University and city team up for downtown culture

(Edmonton) University of Alberta Museums will continue to bring the fine arts, sciences and humanities to the heart of downtown Edmonton with the launch of the Enterprise Square Galleries initiative, a three-year pilot project between the university and the city. Exhibition space needs identified by both the Mayor’s Arts Visioning Committee and the University of Alberta gave rise to this collaboration.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and U of A Acting Provost Martin Ferguson-Pell jointly made the announcement at an event April 4. The city will contribute $240,000 per year, starting this year, toward the initiative. The university will provide in-kind fully serviced and operational gallery space, as well as leadership and expertise through its Museums and Collections unit.

Together they see the opportunity to create a lively and authentic hub in the heart of downtown Edmonton that integrates visual arts, culture and heritage in a local context and engages Edmontonians in first-hand activities and learning opportunities.

“Like our entire university community, our museums staff, students and volunteers with diverse interests in the arts, science, technology and business ensure that we effectively contribute to our great city, our province and the world,” said Ferguson-Pell.

The city and the university will be joined by several community stakeholders in this collaboration, including the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Edmonton Arts Council, the Edmonton Heritage Council and the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

Enterprise Square Galleries kicks off with big exhibit

A new printmaking exhibit, called Size Matters: Big Prints From Around the World, was also launched at the April 4 announcement, showcasing the work of contemporary printmakers from Canada, the United States, Finland, Japan and beyond who all have one thing in common: they like to think big.

Working in media as diverse as woodcuts and digital prints on fabric, the artists featured in this U of A Museums exhibition are making the most of new materials and advances in printing technology to create art of a scale and complexity seldom seen.

The exhibition was born in the mind of U of A curator Jim Corrigan, who has long been intrigued by how print artists have explored scale, not only in the digital age, but historically. More recently, however, innovations in printmaking—materials, techniques and technologies (such as industrial processes, plywood, digital printers and large paper formats)—have allowed for the expansion of large-scale printmaking.

Size Matters features 56 prints by 34 artists, 45 of them from the U of A’s art collection. The longest print, Annu Vertanen's My House, Wallpaper Experiences, is almost nine metres long.

The exhibition runs from April 4 to June 29 in the Enterprise Square Galleries downtown. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.