Edmonton Tourist: Art Gallery of Alberta

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When I was a University student I had an annual pass to the Art Gallery of Alberta or AGA as it is fondly called around these parts.  It isn’t like a yearly membership is expensive but I have been on a quest to find fun and free things to do in Edmonton. I get that somethings cost money to participate but not everything has to. The last Thursday of every month, AGA opens it’s doors to the public. I went right after work and arrived downtown at 5:00 pm. It was relatively quite, but by 6:30 it was getting busier. People, like me, taking advantage of this amazing oppourtunity.

I started on the main floor of the gallery walked to a photography exhibit. The smell of developer transported me back to my darkroom days of my Grandfather’s Print shop. Meandering around the room looking at prints was restful. I had forgotten the peace I feel when I come to this building. It had to be 4 years since I darkened the doors.

Moving to wards the next gallery, I wasn’t certain it was open because it was dark. I witnessed people walking in so I also entered. It was a movie of a Rube Goldburg, a complicated series of steps to blow out a candle. It was 30 minutes long and the hand held camera made me incredibly dizzy but I couldn’t stop watching. I was met with delight at unexpected ways to propel the movement forward, flames, wind, foam, water…I was fascinated.

I didn’t take photos of my time in each gallery because it makes me uncomfortable unless the item is for sale. I like to respect the artist’s work.


The Looking Glass exhibit was the opposite. It was an installation of portraits and part of it was interactive intending to post on social media. These were called Selfie Spots.


I took a few. You can find them at #AGALookingGlass

What struck me was the difference in mediums used and yet the pieces were able to capture the essence of the person in the portrait. The photo on the right is me posing with an Andy Warhol. I am a big fan of his eccentricity and medium choice. I enjoy pop art. What I didn’t know was near the end of his life, 1984, he painted Wayne Gretzky. Given the current excitement in the city with the Oilers in the playoffs and Wayne being a team partner, this was sure to appeal to a hockey fan like me.


I turned the corner and discovered the Evan Penny pieces including his self portrait.

These were AMAZING. The detail was exquisite! Tiny little chin hairs. I was fascinated with both pieces. Larger than life.




There was a selfie spot on the floor indicating I could photograph this. Granted I should have been in it but I was mesmorized.

I moved upstairs to the Survivor exhibit and found a lot of works depicting surviving in the wild, including movies of Inuit life and hunting. That brought back memories of living in Canada’s Arctic and heading to the Caribou Carnival for fishing and igloo making events. The clothing was an amazing memory, I had an authentic parka. A necessity for warmth when walking the long hike to school because it was too cold for the car to start.

On the upper level of the gallery you can go out on the patio to enjoy the view. This is my favourite addition to the art in the city.

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“Take a Risk. It is the most Edmonton thing you can do.” ~ Amen to that!

When I told people I was coming to AGA I heard responses like, “I don’t get art”

There is nothing to ‘get’ You look at it and you feel a response. There is no right or wrong. Take the risk, visit AGA.




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