The cover of Pass Me By Kyle Simmers and Ryan Danny Owen
Kyle Simmers and Ryan Danny Owen's Pass Me By | Image: Courtesy of Shelf Life Books

Free This Week

Visual art, books, and animations shine with launches and screenings

Amy Jo Espetveidt

  • Location Various Venues 
  • Price Free

The first full week of April brings an abundance of fantastic—and free—events to check out. From a doubleheader animation screening at the Alberta University of the Arts to three launches at Shelf Life Books, it’s a great time to hit up Calgary’s arts community.

Riverview Artists April Show & Sale

Until April 5, 2019, 9:00am – 4:00pm
Watermark Tower (530 8th Ave. SW)
Free admission

Featuring original artwork by 12 local artists, works vary in style and technique, reflecting the unique creativity and inspiration of each artist. Join Riverview Artists for its April show and sale, an artist is in attendance each day.

ProArts Presents Toncheva Maciak Duo

April 3, 2019, 12:10 – 12:50pm
Cathedral Church of the Redeemer (604 1st St. SE)
Free admission

Rob Maciak returns to the ProArts Society’s concert series for the fifth time with his exciting new duo featuring Eva Toncheva. Blending the vibrant sound of virtuosic violin playing with the exotic, Guatemalan tone of the westernized marimba, this duo presents new sonic settings of music.

Luminous Voices Community Sing III

April 3, 2019, 4:00 – 5:30PM
Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall, Central Library (800 3rd St. SE)
Free admission, registration required

Generously supported by the Rozsa Foundation, Luminous Voices is hosting its third and final free singing workshop of the season! Learn a few excerpts from Luminous Voices’ next concert’s program and sing along, no experience required. Participants even receive a discount code to buy tickets to J.S. Bach: St. John Passion on April 19. RSVP to or call 587.889.8370.

A photo of Luminous Voices

Luminous Voices | Photo: BandiPhotoGraphy

Pass Me By

April 3, 2019, 7:00 – 9:00pm
Shelf Life Books (1302 4th St. SW)
Free admission

Pass Me By is a queer rural tragedy that follows Ed, a reserved man dealing with dementia in a small Northern Canadian Town. As Ed’s memory declines, he loses touch with the present and revisits a past he chose to forget. Created by writer and illustrator Kyle Simmers and co-written by visual artist Ryan Danny Owen, celebrate the launch of the first book in the series this April.

Mini Masters

April 4, 2019, 11:00 – 11:45am
Esker Foundation (1011 9th Ave. SE)
Free, registration essential

Calling Calgary’s newest contemporaries! Join the Esker Foundation on the first Thursday of every month for a hands-on art class. Parents and guardians are invited to bring their little ones, ages two to five, to explore art making in this fun and social program. All are welcome to participate, just dress for mess.

Free First Thursday Nights

April 4, 2019, 5:00 – 9:00pm
Glenbow (130 9th Ave. SE)
Free admission

Since its launch in 2016, Free First Thursday Nights has provided access to over 56,000 visitors and this popular program returns to Glenbow for 2019. It’s a great chance to check out popular exhibitions including One New Work
Chris Cran: At Play and new shows including Art of Resilience.

Bring the Baby Art Tour & Tummy Time

April 5, 2019, 12:00pm
Esker Foundation (1011 9th Ave. SE)
Free, registration recommended

A relaxed, social tour, bring your baby to the Esker Foundation and have tot-friendly fun while discussing the exhibitions. This program starts with a casual half-hour tour of the current exhibitions, followed by a half-hour of tummy time social fun for both baby and guardian!

Best of AUArts Animation

April 5, 2019, 5:30 – 6:00pm
Stanford Perrott Lecture Theatre, Alberta University of the Arts (1407 14th Ave. NW)
Free admission

A free mini-screening for mature audiences, have a look at some great animation made by recent students and alumni. Works include Teigan Tulsie’s Humphrey and Tiffany Sensavang’s Oroboros.

Free to Be Me Opening

April 5, 2019, 6:00 – 9:00pm
Framed on Fifth (1207 5th Ave. NW)
Free admission

Free to Be Me offers a veritable salad of Sharon Lynn Williams’ new bold acrylic work. This artist believes in being free to express and create without being pigeonholed.

