The New Gallery

Clouds & Water Gallery and Visual Production Society, est. 1975, is a pioneering not-for-profit centre for contemporary art in Calgary. Today, this society continues its vision through the operation of two venues, The New Gallery (TNG) and John Snow House (JSH). These spaces enable us to promote a public engagement with contemporary art by supporting the research, creation, exhibition, and proliferation of critically challenging, conceptually informed, and forward looking work by artists at all junctures of their careers. Our programming comprises a broad range of art activities, community collaborations, open discussions, and educational initiatives that serve to invigorate our audience’s experience of contemporary art and culture. TNG hosts 14 peer-juried exhibitions between the main gallery and satellite spaces annually, while JSH is a historical home that offers an urban live-in residency, resource centre, letterpress and studio facilities, and the opportunity for collaborative programming with other cultural facilitators.

To provide opportunities and venues for artists that foster social, political, and critical creative practices, while engaging and educating our local, national, and international communities on contemporary art.

A Brief History of The New Gallery

The Clouds & Water Gallery and Visual Production Society opened its doors on March 15, 1975. One of the first artist-run centres to be established in Canada, it immediately provided a compelling alternative to mainstream culture in Calgary. In addition to gallery exhibition programming, the Society operated the Sancious Coffeehouse, where live presentations of experimental performance art (spoken word, experimental dance, theatre and music) took place. This marked the beginning of the Society's consistent support of time-based and performative arts.
In 1980 the Society moved into a new downtown location and was renamed the OFF CENTRE CENTRE. Collaboration and interactivity were encouraged through events such as the International Mail Art Symposium (1986) and Media Blitz I and II (in 1988 and 1989). Media Blitz were ten day long festivals of experimental film, video and performance art by local artists, produced in conjunction with several other Calgary arts groups.

As a cultural incubator, OFF CENTRE CENTRE fostered the development of several community-based, artist-run organizations over the years: Centre Art Video (now operating as the EMMEDIA Gallery & Production Society), theatre arts company One Yellow Rabbit and alternative broadcaster RADIO/RADIO, among others. Its members also played a significant formative role in the organization of ANNPAC (Association of National Non-Profit Artist-run Centres).

In 1987, fire destroyed parts of the building occupied by the OCC on the Stephen Avenue Mall and the Society was on the move again. It soon reopened as The New Gallery, in a space shared with the Paul Kuhn and Stride Galleries. In the course of an ongoing review of the value and responsibilities of artist-run centres, TNG recognized that many artists in the local community had traditionally felt excluded from the organization. In 1992 TNG partnered with Minquon Panchayat, a national coalition supporting artists of colour, to raise awareness around issues of race and gender, and to actively address these issues in the context of regular TNG programming.

In 1996, The New Gallery returned to its roots, moving back into the original Clouds & Water location. Here TNG maintained three exhibition spaces and a Resource Centre, housing its now significant collection of material dedicated to contemporary art, the development of artist-run culture in Calgary, and TNG's history.

The New Gallery celebrated its 25-year anniversary in 2000, presenting a major retrospective exhibition at the Alberta College of Art and Design, publishing an accompanying catalogue and developing a new web site. In response to demand within the local artistic community for a venue in which to present spontaneous performative art forms, TNG initiated the highly successful Space for Space project. TNG also spearheaded the development a new city-wide performative arts festival, Mountain Standard Time (M:ST), which was first held in April 2001. This too developed into an independent society, which today manages a high profile biennial performance arts festival.

Faced with the immanent demolition of the building they occupied, TNG was forced to hastily relocate in 2007. Limited time and financial resources necessitated a move to the Ground Floor of the Eau Claire Market. Although the location was centrally located in a high-traffic pedestrian mall, the available square-footage was less than half that of The Gallery's previous location, so the Resource Centre was relegated to storage and regularly programmed exhibition spaces were reduced to the Main Space and the +15 Window at the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts.

In 2008, as a potential solution to TNG's space shortage, the Gallery was offered the use of the John Snow Residence/Studio in Lower Mount Royal by the building's owner. While the historic house was ultimately deemed to be inappropriate for most of TNG's programming, it was considered a suitable home for the dormant Resource Centre. With this goal in mind, TNG began work to change the municipal zoning of the property so that the house could be used as a Resource Centre, office, and multi-purpose cultural space.

As 2009 drew to a close, TNG's Board of Directors boldly opted to capitalize on the imminent end of the Gallery's lease at Eau Claire Market, and move the Gallery to the top floor of Art Central­-- an arts-oriented building in the heart of Calgary's growing Cultural District. Due to the availability of the new space, this move was executed without any interruption of already scheduled programming. In fact, TNG was able to stage its annual Holiday Tree Show fundraiser in the Gallery's new location, before the final exhibition in the old space came down the next day.

TNG was firmly established in Art Central by the beginning of 2010. By June of that year, TNG successfully completed the re-zoning of the John Snow Residence and held its grand opening on November 19th. The operation of the Resource Centre in the residence reaffirms TNG's strategic committment to the preservation and maintenance of the Gallery's library and archival collection while increasing the number of arts spaces available to the Calgary arts community.

View Larger Map

208 Centre St. SE Calgary, AB T2G 2B6, Canada
Phone: 403-233-2399