Recap: Intersect – a collision of artists and geeks!

Sharon and I walked down the street to Startup Edmonton for the first ever Intersect event on Friday evening. I had heard Ken talk about the concept in the past, so I had some idea of what to expect. Think DemoCamp, but with artists showcasing their work rather than software developers! Here’s how the event was officially described:

A collision of technical and creative minds, Intersect is a new event that puts geeks and artists on stage to show off projects that merge the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, and other creative fields. A fun way to support artists and creators in our community, Intersect will inspire constructive conversations and interactions around concepts, demos, samples and prototypes being created in Edmonton.


We arrived shortly after the advertised start time of 7pm and found the third floor of the Mercer Warehouse buzzing. A couple dozen people were enjoying the DJ and the bar and we could see projects setup all around the room. Startup Edmonton teamed up with Megan & Beth Dart, the sister duo behind Catch the Keys Productions, to curate projects for the event. They ended up with five, in order of introduction:

  • Scott Smallwood

    Scott Smallwood is a sound artist, composer, and sound performer who creates works inspired by discovered textures and forms, through a practice of listening, field recording, and sonic improvisation. He also designs experimental electronic instruments and software, as well as sound installations and site-specific performance scenarios. Scott has been active as an educator for over 15 years, teaching composition, improvisation, and electroacoustic music at the University of Alberta.

  • Good Women Dance Society 

    Good Women Dance Society is a creation-based company that is committed to helping create a vibrant and sustainable contemporary dance community in Edmonton. The society’s artistic focus is on creating and producing innovative new works with integrity and conviction.

  • Owen Brierley, GURU Digital Arts Collective

    Owen is the Executive Director of Guru Digital Arts College. Over the past 14 years Owen has worked with, taught and worked for many of Edmonton’s top talent in digital media. From Project Director for a Serious Game in the oil and gas sector to Lego trivia interactives for the Telus World of Science, Owen has had the pleasure of exploring almost every form of interactive digital media production.

  • Technitone 

    Built by local interactive firm to showcase Google Chrome, Technitone is an interactive web audio experience that lets you join other creators to plot tones on a grid, construct melodies, and modify the output with a robust toolset of effects. Technitone packs a few neat extras, too, such as a solo mode for those who like more control, and a gallery where you can publish your masterpieces, whether made on your own or with a group.

  • ShowStages Collective 

    ShowStages is a video and design collective. We build narratives through projected media and interactive audio-visual experiences. We work in theatre and new media.

Though it felt like a mixer at first, we soon discovered there was a program for the event! Hosts Omar Mouallem and Julian Faid introduced each project, and then the artist behind it had a few minutes to talk about it. We went around the room from one project to the next, which was a nice change from the stay-seated approach of DemoCamp. After each project had been showcased, the event reverted back to the mixer-like atmosphere and attendees were free to seek out more information from the artists.


I had already seen Technitone – Grant had demoed it a year ago at DemoCamp Edmonton 18 – but it was neat to see it again with big displays. The performance by GWDS was really impressive and utilized FaceTime (I think) to incorporate an interesting visual perspective. At one point the dancer, I believe it was Ainsley Hillyard, created a sort of infinity effect (like you might do with mirrors).



I thought Owen’s project, which if I understand correctly involved positioning video displays using software, was pretty neat. You could create some pretty cool installations with the approach! Scott’s work with sound was fascinating to learn about. I’m not sure if it is still active, but I can totally understand why Scott would be the guy behind Dorkbot Edmonton. Unfortunately Elijah had a few technical difficulties, but he still did a good job of demoing what ShowStages can do. I love that they use a Kinect plugged into a MacBook!


I really enjoyed Intersect, and I do hope it becomes a regular series! I’m sure there are many more interesting collisions of art and technology taking place in our city. Kudos to Startup Edmonton and Catch the Keys on a successful first event!


You can see the rest of my photos from the evening here.

Edmonton needs more venues for art exhibitions like Capricious!

Does Edmonton need more venues for showcasing and enjoying local contemporary art? Miranda Sayer thinks so. She’s an independent curator and is the organizer of Capricious!, a month-long pop-up art exhibition that would feature the work of a number of local artists, if only it had a venue.

