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Thread: How is the AGA doing?

  1. #1

    Default How is the AGA doing?

    I took advantage of the free Family Day and went to the AGA for the first time this week.

    I went with no expectations, and ended up finding the exhibits to be more accessible to me than I expected. I love the building, and love the spaciousness of it when you're inside it. I had an enjoyable couple of hours and have vowed that I will try to make it back there a couple times a year.

    OTOH, I really got a sense of how small the building was, much smaller than I expected, especially given how little room inside is used for displays. I was also surprised that there are no permanent displays. Is this due to lack of space, or by design?

    So what are your thoughts?

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    Like the AGA, but very small indeed. Lots of wasted space.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    Like the AGA, but very small indeed. Lots of wasted space.
    just because it's not all gallery space doesn't mean it's wasted space.

    but having said that it is too small.

    we need a new courthouse and then we need to turn the old one over to the aga and other museums, possibly on a similar funding formula to what is being proposed for the galleria and performance spaces.
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    Funny, it's all that open space, and natural light that I love. And that stairway? Let's just say I'm a guy who would normally take the elevator - but not at the AGA.

    Not sure the gallery spaces really need to be bigger - maybe. But don't forget that there are a pair of galleries still at Enterprise Square (and for free too).

    As to how the place is doing - apparently not as well financially as initially hoped.

    We still get annual passes though and it still feels like good value for dollar.

    (Doesn't hurt that AGA has among the most generous wine pours anywhere!)
    ... gobsmacked

  5. #5

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    There was an exhibit/display (?) about rain where you can listen to sound of different rain drops on second floor at grand opening. I thought that room would be there permanently, so disappointed they moved it.

    McBoo, where are 'a pair of galleries still at Enterprose Square'?


    * Please pardon my English, it is not my first language

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    ^ NP North end on the main floor. Funny, can't remember if there are two or three galleries. Three I, uh think.

    http://www.museums.ualberta.ca/en/En...Galleries.aspx

    Oh, and admission can be free - but they do "suggest" donations, which seems fair enough.
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    It's a pretty popular wedding venue, not sure how much they charge, but I'm sure it's not free. I've shot weddings there on the roof, the basement auditorium and the main floor atrium. Used to be a really popular spot for family photo shoots and the like, but they don't allow that anymore (even with a paid admission) as there were just too many going on. It's a great space for it, particularly in the winter. I bet the new RAM and the Feb building when it opens will also be popular.

  8. #8

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    My thoughts continue to be that the AGA got caught up in "World Class" design thinking and in building a structure that would be expensive, unique, apparently attractive (I'm not a big fan of the school of design) but which is poorly suited to its main task which is exhibiting art. Frankly I thought the old art gallery was more conducive to art and seemed to have more displays. I find that I can get through the current AGA in 35mins. Which for anything but free is not worth it imo.

    Certainly wasn't worth the cost of building this thing. I see it as an iconoclastic build that just doesn't fit. I wonder how long before some of these builds are considered brutalistic as well. Not in good ways. This is a cold stark metallic design built in a winter city. It feels cold, looks cold.
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by McBoo View Post
    ^ NP North end on the main floor. Funny, can't remember if there are two or three galleries. Three I, uh think.

    http://www.museums.ualberta.ca/en/En...Galleries.aspx

    Oh, and admission can be free - but they do "suggest" donations, which seems fair enough.
    The place is hardly ever open and even in stated opening hours often, for some reason, isn't.

    Hours of operation are even worse than the AGA which is completely unacceptable.

    Lets have galleries with opening hours that hardly any working person can attend..

    by the way in the latest AGA annual reports a paltry 4% of *revenues* comes from admission. Another 5% from membership and the vast majority of what they consider *revenue* comes from the 50% that are grants. Not only did this build cost a lot its costing a lot to keep it open even for the negligible hours it is open.
    Yet in the way they reconstruct revenues the present financial management considers this a success. They report year ends as "a positive financial result". Its deplorable operations and of the like that I refuse to support it with my discretionary money.
    I don't share the vision of largesse and delusion that this board does and never did.
    Last edited by Replacement; 19-02-2015 at 01:47 PM.
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    My thoughts continue to be that the AGA got caught up in "World Class" design thinking and in building a structure that would be expensive, unique, apparently attractive (I'm not a big fan of the school of design) but which is poorly suited to its main task which is exhibiting art.
    Although I do like the AGA and it has many positive attributes, I share your sentiments.

    Edmonton frequently, in well intentioned but misguided attempts to bring "vibrancy" or whatever buzzword you'd like to use, places form over function, much to the detriment of the finished product. You see this over and over again, but the powers that be and the folks that shill for those types of things don't seem to ever learn

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    My thoughts continue to be that the AGA got caught up in "World Class" design thinking and in building a structure that would be expensive, unique, apparently attractive (I'm not a big fan of the school of design) but which is poorly suited to its main task which is exhibiting art.
    Although I do like the AGA and it has many positive attributes, I share your sentiments.

