Latitude 53 Society of Artists
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.
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
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
Since 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.
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.
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.
With its diverse achievementssuch as The Great Divide
public waterfallits 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: