When I hear “gallery opening” or “art exhibition”, I am immediately intimidated. Maybe it is because every art exhibition I have ever seen in a movie includes a demographic of people I might not fit in with, or perhaps it’s because when you Google “gallery opening” the first links that pop up are “art gallery opening etiquette” and “10 things you shouldn’t do at an art gallery”. I am not an impolite, or uncivil person, and I do know how to act in public, but any event for which there are that many rules intimidates me!
Arts Commons wishes to change this negative perception that sometimes goes along with galleries and art exhibitions with its own kind of celebration of art. It is called Happenings. On February 29, my friend Ryan and I attended Happenings #3 in the Upper Centre Court of Arts Commons. This was unlike any gallery opening I could have imagined. We walked in and it smelled sugary sweet; my attention was immediately drawn to the person making cotton candy on one side of the court. Across from him was the adult colouring station, and next to that was a silvery stage showing off some delightful live music. We made our game plan: we wanted to hit up everything we could!
The nice thing about this event was that it had an anything-goes itinerary, during which people could come and go as they pleased and hit up the activities they were most interested in. For Ryan and I that was cotton candy, buttons, and having our portraits drawn by a local artist, Kelsey Fraser. We were too late to see the film, The Peel, but from the looks of the line-up to get in, I can only guess it was a total hit.
The man making the cotton candy flowers was covered in sugar. Sugar wisps hung all around his face, his hat, his arms, the ceiling straight above him. We watched as a stick and some sugar was miraculously spun into a strange fibre-glass-like treat. We put our names down to have Lindsay Sorrell create beautiful, personalized monogram buttons. We waited patiently in line for Kelsey Fraser to do a blind contour drawing of us and paint it with watercolours.
Happenings #3 was free and it was the perfect way to spend a Monday evening. Happenings #4 will be on April 19 and Happenings #5 is on August 18. Arts Commons isn’t telling us what you shouldn’t do at an art gallery, but instead asking us what can’t you do at an art gallery? Thanks for inviting us to celebrate some art, Calgary!