Recap: Refinery at the Art Gallery of Alberta

RefineryLast night was the Art Gallery of Alberta’s second Refinery Late Night Art Party. I was invited to attend for free in exchange for live-tweeting during the event, an offer that Sharon and I happily accepted. I can’t remember why we didn’t make it out to the first Refinery party, but we heard nothing but good things about it. Needless to say, we were looking forward to checking it out the second time around.

The doors opened at 8pm, and slowly but surely people started to arrive (apparently there was a line-up outside at the first Refinery party). DJ Justin Der (Shortround) helped set the mood on the main level. Two of the event’s featured artists, actors Amy Shostak and Arlen Konopaki, were asking guests to help them prepare for their improv show by writing favorite lines from Warner Brothers cartoons on little slips of paper. Sharon and I had difficulty remembering anything but the most famous lines, but we eventually came up with a few things.


Our next stop was the new exhibition, The Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons. We both grew up watching Looney Tunes, so it was really neat to see the original character sketches and the evolution of the characters. It was also surprising to learn that they stopped making new cartoons in 1969! Everything we watched as kids was so old! Or timeless, I guess 🙂 Here’s a little about the exhibition:

This major exhibition features 165 drawings, paintings, animation cels and related art objects used in the making of Warner’s classic cartoons. The exhibition explores seven different themes from a chronological history of the cartoon studio to the evolution of Warner’s first cartoon stars, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck; and features a step-by-step breakdown of how classic cel animation was made and an in depth look at Warner’s most famous creation, Bugs Bunny.

We also spent a few minutes in the M.C. Escher exhibition adjacent to the Warner Bros. one. Just outside the exhibitions on the second level, local filmmaker Adolfo Ruiz was working with Refinery guests to create a group film. Everyone was invited to scratch, paint, and draw on 16mm film. The final product was displayed at 12:30am. Also on the second floor was the Warner Bros. photo booth! Here’s Sharon and I in front of the backdrop:


One of my favorite things about Refinery is that the entire AGA was utilized. We eventually made our way to the third level, where local artist Sarah Jackson (one of our favorites) was drawing condiment portraits. Everyone received three of Sarah’s trading cards at the door, the idea being that you trade with others as you meet them, hopefully collecting all seven to win a prize. With the condiment portraits, Sarah would draw you as a “condiment”, like a salt shaker, or a cupcake. The line was long all evening, but Sarah just kept on drawing!


Outside on the terrace, DJ Dane Gretzky was spinning records and drinks were being served. It was a beautiful night to be outside, and you could just catch a glimpse of the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival taking place in Churchill Square. At 10:30pm, Amy and Arlen performed their improv show using Warner Bros. as the theme. It was funny and entertaining, as expected! The AGA did a fantastic job with hors d’oeuvres and treats, created by Zinc. Over a dozen different plates of food were carried by servers throughout the terrace. There was also an ice cream bar!


We also wandered through the TIMELAND: 2010 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art exhibition, and Sandra Bromley’s FIRE as well. If you haven’t checked out the newest exhibitions at the AGA, you should, they’re worth the visit.


The crowd at Refinery was pretty diverse, which meant a few familiar faces and lots of new ones. I’m not sure how many people attended, but the terrace was pretty full for the improv show. Everyone was dressed really well too, so if you’re looking for an excuse to wear something new, Refinery is the party for you!

Thanks to the AGA for inviting us to check out Refinery. We’ll be back for future parties!

You can see the rest of my photos here. The AGA will be posting theirs on Flickr too.

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