Though most galleries respond to renovations with closures or reduced programming, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery is using its construction—due to complete in spring 2010—as an impetus to take exhibitions out to the public sphere.
“Into the Streets,” which runs all summer, is the gallery’s new series of city-based installations and performances. Featuring nine Canadian artists and aimed at responding to themes of “maintenance, repair, labour, perpetual growth and entropy,” the project refreshingly focuses on everyday permutations rather than spectacular transformations.
Many of the works directly address the renovation process by working with found or discarded materials. Toronto-based artist Kerri Reid presents Small Things Forgotten, a collection of reconstituted dust and sawdust piles from the gallery’s construction debris presented alongside intricate pencil “portraits” of the piles. Meanwhile, Calgary-based artist Rita McKeough’s installation Alternator (presented at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche last year) features a group of miniature oil pumps comically trying to suck up puddles of petrol on city streets, offering a tongue-in-cheek response to economic tumult and oil market precarity.
Other projects, including Annie Martin’s guided Listening Walks of urban sounds and Allison Hrabluik’s off-site dissemination of a comic book about the exploits of murderous french fries, are designed to alter viewers’ perceptions of the cityscape itself. Rounded out with contributions by Kelly Andres, Ingrid Bachmann, James Graham, Lyla Rye and Doug Scholes, the exhibition promises to engage Lethbridge residents throughout the lazy days of summer. (324 5 St S, Lethbridge AB)