    Edmonton frequently, in well intentioned but misguided attempts to bring "vibrancy" or whatever buzzword you'd like to use, places form over function, much to the detriment of the finished product. You see this over and over again, but the powers that be and the folks that shill for those types of things don't seem to ever learn
    Yep. This facility does not serve Edmontonians well and Citizens have responded accordingly by not attending very much. The place has got a grand total of two visits ever by me. One free. I just think its so limited an art facility with such limited displays that its rather silly to go to. Experiencing the Art Gallery is more about just looking at it from the outside. if one even likes doing that.

    I do appreciate the arts as well. I am an audience for this but not with the AGA's delivery, scope, and philosophy.
    Last edited by Replacement; 19-02-2015 at 03:33 PM.
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    My thoughts continue to be that the AGA got caught up in "World Class" design thinking and in building a structure that would be expensive, unique, apparently attractive (I'm not a big fan of the school of design) but which is poorly suited to its main task which is exhibiting art.

    If you can't take creative risks on an art gallery, where can you take them?

    I like the building a lot. If it was a huge building and dominating, I might feel different, but it doesn't give me a cold chill at all.

    My wife says she doesn't like it because it doesn't fit in the neighborhood, but my reply is that Edmonton is a modern city. Nothing really fits in the neighborhood, unless we want another City Centre. Also, I think it will be part of a more distinctive Edmonton look after the library goes through it's renovation.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    My thoughts continue to be that the AGA got caught up in "World Class" design thinking and in building a structure that would be expensive, unique, apparently attractive (I'm not a big fan of the school of design) but which is poorly suited to its main task which is exhibiting art.
    Although I do like the AGA and it has many positive attributes, I share your sentiments.

    Edmonton frequently, in well intentioned but misguided attempts to bring "vibrancy" or whatever buzzword you'd like to use, places form over function, much to the detriment of the finished product. You see this over and over again, but the powers that be and the folks that shill for those types of things don't seem to ever learn
    Yep. This facility does not serve Edmontonians well and Citizens have responded accordingly by not attending very much. The place has got a grand total of two visits ever by me. One free. I just think its so limited an art facility with such limited displays that its rather silly to go to. Experiencing the Art Gallery is more about just looking at it from the outside. if one even likes doing that.

    I do appreciate the arts as well. I am an audience for this but not with the AGA's delivery, scope, and philosophy.

    What would you suggest they change?

    My one complaint, more like surprise than complaint, is that they don't have any permanent exhibits. I don't know if this is because of lack of space or because they just don't have any yet. I've never been to the old AGA.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snake Eyes View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    My thoughts continue to be that the AGA got caught up in "World Class" design thinking and in building a structure that would be expensive, unique, apparently attractive (I'm not a big fan of the school of design) but which is poorly suited to its main task which is exhibiting art.

    If you can't take creative risks on an art gallery, where can you take them?

    I like the building a lot. If it was a huge building and dominating, I might feel different, but it doesn't give me a cold chill at all.

    My wife says she doesn't like it because it doesn't fit in the neighborhood, but my reply is that Edmonton is a modern city. Nothing really fits in the neighborhood, unless we want another City Centre. Also, I think it will be part of a more distinctive Edmonton look after the library goes through it's renovation.
    Theres nothing risk about it. Risk infers potential payoff of some kind. This was purely a fail in design and scope in a facility that isn't suited for proper galleries, doesn't have big enough galleries to show popular touring art shows, and thus instead of giving Edmonton the best touring shows results in Edmontonians having to go elsewhere to see the better, and larger, touring art exhibits. Complete fail for Edmontonians as far as art delivery is concerned. Compound that so little of the budget is actually for Edmonton AGA art exhibits. Why else would I go to an Art Gallery except to look at art.
    This design was poorly suited from the start and I said so from the start.

    Form over function as stated.
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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snake Eyes View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    My thoughts continue to be that the AGA got caught up in "World Class" design thinking and in building a structure that would be expensive, unique, apparently attractive (I'm not a big fan of the school of design) but which is poorly suited to its main task which is exhibiting art.
    Although I do like the AGA and it has many positive attributes, I share your sentiments.

    Edmonton frequently, in well intentioned but misguided attempts to bring "vibrancy" or whatever buzzword you'd like to use, places form over function, much to the detriment of the finished product. You see this over and over again, but the powers that be and the folks that shill for those types of things don't seem to ever learn
    Yep. This facility does not serve Edmontonians well and Citizens have responded accordingly by not attending very much. The place has got a grand total of two visits ever by me. One free. I just think its so limited an art facility with such limited displays that its rather silly to go to. Experiencing the Art Gallery is more about just looking at it from the outside. if one even likes doing that.

    I do appreciate the arts as well. I am an audience for this but not with the AGA's delivery, scope, and philosophy.

    What would you suggest they change?

    My one complaint, more like surprise than complaint, is that they don't have any permanent exhibits. I don't know if this is because of lack of space or because they just don't have any yet. I've never been to the old AGA.
    The old AGA had a lot more exhibits and exhibit space. I could do that one in about 1.5-2hrs and the current one in about 35mins for comparison.

