Wreck City: Lea Bucknell and my Good Byes

Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors

Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors


Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors


Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors

My son and I attended Wreck City yesterday afternoon.  It was my good-bye to the houses.  Things have changed and have evolved since opening night.  I felt a certain sadness yesterday…but then, I’m sad lately anyway, so that was ok.  Saying good-bye is always difficult…a cliche, but true.  I was able to talk to Lane, however briefly, and also with the artist-gent who kept the Giving Tree fire going all these evenings.  Those conversations helped.


Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors

I climbed all of the ladders and did all the crawling and discovering that I hadn’t done on opening night because of spatial constraints and a huge public presence.  I particularly loved Lea Bucknell’s camera obscura.

I also felt such peace, being up in the bird nest in the sunshine and spring breeze.  I have gathered so many different images that I am going to keep them in my archive and use them, over time, to illustrate my posts and poems.  Thank you to all who had anything to do with Wreck City…the artist curators, artists and visionaries.  Thanks to Awesome Foundation Calgary.  You could not have donated $1000.00 to a more current and abiding vision.


Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors


Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors


Wreck City: Inside Outside Upside Down

P1100460The image above captures the scene when I first arrived at Wreck City.  I like the texture of this…the light and paint…the obvious structure accommodating a slide.  Not typical now, is it? P1100462I’ve seen better photos than this of the Wreck City sign…but this is mine :0)  and I like it! P1100463 The light was fading:  I decided to do the main levels of everything and once tempted, to climb some stairs and wander upward.  Ladders…NO!  I’m going to do those on my second visit.  I’m very curious about the nest-like structure above.P1100465Brad was the first guy I met…even before bumping into Jason’s parents at the back of 621.  I’m glad that Jason returned to Calgary!  Look at what’s going on here!  Anyway, Brad had been working on the side of house 621 for only two hours and LOOK!  He told me that he was enjoying having such freedom and such a grand surface. P1100467I met Amy Dryer (Fragments of Soul) artist and her partner on fabric stairs.  This, after also meeting Jen (Photographer) and Phil (Glass Blower) coming around a corner.  Nice to see so many zillions of people out and walking through houses together.  P1100481 Gilded beer cans randomly integrated into an entrance vignette.P1100498 Atmosphere…once dark, this outdoor sculpture created a significant mood and a remembrance of campfires and friendship and sing songs.P1100500Coloured clothing on a clothes line…instead of reading as laundry…these pieces read as art.  Are they?  I don’t know…but they are reading that way. P1100501A bedroom…cozy…built around a back yard tree.

A Bridge connecting 819 to 823 as part of WRECK CITY Bridge by artist Alia Shahab

A Bridge connecting 819 to 823 as part of WRECK CITY
Bridge by artist Alia Shahab

Walking between two houses…this way!

Wreck City: Touch and Feel

Related to house 803, please consider enjoying the thoughts of NOT A LAZY SUZEN’s Suzen Green.

I really like it when art solicits a response at a sensory level.  Most of the art at Wreck City is accessible!  I am invited to touch the art and explore it, a dramatic contrast to the experience of the commercial gallery scene, a scene that holds a completely different role in the community.

Artist-Curator, Jennifer Crighton saw the contributions of Sarah Adams, Yvonne Mullock, Suzen Green, Kiarra Albina, Suki Sawatsky, Desiree Nault, Karly Mortimer, Yvonne Kustec, Stacey Watson and others.

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The Wreck City blog posted this biographical material…”JENNIFER Crighton is an artist, curator, musician, and sometimes cultural administrator. She has a special interest in community, especially as this relates to our sense of home, our domestic and cultural spaces, and the people we gather around ourselves for support and inspiration. For her, working in any creative field is a collective endeavor, where the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. Her collaborators have often been people, but they have also been old houses, online social networks, musical instruments, drawing implements, SLR Cameras, bowling pins, balls of yarn and vintage clothing, all this because she knows that without these things her work could not exist. As a rule she will favor an artwork that conveys a feeling but stubbornly evades an explanation over the too-easy convenience of a snug conceptual fit. She has no issue with hopping between different disciplines, as she is keen to exploit the unique strengths of each.”

