A new art initiative is set to bring an illuminating new perspective to downtown Calgary over the next weeks.
Titled project prõjekt, the event will showcase 60 Alberta-based artists with their work projected on the side of the Glenbow Museum, located at the corner of 9th Ave SW and 1st Ave SE.
Described by organizers as “a new platform for of-the-moment art and design that everyone can experience safely,” the experience comes in conjunction with Calgary’s inaugural Chinook Blast festival.
Originally scheduled to begin today and run for three weekends in February, the event’s launch has been delayed due to a cold spell in the area. However, organizers are hopeful that it will be underway by Saturday night at 6 p.m. local time.
Indigenous artists are set to be featured, with a pair of works by Autumn Whiteway, and one work each from Ryus Two Young Men, Steven Meldrum, Pius Littlelight, Emma Forbes, and Brice Iron Shirt.
Tim Fox, who works as the VP, Indigenous Relations & Equity Strategy at the Calgary Foundation, was one of the members of the selection jury. A member of the Blackfoot Confederacy from the Kainai Nation, Fox said the jury received more than 500 submissions from artists from the area.
“What got me excited to be a part of the project was that there was definitely representation from the Indigenous community, but that there was a more intentional lens around it. What I feel like has emerged from what was submitted was a strong representation, not only from the Indigenous community, but from racialized communities and the LGBTQ+ community.”
The 12-person jury also includes Blood Tribe artist Kalum Teke Dan and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, as well as other local arts and business leaders.
“It ended up taking a lot more time than we had anticipated,” Fox said. “But we moved through it the best way we could. It was hard to eliminate a lot of the pieces because they were so powerful and representative, but I’m really happy for what we are going to be showcasing.”
Jeni Piepgrass, who serves as the director of development at Glenbow came up with the idea for project prõjekt this past summer one evening with Keli Pollock, the creative director of Daughter Creative, a Calgary-based marketing and design organization.
A work of Pollock’s of a fist that said “We Got This” in response to the pandemic was featured as part of a global campaign through Amplifier, an organization that gives exposure to artists worldwide, showing in high traffic locations such as New York City.
Piepgrass said, “We decided, wouldn’t it be great to get something like this going in Calgary? We decided to put out a call to see what Calgary artists had to say… How do we cope as a community here?”
From there, the pair really began working on the initiative in early December and put out a call for submissions through mid-January.
“We had hoped to put the show on in the fall, but it was a little slow coming together,” said Piepgrass.
First forming a partnership with the Royal Bank of Canada, Ossler, Calgary Downtown Association, Calgary Arts Development Authority and Tourism Calgary all have since joined on as partners.
The event also has multiple COVID-19 precautions in place. Face masks and social distancing are required, and attendees are asked to only show up with their own social cohort. Each grouping is asked to stay for just 30 minutes, with each artwork being displayed for about 25 seconds on a half-hour loop, with some informational slides also mixed in. The show also does not have scheduled start or end times, but all artwork will be shown six times throughout the evening.
The works selected are also promoting younger and emerging artists, with half of the selected works being created by people under 36 years of age.
“I am excited for the local community to see how this art has been represented by those folks and how they’ve intentionally incorporated a really strong message behind missing and murder Indigenous women and girls, about love is love, about intersecting identities,” Fox added.
More information and examples of the artwork can be found on Instagram @project_projekt.
By Adam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CJWE