Jasper Ave (Looking West near 96 Street)

A view of the current ‘revitalization’ in the Boyle/Downtown East/Quarters area … we had some great brick buildings on 96 street, once upon a time …

#LostYEG: Lost Edmonton

1949

EA-275-1949 (1949) Jasper and 95th West

Google Streetview (2015)

EA-275-1949 (1949) Jasper and 95th West - 2015

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Rossdale Power Plant

Another reminder of how much, and (relatively) how fast this city changes, and the relative losses and gains we collectively face.

#LostYEG: Lost Edmonton

The Rossdale power plant looked very different in the first half of the 2oth century. As you will see below, it changed to a more familiar appearance in the 1930s. Read more about its history here.

1912 (Looking Southeast)

nc-6-271 - City Power House - 1912

1912 (Interior View)

nc-6-272 - Interior of the Power Plant, Edmonton, Alberta. - 1912

1913 (Looking East)

na-1328-788 - City Power House, Edmonton, Alberta. - ca 1913

1931 (Looking Southeast)

nd-3-5714 - City Power plant, Edmonton, Alberta. - 1931

1930s (Looking Northeast – The new power plant begins to grow)

EB-28-1126 - Rossdale Power plant - 1930s

2010 (Looking Northeast)

Wikimedia -Rossdale_Power_Plant - 2010

EdHGIS: 1914 Fire Insurance Map & 2015 Google Streetview Imagery

EB-28-1126 - Rossdale Power plant - Map 2015

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On Problems, Change, and Creativity: The Art of Changing a City

I’ve been thinking a great deal about creative solutions lately.  Obviously, this is something that I “do” – it’s a big part of my job as an artist, logically enough. But it’s also a way of seeing the world in a larger sense, a way of doing things that some people embrace as a means to face difficult things.

I find it overwhelming sometimes: How granular and complicated real solutions to real problems in communities are. There are so many things that need changing, and so many points of intersection between “issues” that sometimes teasing it all out feels like dealing with a huge knitting mistake. Too many dropped stitches already – too much lost/erased/silenced. Too hard to make community voices have an impact (more than lip service).

So, it was both appropriate and fortuitous that I came across this op-ed piece in the New York Times, written by two-time Bogotà mayor Antanas Mokus. I was delighted by his approach to complex problems  – problems that many saw as insurmountable.  It’s definitely worth a read in its entirety, and it’s good food for thought for our city. For all cities. The problems may be different, but doing things the way they’e always been done, or because a report backed up with statistics said it was a good idea, or the the latest study concluded things were most cost-effective if done in a certain way … isn’t necessarily the way to do things. I’m not suggesting for a minute that research and information gathering should’t be the starting point for any change – it’s the root of understanding what you have to tackle in many respects.

But.

The solutions offered by more conventional linear approaches are the “usual suspects” … and while they all have elements that can be very useful for finding solutions to a wide range of urban issues, they very often miss crucial, creative solutions that make success a little more likely.

Things like: humour.

Things like: understanding that positive changes that last develop organically from within communities, and incorporate the diverse voices and character of that unique place.

Things like: measuring the cost of a project in dollars and cents and eventual profit ignores the value of built history and lived heritage, and can devastate (and erase) the unique fabric of entire communities. There are costs far more dear than building materials and infrastructure; the human relationship to the built landscape once removed, cannot be replaced.

Things like: tackling small(ish) things sequentially builds capacity in communities. Often, taking on something that is simple, that local people feel is achievable, and that they can control is the key to getting transforming a place for the better.

Concrete results empower people, and provide them with proof of their having a real, positive impact.

Mokus writes:

Things worked because people cooperated, and they did so because they were astonished at their own power. Hope that delivered results generated more hope.

When I look at what The Drawing Room is doing,

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what Quarters Arts is doing

photo credits: Lori Gawryluik, Jaqueline Setlfox Ohm, Ester Malzahn

photo credits: Lori Gawryluik, Jaqueline Stelfox Ohm, Ester Malzahn

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… I see ‘unusual suspects’ making changes that have impact. These are entities that have grown organically out of the community, that have grown roots and are weaving themselves into the evolving fabric of the neighbourhood. That give me some hope …

But.

