Artist Trading Card Sessions
On the last Saturday of every month, you could be
taking part in Artist Trading Card (ATC) Sessions.
The New Gallery in Calgary has become Alberta's central
point for the ATC phenomenon. Originating in Zurich, Switzerland, ATCs
were started and promoted by artists M. Varci Stirnemann and Cat Schick.
They consist of baseball/hockey-sized cards that have been manipulated
into miniature works of art.
Visual styles for ATCs run the gamut and range from
collages to paintings to rubber-stamped images. A humorous streak in
content can often be found. Perhaps it is this affable underbelly that
first attracted artist and educator Don Mabie, also known as Calgary's
beloved Chuck Stake, to ATC activities in Europe. After meeting with ATC
creators, he decided to import the idea back to his hometown in 1997.
That same year, The New Gallery, held its first trading
session, and ever since, they have been taking place every month. On
September 28, 2002, a fifth year anniversary session was held.
Attendance for the monthly meetings averages about
70 to 75 people raging from six to 60 years old. Newcomers are always
welcome, and are introduced to ATC culture by the core group of 30 to 35
Formal art training is not necessary for ATC
participation. Card creators come from a range of backgrounds; some of
them are professional artists or art educators, while others are simply
curious and fascinated individuals with little to no experience in the art
world. The binding tie for them is the little art pieces they create.
Monthly sessions provide an incentive for the regular production of cards.
They also provide the thrust for exhibition and trading. Inherent in the
tradition of ATC culture is free swapping versus the selling of artwork.
If a card is coveted, it can be exchanged for a piece that another
participant is willing to trade.
With openness and a refreshing variety of participants,
the ATC sessions that people partake in every month will continue to be an
artistic and social occasion open to all.