Yoko Ono exhibit, massive lunar model highlight Contemporary Calgary's first seaso


On Monday, the organization announced an ambitious and eclectic slate of five exhibits scheduled for 2020 at the new art space in the former planetarium on 11th Street S.W. While the facility has been open to the public two days a week since early June, Contemporary Calgary will open its doors six days a week, offer expanded hours and a $20 annual membership starting Jan. 23.

That is also when two otherworldly exhibits will open. Museum of the Moon, by U.K. artist Luke Jerram, is a scale model of the moon that will be suspended from Contemporary Calgary’s 13-metre dome. The second exhibit, Planetary, will consist mostly of work created during Contemporary Calgary’s Collider program, a residency that began in June and had more than 30 local artists riffing on and responding to the legacy of the building in which they were working. The original Centennial Planetarium was built in 1967 and its history in Calgary inspired the artists to explore “notions of futurity, technology, space travel and knowledge” through various genres and mediums.

“To focus the launch of this with 36 local artists was incredibly important to us,” said David Leinster, chief executive of Contemporary Calgary. “They have all been responding to this show called Planetary, which is thinking about the cosmos and nostalgia in a building that has had a number of different histories in terms of being a cultural institution or another.”

While that exhibit will put a focus on Calgary and Calgary artists, the season will also boast some significant international star power with Growing Freedom: The instructions of Yoko Ono and The art of John and Yoko. This two-part exhibition opens May 21 and will explore various facets of the pioneering conceptual artist’s work over half a century. The instructions of Yoko Ono will feature “participatory” works dating back to 1966’s Mend Piece.

The second part explores the collaborative projects between Ono and husband John Lennon, who was murdered in 1980. These works are part of the peace activism the couple undertook in the 1960s and 1970s and include ACORN PEACE, the War is Over peace campaign and the Montreal Bed-In, which took place in May 1969. Leinster said it is currently unknown if the 86-year-old artist will come to Calgary for the exhibit.

“This particular exhibition is in part a response to the 50th anniversary of the Montreal Bed-In and there are artifacts from that in the show,” he said. “There is a handwritten letter between John Lennon and Pierre Elliott Trudeau. It’s a beautiful body of work.”