Calgary Transit is offering up some culture to commuters as they wait for a bus on one of the city’s four MAX rapid transit lines.
Fifty of the MAX bus shelters were designed so that works of art could be displayed on their glass walls.
The MAX Orange, Yellow and Teal shelters are showing selected works from the City of Calgary’s Public Art Collection. Along the MAX Purple route, works by up-and-coming artists with links to the local area are featured.
The shelters on the four bus lines display 183 works by nearly 90 artists who have lived in Calgary at some point in their careers.
“Putting art on MAX shelter walls turned our city into a gallery. It allows thousands of transit riders, motorists and passers-by to enjoy and appreciate the work of Calgary’s artistic community every day,” said Julie Yepishina-Geller with Arts and Culture at The City of Calgary.
The images are digitally printed onto tempered glass with ceramic pigmented inks and layered with PVB (polyvinyl butyral). The glass is thick and resistant to vandalism, damage and fading by the sun, Calgary Transit says.
The project cost approximately $1.6 million, representing one per cent of the budget for the four MAX lines.
Calgary’s public art collection is valued at more than $25 million, with most of its 1,300 pieces having been donated by Calgarians and organizations since its founding in 1911.
Here’s a sampling of the artworks on display
MAX Teal route:
MAX Teal stop # 3: “Opulence” by Chris Flodberg, 2011, oil on canvas.
Flodberg was born and raised in Calgary and studied at Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD), now Alberta University of the Arts, and at the University of Alberta. He lives, paints and exhibits full-time in Calgary, according to Masters Gallery, where his work is available.
MAX Teal stop #7: “Loaded Code #3” by John Eisler, 2002, oil on alkyd on board.
Eisler earned a degree in painting from ACAD (now Alberta University of the Arts) in 1997. His work “attempts to express how modern civilization is saturated with visual complexity, technology, and popular culture,” says the Alberta Foundation for the Arts website. He is represented in Calgary by Paul Kuhn Gallery.
MAX Teal stop #8: “Fishing on the Bow” by Margaret Shelton, 1945, linocut on paper.
Shelton (1915-1984) was born on a farm in Bruce, Alta., went to school in Calgary in the 1930s. She studied at Provincial Institute of Technology and Art under A.C. Leighton and H.G. Glyde, graduating in 1943, according to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Best known for her watercolours and linocut and woodblock prints, her works are in the collections of the National Gallery and the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.
MAX Teal stop #10: “Centre Street Bridge, Blue Day” by Illingworth Kerr, 1984, oil on canvas.
Kerr (1905-1989) was born in Lumsden, Sask. and studied at the Ontario College of Art under several members of the Group of Seven. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, he moved to Calgary after the Second World War and became head of the Art Department at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art, precursor to the Alberta University of the Arts. There is a gallery in his name at the university.
MAX Yellow route:
MAX Yellow stop #4: “Beautiful Painting #19” by Carroll Taylor-Lindoe, 1991, oil on canvas.
Taylor-Lindoe studied at ACAD (now the Alberta University of the Arts) in the 1960s and ’70s, and currently lives and works on Denman Island, B.C., according to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Her works are found in many corporate, public and private collections across Canada, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Alberta and the Glenbow Museum, says the website of Calgary art gallery TrépanierBaer, where her works are available for sale.
MAX Yellow stop #5: “High Yellow” by Harry Kiyooka, undated, silkscreen on paper.
Kiyooka, born in Calgary in 1928, was an early pioneer of abstract art in Western Canada in the 1960s. He taught at the University of Calgary for 27 years, retiring in 1988 as professor emeritus. His works have been exhibited and collected widely both nationally and internationally. In 2011 Kiyooka and his wife, renowned sculptor Katie Ohe, founded the Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre to promote contemporary art with a studio spaces for emerging artists, a research library and vast collections of artwork, including an outdoor sculpture garden.
MAX Yellow stop #9: “Band” by John Snow, 1968, lithograph on paper.
Snow (1911-2004) is best known for his lithographic prints, an art form he and his friend, fellow artist Maxwell Bates, are credited with pioneering on the Prairies in the 1940s. “No one in Alberta was producing fine-art lithography at the time, so the two men essentially taught themselves. Not only did they become proficient, but they soon mastered the art form. Alberta is now regarded internationally as a printmaking centre,” says the artist’s biography on the website of Lando Gallery in Edmonton. His works hang in the National Gallery of Canada, the residence of the Governor General of Canada and Alberta’s Government House in Edmonton.
MAX Yellow stop #12: “Medicine Man on Horseback” by Gerald Tailfeathers, 1967, ink and watercolour on paper.
