Why you should add Contemporary Calgary’s Free First Thursdays to your calendar
Daniele Steele, Staff Writer
Contemporary Calgary’s Free First Thursdays are drawing much attention from the community. The event takes place every first Thursday of the month at absolutely no cost for gallery admission starting from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Visitors who might be busy during the day can enjoy a late afternoon of cocktail drinks and music as they explore the unique art exhibits on display.
Contemporary Calgary also offers a social space for the event’s attendees. The gallery’s second floor features a pop-up cocktail bar from Sugar Water and music by DJ Hot Sauce Boogie. Sugar Water describes its bars as transformative: combining a vintage, speakeasy aesthetic with specialty cocktails. The pop-up bar, paired with Hot Sauce Boogie’s fast-tempo music, enhances a typically tranquil gallery into an environment well-suited for a night out in the city. Hot Sauce Boogie begins playing from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., while Sugar Water’s pop-up bar is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
While attending Free First Thursdays, it is encouraged to walk through the gallery’s exhibits. Contemporary Calgary’s current exhibits showcase two Canadian artists: Robert Houle and Chris Curreri. Both artists’ work provides a unique perspective.
Houle’s exhibit, titled Red is Beautiful, provokes thoughtful discussions on colonization and Canada’s traumatic history of abusive residential schools. As a residential school survivor, Houle’s mixed media artwork expertly tells his personal, spiritual and emotional journey while identifying as both Ojibwa and Catholic.
As expected, Curreri’s collection, titled That, There, It, similarly portrays the unique perspective of a queer individual. Through a series of installations and photographs, Curreri challenges the sexual identity.
While enjoying Free First Thursdays at Contemporary Calgary, visitors have the pleasure of meeting some of the gallery’s welcoming volunteers. Volunteers not only monitor the exhibits, but they are known to engage visitors in educational, and often insightful, conversations. Volunteers are very well versed in the artists and collections being displayed at any given time, therefore anyone attending Free First Thursdays are welcome to discuss, question, or engage alongside the volunteers.
The last day to enjoy the gallery’s current exhibits will be on Sept. 18. According to Contemporary Calgary employees, new exhibits will not be available to the public until Oct. 13. Therefore, Free First Thursdays will resume on Nov. 3.
Although Houle and Curreri’s collections will soon be relocated from the museum, Contemporary Calgary never fails to showcase impactful Canadian artists. Technically skilled artwork with the addition of Sugar Water’s pop-up cocktail bar and music by Hot Sauce Boogie, makes Free First Thursdays an inviting experience and well worth the wait.