    Theres nothing they can do now. This was poorly planned and there was some vocal opposition to the build and questions by myself about how this facility would be able to display both permanent exhibits, and top touring exhibits which are usually larger. The present facility does on occastion contract some popular touring exhibits but with those exhibits being incomplete, and piecemeal versions of the same full exhibits seen in other Cities.

    This was a limited space build and with wall/surfaces entirely contradictory to typical art display.

    As people were gawking at this new age Gehry type nightmare design my ongoing questions were "where is the art going to go"?

    This was a colossally stupid design for Edmonton. This would work in a Major City that has several Art Galleries and it being just one. But as ART GALLERY of Alberta its total fail. It results in the opposite of what an Art Gallery should do. Instead of making the most art available to the most people and thus expanding appreciation of the arts this build clearly limits the art available and peoples exposure to it. Even moreso with this build if I want to see good art and have a more well rounded exposure and perspective on art I have to visit art galleries elsewhere. That is the saddest thing in this failed mandate.
    Last edited by Replacement; 19-02-2015 at 04:20 PM.
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    ^

    i think that's much like too many of the sir winston churchill square discussions where design and lack of desired programming (often for reasons having nothing to do with design) are mistakenly considered synonymous.
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  17. #17

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    I'm not going to re-read the oversized Art Gallery of Alberta thread of a few years ago but there was a distinctly more cheerleading timbre to it than the one I'm reading today. Interesting.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajs View Post
    I'm not going to re-read the oversized Art Gallery of Alberta thread of a few years ago but there was a distinctly more cheerleading timbre to it than the one I'm reading today. Interesting.
    Yep. but my view has been consistent. I recall some of those discussions. Also raised concerns about the AGA viability and financial management.

    Concerns that present management continue to disingenuously report in annual reports. afairc the City had in the past raised some concern and expectation that the AGA work to improve their revenue an be less reliant on the huge Edmonton Grants. I would state that the AGA reporting grants as income is fairly in contempt of the notion that grants were to be decreased.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trang View Post
    There was an exhibit/display (?) about rain where you can listen to sound of different rain drops on second floor at grand opening. I thought that room would be there permanently, so disappointed they moved it.
    That was "The Storm Room". I loved it!!!
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    I like the AGA, though it's not quite to the level of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (a must-see) and should have been a tad larger. I think (hope?) there will be some good synergy between the AGA and the new RAM.
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    Think it's right-sized for the location and sited (i.e. angled) with precision. Mind you, the archetect did come to Edmonton in January to consider the best configuration for natural light.

    As for me, well, I couldn't walk through Latitude 53 in 35 minutes. Would take me an hour or more, let alone make an informed impression of the AGA.

    But, if your point is to speed walk through the AGA without even looking at the art, guess you could do that. I'd question that such even walked in the door let alone spent mere minutes seeing the exhibitions.

    Cripes, I spend 35 minutes alone in the emerging Alberta artist gallery on the second floor. (then off for a glass of Viogney on the second floor wine bar, but I digress)

    I mean, if your intent was to complain. But who would pay money just to complain?
    Last edited by McBoo; 19-02-2015 at 09:04 PM.
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    I went with a friend last year and it was a good visit but they havent brought in much to draw my attention since the first year of being open. It's not an inexpensive cultural excursion. Bring in some famous touring exhibit and I will happily pay to see it at least once. Maybe twice with different people. The AGA does little to get anyone excited about art and does nothing to draw in your average everyday Albertan. I feel it misses out on opportunities to be a great cultural destination for all of Canada, not just locally.

  23. #23

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    I thought two of the exhibits going on right now were great. I went on the free day, but it would have felt I got my money's worth if I paid.

    I too hope there is good energy with the RAM next door. It could happen in many ways.

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    You hit it etown - the AGA needs far better promotion. Haven't minded the exhibits, but yes could be far better considered & promoted.

    Sadly, when budgets are tight, the promotion part gets cut.
    ... gobsmacked

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by McBoo View Post
    You hit it etown - the AGA needs far better promotion. Haven't minded the exhibits, but yes could be far better considered & promoted.

    Sadly, when budgets are tight, the promotion part gets cut.
    I'm not convinced that's the problem.

    The AGA spends 15% of its budget on exhibitions. Most of its budget procured on grants and City grants with the proviso that it run an enticing Art Gallery that benefits and enriches as many residents as possible. This is a poorly run institution that manages to spend 85% of its budget as an art gallery on anything but actual art exhibits. Again utter fail and that's only the AGA to blame.

    Your public grant dollars (mostly COE) not being money well spent.

    Anybody should ask, and councillors have, what exactly the AGA is doing to be more viable. They're on the clock for that but nothing changing and the cheapest of exhibits running.
    Its hard even for the COE, supportive of this Art Gallery throughout, to advocate any increases in funding. The COE grants are supposed to be decreased in increments.

    Not sure what will occur but with AGA seemingly unable to reduce expenditures or run more cost efficiently it seems exhbit budgets will again be reduced. Which again defeats the purpose of having the AGA in the first place.
    Last edited by Replacement; 19-02-2015 at 10:59 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by McBoo View Post
    You hit it etown - the AGA needs far better promotion. Haven't minded the exhibits, but yes could be far better considered & promoted.