Miranda got in touch with me a few weeks ago to talk about the project, and highlighted the crowdfunding aspect. She is using RocketHub, a platform similar to Kickstarter except that it is focused on “creatives” and works in Canada. The RocketHub mission page boldly proclaims that the platform is “the foundation for the new creative economy.” While that might be a bit of a stretch, it is a smart way to fundraise. So far Capricious! has raised $595, or about 14% of the goal ($4500). All of the funds raised will go toward making the show happen and each funding level from $10 and up features a variety of rewards.

Miranda Sayer
Miranda Sayer, the independent curator behind Capricious!

While I was indeed interested in Miranda’s use of RocketHub, I was much more intrigued by her thoughts on the lack of viable spaces for art in Edmonton, and especially downtown. “It’s surprising to me that the downtown core doesn’t have more in the way of venues offering local contemporary art, as we have no shortage of talent locally,” she told me. Just a few days before Miranda and I got together for coffee, I had spent an evening visiting Dirt City, Dream City, the transitory public art exhibition in The Quarters (which runs until the end of the month), so her point about the amount of local talent we have really hit home for me.

There does seem to be a shortage of venues, however. Of course the Art Gallery of Alberta and Latitude 53 come to mind, but what else? There’s the Gallery Walk in Oliver, the gallery space at ArtsHab One, the gallery at the Stanley Milner Library, and probably a few others. But the list is not exceptionally long. And how many of the venues that do exist are really available to local up-and-coming artists? Or to curators like Miranda?

This discussion has actually been going on for quite some time. The Mayor’s Arts Visioning Committee noted in its final report last November that “City Hall must plan for arising opportunities to expand and enhance Edmonton’s inventory of arts facilities.” A number of the recommendations in the report talked about the lack of space:

“The need for arts spaces of all types is mentioned numerous times in this report. The repetition is purposeful. It is a high priority need today and the demand for places to create, rehearse, perform and exhibit will only grow in coming years.”

In March there was significant discussion about what should happen to the gallery space at Enterprise Square, which served as the temporary home of the AGA while the new building was constructed. The University of Alberta proposed a $500,000 partnership with the City, which many felt was too expensive. Council should be receiving an updated report on the issue next month.

Arts spaces need not be traditional buildings, either. The Alley of Light has become a gallery space on a number of occasions, and other similar projects have happened throughout the city. In a post last year, Latitude 53’s then-Writer-in-Residence Megan Bertagnolli highlighted the Royal Bison Craft & Art Fair as an artist run centre. “Edmonton needs more points of engagement between art and the public at large and alternative venues like the Royal Bison aim to fill that need,” she wrote. Latitude 53’s Executive Director Todd Janes agreed in a comment on the post: “I have often felt that Edmonton needs more artist-run or artist-initiated spaces and projects – the Royal Bison is just but one and perhaps one of the more successful and similar to the precursor of today’s ARCs (Artist-Run Centres).” Clearly artists are trying to find ways around the lack of venues.

The hope with transitory projects like the Alley of Light or Capricious! is that their success will help make the case for more permanent spaces. “Edmontonians are in fact very receptive to and supportive of contemporary art when it’s offered to them, so having more exhibitions showcasing local talent will hopefully lead to more permanent gallery spaces,” Miranda told me. She is keen to have the show take place downtown, and after no luck trying to find a suitable venue for free, decided to try the crowdfunding approach. The bulk of the money will go toward rent, though some would be used for the opening reception and some promotional materials.

Coy Fox (2011)
“Coy Fox” (2011) by Megan Stein

Here’s the description of Capricious!:

“The show is an opportunity for a number of emerging and established Edmonton artists to present their work in an exciting way (the pop-up gallery — we’re going to occupy a space that ordinarily isn’t for art) so they can encourage Edmontonians to engage and connect with contemporary local art. We have a wonderful and thriving arts community, but unfortunately less in the way of venues for viewing the work, especially in the downtown core.”

There are nine days left to contribute to the project at RocketHub. As a fan of utilizing unconventional spaces for projects that make Edmonton better, I have, and I look forward to seeing the exhibition come to life in the near future!

Timeraiser Edmonton 3 and WestJet Giveaway!

timeraiserTimeraiser is back in Edmonton on Saturday, October 15, the third year Timeraiser has come to our city! Last year’s event was a big success, with over 250 Edmontonians in attendance to pledge more than 4000 hours of volunteer service. A total of $10,000 was paid to artists, and 18 of the 20 pieces went for the maximum bid amount of 125 hours.

