Jennifer Rae Forsyth and others show their stuff until Sept. 27.
Paul Baker/the Gauntlet

The colours of fall make for good inspiration

Arts and literature in Calgary are in full swing as classes go back in session

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As the leaves turn yellow, students are settling back into their books while artists are picking up their paintbrushes. If you are in need of some artistic enlightenment, head down to one of these great events.

While you are getting your classes in order this week, leave time to get your last look at the university's MFA thesis exhibition at the Nickle Arts Museum. Titled "Culmination," it showcases the product of two years of study by seven University of Calgary students. But hurry, it ends this Saturday. If you have more time, check out The Big Gift at the Nickle which runs until Sept. 27. It is a compilation of over 600 diverse artworks that have been donated to the Glenbow Museum by Canadian collectors, artists, CEOs and supporters.

For some childhood nostalgia with your art fix, visit the 21st Annual Chalkwalk this Saturday. It features ACAD artists competing for the best sidewalk chalk drawing on 17th Ave.

East Side Studio Crawl is a different sort of walk, bringing together local art enthusiasts Sept. 25. This free event allows you to visit the working studios of 70 visual artists located in the Ramsay neighbourhood. For more details and a map of participating studios, visit burnsvisualarts.com.

If you are more interested in modern art, the Stride Gallery is showing "A Nakusp Narrative," by Wendy Toogood and "Topiarium," by Jenine Marsh until Oct. 4. Toogood was an instructor at ACAD in the textile department for over 30 years and continues to be a prolific artist.

"I like to do something challenging," Toogood says. "In each work, I can create the most that I can."

Her efforts are obvious in the nearly 100 individual embellished drawings circling the gallery. Downstairs, Jenine Marsh, who has a BA in painting, challenges herself to her first sculptural installation. Her dome-like structure has a wonderful surreal quality about it that is both spooky and enticing.

To get a feel for what is happening on the international front, visit the Triangle Gallery, which is collaborating with the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland to bring five artists' contemporary works to Calgary. The theme flowing between all the works is metaphors and visions and include a sculptural light installation titled "Constellation," by Wojciech Müller and three-dimensional paintings by Andrzej Lubowski.

For photography lovers, the Art Gallery of Calgary's three current exhibitions are not to be missed. "Portrait," by George Webber explores intimate moments with pictures including Calgary's homeless, Native and Hutterite communities. Webber's ability to have strangers open their hearts and lives to him are why his photographs carry so much emotion. On the other hand, "Cowboy Wild," by David Campion, explores a subject much more familiar to most of us: the Calgary Stampede. His approach, using a set of photos taken over 10 years, gives a fresh and perhaps more truthful representation of the Stampede than presented by usual media. Continuing with the photography theme, "Up," by Milutin Gubash, uses an original photography technique and installation that immerses the audience with the subjects of the photos. Also, "Lots," his video program, organized by the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, is a set of 70 short films that connect to the theme of his photography installation. Also exhibited are photographs of the first cameras ever invented and the first photograph of a person.

If literary arts speak to your soul, keep your eye on Pages in Kensington because they're busy with lots of events this month. Montreal author Saleema Nawaz will be reading her debut short story collection in celebration of the launch of the first season of Freehand Books, a new Canadian publishing company. The free wine and cheese is not a bad bet either this Friday at 7 p.m.

You can join Jordan Scott for the reading of his book Blert: the Poetics of Stuttering on Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. See how this U of C Alumnus turned his speech impediment into a work of acclaimed poetry. It's so inspiring that the Globe and Mail has called the book "physically beautiful, conceptually rich," and Bravo! is turning it into a short film.

On Oct. 2, and every first Thursday of the month, you can catch the Flywheel Series at Pages. This event brings together some of Calgary's most talented authors and poets for an evening of readings.

If you enjoy your art lessons with history on the side, make sure to visit Calgary's historic Grain Exchange Building, which is also home to TRUCK Gallery. They're celebrating their 25th anniversary and to mark the event, they encouraged local artists to present works relating to the history of the artist-run centre. The show, called "Future So Bright" includes Dave and Jenn, the alter egos to the artistic duo, Dave Foy and Jenn Saleik, who graduated together from ACAD in 2006.

"Truck was where we had a first public show in the plus-15 space," explains Saleik. "The show was called 'In which the Honourable Company Explores its Territories.' "

In reference to their first show, their current show, a three-dimensional painting, is entitled 'In which the Honorable Company Returns.' This cheekiness is mimicked in their artistic style, drawing a lot on the imaginary, playing with landscapes, their alter egos and intertwining daily images with memories. The couple has already tasted success with semifinal placement in the RBC Canadian Painting Competition and inclusion in the current exhibition "Thick and Thin" at the Glenbow Museum. They also have their own solo show at Skew Gallery until Oct. 11 in Calgary.