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Latitude 53 Society of Artists

Artists and pivotal Latitude 53 contributors.Full of momentum and the provocative attitude sometimes accompanying innovators, the Latitude 53 Society of Artists, has made its presence in Alberta known.

In 1973, Latitude 53 sprung forth from the minds of two rambunctious artists, Harry Savage and Sylvain Voyer. What emerged from their imaginations was a commercial gallery with the intent of creating an arts venue, one that would reflect the sociopolitical environment of the time, which included lively activism and growing government support for fostering the arts through cultural centres.

Publicity poster for Latitude 53. The name Latitude 53 was chosen to reflect where the gallery was physically situated on a cartographer's gridline, while also denoting a global consciousness.

After some time, the Savage and Voyer partnership realized the practices of artist run centres were more appealing, and compatible with ideas driving the organization. Latitude 53 changed its status to a non-profit artist run centre in 1977, with a third crucial player, Giuseppe Albi, coming into the scheme as president and first director.

Featured Audio

Featured Audio

Tommy Banks provides a brief history of the Latitude 53 Society of Artists' history and speaks with artist Lyndal Osborne and Latitude administrator Angela Crist.Listen Now

Gerry GilbertSince its creation, Latitude 53 has acted as a voice of critical questioning and commentary. A treatise, Latitude Attitude, marked the organizations beginning, and befitting its caustic tone, was authored under a fictitious pen name.

The pursuit of seeking dialogue with different individuals is still retained by Latitude 53 and is facilitated by undertakings such as fifty3, its quarterly publication containing anything from artist profiles, to exhibit reviews, to more complex discussions on the roles that art and its creators can occupy.

Being a long time advocate of discussion and interaction, Latitude 53's vocalizing of ideas is not restricted to paper. In earlier days, it provided testimony on censorship for the arts, and lobbied government, businesses and other institutions.

Latitude 53's performance art festival, VisualEyez. The VisualEyez Festival, which first took place in 1999, is a performance art festival bringing together a myriad of activities that embody the some similar elements. Underpinning the Festival are the performers' interactions with their audiences, which can range from haphazard to disconcerting to intimately comical.

For those meandering through Latitude 53's headquarters, which have included various locations including the historic Great West Saddlery Building, there are more ways of communicating.

"Myopic"The Main Space exhibits works by artists that are interested in dialogue about their work and the world around them. Local, national and international work shown there is often content-oriented, and if not shown within Latitude 53's space, might go unseen in the region.

Latitude 53's ProjEX room is dedicated to exhibiting works by emerging artists as well artists who are experimenting with media that are new to them, and are seeking feedback on works in progress.

As a member of the greater community, Latitude 53 has delved into collaborations other art organizations might never pursue. Previous partnerships have included work with the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, Coalition Against Poverty, regional chapters of Food Not Bombs, HIV Edmonton, Brian Webb dance company and the Fringe theatre.

"The Cobras" shown at Latitude 53.With its diverse achievements—such as The Great Divide public waterfall—its frenetic pace of activity, and its annual happenings, such as the tempestuously themed Valentine's affair Fifty-three Ways To Leave Your Lover, new audiences and collaborations continue to emerge from Harry Savage and Sylvain Voyer's vision.

For more information about Latitude 53, check out their website at: http://www.latitude53.org

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