If you’re new to Timeraiser, here’s what the event aims to accomplish:

The Timeraiser is part volunteer fair, part silent art auction and part night on the town. Throughout the evening, meet with different agencies and match your skills to their needs. Once you have made your matches, you are eligible to bid on artwork. The big twist is rather than bid money, you bid volunteer hours. If you have the winning bid, you have 12 months to complete your pledge before bringing the artwork home as a reminder of your good will.

It’s a great opportunity to connect with local organizations and fellow volunteers! Since 2002 there have been 28 events across Canada, with 93,000 volunteer hours pledged and $495,890 invested into the careers of emerging artists.

WHO: Everyone!
WHAT: 3rd Edmonton Timeraiser
WHEN: Saturday, October 15, 2011 at 7:00 PM
WHERE: TransAlta Arts Barns, 10330 84 Avenue (map)
WHY: To raise 4000 community hours for local organizations!
Click here to register!

You can see the event on ShareEdmonton here.

Timeraiser Edmonton 2

A shot of last year’s Timeraiser in Edmonton!

Win two tickets to anywhere WestJet flies!

Last year WestJet became the presenting sponsor of Timeraiser, and to celebrate they gave away two tickets in each city. They’re doing it again this year, and I am once again fortune enough to be hosting the contest for Edmonton! To enter, simply leave a comment below with the answer to this question:

What was your most memorable volunteer experience in Edmonton?

It might be an experience you had volunteering for an event or cause, or maybe a volunteer made your day when you attended something. Check out last year’s contest for inspiration!

The contest closes at 11pm on October 13. The top ten responses will be chosen and the winner will be randomly selected from that group and announced on October 14. Full contest rules and regulations are available here.

Don’t miss Edmonton’s 3rd Timeraiser on October 15! You can keep up with Timeraiser on Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE: Apologies for the delay in making this announcement, but congratulations to Robyn! Her comment is here. Timeraiser Edmonton 3 was a success with 4195 hours raised!

Happy Anniversary to the Art Gallery of Alberta!

This weekend the Art Gallery of Alberta celebrates the one year anniversary of its new building in Churchill Square. It’s hard to believe that it was a year ago that the ribbon cutting took place and Edmontonians were clamoring to get a peek at the beautiful facility.

And what a year it has been! Here are some of the highlights of 2010:

  • Attendance more than quadrupled since 2009 – more than 111,000 visitors!
  • Of that number, approximately 87,000 were paid admission, which significantly surpassed the target of 65,000.
  • The number of AGA members increased from 1650 to 5300!
  • A total of 17 exhibitions were presented, 5 of which were dedicated to Alberta arists.
  • Roughly 4700 people in total attended the 395 public tours that were given. In addition, 146 private tours were given to a total of 3150 visitors.
  • School programs grew from 5000 students in 2009 to 14,500 last year.
  • A total of 367 private and corporate events, 24 wedding receptions, and 62 wedding photos sessions took place.

Here are a few graphs to help illustrate the success of 2010:

One of the highlights for me personally was the Refinery series of events. There were three in 2010, and each one was more popular than the last. Over 1700 people attended Refinery, and 800 of those were at the most recent event (it was so popular, people had to be turned away). I wrote about the second Refinery here. The 367 private and corporate events is significant as well. I attended dozens of events that took place at the AGA last year, it’s a great venue.

And who could forget the exhibitions! From Edgar Degas, Francisco Goya, and Edward Burtynsky to Warner Bros., Jonathan Kaiser, and Laura St. Pierre, we had a little bit of everything. I particularly enjoyed the Warner Bros. cartoons and Janet Cardiff & George Miller Bures’ Storm Room.

While the building was the most obvious “new” thing from 2010, let’s not forget that the AGA launched a new restaurant, logo, a new website, and established a presence in social media last year as well. All of those things helped the organization win a variety of awards:

  • Metal Construction Association Presidents Award for Overall Excellence
  • Institutional Winner: Alberta Construction Magazine 2009 Top Projects
  • 2010 Edmonton Economic Development Corporation Recognition Excellence Award
  • Best Cultural Institution 2010 by See Magazine
  • Zinc Restaurant was named one of the Best New Restaurants of 2010 by Where Magazine
  • Allan Scott was named Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser by the Edmonton Association of Fundraising Professionals

Interview with Gilles Hébert, AGA Executive Director

The numbers for 2010 are certainly impressive. I asked Gilles to reflect on the past year. “It’s quite remarkable,” he told me. “The challenge is to maintain the momentum and continue to grow our audience.” In the first two months after the new building opened to the public, more than 30,000 people visited. “Lots of people came initially just to see the inside of the building,” Gilles said. Now he says people are coming back for the programming. “We exist because of the program, not because we have a cool building.”

