the festival and begin workin’ for the weekend.

Condition Reporting: The Art of Falling in Love

Posted by Emily MacDonald, Curatorial Assistant

Everything is coming together here at The Works. We’re starting to see multitudes of inspiring, sometimes provocative, sometimes mind blowingly beautiful, but all together powerful works of art coming into the gallery. Unfortunately, the art doesn’t stay here forever. After spending hours condition reporting and writing statements about these dear pieces, it will be hard to let the art  go and share it with all you folks. I guess I’ll have to neglect my deeply rooted emotional attachment, and share. And why shouldn’t I, really? The lineup for the Festival this year has some wonderful exhibitions. Some offer profound questions inherent in the work, which I can’t answer on my own. What is even more wonderful is that some of these questions wouldn’t have even manifested in my mind without these works of art.

A couple of exhibits to look forward to:

Megan Dickie is showing her exhibit, Flips Folly, at one of our partner galleries, Latitude 53. The same sculptures communicating the distance a viewer must maintain to ponder complex intellectual works of art, also invite the viewer’s participation with the objects, ironically, through touch and movement.

Joanne Madeley’s exhibit, Still Turning at Riverside Bistro, plays with the dichotomy of chaos and order in human thought, using gear-based imagery in print and installation.

Pick up a Festival Guide, and check out the rest. Festival is readily approaching. And I know The Works will bring us all a space for the intersection of ideas, as well as a place to create community and shed some light on the culture here in Edmonton.

Human Energy: The Power of Community

Posted by Cara Seccafien, Curatorial Lead Supervisor

Last fall, when I first found out about the 2013 Festival theme, Human Energy, my body knew that I would be back at the Works, even before I knew it in my head. I’m not even sure if I was asked back as Curatorial Lead Supervisor; I think I followed a desire line* in the ground.

 I immediately connected Human Energy to bodies; that is the politics around bodies, gender, and sexuality. I made this connection because I am constantly thinking about body politics in my own artistic practice. My immediate sensitivity to the Festival theme is one string among many that tied me to The Works last fall, before I left to finish my degree. When I graduated, I just pulled on that string and it led me back.

What I hadn’t thought of at that time was Human Energy as an energy of community. This is the kind of energy that manifests itself in political movements, artistic collectives, and festival internship teams. This is the energy that I see every day at work.

The truth is The Works is a body of energy, so massive and alive, that it has a gravity unto itself that will continue to pull you in. Those who volunteer or devotedly attend get to take home a piece, and enter into a beautiful community that defies all “Deadmonton” stereotypes. I highly recommend it.

 Find your volunteer application form here!

*a path created as consequence of foot traffic

Media Launch 2013!

Posted by Stephanie Bailey, Education and Outreach Coordinator

The 28th annual Works Art & Design Festival (June 20 – July 2) is just around the corner! Today we had our official Media Launch, held at the Matrix Hotel in Downtown Edmonton. The room was abuzz with anticipation as The Works unveiled its Human Energy-themed Festival lineup to a room full of media representatives, artists, and community members.  

Media Launch was our first chance to showcase some of the exciting events happening at this year’s Festival. Ben Sures, the Festival’s Stage Coordinator, introduced us to an exciting Works Street Stage schedule, which is jam-packed with musical acts, including everything from reggae to country. A couple of highlights include a performance by Judy Kang, who is an award-winning violinist who has toured with the likes of global pop sensation Lady Gaga; and “Works with Jazz,” which is a multi-day affair based on a one-of-a-kind cooperative program between The Works and The Edmonton Jazz Festival.

Terrance Houle then spoke about the exhibition, No Rhyme or Reason, which he will be curating in the main Festival tent throughout the course of the 13-day Festival. He describes the exhibition as a “potpourri” of performance, new media, and video works that deal with topics such as identity, gender, surveillance, history, sports, life/death, and the contact points between Aboriginal and Western cultures. Houle’s show is sure to be provocative, to say the least.

Amber Rooke, our Executive Artistic Director, then went on to offer teasers for some of the Festival’s many other “Human Energy” highlights. For instance, The Works will be hosting BGL’s Carrousel, a full-sized carousel made of crowd control barriers, fencing, and shopping carts, which will be taking “viewers” on a ride. BGL is an artist collective from Quebec, whose work has been described as insolent, critical, explosive, and as humorous as it is engaging. There is also Betty-Jo McCarville’s Storytelling Bicycles, which is an interactive audio installation. McCarville’s work invites patrons to ride bikes that power audio recordings on topics such as alternative energy sources, exercise, waste reduction, and the love of cycling.

I walked away from the Media Launch even more excited than I was going in! This year’s Festival promises to be a blast!  

I can’t wait for June 20th!