Calgary has plenty of established, free art galleries, from The New Gallery and Art Central to The Art Gallery of Calgary and MOCA. Where else can an art-lover go to see for free?
Calgary RiverWalk and the East Village
Popular with Calgary’s art-makers, this district recently welcomed some major public works, including Julian Opie’s digital animation “Promenade.” More permanent works are set to be unveiled in the East Village this spring.
The Esker Foundation, in Inglewood’s Atlantic Avenue Art Block, is a privately funded, non-commercial gallery for contemporary art in a stunningly elegant space. If you have time, dash across 9th Avenue to the comparatively bohemian, artist-run Pith Gallery & Studios in the old Inglewood Bottle Depot. (1011 9 Ave. S.E., 403-930-2490, eskerfoundatio.com)
The 7 Avenue and Centre Street platform is home to three installations, including Jill Anholt’s “TransitStory”, and commuters on the McKnight-Westwinds line can view David Dahlquist’s “Confluence” installation at Martindale Station. With the West LRT committing to public art and new works opening this summer at Kerby Station and City Hall Station, riding the light rails is only going to get more visually interesting.
The Ledge Gallery and Window Galleries
Calgary’s +15 pedway system has its own art tour, but if you don’t have time for the full experience, swing by the Epcor Centre Ledge Gallery and Window Galleries, which open innovative new works every three months, from experimental performance pieces to traditional two-dimensional forms. (Epcor Centre, 205 8 Ave. S.E.)
Gorilla House LIVE ART
Local teachers Rich Theroux and Shauna Pascoe-Theroux took over this Beltline house last summer and started hosting art battles. Artists arrive at the house each Wednesday night with supplies, and the house provides a handful of themes. For the next two hours, art happens. All works are auctioned off at the end of the night. (1503 15 Ave. S.W., facebook.com/gorillahouseliveart)
Bonus: The best place to be in art for free in Calgary is on the plaza of The Bow tower, where you can literally spend some time inside the head of Jaume Plensa’s eerie, lovely “Wonderland” sculpture.