    Sadly, when budgets are tight, the promotion part gets cut.
    I'm not convinced that's the problem.

    The AGA spends 15% of its budget on exhibitions. Most of its budget procured on grants and City grants with the proviso that it run an enticing Art Gallery that benefits and enriches as many residents as possible. This is a poorly run institution that manages to spend 85% of its budget as an art gallery on anything but actual art exhibits. Again utter fail and that's only the AGA to blame.

    Your public grant dollars (mostly COE) not being money well spent.

    Anybody should ask, and councillors have, what exactly the AGA is doing to be more viable. They're on the clock for that but nothing changing and the cheapest of exhibits running.
    Its hard even for the COE, supportive of this Art Gallery throughout, to advocate any increases in funding. The COE grants are supposed to be decreased in increments.

    Not sure what will occur but with AGA seemingly unable to reduce expenditures or run more cost efficiently it seems exhbit budgets will again be reduced. Which again defeats the purpose of having the AGA in the first place.
    The only purpose of the AGA (2.0) was to build something "iconic". Little thought was given to anything beyond that. Hence, the ridiculous if predictable situation it now finds itself in.
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  27. #27

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    I don't know about the finances, but the gallery itself is awesome.

    I go regularly. Very glad I do. Crowds seem to be picking up, but I don't have the numbers. Gift shop is always busy when I'm there too.

    Enterprise Square Galleries also have a very high level of curration and I have yet to be disappointed. There too, crowds are noticeably increasing.

    The criticisms of the hours are valid, but running the business is a tricky business. If they open late, does it canibalise their existing daytime customers? Does it attract more people soon enough to not have the cash flow suffer?

    As long as they keep seeing increases, I know they'll both eventually be able to extend their hours.

    Overall, along with the Muttart Conservatory and the Alberta Aviation Museum, I'd put AGA and ESG in the top tier of Edmonton static exhibitors and exhibit spaces alike.
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  28. #28

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    They're not increasing numbers. Its plateaued around 117K. Which makes it just over 300 visitors/day. There must be lots of times where the place seems completely empty.

    Being that the COE grants are scheduled to decrease, and that the revenue and attendance isn't increasing I don't see how anything but operational cutting is going to occur.

    Still only around 5K members as well. Doesn't bode well as this facility moves into years where it doesn't even have the new buzz factor anymore.

    Seriously most people go to check out the place. I'd wonder if the mode number of visits approaches one.
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  29. #29

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    I'll humour you, but the days I'm going, I'm seeing crowds I didn't use to.

    Not going on Thursdays either.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

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    I realize Wiki isn't the authoritative source, but it was quick and easy ....

    So, just to correct an inaccuacy that has been oft repeated in this thread:

    The newly renovated 85,000-square-foot (7,900 m2) space includes almost double the exhibition space of the original building.

    As much as I too was fond of the old Edmonton Art Gallery brutalist design - it was too small and had a number of limitations that resulted in us missing out on many touring exhibits.

    These limitations included climate control and security.

    Simple: We would NOT be seeing the quality of art that we are now with the old structure.

    Granted, it's not the Uffizi, but after 100 or so Madonnas, maybe that's just as well ....
    ... gobsmacked

  31. #31

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    ^Fairly useless information citing sq footage of the respective buildings given that one of them was a normal building with normal walls and all of them usable for art work.

    The present art gallery has large atrium, high ceilings, weird envelope along with the intruding Aurora Borealis design making it virtually impossible as a space to display art through much of its interior build.

    This shouldn't need to be explained. Simply contrasting sq footage of the respective facilities without context is misleading. plus that I dispute the Wiki figures in anycase. The only info I can find is that which AGA themselves have stated. Not trusting their numbers either. Its interesting that the former Gallery had a very large permanent collection on display. Which the present facility lacks.
    Last edited by Replacement; 20-02-2015 at 11:14 AM.
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    Why I even bother ....

    double the exhibition space

    double the exhibition space

    double the exhibition space

    I.e. you are wrong. Wrong
    ... gobsmacked

  33. #33

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    ???

    The building is roughly twice the size.

    The old version had an even more intrusive atrium, in the centre of the complex.

    The old building's basement is still virtually untouched except the old art rental shop is now a classroom, and both the new art rental shop plus the theatre lobby (which was lacking entirely in V1) are in what was then art storage, which is now off-site.

    The newly configured theatre/lobby/entrance has enabled a huge increase in theatre usage (read "income"). In the decade leading up to the New Vision it was maybe used once per year.

    The building envelope and climate control systems have indeed been upgraded to a world standard so that they are now trusted to maintain the integrity of physical artworks.

    Touring exhibits were an extreme rarity as well before the New Vision, but now they often have two at a time.

    It is the only gallery outside of Ottawa to have a room continuously curated by the National Gallery.

    The AGA is also curating regular exhibits in Enterprise Square, along with the U of A and others.

    Both membership and paid attendance have increased a solid integer-fold since the new vision, although of course attendance did peak in the opening free days (obviously.)

    Food service on the third floor as well as Zinc on the main has been added as both an additional revenue stream and ancillary attraction.

