News / Calgary

Calgary's artBOX on 17E celebrates a year of community art and $95,000 in artist funding

What was once an abandoned paint warehouse has become a hub for connecting the Forest Lawn community with art – and local artists with funding.

Since it opened about a year ago, the 5,400 square foot space known as “artBOX on 17E ” has played host to live performances, visual art exhibitions, workshops, community meals, and after-school programs.

It has also provided $95,000 in funding for 11 art projects and one art award, with the support of Calgary Arts Development (CADA) and the International Avenue BRZ.

The space is more than a gallery, as artists who use it to display their work must agree to abide by the artBOX mission statement, which includes a variety of criteria aimed at fostering community connections, benefits to local business, and mentorship of emerging artists.

“Right from the very beginning, the people of greater Forest Lawn have embraced this space as their own,” CADA president Patti Pon said. “It’s somewhere they come to hang out; it’s somewhere they celebrate the work of artists who live in their community; it’s somewhere where other artists from other spaces and other parts of the city have been invited to undertake their craft.”

Presently, the large workshop space in the back of the building is being used by a group of artist mentors with Antyx Community Arts and eight youth artists, who together are building a portable and interactive sculpture housed in an old horse trailer called “Play on Wheels.”

“It’s basically an interactive playmobile,” said Kamila Eltassi, one of the youth artists. “And the idea behind that is to promote play, interaction, connectivity and all those great things.”

Alia Shabab, one of the artist mentors, said the project would not have happened without the workshop at artBOX.

“It’s really been what’s made this project possible,” she said. “We have an amazing space back there.”

Play on Wheels will be unveiled on Sept. 5 and then put on display at the Beakerhead Festival Sept. 10-14.

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