Throughout the past 13 days, visits were made to the square repeatedly to catch glimpses of "live" art. From the theatre troupe in all white and drowned out by the stage music, to the tin foil sculpting of figures and tree trunks, to the fun but slightly disappointing painting of the entry arches, the artistic demonstrations were less interactive and more observational. Not that it was all bad. Providing the festival with a glimpse of genius and beauty, pianist James Carson along with Mile Zero Dance's large ensemble cast in all black evening wear lulled down the interior marble stairs of City Hall and sustained their 30 minute set into the outdoor wading pool. The imagery of bodies in dance, all black against white, slowly rising and falling, fit in well with a visual arts festival and audience; but in conflict for the second year in a row, dance became the strongest visual feast in both 2 and 3D offerings.
Rounding out the last few Works-curated shows, catching (or almost missing if I wasn't puprosely looking) the glass works inside BMO and the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald, Jeff Collins at Sutton Place, the Grant MacEwan student show at Alberta College, the multimedia exhibit at Concrete, it was Gerry Rasmussen and Roger Garcia's "Stripped Down" at Rigoletto's Cafe that demonstrated what this festival may be at.
Image courtesy of Roger Garcia, 2007
Taking the often flippant form of cartoon and applying their sensibilites to the traditional nude form, local cartoonists Garcia and Rasmussen stretched their craft in very impressive ways. The pieces themselves may be the best works by either artist; Garcia known for his work in local weeklies and Rasmussen best known for his syndicated cartoon, Betty. Although each artist brings their distinct line and characteristic shadowing techniques to the human body, neither hyperbolize or caricaturize the body and expresses a deft sense of restraint and sensitivity.
Image courtesy of Gerry Rasmussen, 2007
The result offers a very rough and honest representation of a form that often gets yawned over. Peering over the perturbed shoulders of noon hour diners, the exhibit was exceptional. It also revealed that the festival, for all its quirks and ongoing faults, does not cater to a canonical representation of visual arts, but embraces all artists at all levels and art forms. Public art in alternative spaces may no longer hold true; but alternative art in public spaces still has resonance. Panning through all the exhibits, there turned out to be a few hidden gems--but within context, you really have to wade through it all to find the good stuff.