    Lobby rental has also been added as a major revenue stream, previously non-existing.

    In summary, the entire organisation has undergone even bigger changes than the building did, and in so doing become an incredibly more vital presence in the City's culture. None of this is a matter of opinion.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

  34. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by McBoo View Post
    Why I even bother ....

    double the exhibition space

    double the exhibition space

    double the exhibition space

    I.e. you are wrong. Wrong
    its baloney. It is conflagrating square footage to be exhibition space. How much of the square footage at AGA is usable exhibition space? In this context the exhibition space is being falsely reported. (By AGA)

    Again you can be thick about this or actually think about that which AGA would have you believe as justification of this poorly suited present design.
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  35. #35

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    Jaybee, Again, the Enterprise Gallery is open a very limited 16hrs/week. Is this really a valid way to service exposure to the arts?

    What would've been wrong with the idea of building a proper facility as the Art Gallery of Alberta that would actually be suitable to house large permanent, and touring exhibitions.

    The former Edmonton Art Gallery had 7K "treasured artworks" valued at 33M.

    Excuse my ignorance but where are all of these being held and are they available for viewing as I have not been able to make it to Enterprise Gallery for their very limited opening hours.
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    You can take horses**t to water, but apparently you can't make him read.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmonton_Art_Gallery

    Anyway, someone who breezes through any gallery in a whisper over a half hour has no credibility with me, nor might I add likely anyone who appreciates art.

    Clearly you don't like the design, and that's an opinion that you're fully entitled to.

    But you're letting that opinion lead you to incessently repeat an inaccuracy in the face of facts which prove it to be untrue.

    You may now have the last word while I happily return to ignoring you.
    ... gobsmacked

  37. #37

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    ^^ I don't have numbers on ESG attendance but anecdotally for whatever it's worth, I estimate it's conservatively quadrupled since the Cool Stuff exhibit. I've already given that the hours are a frustrating limiter at ESG, but I know they are aware of that too.

    The exhibits AGA curates at ESG do involve some of their collection, as well as numerous borrowed works and some new works.

    In my opinion it does function in those regards as an extended footprint of the organisation including, but not merely, the collection (as ESG also does for the U of A, whose exhibits are certainly on par for curation.)

    I do agree actually that more AGA would be better, but there is definite value in the expressive, memorable architecture and considering that the entire transformation I tried to outline above has been enabled by the new building, I'm overall satisfied with what we've got.

    But if you're asking me should they expand again, the answer would definitely be yes, and I really like Ken's direction above for that.

    As for where the main collection is stored or if it's viewable, all I know is it's now off-site in a secure and properly climate controlled facility, but what they put on display both in their own building and the U of A's gives me my fill.

    For me, the curation is essential to understand the art (I'm still a noob) and without it I'm just looking at pretty pictures. If I were able to be satisfied that way I would probably go to the private sales galleries on 124 Street more often.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

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    I wish they'd bring in more modern, sensory art. Large 3D installations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobleea View Post
    I wish they'd bring in more modern, sensory art. Large 3D installations.
    That's one area Edmonton, and Alberta in general, already excels...


    "The only really positive thing one could say about Vancouver is, it’s not the rest of Canada." Oink (britishexpats.com)

  40. #40

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    ^ a lowlight on par with Victoria's dreadful concrete mattress sculpture, to be sure, but not in any way related to AGA of ESG, which are now undoubtedly two of the top galleries in Western Canada on quality of experience.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

  41. #41

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    Just to give an idea how a public funded art gallery should be operating and with what degree of disclosure contrast what the VAG puts out through an independent auditors report. Click on audited financial statement:
    http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/about-us/about-us.html

    Contrast with the very limited self report put out by the AGA


    http://www.youraga.ca/about-us/who-w...nnual-reports/


    Ask yourself why the AGA, an underperforming facility that is bleeding Edmonton Grant $ reveals so little of its actual finances.

    The disparity in detail is amazing. When is the independent audit coming here I wonder.
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

  42. #42

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    All I'm saying is that it's clearly a huge step farther with the New Vision. Perfect overnight, no, but one starts at the beginning.

    By the way my earlier comment about seeming increasing numbers is since the last report (and I usually go on Saturdays, if that's important. )
    Let's make Edmonton better.

  43. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by JayBee View Post
    All I'm saying is that it's clearly a huge step farther with the New Vision. Perfect overnight, no, but one starts at the beginning.

    By the way my earlier comment about seeming increasing numbers is since the last report (and I usually go on Saturdays, if that's important. )
    Its just that the way this facility has been planned, envisioned, and managed has been a huge problem. Usually grandiose visions are the wrong visions. As far back as 2005 I was not in favor of the present build and for similar reasons. Now we have what we have. A very expensive Art Gallery (also expensive to run, Facility maintenance costs are at least 1M/yr btw) all for a facility that does not have enough normal walls in which to put art. lets keep in mind as well that what they AGA spends on maintenance of this facility is the same amount they spend on exhibits. That is in the 2013 report.

