Walk this way

By Christine Cheung

You don’t know what you’re missing–until now.
Artist Steve Mack encourages Calgarians to attend ArtWalk 2000 from September 15-30.

"There is something about seeing the real thing in person," explains Steve Mack, whose work will be exhibited during ArtWalk Festival 2000 in the exhibition Undivided Highway. "The strength of visual art is the presence, but it is also its weakness because most people, about 90 per cent of the population, don’t have that experience. They only see things reproduced. Until you’ve stepped out of that box, you don’t know what you’re missing."

It is for this reason that Mack, a recently graduated MFA student from the University of Calgary, believes that ArtWalk is important, not only for Calgary’s art community but also for the public. He explains that ArtWalk allows art–from the ugly and beautiful to the conventional and controversial–to explode out of galleries and art schools onto the streets and become bigger than the institutions that hold them.

"Part of ArtWalk seems to me to be democratizing the whole [art] process, taking it out and putting it in public spaces and broadening the spectrum of participants on the public end and the artist end, "Mack says.

Festival coordinator Jeannie Watson agrees, citing the festival’s hopes in exceeding the 25,000 visitors who attended last year’s festival.

"We want to reach [regular] visitors, Calgarians and first-time visitors to an art gallery," says Watson. "Students are really important to the ArtWalk Festival. They have an opportunity to hear talks by world-famous designers, architects and established artists as well as exhibitions by recent grads."

In addition to the Art Talk Series, some highlights include Trace, an exhibition which features the work of local artists developed from an open submission call and Architectural Samples, which features design work created by students in the Faculty of Environmental Design here at the university. Audience participation is welcomed for Studio 2000, where the public will be invited to share studio space with competing designers, architects and artists who will be given materials and space to design a pavilion for Olympic Plaza.

Just in case you’re not convinced and you think the art scene in Calgary consists mainly of big-sky landscape paintings, think again. From digital video opera, to dance, to the more traditional mediums of painting and sculpture, many different voices and mediums will be represented at this year’s festival. Which is just what the doctor ordered, according to Mack.

"I think in Calgary the envelope needs to be pushed a little bit more," he says. "It’s a very conservative city."

Call 265-1412 for information.

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