Art students attending ACAD say that Calgary is abundant in private galleries but there are mixed opinions on whether Calgary needs a focal point for the visual arts.
During the ACAD Show and Sale in November, several students shared their opinions on Calgary’s visual art scene.
“I think Calgary is overlooked, I think it has some very good places to go for studio space,” said second-year BFA painting major student Jane Christensen.
“We are not just cowboy culture, we are not just oil…we are more than that. We have an amazing art scene,” said Christensen.
“I think we have art in certain places in Calgary, but there isn’t enough for the size that Calgary is,” said second-year BFA student Mason Graff.
BFA student Hannah Petkau feels that Calgary has a lot of smaller private galleries that are really good and bring in really interesting shows.
“I guess compared to Vancouver I think Calgary has a much more vibrant visual arts culture just because of the oil industry and people support things like the Show and Sale at ACAD a lot more,” said Petkau, who comes from a small B.C. town.
Chantal Lafond thinks that Calgary definitely needs something like Edmonton’s public Art Gallery of Alberta.
She feels that the AGOA or the Vancouver Art Gallery give far more variety, whereas the private galleries in Calgary can be small, “super-stuffy” and target a very specific audience.
“I think we’ve got a lot going here right now,” said drawing-major BFA student Michael Conforti.
He feels Calgary does not need a public art gallery like Edmonton has. Conforti lived in Edmonton and knew of a few smaller galleries but found them to be more commercial.
“Calgary has the artist run centers, which I think is huge and really important because you can put up anything and do anything in those, and they’re not so worried about selling.”
“I think what we have now is great, but there’s always room for more,” said second-year BFA student Cody Cox.
A lot of the students made the point that the only reason they know about certain galleries is because they are informed through their programs in ACAD.
Such is the case for any Calgarian immersed in arts, but for the rest of the community, there isn’t a strong enough enthusiasm to go searching.
“I think the biggest thing is there has to be advertising,” said Cox.
Calgarians who aren’t involved in the arts might only go to certain key spots such as the Glenbow Museum, MOCA (the Museum Of Contemporary Art) and even the “Show and Sale” at ACAD.
Christensen and Conforti speculated that the most popular Calgary galleries are the Truck Gallery, Straw gallery, The Paint Spot and Resolution.
“Skew is a pretty big one and the Glenbow, but they do not really do a lot of local artists, unfortunately,” said Conforti.
Christensen thinks that Calgary is a good place to go if a person is out gallery searching, and believes the city has a lot of culture.
“Honestly, if you just walk around Calgary there’s going to be art everywhere,” she said.
“People don’t have to be art buffs to go and appreciate art,” said Graff.
“If people are enthusiastic and they’re excited about the way that they bring art upon other people than those people will get excited about it too.”