Love Art In Calgary: cSPACE, Reid Henry & Phantom Wing

Wendy Lees of Love Art in Calgary planned another fantastic tour day on Saturday, September 21!  First…

…it is a magical thing to land in a spectacular ‘arts dream’ first thing on a Saturday morning…hot coffee, home made coffee cake and Reid Henry, first President and CEO of cSPACE projects…a yummy combination!  Thanks to Reid for giving his personal time to tour us about the cSPACE and for sharing ‘the vision’.  There is an extensive and mind-blowing website that I think MUST be journeyedHere, my readers will be able to see the trip that has brought Calgary arts and residential interests together, a unique explosion of concepts fired up in what used to be the King Edward School.  A huge architectural undertaking, the concept of providing for new artistic vision in our city is of paramount importance to Reid Henry.  That is obvious.

Our presenter has over 16 years of experience working at the intersection of urban, cultural and economic development, with a focus on non-profit real estate projects.  Evidenced by his session, he clearly articulates his passion for a collaborative and multi-disciplinary practice.  His vision, as a part of a collective of other equally-inspired partners, will redevelop this three acre, inner city site, including the 45,000 square foot King Edward School built in 1912, to serve and include a diverse and creative community.

Eventually, this facility will become a mixed use, multi-tenant arts hub and incubator.  It was a delight to hear and watch reactions expressed by various members of the tour group.  We were captivated by the presentation AND the concept,  mouths dropping as we rounded each corner.

While I wasn’t fully prepared to write today, it had to be done…so, perhaps, more to follow.  A huge event is just around the corner at the cSPACE in the form of Phantom Wing, an event that precedes the official demolition of a wing, one big step on the way to a whole journey of steps.

Directly from the Phantom Wing archive

PHANTOM WING is organized by independent Artist-Curators: Matthew Mark Bourree, Caitlind r.c. Brown, Jennifer Crighton, Shawn Mankowske & Natalie MacLean, with special thanks to Brandon Dalmer, Andrew Frosst, and John Frosst.

PHANTOM WING will be open to the public from September 24 – 29, 2013, as part of cSPACE’s showcase event also featuring YYC Fashion Week, Pecha Kucha #17, and Terry Rock’s Going Away Party.

Address of King Edward School: 1720 30th Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

“Here’s the thing: when you’re offered a pre-demolition space to make art in, it’s extremely hard to say no, despite your best intentions. When Deeter asked us to create a WRECK CITY at cSPACE King Edward School – the future home of a massive Arts Hub & Incubator intending to unite many of Calgary’s Artist Run Centres into an uber-mecca in 2016 – my initial response was “that’s impossible. WRECK CITY was all about independence and anti-institutionalism. How could we possibly repeat it?” It became more complicated when we began to discuss our responsibility to counter-culture, the necessity of independence, and the importance of letting the seed we planted with WRECK CITY germinate and grow – ya know, become it’s own thing.

However, the allure of checking out the space was too much for myself and my colleagues, and so we bit the bullet and went to see it. Of course, that was our first mistake. Our second mistake was allowing Deeter, an extremely charming and thoughtful fellow, to be so damn convincing. But we still weren’t entirely committed…


Deeter Schurig (cSPACE Project Manager) showing me the King Edward School space

Shortly after exploring the abandoned wing of King Edward School with Deeter, the Artist-Curators sat down as a collective to discuss the prospects of the project. Almost immediately it became evident that another WRECK CITY would be impossible… but a new project would be entirely within the realm of imagination. After all, to be frank, we’re essentially opportunists. Plus, WRECK CITY wasn’t our first pre-demolition project and it won’t be our last (see The Leona Drive Project and The House Project). PHANTOM WING will be its own thing, with a healthy awareness of its origins and a mischievous/playful relationship with The King Edward’s institutional background. In the spirit of the future Arts Incubator, PHANTOM WING will work as an intimate, process-oriented opportunity, allowing a small selection of Artists/Curators a vast amount of space to think and work and build. And if it faintly echoes some of WRECK CITY’s awesome sense of community, then hey, who can complain?”

I wish to thank Reid Henry for his generous introduction of this space.  I was overcome with a nostalgic feeling as we traveled the empty school hallways, but also filled with a feeling of anticipation and excitement at such a glorious development in our city.  I am so grateful to the residents and the City of Calgary who have lived this process and made things happen, along with the initiatives of the visionaries.  Thanks to Wendy Lees of Love Art in Calgary who seems to unbutton and reveal to us new and exciting things in the city all of the time!

Looking forward to attending Phantom Wing and other exciting projects.  Following, some images that I hope will capture a sense of the unbuttoning…an art space to be watching as its development unfolds over the coming years.

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Excited Hands

Excited Hands

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