March isn’t just drunken belligerence

With midterms over, how does one fill the time between Lucky Charms for breakfast and green beer for dinner? With plenty of art, of course! Calgary is just bursting with talent this month, so don’t miss out on all the chances to be inspired.

ACAD’s Illingworth Kerr Gallery is featuring two gifted artists, Sarah Anne Johnson and Richard Boulet, until March 27. Johnson is a Winnipeg-based artist with an impressive artistic resume, including graduating from and teaching art at Yale, having her work featured in the National Gallery of Canada and the Guggenheim Museum as well as receiving positive reviews from respected art critics such as Roberta Smith. Her work at ACAD includes photographs, sculpture, painting and mixed media that has a personal approach, focusing on familial community and personal history.

Boulet, who finished his MFA at the University of Alberta and continues to work from Edmonton, focuses on personal issues in his work as well, exploring spirituality’s relation to mental health. His work has an irony to it using fibre sculpture, quilting and cross stitching techniques to express a much darker reality of schizophrenia, homelessness, psychosis, family issues, medication and coping strategies.

Skew Gallery is featuring its own firecracker. Graduating from University of Wisconsin with an masters of art, Diana Thorneycroft is renowned for making audacious artwork that challenges her audience. Her new series, Group of Seven Awkward Moments uses black humour to examine the relationship between Canada’s geography and Canadian national identity. She uses iconic prints of paintings from the Group of Seven that depict pristine and uplifting landscapes along with dioramas of collected dolls that express isolation, disaster and poor choices. You only have until March 27 to check out this show and take the opportunity to reflect upon your own identity.

Steeps Tea House features the works of more local artists this month. Among them is James Wyper, an established Calgary painter that works mainly in oils. His abstracts use a large range of rich, luminous colours and organic shapes that are remarkable for their ability to convey and draw out emotion from the viewer, Wyper says he’s got something in mind for his audience.

“My goal is that they are mesmerizing and captivating, that they suspend your thoughts for a while,” he says.

His work is also up at Calgary’s Theatre Bar, the Auburn Saloon, which is appropriate considering the James’ paintings will set the mood in the new Vertigo Mystery Theatre play, The Art of Murder. His paintings will represent the work of one of the artists in the play. Wyper’s past may have clues as to what makes his work so successful.

“In the early ’90s I lived in a school bus with a hippy girl and a cat in Victoria,” he explains. “I lived by making and selling paintings and selling them out of a pizza parlour.”

In 1999, Wyper experienced a peak in his spiritual life after a window he was opening shattered, stunning him.

“I had an acute spiritual awakening which was shamanic in nature,” he recalls. This new-found sense of serenity and awareness is intuitively evident in his work and his demeanour. Wyper encourages people to come and visit him in his peaceful studio at suite 402, 319 10th Ave. SW to have a chat and watch him work.

Calgary’s International Spoken Word Festival, the coolest literary event of the year, is taking place from April 1-5 and features over a dozen events, so make sure you check out the complete listing online at

On April 2, you can catch Funnier than #$@! And Hotter than Hell at the Auburn Saloon. It features artists from across Canada and the United States and it promises to be knock your socks off funny.

“Smart Men Hot Words,” where you can check out the self-described “Chippendales of Poetry,” is at Auburn Saloon on April 3. Seven Canadian poets will serenade you with performances such as reading from the Bible backwards and exploring the metaphysics of reality, accompanied by the romantic tune of Calgary’s hip-hop duo, Dragon Fli Empire and DJ Sublight. Each show costs $10 and tickets can be purchased online on the Calgary Spoken Word Festival website.

The incredible talent that is coming to Calgary need to be encouraged and fostered if we want it to continue. Take your friends with you and explore what the city has to offer!

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