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Art installation a nod to the glory days of the railway – Calgary Herald

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Local developer Gerald Knowlton has developed a railway park and public piece of art, along with restoring a CP caboose, in the town of Standard. Here Knowlton is seen admiring the station he was born in.


Photo courtesy Spencer Purdy / Calgary

Many successful business people also have a keen interest in a hobby, offering relaxation from their difficult daily tasks.

Some find pleasure in collecting. For others, building landscapes for model trains is rewarding, but Gerald Knowlton prefers the full-scale rolling stock as an homage to the railways that helped build this country.

He has a fine model train set and wonderful railway memorabilia. But Knowlton likes full-scale, where he can climb aboard and relive his childhood in the station at Standard, which led to his development of Champion Park in Okotoks and his significant donation of a public art piece in the newly opened Memory Lane Park in Standard.

Formed and named as a hub for CP trains, Standard is a small farming community about 80 kilometres east of Calgary.

Knowlton grew up in the Standard railway station and moved to Calgary in 1960 after graduating from the University of Western Ontario. He began working for C.H. Noton but, by 1961, he had brought together some partners and purchased the firm, renaming it Knowlton Realty in 1962.

Over more than 30 years, he built his company from a one-office, $125,000-a-year operation to a five-office national firm handling more than $100 million worth of real estate every year.

He was responsible for transforming a collection of properties in Calgary’s downtown into the two towers that became home to Petro-Canada — now known as Suncor Energy Centre — and for creating a similar development that resulted in Bow Valley Square.

He says he was fortunate to be in the “right place at the right time,” but he was the visionary “right man” who took over the young company in 1965.

He sold the company in 1995 and established Congress Inc. in 2001 to oversee and enhance the Knowlton’s investments, but he also sought opportunities on behalf of a consortium of investors and remained involved in office and retail developments.

His successes enabled him to pursue his railway interests, and he set about developing the 54-acre Champion Park south of the city as an homage to CP and the former station agent at Standard, his father, Ted Knowlton, who served in that capacity for 42 years.

The old Standard station had been demolished, but Knowlton was able to transport a similar station from Champion, about 150 kilometres south of Calgary, that was built in 1911 and restored at Champion Park in 1980.

Gifted to the town of Okotoks and Foothills County in 2016, besides the fully equipped station the park features other period buildings including the section house, ice house, bunk house, outhouse and a number of huts and a tool shed.

Rolling stock includes the 60-foot-long Saskatchewan executive car, engine, boxcar, stock car and several cabooses.


The caboose Knowlton found in Leader, SK, that he fully restored to its CP glory inside and out.

Photo courtesy Spencer Purdy /

Calgary

CP had also donated a strip of land to the Village of Standard in 1923 to be developed as a park, but it wasn’t until 2015 that The Standard Community Facility Enhancement Society was formed to develop the space for the pleasure of its residents and to offer an interesting permanent display to attract visitors.

A sense of the historical role of Memory Lane meant the railway had to play a big part, and the society contacted the son of the former station agent to participate and support the venture.

Knowlton, who lived in the station until leaving for university, has been a driving force behind another full-scale exhibit that includes a public art installation of the station, platform and track, and a majestic caboose.

The Vanish Station design and construction is thanks to Knowlton’s grandson and Ted Knowlton’s great grandson, Vancouver-based architect Spencer Purdy, and structural engineer Patrick Wallain, whose company Exhibau creates and stages events worldwide for clients such as Nike, BMW and TED.


Vanish Station is a pieve of art that shows the former railway station disappearing as one walks or drives past it.

Photo courtesy Spencer Purdy /

Calgary

Before studying architecture at the University of Southern California, Purdy lived in the Calgary area and for three years in the station now at Champion Park. In his youth, he also spent time in Standard during visits with his grandfather and from both experiences learned of the importance of the station as a hub for the village; sending off shared goods from farm and ranch, sending off young folks in search of a future, and bringing in coveted products not available locally.

Standard Mayor Alan Larsen says he remembers excitedly waiting at the railway station for his first bike — ordered from the Eaton’s catalogue — to arrive on the train.

Purdy wanted the new station to be of its current era while still referencing and honouring the design of the original station. The newly erected Vanish Station is built in a series of panels printed with the original 1909 elevations arranged at a 45-degree angle. The alignment of the panels offers two ever-changing views allowing visitors to experience the station and beyond — what stood and what vanished in one installation.

