Taking in art on a slim budget
For four weeks every January, the High Performance Rodeo ropes in dozens of international and local artists for a
festival that caters to the eyes, ears and hearts of artistically-minded Calgarians. Nothing short of the weird and wacky is deemed worthy of taking over the downtown core, and several of the theatrical productions and musical performances showcase the best in left-field, underground talent.
However, with several of the shows boasting ticket prices of $20 on average, it’s hard for the cash-conscious art lover to dig in on the feast of wonders in store — especially if those funds have already been set aside for tuition, books, and late-night studying snacks.
Never fear, though, as the HPR has taken the time to include quite a few showcases that won’t dig into your wallet.
Jan. 16 @ 5 p.m.
Fans of electronic music won’t want to miss this free dance party that’s sure to provide some heat in the cold of Olympic Plaza. Manchester’s Mr. Scuff, Pretty Lights from Denver, Californian Beats Antique, and Calgary’s own Bruno Changkye will all be playing sets, while entertainment will be provided by fire dancing troupe Thermal Shock Mafia, and light displays courtesy of local artists Wrong Electron. “Dazzling,” “electrifying,” and “mind-expanding” have been used to describe this event, so find some flexible boots and get ready to dance.
Jan. 24 @ 2:30 p.m.
While the majority of the High Performance Rodeo is built on the lineup of shows coming to town, it also acts as a meeting place for artists to discuss the impacts and nature of their craft. This year is no different, as the governor general herself, along with her husband and filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond, will present a discussion on “the power and purpose of using the arts to engage in social issues.” With such a wide-ranging topic, this symposium will prove to be eye opening and thought provoking for anyone interested in the arts.
Piano in Trees
Now to Jan. 31
Many Calgarians were aghast when six gargantuan “future trees” were erected on Stephen Avenue between Bankers Hall and TD Square, but this may prove to be the best utilization of a structural art installation yet. Throughout the Rodeo, music composed and performed by renowned Dutch pianist Jeroen Van Veen will play from speakers set up within the “trees,” allowing the sounds to reverberate off the steel and echo through the downtown core. If that doesn’t sound like the perfect setting for a romantic walk at night, we’d be hard-pressed to find one better.
Now to Jan. 30
Four artists — Adrian Fish, Tia Halliday, Daniel Hutchinson and Barry Underwood — explore the nature of live performance through paint and photography, capturing the nature of the live theatre experience and the connection between audience and performer. Emotionally charged and visually beautiful, this exhibit casts a whole new light on the power of theatre. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; call 403-244-4445 for details.
Jan. 17 @ 2 p.m.
Playwright Sharon Cavanagh explores the power of words and the ways in which men and women communicate in this series of short conversations that run the gamut from hilarious to heartbreaking. Starring local actors David LeReaney and Roberta Mauer Phillips, this performance takes the “he said, she said” debate to a whole new level. Admission is free, however donations are gratefully accepted.
Now to Feb. 6
At last year’s High Performance Rodeo, artist Graeme Patterson would only allow people to buy one of his handcrafted puppets if they allowed him to create a puppet of the buyer. Now he’s back with the finished results, and his subjects have a choice: buy their puppet-sized caricatures, or allow a new buyer to get sucked into this cycle of what Patterson calls “interactive puppetry.” If anything, this exhibit will be fascinating and hilarious to watch as people discover how they turned out as pint-sized marionettes. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday.
Now to Jan. 31
Over the past 20 years, several Calgary theatre performances have featured minimalist soundscapes composed by Peter Moller. This month, the +15s that connect the various venues of the EPCOR Centre will be awash with Moller’s “greatest hits.” For longtime theatre-goers, the instrumental “sound designs” may bring back memories of performances past. For everyone else, these alternative soundtracks will be a welcome change to elevator muzak, and may stop you in your tracks.
This Is My City
Bringing art to the city’s less fortunate has been the name of the game for the This Is My City project, which comes to a close after a year during which art mentors worked with homeless Calgarians as they created various art projects in different mediums and disciplines. From Jan. 18-24, artwork will be on display at the Municipal Atrium, the EPCOR Centre and the Glenbow. On Jan. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the W.R. Castell Library, a symposium will feature groups from the Drop-In Centre and the Mustard Seed performing various theatrical projects. And on Jan. 23 from 2-4 p.m., the Drop-In Centre and the Mustard Seed will host open art workshops, where people can come in and work with some of the clients who participated in the project. This is truly a case of art bridging great divides and connecting people together, and is surely not to be missed.