Never being a fan of the lists that reminisced over what was great, mediocre, or terrible over the past year, I sit here on New Year's Day thinking about the next little while, and in so doing, I would like to propose the 10 things I would genuinely like to see or wish for in this coming year. In no particular order:
1) More cross-provincial exhibitions throughout Canada. It's not news that this country is vast and geographically spread out, but this major fact affects how we see each other—and how the world sees us. Artists, writers and curators can't just hop on the next train and go from Vancouver to Toronto, Edmonton to Montréal, or Winnipeg to Halifax in just mere hours the way Europeans can. The accessibility of going to see each other's works and meeting and talking face to face plays such an important role in shaping and cultivating the arts. I was once told by a Saskatoon-based scholar and curator that when she attends international art biennials, Mumbai-based artists and collectors from Sao Paulo don't know or don't care if Canadian artists are from Saskatchewan or Ontario. That's only an issue for those of us living here.
2) Well-made artists books and formal and informal exhibition catalogues. It's a record that goes a long way.
3) Amazing public art. In Edmonton.
4) I would sincerely like to not feel disappointed by the visual art programming in our city's gauntlet of festivals. Any sense of past disappointments go beyond the quality of works, but how they are integrated into the festival framework by way of programming initiatives, venues and artists chosen.
5) I would sincerely like to not feel disappointed by Edmonton's only visual art festival, The Works Art and Design Festival, for similar reasons.
6) Now that Tiffany Shaw-Collinge, the main force behind site specific exhibition events including 2007's The Apartment Show and 2009's The Office Show, has left to pursue an architectural degree in California, here's hoping that artists will take advantage of a budding and built-in audience for their own brand of daring works that exploit Edmonton's transient façade.
7) A travelling or at least well-talked about Alberta Biennial-—or Triennial as it stands. With the new building and Canadian Art Editor Richard Rhodes guest curating 2010's edition, it would be nice if the biennial either reached beyond its provincial borders to connect Alberta art to non-Albertans or opened up its mandate and invited national and international artists to bring the art world closer to Alberta.
8) Confirmed plans for a new art space. Be it the proposed shared co-op space between different disciplines on 118 Avenue, or the table talks between different organizations teaming up for a new building, or the media arts finally getting their own space and recognition separate from FAVA, the realization of ArtsHab as modeled after Toronto's Artscape as a proactive mediator between artists, the city and developers has great expectations to fill, and hopefully, has a strategy in place.
9) Artists staying because they want to and leaving because they don't have to.
10) New blood in old places.
*First published in Vue Weekly