While this was being planned and designed with input from the village, Knowlton searched throughout Western Canada for a suitable caboose to sit on tracks by the station platform. He found the perfect equipment in Leader, Sask., that he purchased, had shipped to Standard and had refurbished and repainted as not only true CP rolling stock but a facility that can be used as a meeting place for village events, surrounded by picnic area, benches, shelters and landscaping along the 1.1-kilometre pathway.

In honouring the CP and Ted Knowlton, the family and townsfolk have provided a commemorative display that will be enjoyed both by locals and tourists. The hope and intent of the project is that people of all generations will be encouraged to visit Standard to learn from the past and enjoy the present at modern Vanish Station.

Gerald Knowlton still has a passion for railroads and has enjoyed many train rides all over the world, but the CP is in his blood and he’s excited to show off his salute to its history in Alberta.

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Ehiko: The Multidisciplinary Artist Shaping Decolonization Through Art

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Ehiko, a multidisciplinary artist born in Lagos, Nigeria, now calls Toronto, Ontario, her home. An OCAD University graduate, she has gained recognition for her powerful and evocative works that delve into the complexities of decolonization, health and wellness, spirituality, sexual violence, and the representation of melanated hair.

Ehiko’s artistic journey began in the vibrant city of Lagos, where the rich cultural heritage and traditional artistry influenced her deeply. This foundation blossomed in Toronto, where she continued to experiment and manipulate raw canvas due to its flexibility. Her expressive palette and the use of various textiles pay homage to traditional Nigerian craftsmanship, creating a unique blend of contemporary and ancestral art forms.

Her works are not just visually striking but also laden with profound messages. Ehiko’s exploration of decolonization is evident in her large-scale multi-medium paintings, performances, drawings, and installations. Each piece she creates is a testament to her commitment to unravelling spirituality linked to traditional Afrakan masks, presenting a dialogue between the past and present.

One of the central themes in Ehiko’s work is health and wellness, particularly within the context of the Black community. She addresses the often-overlooked aspects of mental health and the importance of wellness practices rooted in African traditions. Through her art, Ehiko encourages a reconnection with these practices, promoting healing and resilience.

Sexual violence is another critical subject Ehiko tackles with sensitivity and boldness. Her works often depict the pain and trauma associated with such experiences while also highlighting the strength and resilience of survivors. By bringing these issues to the forefront, she fosters conversations that are essential for societal change and healing.

The representation of melanated hair in Ehiko’s art is a celebration of Black identity and beauty. Her pieces challenge societal norms and stereotypes, presenting Black hair in its diverse and natural forms. This representation is not only about aesthetics but also about reclaiming cultural identity and pride.

Ehiko’s exhibitions in Lagos and Toronto have garnered significant attention, and her private collection of purchased work is available upon request. Her contributions to the art world extend beyond her creations; she is also an advocate for using art as a tool for social change and empowerment.

In every piece, Ehiko weaves her experiences, heritage, and vision, creating a tapestry that speaks to the heart and mind. Her work is a powerful reminder of the role of art in decolonization and healing, and her journey continues to inspire and influence the global art community.

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Home + Away artwork opens in Vancouver’s Hastings Park

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A new art installation now towers over Vancouver’s Hastings Park fields in celebration of the city’s history of spectators and sports.

Home + Away is a sculpture by Seattle artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Lead Pencil Studio, which opened Monday in the southeast end of the historic park.

It’s a 17-metre-tall structure that resembles a narrow set of bleachers — similar to the stands of the Empire Stadium, which stood on the site of the park from 1954 to 1993 and hosted The Beatles, among many others. It recalls a covered ski jump that stood there in the 1950s and the nearby wooden rollercoaster at the PNE.

The city says the public is invited to walk the stairs and sit on the benches.

“In addition to being visually striking, this artwork is intended to be ascended, sat on and experienced. It offers exciting experiences of height and views and provides 16 rows of seating for up to 49 people, making for a unique spectator experience when watching events at Empire Fields,” the city said in a release Monday.

The idea for the park to include public art was outlined in the Hastings Park “Master Plan,” first adopted by the city in 2010. The city says Han and Mihalyo first presented their design in 2015.

“It’s wonderful to see this piece realized within the context of such a well-used public space,” said Han.