    The design is silly to me as an Art Gallery. if this was some building that had no realy purpose maybe I could see it. But as an actual art gallery venue the design puts huge limitations on how much art it can exhibit. Which in turn of course impacts what visitor numbers would be. Understand that I was forecasting all this a decade ago. Posting all this on this board before the place opened. It was clear with this build what the problems and limitations would be. My concerns were met with "this is a world class design, people will come to it for that reason alone" Then when the first year, and 2nd year returns were underwhelming people kept talking about improvements. What improvements?

    I can't wait for the limited 2014 report to come out. They try to report as little as possible and hope no real questions are asked. Anybody should be asking how come its costing around 3M/yr to staff this limited hours limited use facility.

    All this for a facility that gets 10% of its budget from admissions and memberships. An astoundingly poor number. What kind of business spends 10 times as much on staffing then they obtain in base revenue?

    Its the trouble for me is I love art, but deplore the ongoing stewardship and decisions of this board. Pretty much by principle I feel I can't support this.
    Last edited by Replacement; 21-02-2015 at 12:39 AM.
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  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JayBee View Post
    All I'm saying is that it's clearly a huge step farther with the New Vision. Perfect overnight, no, but one starts at the beginning.

    By the way my earlier comment about seeming increasing numbers is since the last report (and I usually go on Saturdays, if that's important. )
    Its just that the way this facility has been planned, envisioned, and managed has been a huge problem. Usually grandiose visions are the wrong visions. As far back as 2005 I was not in favor of the present build and for similar reasons. Now we have what we have. A very expensive Art Gallery (also expensive to run, Facility maintenance costs are at least 1M/yr btw) all for a facility that does not have enough normal walls in which to put art. lets keep in mind as well that what they AGA spends on maintenance of this facility is the same amount they spend on exhibits. That is in the 2013 report.

    The design is silly to me as an Art Gallery. if this was some building that had no purpose maybe I could see it. But as an actual art containing venue the design puts huge limitations on how much art it can exhibit.

    I can't wait for the limited 2014 report to come out. They try to report as little as possible and hope no real questions are asked. Anybody should be asking how come its costing around 3M/yr to staff this limited hours limited use facility.

    All this for a facility that gets 10% of its budget from admissions and memberships. An astoundingly poor number. What kind of business spends 10 times as much on staffing then they obtain in base revenue?

    Its the trouble for me is I love art, but deplore the ongoing stewardship and decisions of this board. Pretty much by principle I feel I can't support this.
    See the thing is, folks here are trying to compare the AGA to a gallery in an "art town", apples to oranges if you will, to use that hackneyed old Canadian chestnut.

    It's easier to understand the rational behind the AGA if you try to see it in terms of the function it was intended to perform. It functions as a financial loss leader of sorts, to use a marketing analogy, an overblown, crass symbol proclaiming to all and sundry that Edmonton is more than just ice-hockey and truck nuts.

    It's not so much an art galley, more an aspirational statement.
    "The only really positive thing one could say about Vancouver is, it’s not the rest of Canada." Oink (britishexpats.com)

  45. #45

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    ^ you're halfway onto something.

    The other half, you're just on something.



    ^^ Replacement, you're just not seeing the forest for the trees, to use that overdone old British cliché.

    You have to understand the existing winnable 'fanbase' for art has historically been limited here, and having grown by triple through the New Vision building(s) process is nothing short of sensational. Think about that. Where or when do we ever see that type of growth?

    Yes, yes, and yes, it took a bit of a breather, but on the other hand, it's hung on to that newly tripled base. And like I keep saying, it looks like it's on a more sustainable growth pattern this year.

    Furthermore, it too is fighting the still prevailing Downtown Stigma. There are actual cultured people around certain U of A circles who have told me they're actually still scared to park their car downtown, and other stereotypical suburban chants about parking, traffic, and LRT-phobia (nevermind there have been more beating deaths in Spruce Grove, per capita). I wouldn't be surprised if that's cutting off more than half the would-be fanbase anyways, and of course that could change fairly quickly, but it's going to take a lot more than AGA could advertise to make big headway there.

    Yet:
    • Triple memberships
    • Triple admissions
    • Double building size
    • Add Enterprise Square Galleries presence
    • Attract the sole extra-Ottawa embassy of the National Gallery
    • Restaurant with valuable chef drawn to City
    • Drink and snack bar with super ambiance
    • Exponential increase in Theatre bookings/revenue
    • Likewise in lobby bookings/revenue
    • Increase in art rental
    • Likewise in art classes
    • MasssssssSsive increase in awareness of which building it is and what it looks like, across the province.



    The accomplishments accompanying the New Vision have been unbelievable against the starting backdrop.

    Should we want more? Of course. Could a different building have done any more??? Extremely doubtful. Say what you will, but to do so is simply not acknowledging all it has done.

    When you're trying to change large numbers of people's habits, there are just speed limits, to say the least.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

  46. #46

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    Currently, the location isn't great in terms of traffic flow (foot traffic) but that's about to change somewhat with the building of the museum and some possible benefit from the new entry to the Citadel. However, the architect clearly had a 'grander' focus and failed to make the front very 'inviting'. (As is, the front door looks like a bit of an afterthought.)

