BeatRoute spoke with Sled Island visual arts coordinator Natasha Jensen, a recent Alberta College of Art and Design graduate and local curator working in Calgary, about this year’s line-up of evocative and lyrical visual art displays.
BeatRoute: Briefly summarize the history of Art at Sled.
Natasha Jensen: Art has always been a part of Sled Island in different forms. In the early years, the art we presented was more focused on design and illustration and how those mediums were related to bands and their music (i.e. poster design). Year after year, Sled Island has invested in finding a wider range of artists and delving more deeply into contemporary art practices. Although the art component of the festival functions differently each year, what stays at the core of Sled Island Art is that it is both accessible and thought-provoking.
BR: Why is visual art an important part of Sled Island’s mandate?
NJ: The visual art aspect of Sled Island is culturally significant because it represents Calgary’s strong community of emerging artists and their diverse art practices. We are critically concerned with themes of locality and issues of identity, as well as exploring contemporary pop culture and humour.
BR: Who are this year’s featured artists?
NJ: We have a great line-up of artists this year, as well as some really exciting group shows. For example, through our partnership with the Victoria Park BRZ, we will be turning an abandoned hair salon into The Sled Island Contemporary Art Salon! This pop-up gallery will showcase the GROUP OF $EVEN installation, featuring the artwork of Julien Fournier, Austin Taylor, Lindsay Wells, Dave Lieske, Kyle Metcalf, Omar Lalani and Jillian Daschuk. Sled Art Visual Arts will also be mounting shows in some of the more established galleries in Calgary, including AVALANCHE! and Untitled Society, other temporary galleries, like the hip clothing store, UNDERSTUDY.
BR: How does Sled take public art beyond the museum experience?
NJ: A favourite Sled Island home-base, the Canadian #1 Royal Legion, will play host to a group show, entitled YEARN:POETICA. And, don’t forget about our Annual Block Party at the East Village, which will showcase interactive installations, performance group Humble Wonder Theatre, Botanical Drawing Club curated by Justin Waddell, and artists Steven Cottingham, Juanpablo Gonzalez, Jake Klien and Laura Saik!
BR: Where can people find out more about Sled Island Visual Arts?
NJ: Our program guides are available all over town. Also, please visit our website at sledisland.com!
By Christine Leonard
Art: Rezaei Shahab