Art in Edmonton: Spaces that inspire

by Heather Egger

Hey Edmonton, where’s all the art at? From the new Ice District to shining glass pyramids in the river valley, you’ll find art in inspiring spaces all over the city. Let’s explore Edmonton’s public art spaces. [Image credit:]

Art in Edmonton: Spaces that inspire

Iron Foot Place

Alex Janvier is an influential Native Canadian artist from northern Alberta, who created a one-million-tile mosaic in the city’s brand new Rogers Place. The arena is bright and airy and in the tall glass foyer, in the centre of the floor, Janvier’s 14-metre signature installation is a mighty palette of snow, sky, spring flowers, river and rain. Tsa tsa ke k’e (Iron Foot Place) flickers with flame, floats like clouds – and runs like “clear water from far away mountains” (as Janvier says in this video of the artist talking about the piece). Please go see this masterpiece.

Percent for art

Iron Foot Place was supported in part by the Edmonton’s Percent for Art policy. So here’s a local’s tip: Save your money for the La Misión burrito and Lupita truck (#BurritosForThePeople) by checking out all the free street art in Edmonton. Take the LRT to Southgate Centre for the big comic-book shoes – and then buy yourself a pair of shoes at this fashion mall. Climb under and around the turquoise-blue-green Willow sculpture in Borden Park on your way to a football game. Or grab a java at the Carrot Coffee House and browse the Arts on the Ave outdoor art collection on your way to the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts to enjoy art by underrepresented artists.

Glass under glass

The iconic Muttart Conservatory is made up of four gleaming glass pyramids – designed by Peter Hemingway to poke up out of the curvy green river valley. Besides all the flora inside, the conservatory is home to a blown glass installation by local artist Keith Walker. Biota fills the top of a pyramid with a celebration of life on earth. Walker’s fragile biological shapes catch the sunlight in jewel-tones of blue, green, yellow and red. Go on weekends to chow down on garden-fresh brunch at Culina in the conservatory – the just-picked herbs and greens are grown onsite in the greenhouses.

AGA art parties

The Art Gallery of Alberta is a modern silver building that anchors Edmonton’s arts district alongside the Winspear, Citadel Theatre and City Hall. The gallery itself is a great big swerve shape that mirrors the northern lights. It is definitely a space that inspires new thoughts, deep contemplation and one heck of a party! AGA’s late-night refinery art parties are the very coolest way to see the current exhibits – plus you’ll groove to a wild DJ, make art, eat free themed appies and sip a cocktail. Oh man, that sounds fun!

124 Street gallery walk

Wander along one of the city’s hip shopping and eating districts and visit seven incredible art galleries in two blocks – and then straight to Duchess Bake Shop, missy. To admire the work of some the country’s best First Nations and Inuit artists, pop into Bearclaw Gallery. The gallery, established in 1975, represents Woodland Cree artist Leo Arcand, whose soapstone sculpture “Courage” was given to President Obama by Prime Minister Trudeau. If you happen to be looking for the best present ever (hint, hint) ask Jackie and her team about their intricate birch bark bitings and baskets.

Edmonton is an art-loving city, with festivals all year long, lots of theatre and public art that pops up all over the city. We are a community of artists, actors, bakers and makers of all kinds. Come get inspired in our art-filled spaces.

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