A once empty space on the streets of Kensington is displaying artwork from a variety Calgarians and bringing the art community together.
Neil Egsgard walked down the streets of Kensington last year and noticed they were looking bare.
He came up with the idea for Kensington Interaction, located on 10th Street NW, as a place for Calgarians to showcase their artwork.
Egsgard used some of his own money and fund raised to install a board where artists can display their artwork. There is also a graffiti mural to liven up an adjacent wall.
"A couple years ago I had the art wall built and graffiti done because this part of the city looked really bad and I wanted to make it better," said Egsgard. "We wanted a space that the community could interact with any time they want."
The space is considered interactive because anyone can contribute art pieces and it also creates a dialogue about art and culture within the city. Art displayed on the board is protected by a plastic screen so it does not get damaged.
Nicole Emerson is a student at Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) who contributed some of her paintings to the art space.
"My teacher approached us with an opportunity to come and down and put our stuff on the Kensington art wall," said Emerson. "A bunch of us got together and came up with an idea what Calgary is to us, how we look at and how we feel when we're in the bounds."
Emerson, 25, said she is proud to be a part of Kensington Interaction because of how it sheds a different light on the city.
"It's important because we want to show people what Calgary is to us and that it's not just about gas and oil and cement bricks. There is actually a lot more culture that we want to share and I love being a part of that," she added.
Ashleigh Bartlett is a teacher at ACAD and a friend of Egsgard who informed her art students about the interactive space.
"As I saw what Neil was creating with the art wall, I wanted my students to know about this great opportunity," Bartlett explained. "I'm really excited about this space to show work where there is a lot of public interaction and the students can get some exposure."
She added that the space is in a great location because of its close proximity to downtown Calgary and it receives a large amount of foot traffic.
Egsgard said that the community has taken advantage of the art space and a variety of Calgarians have shared their talent.
"All sorts of people have used the space. A local photographer put a big picture up and a band called Random Task Collective filled it for a month with a Halloween set," said Egsgard. "Most recently there was St. John's Fine Arts School put up work and now we have paintings from ACAD students."
There is also a communication board beside the art space for people to post messages about upcoming events.
Egsgard said interactive spaces like these are essential to a community.
"I believe a lot in investing in social capital and things that are going to improve the community," he said. "You can either invest in the people in your community or invest in making your community better. If the people who are living there won't do it, then nobody else will."
- By Courtney Urbani