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Things to do this summer: AGA exhibits

July 12, 2010

This weekend, I visited the Art Gallery of Alberta here in Edmonton for the first time since its re-modelling. While I’m typically quite picky over the kinds of art exhibits that will draw and inspire me, the AGA’s current crop has an impressive lineup that’s definitely worth a look.

From now until November 19, they’re currently exhibiting the fantastical Roman prison architecture imagined by Giovanni Battista Piranesi. I was only vaguely familiar with his work before seeing them up close, but I’m now an instant convert. Viewing the original etchings adds tremendous depth to the already labyrinthine depictions of ancient fantasy, and it’s even served up some personal inspiration for me — more on that in the future.

Generations later, M.C. Escher conceived even more beautifully impossible scenes and structures, and the bulk of his work is on display until October 11. Best known for his tessellations and optical illusions, the exhibit also offers some of his earlier lithographs alongside his most famous drawings. Another of my favorite artists, I’m glad I got the chance to see the real deals.

Also until October 11, the AGA has a main exhibit of Warner Brothers animation, including cells and sketches, proving that art isn’t just limited to the Great Masters. The gallery details the animation process and culture pioneered by the company and provides a fun history of its most beloved characters. It’s pretty neat to see the original animation cells, some more than half a century old, from the cartoons that me and my parents enjoyed in our youth.

If you’re in Edmonton this summer and in need of something to do between the plethora of festivals currently happening, the AGA and its current crop of exhibits make for a fantastic visit.

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