Community members get a bit mucky and help paste up portraits for Eyes on the Ave containR Installation | Photo: Courtesy of IAACC

Eyes on the Ave

Community portraits pop up in Forest Lawn containR Installation

Amy Jo Espetveidt

If you’ve recently traveled along 17th Avenue in east Calgary you might have had a feeling of being watched. Towering over Forest Lawn, a community of shipping containers has sprung up with portraits of community members wheat pasted onto them.

Eyes on the Ave containR Installation brings together Antyx Community Arts, Springboard Performance’s containR art park initiative, and International Avenue Arts and Culture Centre (IAACC) for a new collaborative partnership that welcomes all to Forest Lawn.

The project gives value and voice to people in the community says IAACC Finance Manager Kari McQueen.

“It adds to community pride in a way that’s not compromising or gentrifying,” she continues. “It’s basically a grassroots initiative grown with the support of the community.”

Antyx and its team of young photographers produced the photography, with each portrait depicting residents in Greater Forest Lawn. They asked each one to answer a few different questions, including what does your community look like, in order to break down barriers between communities and strangers.

IAACC and its ARCH site provided the containers and the location, creating a space where arts, recreation, and community come to play.

Springboard Performance, the minds behind the containR Art Park in Sunnyside, brought its pop-up-containers-as-art expertise to design the installation and provide project management.

The Smile and Gang and Culture Days participants even pitched in to paste up the portraits, participating in this public art project at a community level.

“It helps all of us get to know our community better,” says McQueen.

Eyes on the Ave containR Installation features photos taken by youth of people in Greater Forest Lawn that have been wheat pasted on the side of shipping containers places sat the ARCH site | Courtesy of IAACC

Eyes on the Ave containR Installation features photos taken by youth of people in Greater Forest Lawn that have been wheat pasted on the side of shipping containers placed at the ARCH site | Photo: Courtesy of IAACC

The whimsical project is gathering a lot of curious visits from passersby. Located at the southwest corner of 17th Avenue and 26th Street SE, the location acts as a welcoming gateway to International Avenue and Greater Forest Lawn.

“The scale of the project is a little mind-blowing. I even had my brother calling me up [this week] asking, ‘What is that on 17th?’” continues McQueen. “Our goal is to raise awareness for the ARCH site as a future hub embedded in community, and not just on a project level. We do business and work with other groups in the Greater Forest Lawn area. It’s about keeping it in the community and sharing.”

Eyes on the Ave containR Installation will remain at ARCH until March 31, 2017. Head to new.iaacc.ca for more information on the site and the project.

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