    I figure little things can be critical to where people 'explore'. I always think of the impact on Whyte Avenue the open lots at the rail crossing had on pretty much killing all foot traffic to the eastern portion of Whyte avenue (the vacant lots formed an invisible barrier).

  47. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by JayBee View Post
    ^ you're halfway onto something.

    The other half, you're just on something.



    ^^ Replacement, you're just not seeing the forest for the trees, to use that overdone old British cliché.

    You have to understand the existing winnable 'fanbase' for art has historically been limited here, and having grown by triple through the New Vision building(s) process is nothing short of sensational. Think about that. Where or when do we ever see that type of growth?

    Yes, yes, and yes, it took a bit of a breather, but on the other hand, it's hung on to that newly tripled base. And like I keep saying, it looks like it's on a more sustainable growth pattern this year.

    Furthermore, it too is fighting the still prevailing Downtown Stigma. There are actual cultured people around certain U of A circles who have told me they're actually still scared to park their car downtown, and other stereotypical suburban chants about parking, traffic, and LRT-phobia (nevermind there have been more beating deaths in Spruce Grove, per capita). I wouldn't be surprised if that's cutting off more than half the would-be fanbase anyways, and of course that could change fairly quickly, but it's going to take a lot more than AGA could advertise to make big headway there.

    Yet:
    • Triple memberships
    • Triple admissions
    • Double building size
    • Add Enterprise Square Galleries presence
    • Attract the sole extra-Ottawa embassy of the National Gallery
    • Restaurant with valuable chef drawn to City
    • Drink and snack bar with super ambiance
    • Exponential increase in Theatre bookings/revenue
    • Likewise in lobby bookings/revenue
    • Increase in art rental
    • Likewise in art classes
    • MasssssssSsive increase in awareness of which building it is and what it looks like, across the province.



    The accomplishments accompanying the New Vision have been unbelievable against the starting backdrop.

    Should we want more? Of course. Could a different building have done any more??? Extremely doubtful. Say what you will, but to do so is simply not acknowledging all it has done.

    When you're trying to change large numbers of people's habits, there are just speed limits, to say the least.
    With all due respect Jaybee the bolded is wrong. Edmonton/capita has always been a huge supporter of the arts. Why do you think we have so many theaters, Winspear, Jubilee, Ballet, Symphony, Opera, etc. Or that we were the first Canadian City to develop the Fringe concept. For you to state the bolded amazes me. This is your perspective, it is not at all accurate.

    Next, you have no numbers or substantiation for admissions or memberships tripling with the new facility. What we do know is that as per 2013 annual report there has been no real growth in admission, revenues.

    "Exponential increase in Theatre bookings/revenue?" Again where are you getting that from. The AGA is showing limited revenues in these areas as recently as 2013.

    Lets be honest here. Most Edmontonians, vast majority I would say, wouldn't know what Enterprise square is if you asked them and certainly wouldn't be able to find it. That whole facility is so underused by the public and hasn't been embraced in any way. Again 85M spent on what is an ugly and unappealing interior. To say that this facility has increased art exposure is I think exaggerating. I would say countless Art related festivals, The Works, Art On Whyte, etc, would do more to create appeal in Art.

    Of course I agree with you on everybody knowing what the AGA looks like. In the minds of many Northern Albertans I wonder if it looks like excess. I don't find it to be an inviting place. Or a place for the average person. To me that design has always in its "World Class" ambitions, and Gehry like zeal, appealed to upperclass. You're describing this as a facility for the masses. Its nothing like that at all. Its about ostentation. Its about building the fanciest facility possible. But that's OK I guess, we're doing that with the Arena as well. But these are not places designed or built for middle class sensitivities or frugal wallet. I think that point gets sorely missed.

    I wonder if the AGA facility could be viewed even distracting from the artworks in scale and statement. At AGA I find its not really about the art as much as look as this bold statement of architecture. Like I said earlier I think for most people the Art Gallery is experienced by taking glances at it. (while its usually closed) from Churchill Square while attending many art related festivals including the Works which oddly enough is 30yrs old despite your notion that Edmonton was recently a backwater supporter of the Arts.
    Last edited by Replacement; 21-02-2015 at 10:26 AM.
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

  48. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Currently, the location isn't great in terms of traffic flow (foot traffic) but that's about to change somewhat with the building of the museum and some possible benefit from the new entry to the Citadel. However, the architect clearly had a 'grander' focus and failed to make the front very 'inviting'. (As is, the front door looks like a bit of an afterthought.)

    I figure little things can be critical to where people 'explore'. I always think of the impact on Whyte Avenue the open lots at the rail crossing had on pretty much killing all foot traffic to the eastern portion of Whyte avenue (the vacant lots formed an invisible barrier).
    I'm not sure if it's the AGA itself that is at fault to make the front more inviting, as it is the neighboring buildings. I think when the courthouse gets replaced it could have an entirely different vibe.

  49. #49

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    Replacement:

    1. Performing arts fans we have in droves, visual arts fans are here but in nowhere near the phenomenal numbers. They're not automatically the same people, as you yourself exemplify. AGA in this era is like where the Citadel was in 1979.

