October 25th, 2020

City has thriving arts scene

By Submitted Article on December 13, 2019.


The Allied Arts Council has over 16 years of articles related to the arts. The following exerpt is from the Winter/Spring 2016 ArtsBridge magazine and was written by Darcy Logan, the curator and gallery services manager for The Gallery at Casa. If you would like to read this article in it entirety and others, please visit us at 318 7 St. S. to pick up a copy.

Art Lines – An Unofficial Chronology of Independent Artist-Directed Initiatives in Lethbridge

When I meet visitors to Lethbridge, they are invariably surprised and excited by our city. They talk at length about the overwhelming number of cultural events that occur daily. On any given evening, one has the option to attend art galleries, live music, theatre productions or dance events. They express amazement that there is, literally, not enough time in the day to take in everything. Perhaps their astonishment is a result of having their preconceptions shattered once they arrive; a mid-size city in a rural, agricultural region, situated in the heart of Canada’s most socially conservative provinces, couldn’t possibly have a thriving arts and culture community – could it?

I just give them a knowing smile.

Having lived in Lethbridge for 15 years, our amazing city no longer surprises me; rather, it makes me proud. With the sheer number of creative and dedicated individuals, there is an expectation of an elevated level of artistic expression. I am rarely disappointed. As a visual arts professional. I am specifically interested in how groups of artists and creative producers have generated their own opportunities in our community and the number of galleries, co-ops, and collectives that have manifested through the decades. Some burned brightly for a short time and some are still presently active.

The Lethbridge community has three major institutions that have historically provided a professional visual arts infrastructure. The Southern Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG) has been exhibiting national and international artists in our city since 1976. The University of Lethbridge both educates new generations of visual artists as well as maintains a strong curatorial program at its gallery. Finally, the Public Gallery Program of the Allied Arts Council that has been exhibiting the work of local, regional and national artists since the 1960s (first at the Bowman Arts Centre and now at Casa). Growing among the interstices of these organizations, unique ‘artist-directed’ initiatives have blossomed.

This is a brief historic overview of smaller visual arts initiatives that have given members of the community opportunities to exhibit their work or have focused on engaging the public through unique events. During my research, I was able to talk directly with many of the personalities involved but in many instances was forced to consult old newspaper and website archives.

The following is a list of the various collectives researched: The Radish Factory, 1986-1990; Trianon Gallery, 1989-present; Gallery Potemkin, 1997-2004; Trap\door Artist Run Centre, 2004-present; ( )ette Collective; 2004-2006; Potemkin Collective, 2005-2013; Parlour, 2007-2013; NAAG (Northside Autonomous Art Group), 2009-2013; Fourth Wave Freaks, 2012-2015; MAVSKY; 2014-present.

This is in no way a complete and exhaustive list of the artist initated activities that have taken place in Lethbridge. We value these stories and hope that we can continue to collect more historical doucumentation of these activities with time. If you know of other alternative groups and collectives that we should investigate, please let us know!

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