An invite card for Sharon Lynn Williams' show at Framed on Fifth Gallery

See Sharon Lynn Williams’ new show at its opening reception | Image: Courtesy of Framed on Fifth

Best of 2018 Ottawa International Animation Festival

April 5, 2019, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Stanford Perrott Lecture Theatre, Alberta University of the Arts (1407 14th Ave. NW)
Free admission

Continue your evening with awesome animation as the Best of Ottawa 2018 offers a sampling of exceptional short films that explore moments of humour, profundity, and inspiration. The works in this collection provide a unique cross-section of some of the best contemporary film artists from around the world.

Abide Opening Reception

April 5, 2019, 7:00pm
TRUCK Contemporary Art (2009 10th Ave. SW)
Free admission

A series of video installations from Lyla Rye that explore the difficulty of being present and still in times of life changes, these installations overlay HD footage of the artist’s mother’s hospital room as she lay dying, with cellphone clips that her teenage daughter shoots. The footage is overlaid using two projectors, creating a physical superimposition where brightness obliterates while darkness reveals.

Raise Your Hands Up to the Sky with Naomi Potter

April 5, 2019, 7:00 – 8:00pm
Esker Foundation (1011 9th Ave. SE)
Free admission, registration recommended

Join Naomi Potter for a tour of Neil Campbell and Jeremy Shaw’s exhibitions at the Esker Foundation. Asking participants to question their ability to let go of their objectives, assumptions, and need to control, this tour considers how one can be fully present, not only in these exhibitions, but in the world at large.

Chameleon Opening Reception

April 5, 2019, 8:00pm
The New Gallery (208 Centre St. SE)
Free admission

An exhibition by international artist duo Varvara & Mar, Chameleon tackles current political and identity-related issues, welcoming any and all kinds of discourse and interpretations. It looks at how a complex identity crisis, brought on by a cosmopolitan and hyperconnected era, is causing a loss of belonging and the rise of radical nationalism.

Calgary Sketch Club Art Exhibition & Sale

April 6, 2019, 10:00am – 4:00pm
Dalhousie Community Centre (5432 Dalhart Rd. NW)
Free admission

Think spring at this upcoming exhibition and sale from the Calgary Sketch Club. It’s a great chance to explore new works, see painting demonstrations throughout the day, and purchase a piece or two.

Southern Alberta Art Alliance Spring Art Show

April 6, 2019, 10:00am – 4:00pm
Holy Cross Anglican Church (2828 19th St. NW)
Free admission

Check out work by local artists from the Southern Alberta Art Alliance in varied mediums and styles. Meet the artists, ask them questions, and find out what inspired their work while shopping this springtime selection.

Pugg’s Portmanteau Book Launch

April 6, 2019, 2:00 – 4:00pm
Shelf Life Books (1302 4th St. SW)
Free admission

Join author D.M. Bryan to celebrate the launch of Pugg’s Portmanteau. Featuring University of Calgary Writer-in-Residence Liz Howard and poet Emily Ursuliak, head to Shelf Life Books for an inspiring literary afternoon.

The cover of D.M. Bryan's Pugg's Portmanteau

Celebrate the launch of D.M. Bryan’s Pugg’s Portmanteau | Image: Courtesy of Shelf Life Books

Ecstatic Dance with Marie-Claire O’Donoghue

April 7, 2019, 9:30 – 11:00am
Esker Foundation (1011 9th Ave. SE)
Free admission, registration required

When was the last time you gave yourself permission to just dance without judgement, expectation, or wanting to look a certain way? Ecstatic Dance creates a setting for you to let go of your daily structured movement patterning, and let your body speak through dance. All ages and experience are levels welcome. Adult accompaniment required for children under 16. Be sure to dress appropriately to move.

Dear Scarlet Book Launch

April 7, 2019, 2:00 – 4:00pm
Shelf Life Books (1302 4th St. SW)
Free admission

In this intimate and moving graphic memoir, Teresa Wong writes and illustrates the story of her struggle with postpartum depression in the form of a letter to her daughter Scarlet. Equal parts heartbreaking and funny, Dear Scarlet perfectly captures the quiet desperation of those suffering from PPD and the profound feelings of inadequacy and loss. Celebrate the launch this Sunday at Shelf Life Books.

Print(ed) Word Salon Series: Carolyn Qualle & Rona Altrows

April 9, 2019, 7:00 – 8:00pm
Simmons-Harvie Community Living Room, Central Library (800 3rd St. SE)
Free admission, registration required

Join artist Carolyn Qualle and writer Rona Altrows as they discuss their artist book, Roulleauville. This salon series features presentations on the second Tuesday of each month with creators sharing their writing, art, and the process of collaborating to make their books.