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Creating Community through Arts Education Written by Stacey Dyck Public art is flourishing these days in our city, enhancing our buildings, parks, public transit corridors and other urban landscapes. Since 2011, The City of Calgary’s Public Art Program, called Public Art 101, has been hosting free professional development sessions for artists who are looking to transition their practice to the realm of public art. Topics are chosen based on expressed interest and are presented throughout the year at the historic Cliff Bungalow Arts Centre. Here is what past participants are saying about these educational and networking opportunities:

Mary-Leigh Doyle is a local artist whose painted utility box can be found on eastbound Memorial Drive.

I discovered Public Art 101 after participating in the Painted Utility Box program. Calgary’s growing and very accessible support of visual arts excited me and I wanted to be involved, no matter how small my own role might be. Through my participation, I have come to feel connected to every public artwork I encounter, whether I know the artist or not. Feeling a part of the scene has deeply influenced my attitude towards my own small contribution of a painted utility box, and has also raised my evaluation of what our city and its artists are capable of, especially when we work together. Bravo Calgary.

INCIPIO MODO were awarded the public art commission for the plaza located at 4th Ave. and 9th St. SW, resulting in the artwork Ascension.

The Public Art 101 sessions were fundamental for the establishment of our artistic practice in Calgary. We discovered a panorama full of options and ways to remain active participants in the field of public art. We discovered a city that supports their art community!


stephen winter 2014

Credit: M.N. Hutchinson


Diana Sherlock

is a Calgary visual arts writer, curator and educator.

As a Public Art Board member and an instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design, I was invited to present a how-to session at Public Art 101 that would assist participants in developing successful Requests for Proposals (RFPs). In many ways, the session mirrored some of what I teach at the College – basic proposal packages, curriculum vitae, project proposals including artist statements, but tailored for The City’s public art process. Civic processes can seem cumbersome and difficult as artists usually function within a different milieu, with completely different stakeholders. I appreciated the chance to guide participants, many of whom are new to the public art process, through the detailed ins-and-outs, and to show them that it actually isn't that difficult. It’s really just a matter of learning the language and the particularities of the system. I really enjoyed connecting with the diversity of participants and saw such great enthusiasm. It's amazing when people learn to navigate a process that will allow them to make their artistic visions come to fruition.

Monika Smith

is a ceramic artist living and practicing her craft in Calgary.

Public Art 101 certainly gave me ideas, wearing my hat as the president of the Alberta Potters' Association, on how to 'up our game.' It has also made me very aware of the responsibility of artists to create our own opportunities; to create excellent work, to show our portfolios and to apply. While I am still very much emerging, my studio is finally now open and I am developing a body of work that may expand into a larger, and perhaps more public realm. It has been very important for me to hear from artists who are successful in creating public art, including their fiscal management and the difference between commissioned and open calls. My first 'public' works will probably be displayed on my front lawn! Stay tuned.

Stephen - Winter 2014  

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