Tailfeathers (1925-1975) was born on the Kainai First Nation and was one of the first Indigenous Canadians to become a professional artist, rising to prominence in the 1950s after studying in the U.S. and at the Banff Centre with noted watercolourist Walter J. Phillips, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia. “His work exhibits a romantic and nostalgic vision of his Blood people’s life in the late 19th century. Thus, it features warriors in their traditional activities of warfare, hunting and ceremonial life,” the article says.
MAX Orange route:
MAX Orange stop #5: “Young Wrestling Fans” by George Webber, 1978, silver gelatin on paper.
Webber, born in Drumheller, Alta., in 1952, is an acclaimed photographer based in Calgary who has been been chronicling the people, landscape and built environment of Alberta for nearly 40 years. Webber’s many books of photographs include Borrowed Time, Saskatchewan Book, Alberta Book, Prairie Gothic and People of The Blood.
MAX Orange stop #9: “Cathedral #2” by Ken Samuelson, 1974, silkscreen on embossing paper.
Samuelson (1936-2021) was a painter and printmaker whose early works had a highly graphic style and “concentrated on the derivative abstraction of the surrounding landscape,” while in later years he used oils and watercolours in detailed landscapes, according the Alberta Foundation for the Arts website. He studied at ACAD (now the Alberta University for the Arts) and later lectured there from 1968 to 1996. He was co-owner of K-B Graphic Design Ltd. from 1958 to 1968, specializing in graphic design, architectural rendering and illustration, according to his obituary.
MAX Orange stop #10: “Grey Green Crowd #2” by Chris Cran, 1991, oil and acrylic on canvas.
Calgary-based Cran graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design (now Alberta University of the Arts) in 1979. “Cran’s paintings exhibit a long-standing interest in the relationship between representation and abstraction, as well as photography and painting,” says the website of Calgary art gallery TrépanierBaer, where his works are sold. The original of this work is on display at Mount Royal University.
MAX Orange stop #17: “Village” by Maxwell Bates, 1956, linocut on paper.
Bates (1906-1980) was a Calgary architect and expressionist painter and lithographer who was likely the first Alberta-born artist to become internationally recognized, says Hodgins Art Auctions on its website. His works — often boldly coloured with distorted, expressive figure studies — have been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, including one at the Glenbow Museum last year. As an architect, his’ most prominent project was St. Mary’s Cathedral in Calgary’s Mission district completed in 1957. Following a stroke in 1961, Bates lived and painted full-time in Victoria, B.C.
MAX Purple route:
On the MAX Purple line, which runs from the East Hills Shopping Centre along 17th Avenue southeast into the core, the showcased artworks aren’t from the city’s public collection. Instead, these stations feature 24 pieces by artists who live, work, or have a connection to Forest Lawn or International Avenue.
The theme of the art along this line is international foods as a way to celebrate the area’s cultural diversity.
Pieces for the purple line were chosen by a selection panel made up of three Calgary artists, three members of the community and one Calgary Transit representative.
MAX Purple stop #2: “Forest Lawn Leaf Mandala” by Carla Pelkey, 2014, digital.
Pelkey is a Calgary-based artist and graphic designer whose recent work uses autumn leaves she has collected to create designs and images of figures, animals and scenes, according to her website. She is a graduate of ACAD (now the Alberta University of the Arts). “Soil, plants, decay, growth, insects, animals, human civilization and biodiversity are all interconnected and important. What better way to experience diversity than through foods we or others prepare and eat,” Pelkey said in her submission to the selection committee. This is one of three of Pelkey’s works that are featured on the MAX Purple route.
MAX Purple stop #4: “Sundae Cherry Bomb” by Rino Friio, 2018, oil on canvas.
Friio is a Calgary-based landscape painter whose works hang in many private and institutional collections, including the Foothills and Pete Lougheed hospitals. “I have found the most dynamic painting is done is in the first thirty minutes. That’s where the raw skill is. Proceeding to completion is a separate skill in itself,” says Friio on the Mountain Galleries website, where his works are available. Three of Friio’s works are displayed on MAX Purple shelters.
MAX Purple stop #4: “Buon Cibo” by Karen Begg, 2018, digital photograph.
Begg is Calgary-based artist, sculptor and community organizer. There are five works by Begg along the MAX Purple route. In her submission to the selection committee, Begg said this photo was inspired by her travels to Italy. “The wonderful ethnicity of International Avenue, the food choices, and my all-time favourite is Italian food. Carbonara is being cooked here, noodles in the boiling water, the simple ingredients, but it is a complicated technique.”