Gilles said the AGA has seen the most interest in its contemporary programming, which he described as “pretty cool”. The success of the AGA’s contemporary exhibitions has driven interest nationally too. “People are looking to us for these big ambitious shows,” he told me. “They’re drawn in by the level of enthusiasm that is palpable in this community.”

Looking ahead to 2011, Gilles told me the challenge is generating buzz in places other than Edmonton. “There is no other institution like us in this province – we have a provincial mandate.” One of the ways the AGA is doing that is through social media. “We’re finding that these new forms of communication are really driving interest and allowing people to connect with what we’re doing.” He said their social media activities are actually becoming more valuable than traditional printed material and paid advertising, at least in terms of driving audience.

Gilles told me he is really looking forward to the celebration this weekend. “We are so proud to celebrate this milestone.”

Art Gallery of Alberta

Sunday Celebration

The anniversary celebration takes place on Sunday from 11am until 5pm. Here’s a brief description of what to expect:

The day includes the launch of the official AGA building book, presentations by the Citadel Theatre, Alberta Ballet and the Edmonton Opera, exhibition tours, as well as cupcakes for the first 500 visitors.

It should be a great day! You can see the event on ShareEdmonton here. And if you just can’t wait until Sunday, tonight is opening night for the Brian Jungen exhibition which features three sculptural installations.

If you’re taking photos this weekend, be sure to add them to the AGA pool on Flickr. Be sure to follow the Art Gallery of Alberta on Twitter.

You can see my photos of the AGA here. If you’d like a bit of background on the new building, check out my recap of architect Randall Stout’s talk.

Timeraiser returns to Edmonton with a WestJet giveaway!

Last year, Timeraiser came to Edmonton for the first time. It was a great opportunity for people to connect with both local organizations looking for volunteers and with local artists. The event was a big success too: 4145 total hours were pledged by 180 people and $12,000 was invested in the careers of emerging artists, surpassing the goals the organizers had set. You can see my photos from the event here.

Timeraiser is like a mix between a silent art action and a volunteer fair. Here’s an overview of how it works:

This year, Timeraiser Edmonton is taking place on October 16 (on ShareEdmonton), and there are 20 agencies participating. You can get your tickets here, which include the Special Live Performance of Amy van Keeken’s Rock & Roll Sing-a-Long.

WHO: Everyone!
WHAT: 2nd Edmonton Timeraiser
WHEN: Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 7:00 PM
WHERE: TransAlta Arts Barns, 10330 84 Avenue (map)
WHY: To raise 4000 community hours for local organizations!
Click here to register!

The Timeraiser crew was in Edmonton a couple weeks ago, purchasing the art from local artists, and talking to over 100 local shops & restaurants about the upcoming event. It’s going to be a great night!

Win two tickets to anywhere WestJet flies!

One of the exciting things about Timeraiser this year is that WestJet has signed on to be the national presenting partner, and they have been running a social media contest in each city, giving away two airline tickets worth over $4000. I was asked to help give them away in Edmonton!

To enter the contest, leave a comment below answering this question:

What are you doing to help make Edmonton a better place?

You have until noon on October 13 to make your entry. After that, I’ll assist the Timeraiser organizers in picking the best comments and ultimately the winner. I’ll announce the winner here on October 14. You can see the full contest rules and regulations here.

Mark your calendars for October 16 and don’t miss the second Edmonton Timeraiser! You can learn more about Timeraiser on their blog and Facebook, and you can follow along using #timeraiser on Twitter.

UPDATE: Congrats to Christina for her comment on getting informed about Edmonton and contributing positively to our city!

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.

Sneak Peek at the new Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton

Nearly thirty people from Edmonton’s very active social media community attended the blogger sneak peek today at the new Art Gallery of Alberta in downtown Edmonton. Armed with smartphones, video cameras, audio recorders, and lots of digital cameras, we toured the new building with Sarah Hoyles, the AGA’s Media Relations and Communications Coordinator, and Gilles Hebert, the AGA’s Executive Director.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

The very striking building is situated at #2 Sir Winston Churchill Square, on the northeast corner between City Hall and Chancery Hall/Century Place. I think it is just as beautiful on the inside as it is distinct on the outside. Everyone is in for a real treat when it officially opens to the public on January 31!

