Katherine Ylitalo

An image of Katherine Ylitalo
Katherine Ylitalo | Photo credit: Dana Prediger

Katherine Ylitalo

Meet public art historian and curator Katherine Ylitalo in our new podcast series on public art

Calgary Arts Development’s newest podcast series explores the possibilities of public art. In our inaugural episode of The Storytelling Podcast: Public Possibilities, host Brandy Dahrouge, Calgary Arts Development’s Director of Public Art, introduces us to public art historian and curator Katherine Ylitalo, whose lengthy career in public art provides some interesting details about some of the artworks in the City’s municipal art collection that may not have been shared before.

An advocate for visual arts, Ylitalo is also a curator, writer, educator and garden historian who has been drawn to the arts since very early in her life, when she would draw, paint and read as a young child. She initially studied architecture, but it was a difficult path for a woman at that time and she shifted to pursing art — and it proved to be a good fit. “…The first curating job I got in Regina was working at the Dunlop museum, and it was a show on teapots that were shaped in different ways, and I was hooked. And once I started working with art and the public I just thought, this is where I want to be.”

Ylitalo’s path led her to working with the City of Calgary and, eventually, to the introduction of a new concept: public art.

“I worked with the collection that was considered the civic collection, and this other stuff, all this new exciting stuff, was called public art,” she says. “… So I thought, OK, what’s the difference here? Is public art something that’s owned publicly? Is it something that’s outside? Is it something that the public can see for free? You know, just what is it? What is it that makes it — is it different than other art and what could it be?”

Tune in to to hear Katherine Ylitalo discuss what public art means for our city in this week’s Storytelling Podcast: Public Possibilities, and see the links below to articles she’s written for Avenue Magazine about some of the pieces she talks about.

Work of Art: Our Window by AJA Louden with 2018 City of Calgary Street Art Program for Youth Participants

Work of Art: Dale Hodges Park by Sans façon

Work of Art: Hawk Hill Calgary Sentinels by Beverly Pepper


Work of Art: VS. by Craig Le Blanc

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