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AGA celebrates birthday in two big ways

New exhibit shines spotlight on Alberta artists

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 06:00 am

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  • ALEX JANVIER – Lubicon, an acrylic painting by Alex Janvier, is one of dozens of artworks on display during the Art Gallery of Alberta's 90th anniversary celebration.
    ALEX JANVIER – Lubicon, an acrylic painting by Alex Janvier, is one of dozens of artworks on display during the Art Gallery of Alberta's 90th anniversary celebration.
    TESSA NUNN/Supplied photo
  • GREG PAYCE – This collection of glazed ceramic sculptures, by Greg Payce, is entitled SSSSSSS.
    GREG PAYCE – This collection of glazed ceramic sculptures, by Greg Payce, is entitled SSSSSSS.

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90 x 90: Celebrating Art in Alberta
Part 1 of exhibit runs until Sept. 14; Part 2 opens on Oct. 24 and runs until Jan. 4, 2015
Art Gallery of Alberta
2 Sir Winston Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton
Call 780-422-6223 or visit www.youraga.ca for more information.

Turning 90 is a pretty big deal so no one can fault the Art Gallery of Alberta for starting the celebrations a few months early.

The oldest cultural institution in the province opened the doors last week to a massive new exhibit called 90 x 90: Celebrating Art in Alberta. The anthology-style gallery show is solely dedicated to giving a broad overview of Alberta art and its artists.

“Since the opening of our new building, the AGA has developed and delivered a program mandate which takes advantage of our great new facility, with a dual focus on presenting and celebrating Alberta art and also bringing a world of art to Alberta,” explained Catherine Crowston, the institution’s executive director, during the launch of the show.

The task of selecting only 90 artists from the thousands who have lived and worked in Alberta over the last century, was not an easy one, Crowston said.

“Given the scale of this exhibition project, we have divided it into two parts.”

Both shows, she continued, feature a total of 90 artists and more than 120 works of art “that highlight the creativity and diversity of the province’s art scene.”

The exhibit artists such as Alex Janvier, Jane Ash Poitras, John Chalke, Isla Burns, Peter Hide and 60 other painters, potters, sculptors, video and installation artists.

When the gallery opened on Aug. 17, 1924 (then called the Edmonton Museum of Arts Association and later the Edmonton Art Gallery), it became the province’s only museum dedicated solely to art. It still is.

This exhibition is designed to highlight a diverse selection of Alberta artists the AGA’s team of art historians and curators held in high regard for their contributions, their influence, their innovations and the recognition that they received.

It starts with Gordon Ferguson’s massive barbed wire welded steel installation Strung that hangs over the entrance. Inside the doors, viewers will be treated to Greg Payce’s rhythmic column sculpture SSSSSSS and Gerald Tailfeathers’ watercolour and tempera glimpses into traditional indigenous life from the Blood region of his people.

H.G. Glyde’s Edmonton has two Second World War-era art deco oil works called Edmonton and Aftermath. There’s also a sample of Margaret Shelton, an artist who made her name with delicate watercolours and intricate woodcut and linocut prints. There’s A.C. Leighton, Catherine Burgess, George Bures Miller, Clay Ellis, Ted Godwin, Douglas Haynes, Robert Scott and many, many others.

The second part of the exhibit will feature the works of such notable Alberta artists as Peter von Tiesenhausen, Sylvain Voyer, Les Graff, Lyndal Osborne and Marian Nicoll.

The gallery is also planning a special birthday event to be held Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Details on that are still being co-ordinated and will be announced at a later date.

As a thank you to its patrons and as a way of continuing the celebration, the gallery will allow people to get free admission on their birthdays up until May 17, 2015.


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