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit the building with Torch Reporter Chris Wheeler, so I thought I’d start this post with some of the under-construction shots I took at the time:

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Art Gallery of Alberta

And here’s one of AGA Board Chair Allan Scott, who has been working to make the new AGA a reality for more than ten years:

Art Gallery of Alberta

On to today’s tour! We met in the foyer, right underneath the borealis.

Art Gallery of Alberta

Here’s a shot of our guides, describing the borealis above:

Art Gallery of Alberta

Our first stop, after the coat check, was Zinc, the Art Gallery of Alberta’s new restaurant. Still under active construction, we got a very quick glimpse at what dining in Churchill Square might be like. As Sharon remarked, standing in Zinc is reminiscent of standing inside Cactus Club Bentall 5 in downtown Vancouver.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Here’s Chris and Sharon, representing Edmonton’s food bloggers:

Art Gallery of Alberta

Next we ascended the grand staircase to the third level, which provided us with a fantastic eye-level view of the borealis, as well as the opportunity to step outside onto the City of Edmonton Terrace.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

We slowly made our way back downstairs, pausing on the second level to learn more about the way the new building is meant to capture snow. It’s explained in this video, which also provides a sneak peek at Storm Room, an interactive ten-minute exhibit featuring water, among other things:

Passing by the front entrance, we next visited the basement level, which features a number of education spaces (the rooms are named after colors, such as orange and yellow), theatre space, the AGA sales office, and the LRT entrance.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

A lot of thought went into the design of the new AGA, something that architect Randall Stout illustrated very well during his talk back in September. It’s a building that you have to visit multiple times – it looks different depending on the season, weather, and time of day. It’s a fantastic addition to Edmonton’s downtown, and to the city as a whole.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Thanks to everyone who made it out to the tour today! You can see the rest of my photos here.

Here are some of the other posts from today’s tour (I’ll update as more appear):

Art Gallery of Alberta sneak peek for Edmonton’s social media community

As I’ve mentioned here a few times before, I’m very excited for the new Art Gallery of Alberta, opening to the public on January 31 (on ShareEdmonton). The AGA has done a really solid job of keeping everything a secret so far for the big reveal, but at the same time they want to stir up interest in the community. I had the opportunity to suggest a sneak peek of the new building for Edmonton’s social media community, and was thrilled when Sarah Hoyles, the AGA’s Media Relations & Communications Coordinator, said it was going to happen!

Here are the details:

The Art Gallery of Alberta will host a private tour for local bloggers later this month. The by-invitation-only event will be led by AGA Executive Director, Gilles Hebert, who will provide Edmonton’s social media community with a sneak peek of Alberta’s newest gallery, opening on January 31, 2010.

If you’re an active blogger or Twitter or other social media user in Edmonton, you should be receiving an invitation soon! The invite will contain all of the other relevant details.

For more information on the new building, check out Randall Stout on the new Art Gallery of Alberta. For updates about the AGA, follow yourAGA on Twitter!

See you there!

Timeraiser comes to Edmonton

Timeraiser is a unique event that supports both artists and non-profit organizations. You can think of it as a volunteer fair with a twist. Here’s the back story:

Timeraiser was conceptualized in 2002 in response to a group of friends wondering how it could be easier to find meaningful, relevant volunteer opportunities. Now, 7 years and 10 Timeraisers later, it is amazing that this grass-roots initiative has flourished into a well-known, annual event that operates in 6 cities across Canada.

It’s a great opportunity to learn more about local non-profit agencies and the volunteer opportunities they have available. What’s the twist? The event is also a silent art auction! To bid on art, you pledge volunteer hours instead of money. It’s an interesting way to get people involved in their local community. You can learn more about how Timeraiser works here.

Edmonton’s first Timeraiser is taking place on October 17th. Here are the details:

WHO: Everyone!
WHAT: 1st Edmonton Timeraiser
WHEN: Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 7:00 PM
WHERE: TransAlta Arts Barns, 10330 84 Avenue (map)
WHY: To raise 4000 community hours for local organizations!
Click here to register!

I got in touch with organizers Theresa Wetzel and Amanda Grainger to find out more. I wondered how Edmonton’s event came to be. Here’s what they said:

“The Edmonton Timeraiser came about from interest that was generated from the success we have had with the Calgary Timeraiser over the past four years. Our corporate partners, volunteers, and agencies were encouraging us to expand the program to Edmonton because they knew it would be a perfect fit for the city. So we started out by approaching the United Way Alberta Capital Region, Volunteer Edmonton, and Enbridge to see if we could rally their support to help bring the program to Edmonton. Instantly they were interested in getting on board and the Edmonton Timeraiser got off the ground without a hitch.”