The York, and many other buildings that made up the original streetscape in Boyle Street are long gone; spaces like The Artery and Local Gifts have been caught up in the push for (some good) changes in the city for various reasons, not the least of which has been taking the simplest approach  – if it’s in the way, get rid of it – regardless of the value beyond dollars and cents.

Many other buildings throughout the city have suffered, or will suffer, the same fate.

Many stand empty, and run the risk of being lost through inaction and neglect – and those empty and disused space are absences – they embody loss and are wounds in what could otherwise be community-occupied, living space.

Are these spaces and places worth losing, when with them we lose entire chunks of Edmonton’s history?  We’re a young city in a young province – but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a built heritage worth saving.

Not a cost-effective way for developers to work. Too much trouble, takes too much time, too complicated to perform remediation on old buildings.

Not the most profitable way to go.

Doesn’t create a unified (homogeneous, modern, new, faceless, characterless, alienating) streetscape.

BUT.

  • Sydney

“Carried” at Nuit Blanche 2015

Well that was quite a night! The sculptural installation we have been working on for the last several months was launched on September 26 during Nuit Blanche!

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many,many prints drying in the studio … these were all part of CARRIED!

York:Moments – Carried is an independent project of Nuit Blanche 2015, Edmonton’s first all-night art party.

nuit blanche info page Carried

The Opening Reception was really busy – lots of lovely people dropped by to look waaaaay up to see the work, and to the in all of the other terrific programming at the site. A shout out to the Young Cree Singers for their beautiful voices and drumming, to Cipher 5 for the great community boards that were created that night, and to Ramshackle Day Parade for their project Connectivity – which proved to be a pretty fantastic soundtrack to the launch of Carried in to the world.

carried nuit blanche map

See our previous post for a run down on all the great stuff that happened …

ALSO: a HUGE thanks to the many volunteers who put in big time and effort to making everything happen so beautifully at Boyle Street Plaza that night, and of course to Quarters Arts Society for the support, encouragement, and buckets of hard work to help us realize this.

Here’s a slide show of some images from the magical evening – ENJOY!

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Almost time of Nuit Blanche at Boyle Street Plaza!

ARE YOU READY FOR NUIT BLANCHE?

We are only days away from one of the most exciting arts events of 2015. Nuit Blanche Edmonton is a free, contemporary art event that will transform downtown for one night only (September 26-27, 7pm-4am).

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Boyle Street Plaza (9538-103A Ave) is excited to be participating as an independent site, right around the corner from the main festivities at Churchill Square. Quarters Arts Society and Boyle Street Community League will be serving up a feast for your senses all night long. From visual art, interactive sound installations, and a licensed lounge, to drummers and storytellers around the fire, be sure to stop by Boyle Street Plaza as you experience the excitement of Nuit Blanche.

LOOK BELOW FOR DETAILS OF THE EVENING…

BOYLE STREET COMMUNITY LEAGUE PRESENTS…QUARTERS ARTS LOUNGE
Sponsored by Steam Whistle, we are excited to have a licensed lounge on site, starting at 9pm.

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Featuring projection art by Evan Pearce, and photographs by Bill Neis, you are invited to stop by and have a tasty beverage while you’re exploring Nuit Blanche. Come support local arts at the Quarters Arts Lounge.
Please note that the lounge is cash only. There are ATMs around the corner, but don’t be disappointed!Drinks will also be available at the opening reception of Carried from 7-9pm. We will be collecting donations for the Inner City Recreation & Wellness Program.

7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Young Cree Singers and Drumming
Located in the small outside round, join us as we connect to Mother Earth through drumming and singing.

9:30 – 11:00 p.m. Storytelling Around The Fire
Located in the small outside round, local storytellers will share their tales around a roaring fire.

7:00 – 11:00 p.m. Community Art
Join the leader of Cipher 5, help create a work of graffiti art, and show how we connect with one another.