In addition to the sharing of art and such a unique environment, 803 is playing host to a Critical Theory Book Club tonight.  The following…reblogged from their site.

“At the end of April, we will get together in the Wreck city house of Jennifer Crighton to discuss the next reading. Jennifer has selected a group of women artists that are altering or interacting with the domestic spaces within a house in Sunnyside. The house is slated to be demolished along with the other houses on the block in order to make room for more profitable developments. These artists are asked to reflect on questions arising from this situation. To fit in with Jennifer’s curatorial premise as well as with the larger premise of the whole Wreck City Project, we will read the short essay Bodies-Cities by Elizabeth Grosz. In this paper she looks at how our cities and bodies are mutually constitutive beings and how our current models for looking at what a city is and what a body is are problematic and limited. Our discussion group will include members of our reading group and the artists working within this house, so everyone present will be able to participate in a nurturing and constructive environment. Here is a link to Grosz’ essay:”


Wreck City: Lane Shordee

One of my favourite spaces in Wreck City is the Greenhouse project.  I want the greenhouse to stay.  Could it be our collective Walden?  When people entered the space, they became more quiet.  Surrounded by Christmas trees, once cut, now planted back into soil…filling the air with the strong smells of life and GREEN, one discovers the workshop space, the notations, quotes and archives of a magical and positive process.

Please explore the photographs and the in depth explanation of this process HERE!  I appreciate that Lane shared this narrative…so important, I think, to the life of the work. ”

“After negotiating the use of the space, John Webster the original builder and owner of the greenhouse stopped by and I learned that he would grow food all year round, piping in hot water from the house boiler.  He would grow seedlings in the greenhouse and move them to a farm where they would grow to maturity and then get donated to charity.  It became my focus to pay homage to a place that provided so much growth, and once again transform it into a lively environment before it’s demolition.”

While my photographs do not capture the same clarity, they are an attempt to capture the sense of the space on opening night.  I will return this week to enjoy the quietude again.

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Lane is a scavenger artist based in Calgary, Alberta. Drawing from construction waste and items Lane is a scavenger artist based in Calgary, Alberta. Drawing from construction waste and items found by happenstance, he builds elegant sculptures and installations that both challenge and indulge our relationships with the things we throw away. Lane mines the immediate surplus of materials available, and, informed by his environment, re-frames it into cohesive structures, allowing its presumed worth to be re-evaluated. Embracing shift and impermanence, Lane abides by the notion that we live in a cultural mash-up of ideas rooted to all parts of history – as with memory, each idea becomes new with every attempt to access and re-create it.”

Lane is all of this, but he is also just a genuine person who is generous with sharing his ideals and his friendship.  He has been a partner in painting at the Gorilla House and his insights and approach are appreciated.

Wreck City: I purchased a hot dog, dressed with mustard and relish, at 805.

By donation…in house 805, I was served a hot dog.  Check out the menu!  I loved the atmosphere here…loved the menu. Thanks to artist, Jeremy Pavka. Somewhere around 2000 people attended opening night and I really treasured the positive and engaging conversations that I shared along the way.

Magic is created in house 805 by artists, Andrew Rodrigues, Janet Mader & Cimmeron Meyer, Jeremy Pavka, Kelsey Fraser, Mackenzie Boyle, Nate McLeod and Randy Niessen.

Biographical info on Artist-Curator, Matthew Mark Bourree  is directly from the Wreck City blog site.

