Whether you have a half hour or an afternoon to spare, you should experience The Works Art & Design Fest with a free tour through July 5! The tours can be catered to how much walking you want to do, as you can tour the art around Churchill Square or explore some of the businesses in the central downtown area. All the tours begin at the Info Booth in the southwest corner of the square at 2:00, 4:00, and 6:00 pm. Assistant Editor Matthew Stepanic and Editorial Intern Danielle Mohr took in a tour on Friday—here are their takes on what they enjoyed most and tips to get more from your own experience!
No Art Degree Required
I’ve encountered installations in the downtown core over the years, but this was the first time I actually experienced The Works with intention. The guided tours are an engaging way to see the most of the festival (with the smallest time commitment) as the tour leaders can take you directly from exhibit to exhibit and help you find the art tucked away in spots you may not have noticed it.
In our hour-long tour, we saw nine exhibits and my favourite was Jennifer Poburan’s Exploration of Balance: Growth and Decay. I’m a fan of abstract art, and Poburan’s use of colour and texture evoked thought and emotion. The details of roots and what I imagined as fire brought to mind the recent forest fires in Alberta, which, although they cause destruction and decay, bring in new growth.
When you take a tour, be prepared to talk and share ideas! The guides facilitate conversations about each work by asking how it makes you feel or why you think artists made certain decisions. There are no wrong answers in art, and your answers from left field may lead to the most interesting discussions. —Matthew Stepanic
My favourite stop on the tour was on the main floor at Manulife Place, where Brenda Raynard’s 21 KONSTRUKTIONS exhibit is displayed. Raynard is a librarian and English major, and she brings her love of language into her work. Her konstruktions are abstract paintings. They represent an imagined personal alphabet through which she expresses internal thoughts, a form of “mentalese.”
Our tour group discussed how the abstract nature of Raynard’s paintings reminds viewers to reevaluate the roots of language. Textures reminiscent of wood and paper connect her personal alphabet to the external environment. The way the paintings are displayed in groups connected by wood backing also made us consider how thoughts and language are interconnected.
Each exhibit we encountered on the tour was equally thought-provoking. I would recommend the longer tour options, as you are able to see more exhibits with minimal walking. Most of the tour is spent viewing the artwork indoors, but it doesn’t hurt to bring an umbrella if the weather may suddenly change, as it did during our tour. If you plan to stay out a little longer, you can enjoy a meal or a drink along Jasper Ave. to top off the afternoon! —Danielle Mohr
The Works Art & Design Festival | Through July 5
Outdoor exhibits transform downtown Edmonton into the largest art gallery in North America, with live artist demonstrations, art installations, an outdoor street market, food trucks, live music, and more! View a complete list of exhibits and events on the website.