The goal of the event is to provide people who aren’t already involved with volunteering a fun and easy place to start. Before individuals can bid on art, they first spend some time matching their skills to an agency’s needs. There are 22 agencies currently signed up to take part, and attendees are encouraged to shortlist the agencies they’d like to connect with ahead of time. Given that Edmonton has a fairly strong culture of volunteerism already, I asked Theresa how she saw that impacting the event. She said that Edmonton’s Timeraiser had the highest number of agencies that submitted applications and that “Edmontonians seem very engaged civic minded people who have a passion for art and volunteering”.

In addition to supporting local non-profits, Timeraiser supports local artists by purchasing artwork at fair market value. There will be 22 works of art up for auction. “We are happy to report we invested over $12,000 in the careers of Edmonton artists and in total since 2004 we have raised $300,000 in the careers of Canadian artists.” You can see some of the artwork here.

Organizers are hoping for about 200 participants pledging hours, with the goal of raising 4000 volunteer hours in total (the minimum pledge is 20 hours). Tickets for the event are on sale now for just $20.

Don’t miss this great event! Follow along and chat about it on Twitter using #timeraiser.

Randall Stout on the new Art Gallery of Alberta

On Saturday afternoon, Randall Stout gave a talk at the Winspear Centre on the new Art Gallery of Alberta. As the lead architect on the renovation of the AGA, he could talk about the project like no one else. He started with some of his influences and favorite examples of architecture, and then moved on to the philosophy behind the design for the new AGA. He touched on the technology used throughout the design process, and the materials used for the building’s construction. He finished with some never-before-seen renderings and photographs of the new AGA.

As Sharon noted, one couldn’t help but come away from the talk feeling excited about the new Art Gallery. I was already looking forward to the new building for it’s unique and controversial design (both positive things in a city mostly full of plain buildings) and hearing Stout’s thoughts only furthered my appreciation for the design.

Randall Stout Architects, Inc. was named the winner of the Edmonton Art Gallery’s New Vision architectural competition on October 13th, 2005. Here’s what Stout had to say at the time:

“It is an honour to be chosen from among such distinguished colleagues,” said Randall Stout once he had been given the news. “I look forward with great excitement to crafting architecture that serves the Gallery’s New Vision of programming for the people of Edmonton and all of Alberta.”

The distinguished colleagues he mentioned included Alsop & Partners (London, UK) and Quadrangle (Toronto), Arthur Erickson/Nick Milkovich (Vancouver), Dub Architects (Edmonton), and Zaha Hadid (London, UK).

Though Randall Stout has been on the job for about four years, the project actually started nearly twelve years ago. That’s when the wheels were set in motion for the renovation of what was known at the time as the Edmonton Art Gallery. I think once we see the completed building we’ll look back and say it was worth the wait.

The most distinctive feature, the sweeping stainless steel wave, is known as “Borealis”. It is meant to reflect our city’s unique geography – the river valley cutting through box-filled urban spaces. While it will appear as one piece as you walk into the building, it is actually separate to ensure that cold outside temperatures stay outside.

Stout talked a little about designing for such a northern climate. He mentioned that the building was designed with winter in mind, and showed a rendering of the building on a very snowy day. He didn’t give specifics however, and said to wait for some nice weather-related surprises when the building opens. He also shared his admiration for local construction workers who braved the cold weather to keep the project on track.

Though the new AGA will indeed be linked to the pedway system and to Churchill LRT station when finished, it will not include a redesigned LRT entrance. Stout said that he went above and beyond the requirements of the competition by including the feature in his initial designs, but scrapped it due to lack of funding. He’s hopeful that the City might resurrect the feature in the future (and I am too).

Art Gallery of Alberta

Other interesting features of the new building include “the grand staircase”, the third floor terrace, a new restaurant/cafe, and a color-changing exterior. You can learn more about the building features here.

The new $88 million Art Gallery of Alberta will open to the public on January 31, 2010, roughly 1500 days after Randall Stout won the competition. To tide you over until then, the Art Gallery of Alberta is hosting an exhibit called Building a Vision, which features “the progression of the building from initial conceptual sketches and diagrams to pictures, models, and photographs captured throughout construction.” Don’t miss it!