Sometimes I become jaded about living in a big city. Okay, so big is a relative term, but I do think of Edmonton as big, even if it’s not London, New York, Chicago, or even Toronto. In fact, Edmonton population wise is only a third, maybe a bit less, than Toronto proper. But now, back to my original train of thought. Sometimes I become jaded about living in a big city. I huff about long commutes, traffic problems, lack of affordable housing– resulting in increased homelessness, city transit, and there are probably a few more to be added to that.
Last night, however, reminded me of how much I love living in the city. Yesterday was the second day of a two-day celebration for the opening of the new Alberta Art Gallery. The gallery itself is quite impressive, being designed by an architect from Los Angeles after an international competition. It’s got a large silver stripe weaving through the building, representing the aurora borealis, and then many glass windows set up in slightly off center grid patterns, representing the streets of Edmonton. But the part that really impressed me were the exhibits themselves. There was an extensive Karsh exhibiton including some of his most famous works, as well as an in-depth look at his style and process in photography. It was fascinating. Then there were two sound installations, one called The Storm, and one called Murder of Crows. Murder of Crows was based off of a series of night mares and there were about 50 speakers in a large room, and each had it’s own soundtrack, that could make up the sounds of crows in flight, or an army marching, or men singing. And then in the middle was a gramaphone, that told stories of nightmares had. Really fantastic. And then there was The Storm– which was a mock-up of a room a dentist had died in in Japan 60 years earlier and had never been entered again. They rebuilt this room, and then created a thunder storm, complete with rain and lightning, that you could experience from inside this dilapitated Japanese room. Once again, excellent.
From there, I moved on to the Goya and Degas exhibit. The Degas exhibit we were wisked through with a quick tour of five minutes and then a bit of time to wander around. Honestly, it looks like a lot of Degas. What I appreciated more than the sculptures were the sketches. I love seeing an artists mind a work, before the finished produce. The Goya exhibit were a series of copper-plate sketches on the horrors of war, that he probably saw himself. They were grotesque and disgusting. They were political commentaries at what was happening in his life. The amount of time he must have spent creating the plates to make these images is truly astounding. But really, the exhibit was a little depressing, but a great tool for teaching history.
From there, I headed out to the gift shop, which was sadly, quite tiny compared to most gallery gift shops, and did not have the MOMA ball whisk I was hoping to find there. One of these days I’ll just have to break down and buy it online– or even better, I’ll just have to make a trip back to the MOMA. Wouldn’t that be a shame? But, if you are in the Edmonton reigon and have even the smallest appreciation for art, it will be well worth your time and money to check out these exhibits at the brand-new Art Gallery of Alberta.