February art has something for the attached and the lonely

By Olivia Komorowski

Ahh February, the official month of over-priced rushed meals for two and tacky stuffed animals. Sure, you can celebrate the relationship you have with your significant other(s) in this potentially phony manner or you can do something thoughtful. Take your sweetie to an art show or literary event and not only will they be impressed, but you will have the opportunity to get to know each other on a new level. However, just because Valentine’s Day lasts only 24 hours, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show your affection all month long, so take advantage of as many artsy goodies as you can. And if you’re flying solo this month, there couldn’t be a sexier place to meet your future bed partner than one of these art gigs.

There are only 10 days left to see what will certainly be one of the Glenbow Museum’s most popular exhibits, “Marilyn Monroe: Life as a Legend.” The show, covering her life from her humble beginnings as Norma Jeane to the bombshell sex icon of Marilyn Monroe, contains many well-known paintings, dresses and photographs. In conjunction with the exhibit, an award-winning one-woman play, Marilyn: Forever Blonde, is showing at the ConocoPhililips Theatre (in the Glenbow), Thursdays to Saturdays at 7 p.m. and weekends at 2 p.m. Tickets don’t come cheap at about $30, but they include admission to the exhibit.

TRUCK contemporary art gallery, at 815 First St. SW, is hosting their opening reception of Brendan Fernandes’ “Mutual Surrender,” on Feb. 20. The artist, who works out of New York City and Toronto, was born in Kenya of Indian heritage. He examines the return to his birthplace by comparing stereotypes, documentary footage and his own experience. Fernandes has exhibited all over the world and has received various grants from the Ontario and Canada Council for the Arts.

The Art Gallery of Calgary brings together renowned Canadian artist Iain Baxter with four promising ACAD students to collaborate on an experimental installation that will attempt to demonstrate the vital role of contemporary art in developing new perspectives that directly influence our culture. Come see the culmination of the two week creative process, on until Apr. 4.

Also a must-see at the gallery is Jon Pylypchuk who, through sculpture, paintings and installation, explores the uncomfortable realities of finding ourselves between humour and tragedy and touches on topics of corporeality and mortality.

The University’s Nickle Arts Museum is not one to miss out on the fun. They are hosting “Fragments of Infinity” by Ronald Bloore, a talented artist who innovated painting techniques early in his career. Interestingly, Bloore has spent the last 40 years creating non-representational white on white paintings. However, he has slowly come over to the coloured side, increasingly adding dabs of colour to his works since 2002. Today, his paintings are represented in full-blown colour, a sample of which will be in the show. Though you don’t have to understand it to enjoy it if you need a guiding hand through this, come to the curator’s talk Mar. 5 at 12 p.m.

Also at the museum is a selection of works stretching back to 1968 by Walter Jule in the show “SKIN.” Jule, an Edmontonian, is considered one of Canada’s premier print artists. Throughout his works he investigates the metaphors drawn between insignificant objects and human existence so that a ball of aluminum can represent our subjective human experience. Both shows run until April.

If all these big official galleries make you shake in your boots, there is an alternative. One of Calgary’s most indie art galleries is 809 Gallery at 809 Fifth Ave. NW. This make-shift gallery, which you enter through the alley, is hosted in a Kensington garage. It was established with a predestined life expectancy of 809 days by four young ACAD graduates. This means the gallery is closing by July of this year, so get your fix now. Their open-minded approach to art spaces is mimicked in the kinds of shows they host, giving opportunities to artists that wouldn’t otherwise get the exposure.

“[Our mandate is] to show people that are really important to the Calgary [art] scene but don’t have means,” says Shawn Mankowske, co-owner of the gallery. “It’s a really cool house party for intelligent people.”

He adds the shows often have a relaxed vibe which definitely juxtaposes with the often-starchy reception at larger venues. Their last show, curated by Mikhail Miller, was packed with young people and featured a rap-playing DJ, a fridge of beer and possibly the smell of green freshness in the air.

Their next show, featuring “Making It,” by Heather Smith, is opening Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. Her drawings and sculptures explore invisible social structures that reinforce conformity and status quo especially in relation to women.

Finally, if you aren’t too superstitious to leave your house tomorrow on Friday the 13th, venture down to Pages in Kensington to fill your mind with books and music. Dave Bedini from the Rheostatics will read from Five Hole Stories and Around the World in 57 ½ Gigs then the band will play a selection from their CD, Music from Five Hole: Tales of Hockey Erotica.

That should be enough to keep you preoccupied with your special someone during the day, but what you do at night is a whole different art form!

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