    2. Believe it or not, I was the roadie for the community orchestra who played the EAG theatre in 1999. The air was stale, the seats were dusty, and the gallery attendant told us that was the first booking they'd had in over a year. The electrical blew a fuse on the lights we were forced to use so the players could read their music, delaying the show for 20 minutes while gallery people scrounged for enough extension cords to reach the basement lobby.

    The theatre had no lobby of its own, but merely a hallway from the main basement lobby, which was only accessible from the stairs of the central atrium, which was well past the entry desk, requiring one to pay gallery admission, or being specially excepted and trusted not to look at any paintings on the way to the event.

    Now it has its own lobby, regular maintenance, pre-admission access from the LRT stairwell and elevator, as well as the main gallery elevator, washrooms, and a food/drink service counter. Oh, and both the lighting and electrical systems are adequate.

    As a direct result of these improvements, the theatre hosts Opera 101, Global Visions Film Festival, and regular gallery lectures among other events.

    I think it's fair to say that's an exponential increase, even without needing to know the exact numbers.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

  50. #50

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    ^ heh, I'll give you this one. Never had an experience in that venue.

    Maybe you're right on the art vs performance art thing. I tend to thing of it as art for arts sake in general terms of appreciating the arts but you could be right.

    I do appreciate art of all kinds and have since I was a wee lad. I'm sure I was the only kid in my school Junior High library ever taking out an art book..Cobwebs was the giveaway
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

  51. #51
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    Default Winnipeg's $65-million centre will house world's largest collection of Inuit art

    I'm jealous. Wish AGA could have snagged something like this considering our important connections to the North.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manito...-digests-north

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    Damn, huge coup for the peg.
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  53. #53

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    Great for Winnipeg, they have a government alliance who enables that.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

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    So are Refinery Parties still a hot ticket event? I know they still occur maybe once a year or so - Oct 29 is the next one. I remember just a few years ago how every who's-who and wannabe attended - or tried to go to - what was deemed an exclusive event that always sold out quick. I figured this was a good revenue source for the AGA. Now I rarely hear anything about them anymore.
    “You have to dream big. If we want to be a little city, we dream small. If we want to be a big city, we dream big, and this is a big idea.” - Mayor Stephen Mandel, 02/22/2012

  55. #55

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    ^ I actually have never gone, so I couldn't really tell you.

    Huge fan of the organisation, big fan of the building, humungous fan of many (but not all) of the exhibits, love the sense of communication between myself and the (often long dead) artists through their media, but just not going there for the immediate social contact. I think it is a constructive way for the gallery to reach out to people who're at present somewhat leery of going in the door without an excuse, but not for me.

    Anyone wants my advice, go alone and read every single panel carefully. It's not about "nice looking pictures that might match my drapes." It's about seeing the artist's world through their brains.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

  56. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic Death Monkey View Post
    So are Refinery Parties still a hot ticket event? I know they still occur maybe once a year or so - Oct 29 is the next one. I remember just a few years ago how every who's-who and wannabe attended - or tried to go to - what was deemed an exclusive event that always sold out quick. I figured this was a good revenue source for the AGA. Now I rarely hear anything about them anymore.
    I never had the chance to go but they seem to always be a big hit. For the life of me I don't know why it's not a more regular event. Edmonton doesn't have throngs of tourists, so events like this are a great way to get those that are bored of the regular exhibits a reason to come back and spend money.
    "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction" - Blaise Pascal

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    I miss having cool exhibits like the Asterix exhibit they had several years ago.

  58. #58

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    ^ I think both current shows The Unvarnished Truth and Beauty's Awakening could be a lot of "fun". Depending how one has fun, I guess.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

  59. #59

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    Interesting information on the Wikipedia page in terms of the building and the history.

    Unfortunately there’s not much on it as a functioning operation though.

    Sample below (probably information that should be a history thread on the art gallery but highlights the lack of information about the art gallery as an art gallery.)

    Art Gallery of Alberta - Wikipedia

    “The Art Gallery of Alberta was founded in 1924 under the name "The Edmonton Museum of Arts". Its first exhibition was held that year in the Palm Room of the Hotel Macdonald. The museum later found its home in four different locations, including the Palm Room, the old Edmonton Public Library, the fourth floor of the Civic Block and the Edmonton Motors building before settling into historic Secord House in 1952. It was after this time that the museum re-titled itself "The Edmonton Art Gallery" in 1956.

    Soon, even Secord House was too small for the gallery's ever-expanding collection. In 1961, the Museum set out to build a new facility for itself. The City of Edmonton donated 0.59 acres (2,400 m2) at #2 Sir Winston Churchill Square for the site of the new gallery and in 1969, the new building was opened as the "Arthur Blow Condell Memorial Building",[7] colloquially titled "The Bittorf Building" after architect Don Bittorf.

    ...”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Gallery_of_Alberta


    More info. here:

    Art Gallery of Alberta | The Canadian Encyclopedia

    https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia....ery-of-alberta
    Last edited by KC; 29-05-2019 at 05:34 PM.

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