Home + Away was inspired directly by the site history of spectatorship, and we hope it will connect Hastings Park users to that history and the majestic views of the environment for many decades to come,” added Mihalyo.

The artwork features a large light-up sign, in the style of a sports scoreboard, that reads “HOME” and “AWAY.”

 

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Bill Viola, Video Artist Who Established the Medium as an Integral Part of Contemporary Art, Dies at 73

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Bill Viola, whose decades-long engagement with video proved vital in establishing the medium as an integral part of contemporary art, died on July 12 at his home in Long Beach, California. He was at 73 years old. The cause was complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. The news of his passing was confirmed by James Cohan Gallery.

Viola’s works are centered around the idea of human consciousness and such fundamental experiences as birth, death, and spirituality. He delved into mystical traditions from Zen Buddhism to Islamic Sufism, as well as Western devotional art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in his videos, which often juxtaposed themes of life and death, light and dark, noise and silence. These explorations were achieved by submerging viewers in both image and sound with cutting-edge technologies for their time.

“I first used the camera and lens as a surrogate eye, to bring things closer, or to magnify them, to experiment with perception, to extend vision and make lengthy observations of simple objects,” Viola said in a 2015 interview. “Once you do that, their essence becomes visible. So I suppose I was always interested in the inner life of the world around me.”

Beginning in the 1970s, Viola created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast—all of which expanded the scope of the medium and established Viola as one of its most notable practitioner.

Video still of a man diving into water that has been reversed. The image is mostly black and teal.

In 2003 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Tate, London; and the Centre Pompidou in Paris jointly acquired Bill Viola’s 2001 three-channel video installation Five Angels for the Millennium.

Photo Kira Perov/©Bill Viola Studio

Bill Viola was born in 1951. He grew up in Queens and Westbury, New York, and attended P.S. 20 in Flushing, before receiving his BFA in experimental studios from Syracuse University in 1973. There, he studied with visual art with the likes of Jack Nelson and electronic music with Franklin Morris.

Following his graduation, between 1973 to 1980, Viola studied and performed with composer David Tudor in the music group Rainforest, which later became known as Composers Inside Electronics. He also worked as technical director at the pioneering video studio Art/tapes/22 in Florence, Italy from 1974 to 1976. During that time he encountered the work of other seminal video artists like Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, and Vito Acconci.

Viola was subsequently an artist-in-residence at New York’s WNET Thirteen Television Laboratory between 1976 to 1983, wherein he created a series of works that premiered on television. He traveled to the Solomon Islands, Java, and Indonesia to record traditional performing arts between 1976 and 1977. Later that year, Viola was invited to show work at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, by cultural arts director Kira Perov, with whom he married and began a lifelong collaboration.

He was appointed an instructor in advanced video at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California in 1983. He was the Getty Research Institute scholar-in-residence in Los Angeles in 1998 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.

In 1985, Viola received with a Guggenheim Fellowship for fine arts, and later that decade, in 1989, he was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. His work was also featured in some of the world’s most notable exhibitions, including Documenta VI in 1977, Documenta XI in 1992, the 1987 and 1993 editions of the Whitney Biennial, and the 2001 Venice Biennale.

In 1995, he represented the United States at the 46th edition of the Venice Biennale. For the pavilion, Viola produced the series of works “Buried Secrets,” including one of his most known works The Greeting, which offers a contemporary interpretation of Pontormo’s oil painting The Visitation (ca.1528–30). The Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin and New York’s Guggenheim Museum commissioned the digital fresco cycle in high-definition video, titled Going Forth By Day, in 2002.

Viola’s work was the subject of a major 25-year survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1997, which subsequently toured internationally. His work has been the subject of major museum retrospectives in the years since, including at the Grand Palais in Paris (in 2014), the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (2017), the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain (2017), and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia (2019), as well as an exhibition pairing his work with that of Michelangelo at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 2019.

Viola is survived by his wife Kira Perov, who has been the executive director of his studio since 1978, and their two children.

“One thing that’s very exciting about video that has turned me on since I first saw this glowing image way back in 1970 is that it can be so much,” Viola said in a 1995 with Charlie Rose on the occasion of this US Pavilion at the Biennale. “Furthermore, what’s really exciting is I don’t think it’s been since really the Renaissance where artists have been able to use a medium that one could say is the dominant communication form in society.”

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