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CARRIED (YORK:MOMENTS)The York Hotel was located at 104 Avenue and 96 Street in the heart of historic Boyle Street. Its closure in 2010, and demolition in 2012, inspired Artists-in-Residence Sydney Lancaster and Marian Switzer to revisit the history of the 1913 hotel turned rooming house – and to some, community hub. “Carried” is the result of this journey. Created in active collaboration between the Artists-in-Residence and community members over the last several months, this sculptural installation will feature gel transfer prints of images from the York Hotel. They will resemble pieces of paper fluttering down from above, evoking thoughts of memory and change.

The opening reception will be held from 7-9pm, with the site open overnight until 4am. For updates on the ongoing York:Moments project, follow us on Facebook.

This project has received funding from the Edmonton Heritage Council, Edmonton Arts Council, Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, and Boyle Street Community League.

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CONNECTIVITY  As part of the inaugural Nuit Blanche Edmonton festival, Ramshackle Day Parade is thrilled to present CONNECTIVITY. Created by Brendan Anderson, Parker Thiessen and Abram Hindle, CONNECTIVITY will combine elements of live performance and sound installation to reflect on the ways art is influenced by the communities and physical environments in which it is created, and on the symbiotic relationship between audiences and performers.Performers from Edmonton’s experimental music scene will come together to create a nine hour long, continuous sound piece that will be manipulated by audience members as they experience and move through the physical space of the installation. Interactive software designed by Abram Hindle will allow listeners and performers to respond to each other and work together in creative ways to shape the sounds being produced. Through this process, artists will be forced to relinquish control over their final product and audiences will play an active role in their own experience. CONNECTIVITY will be spontaneous and ephemeral, embracing the chaos and collaboration that is so often inherent to the creative process and using these elements to create a work that is entirely dependent on its specific place and time. No two moments will be the same and every participant will come away with an experience wholly unique to them.

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SUPPORTERS OF THE QUARTERS

Quarters Arts Society creates opportunities for our supporters to engage with the Boyle Street community and illuminates the historic, artistic, and cultural diversity that exists in Edmonton’s oldest neighbourhood.For more information on how to get involved, email quartersartscalls@gmail.com.

Quarters Arts is a non-profit society that engages in citizen-led projects that honour the heritage and explore the diversity of the community of Boyle Street. Quarters Arts acknowledges that Boyle Street is a part of Treaty 6 territory and is a traditional meeting ground for many Indigenous peoples.

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Without the dedicated partnership with Boyle Street Community League, we would not be able to provide the wealth of programming for our community near and far.Thank you for your ongoing participation and support, dear friends and partners.Please visit their website to keep updated on their host of events and meetings, serving your community.www.boylestreetcl.com

Copyright © 2015 Quarters Arts Society, All rights reserved.

Do YOU Remember the York Hotel?

As our part in this ongoing project winds down, Marian and I are excited to see and hear the stories and memories that Jason (filmmaker) and Kyla (historical practitioner) gather in the coming months.

We have met so many lovely people in the neighbourhood as we have worked at Boyle Street Plaza, and many of them had memories and stories to share with us while they helped us make prints.

We hope that they – along with anyone else who has stories and memories to share – will get in touch with Kyla & Jason, and help them to put together a permanent record of those thoughts.

These stories are a living part of the history of this neighbourhood, and need to be preserved and shared.

York Poster

If you know someone with a story of the York to share, please let them know to get in touch!

**Your contact information will NOT be shared, except between the project participants, for the purposes of contacting people who want to share stories and memories.

What an Arts Night!

We had a wonderful time at the last Quarters Arts Night on September 4th!

A great turn out – LOTs of people! And such a lot of helpers assisting with the gel transfer making!

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The work is always better when shared:

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It has been so wonderful to meet so many people from the neighbourhood over the last few months, and to share the work we’ve been doing as Artists-in Residence at Boyle Street Plaza.

We are going miss these work parties *(but NOT the blisters!)

Stay Tuned for the NEXT phase of this work … the installation and launch of Carried!