The Calgary Art Gallery That Specializes in Inuit and First Nations Art

We’re embarking on a gallery crawl to explore Calgary’s visual art scene. Our first stop is Transformation Fine Art.

Photograph by Blaire Russell Photograpghy

Background 

Transformation Fine Art is a boutique gallery in Calgary that specializes in Inuit art. Sophia Lebessis opened Transformation Fine Arts two years ago after her father, who was a gallery owner in Lake Lousie, Banff, and Victoria, passed away. “When my father passed away, a lot of his clients were reaching out to me and it got to a point where I thought maybe this is something that I can pursue and open my own gallery,” she says. “I quit my job and never looked back.” According to Lebessis, Inuit art has a strong presence in the art scene across the country and globally, it is famously associated with the Canadian culture.

 

The space

Transformation Fine Arts is a boutique gallery located downtown in the historic Grain Exchange Building. Lebessis says the building along with the art, “slows down time in our busy downtown core.” The gallery operates on appointment-only basis, which means you’ll be the only people in the space at the time of your visit.

 

What you’ll find

Lebessis says she provides assistance with resale of Inuit art, corporate gifting, and provides career-coaching to emerging Indigenous artists. She works with collectors with a variety of budgets. “People assume this is high-level sales but there really is a piece of Inuit art for everybody,” she says.

 

Artists to note

Currently, the gallery has a large collection of Toonoo Sharky works, pieces by Barnabus Arnasungaaq from the 1970s, and an 80-pounds alabaster polar bear that looks like life-size polar bear cub.

 

Know before you go

The gallery operates on appointment-basis only, meaning there are no drop-by options available. “It’s an intentional visit,” Lebessis says. “When you come here, the doors are shut and the experience is what we carve out together. It’s a tailored experience.”

 

202, 815 1 St S.W., 403-615-2038, transformationfineart.com

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