Beakerhead Celebrates Intersection of Science and Art

By Brad Simm

Even though Calgary is often branded oil and gas, the city has long been a progressive leader in developing science, engineering and technology. Beakerhead taps into that technical universe, pulling out bits and pieces, then taking them into the workshop where techies and artists tweak, tinker, and transform the marvels of the modern world into weird and wonderous new creations.

In previous years, installations for the five-day mash-up of art and science have been scattered around the city at various locations. While the pop-up style of events will still happen at different destinations, this year Beakerhead is launching a grand finale tagged as “The Spectacle” with food, music and 25 eclectic exhibitions at Prince’s Island Park capping off the festival’s creative extravaganza.

Behind the scenes Beakerhead is an educational program dedicated to inspiring a new generation of ingenuity through STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math).

On one hand, it’s an entertaining funhouse full of wild inventions. On the other it’s a hands-on exploration into the mechanics of these amazing projects and presentations.

Jeff Popiel, the festival’s CEO, talks about a few of the “oddities, curiosities and contraptions.”

Cocktails on Canvas – happy hour in technicolor

Thursday, Sept. 19, 7 pm – 10 pm

Contemporary Calgary (701 11th St. SW)

“Under a microscope we’re looking at a certain cocktail or alcohol, say a White Russian or a bourbon. And these cocktails look absolutely beautiful. An artist will lead 16 participants to paint what they visualize, then take home their inspirations.”

Make Fashion – an electrifying runway show

Saturday, Sept. 21, 8 pm and 9:30 pm

Prince’s Island Park

“Wearable tech fashion is one of the most brilliant, artistic properties to come out of Calgary and going world-wide. What they (Make Fashion) do is build tech into fashion designs. It’s a massive display of cool creations with LED lights and glow wear, a visual spectacle that happens on the (Spectacle’s) main stage.”

Seven Wonderers the back story of science 

Thursday, Sept. 19, 7:30 – 9:30 pm

National Music Centre (850 4th St. SE)

“Science has the greatest adventure stories on Earth. They’re stories of human ingenuity brought to life by scientists and artists set at the National Music Centre. It’s a theatrical show, with music and humour woven into a bigger theme. What we’re going for is an emotional payoff. You leave changed, inspired in some way.”

Road Trip to the Universedate night under the stars

Friday, Sept. 20, 7:30 – 10:30 pm
Rothney Astrophysical Observatory (210 Ave. W, Hwy 22 S)

“Tickets are bought per carload for a tour of the Rothney Observatory. The topic is matter and anti-matter. Even if you’re not a science junkie, this is entertaining stuff and a great opportunity to experience the observatory.”

Beakerhead runs Sept. 18 to 22, with The Spectacle on Saturday, Sept. 22 at Prince’s Island Park.