Friday, January 1, 2010

Alberta Art Comes To Age*

In 2005 the Edmonton Art Gallery announced it would be renamed “The Art Gallery of Alberta” (AGA). In honour of the name change, it was also announced that the building itself would receive a dramatic redesign. Now, just five years later, the new building, designed by Los Angeles-based architect Randall Stout, has risen—a statement that the AGA is ready to stand alongside other major art institutions across the country and around the world.

Image credit: Taken from Flickr

Stout’s architectural vision combines Edmonton’s undulating river valley and the city’s functional grid system in a new space that serves artists as well as it serves the general public. “The public spaces will rival the Citadel’s when it was first built,” says Catherine Crowston, deputy director and chief curator of the AGA, referring to the mix of private and public spaces at the other end of Sir Winston Churchill Square. “Our intention is that it become a great space for people to see art exhibitions, but also to gather. The opportunities for public use are exciting.”

The public expects a lot from the new AGA, Crowston says, and she’s confident that it will deliver. Not only is the gallery’s architecture unique in the province, but the AGA is able to offer a world-class exhibition space; especially the third floor, which features 6,000 ft2 of open space and can be subdivided, as it will be for next summer’s Alberta Biennial.

Image credit: Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
Installation view: Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin 2009 Foto: Roman März © Courtesy the artists, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, Luhring Augustine, New York

For the AGA’s grand re-opening, Alberta expats Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller will launch the North American premiere of “The Murder of Crows,” which made its world premiere in the 2008 Sydney Biennale and its European premiere in Berlin’s prestigious Hamburger Bahnhof. “Janet and George can do one huge exhibition in the open configuration,” says Crowston. “In Sydney, they had an old 200 ft long wharf on the waterfront and they had a [similar] space in the vaulted ceiling room in the Bahnhof.” The artists created a piece specifically for the new AGA entitled “Storm Room,” a smaller work which will be shown in the RBC New Works Gallery. In addition, new retrospective exhibitions on Francisco Goya and Edgar Degas will feature as the gallery’s premiere exhibitions.

The new AGA opens its doors on Jan 31, 2010, celebrating with free admission on opening day and a full weekend of festivities. For more information, visit

First published in Alberta Views, December 2009

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