Optimistically Cautious

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Art Gallery of Alberta: Free for All

Following brunch, Mack and I made our way to the Art Gallery of Alberta to visit the "Free for All" exhibit. According to the website, over 1300 artists, from amateur to professional, brought in a total of 2863 pieces of art to be displayed in the gallery free of charge.

Walking in, I was overwhelmed by the spectacle of creativity; it was literally a visual assault of color and images. Due to the sheer number of submissions, I had to wonder how difficult it must have been to curate. There was some coherence in places (e.g. tigers, the outdoors), but the majority of walls were adorned with a seemingly random assemblage of pictures.

The variety of representations was amazing - from collages to comic sketches, shadow boxes to 3-D models - it would be easy to spend a week just taking the time to look at each of the pieces individually. I was pleasantly surprised that there weren't a noticeable number of landscape portraits or religious depictions among the bunch.

My favorite pieces included:

Calendar (which to me speaks of how our experiences are quite literally worn on our sleeves)

Peace Map (with its interesting detail)

Title unknown, but darn clever

Honorable mentions go to Shrine, a smile-inducing ode to Bill Gates

And Hugh Laurie as House

I loved how alive the gallery was - kids and families wandering the halls together. The odd time I have been there, the patrons were few and far between, so it was a nice change to see the energy and excitement pulsing through the space. I remarked at one point how easy it would be for so-called "real," marketable art to be placed among "amateur" submissions unbeknownst to the casual viewer. So, on that note, what to make of this giant Q-tip?

The free exhibit runs until March 24.

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