“MATTHEW Mark Bourree  is a recent Graduate from the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Alberta. While attending ACAD, Matthew participated in the exchange program with Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science in New York. Since graduating, Matthew has launched MMJT contemporary furniture with Jeremy Pavka, co-founded studio collective “The Bakery” and local art periodical “Fresh Bread” with Nate McLeod, and opened Haight Gallery, where he has curated over twenty shows and brokered art sales for emerging artists in Calgary. Matthew and his collaborative partner Sarah Malik were recently awarded a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts for a kinetic public sculpture. In 2013, he finished a residency at the Banff Center on partial scholarship and was awarded a Calgary 2012 grant to continue his ongoing endeavors with Haight Gallery.”

and artists

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Ok…so I’ve been asked, “What is Wreck City?”

An answer…

This, directly from the brochure that seems to be circulating around and a comprehensive website that’s been an ongoing site for updates, from the concept’s inception.

P1100652 P1100653 P1100654 P1100655Wreck City: An Epilogue for 809 is a community-based art experiment transforming 9 houses, 3 garages and a greenhouse scheduled for demolition into temporary art, installation and performance spaces.  The biggest project of its type in the history of Calgary (perhaps even all of Canada), eight artist-curators have invited 100 plus artists, musicians and performers to participate.  Artist participants will be free to radically alter the architecture of entire houses, re-shaping the homes using materials from the houses themselves, without need for repair at the end of the project.  This newly formed community of artists intends to produce a neighbourhood of magical and critically-engaging spaces, made possible only by the freedom of working inside houses soon to be destroyed.

Instigated as an epilogue for 809 Gallery, one of Calgary’s influential garage galleries (scheduled for demolition with the rest of the homes), Wreck City is a swan song for the history of the neighbourhood, a playful comment on Calgary’s demolition addiction and an opportunity to cultivate a new community of artists amidst the rubble of an entire block of houses.  Wreck City will be open to the public from April 19, 27, 2012.  It is located between 621 and 823 5th Ave. NW.

Excellent publicity has been coming out about the project…a well written piece by Julia Williams appeared in Avenue Magazine.

Wreck City: Remnants of 801

Catalogued as debris, I am more inclined to call the ‘stuff of our lives’ remnants.  That’s just me.  Brandon A. Dalmer is the curator for House 801.  The artists exhibiting there…Brian Schirk, Sasha Foster, Morris Fox, Tiffany Wollman, Lindsay Sorell, Farlee Mowat, Tammy Primeau, Lea Bucknell, Rebecca Noone, Katarzyna Koralewska and Sarah Vansloten.

I was very much impressed by the archive of slivers and bits of matter revealed as art in one of the houses…a collection of slides and notations that spoke of the unique content of the property, the walls and floors throughout the house.  I will be returning to Wreck City later in the week and hope to gather more focused shots of the numerous items collected.  This was a theme that appeared in several spaces, but as unique artistic expressions.  I also wish to make note of the specific artist who created this art within the space.

I also need to return to the site during the week because I didn’t do any of the stairs/ladders to basements…and I want to revisit Lea Bucknell’s Pinhole Camera in the daytime.

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Wreck City: A Conversation

If my local readers have not yet visited Wreck City, please do!  I have decided that I need to separate emotional experiences and so there will be a whole number of moments that I try to archive here over the next while.

When I stepped into this particular room, I stood silently and listened to others converse…watched them spin the crocheted chandelier in the center of the room.  It was in this space that I first realized that we were all saying a ‘good bye’ to the home of a family and the home of a family before that and possibly the home of another before that.

Wreck City 1

Saying a ‘good bye’ is such a familiar experience for me lately.  I watch myself saying a constant ‘good bye’ as my mother loses memories and associations with her story and our common narrative.  I watch the pain in my father, who is too busy as caregiver, to even grieve that particular loss as he simply wants to get through each new day.  At Wreck City, it seems to me, that artists are trying to sustain something…create a collective memory for us.  The internet is presently swamped with photographs of the events of these few houses and these last few days…in these images, will the houses be remembered?